Monday, August 29, 2005

Do Your Job & Lose Your Job

In direct violation of contract policy, Halliburton has received preference for multibillion-dollar, no-bid contract work in Iraq. Bunnatine H. Greenhouse, the Army Corps of Engineers executive, has been responsible for awarding contracts. She tried doing her job to the best of her ability. She awarded contracts according to the law and Department of Defense policy. The good-ol’-boy network did not appreciate her due diligence to her job. Sections of Halliburton Contract Critic Loses Her Job from Griff Witte, a Washington Post Staff Writer, are below:

[. . .] Greenhouse came to prominence last year when she went public with her concerns over the volume of Iraq-related work given to Halliburton by the Corps without competition. The Houston-based oil services giant already had a competitively awarded contract to provide logistics support for the military in the Middle East and was awarded a no-bid contract to repair Iraq oil fields on the eve of the war there in 2003.

Greenhouse complained internally about that contract. Last fall she started giving interviews to national publications. And in June she testified before a Democrat-sponsored Capitol Hill event on contracting in Iraq.

"I can unequivocally state that the abuse related to contracts awarded to KBR represents the most blatant and improper abuse I have witnessed" in 20 years working on government contracts, Greenhouse said at the Democratic forum.
She said the independence of the Corps' contracting process was compromised in the handling of the contact. "I observed, first hand, that essentially every aspect of the [Restore Iraqi Oil] contract remained under the control of the Office of the Secretary of Defense. This troubled me and was wrong."

Greenhouse has been the Army Corps' top procurement official since 1997. Then-commander Gen. Joe N. Ballard has said he wanted Greenhouse -- a black woman -- to provide a jolt to the clubby, old-boys' network that had long dominated the contracting process at the Corps.

Since then, Greenhouse has developed a reputation among those in both government and industry as being a stickler for the rules. To her critics, she's a foot-dragging, inflexible bureaucrat. To her supporters, she's been a staunch defender of the taxpayers' dime.

In the lead-up to the Iraq war in 2003, Greenhouse objected to a decision to give a five-year, no-bid contract to KBR for putting out the oil fires that Pentagon officials believed retreating Iraqi troops would set as the United States invaded. KBR had earlier been hired to write the plans for how that work would be conducted.

When the time came to award the Restore Iraqi Oil contract, the terms stipulated that the contractor had to have knowledge of KBR's plan. KBR was the only contractor deemed eligible. Normally, contractors that prepare cost estimates and plans are excluded from bidding on the work that arises from those plans.

When superiors overruled her objections to awarding the contract to KBR without competition, she recorded her concerns by writing next to her signature on the contract a warning that the length of the deal could convey the perception that limited competition was intended.

As Greenhouse became more vocal internally, she said she was increasingly excluded from decisions and shunned by her bosses.
Bunnatine is a whistleblower. The only thing she is guilty of is doing her job defending taxpayer dollars. It is time for the Democrat “leaders” in Congress to start doing their job and EARN their taxpayer dollars.

Update: At least bloggers are not burying the story. It appears on two national blogs at least: The Huffington Post and DailyKos -- twice. Bunnatine's job was to save the taxpayers money on contracts with Halliburton and the insurance industry. According to the online edition of the LA Times, Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) and Sens. Byron L. Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.), the Democrats who had invited Bunnatine to testify about her concerns at a June hearing, formally requested Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld in a letter today to reinstate her pending an investigation.

No matter what happens 19th CD constituents can rest assured that John Shimkus will stay quiet on this issue because it concerns Halliburton and the insurance industry (his REAL constituents). Without a script from his GOP handlers, providing his own original statement would be too difficult for him while he keeps his arms busy hugging himself.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Air America Supports Christine

According to a member of the reality-based community, Christine Cegelis has the support of Sheldon and Anita Drobny. They are the founders of Air America Radio (AAR). They are coming to Glen Ellyn for a book signing event. They are using it as a special fundraising event for Christine's campaign. The evening will include plenty of Q&A time about AAR. Christine will be available to meet her supporters and answer their questions.

Sheldon & Anita Drobny put independent back into independent media. They will talk about their commitment to progressive radio, the challenge of launching a new radio network in the face of widespread discouragement—and the reason they support Christine Cegelis for IL’s 6th CD.

Christine received 44% of the vote in 2004 and not because of deep-pocketed supporters. It came because of the dedicated work of everyday citizens who decided to get involved and do something. Christine knew that she had a strong campaign. The energy of a motivated and committed progressive community fueled that 2004 campaign. Henry Hyde probably realized that, and it scared him out of office.

When Rep. Hyde endorsed his heir-apparent, he accidentally endorsed the Cegelis Campaign. He acknowledged the strength of support she received and credited it to the work of her supporters (e.g., knocking on doors, keeping the campaign message in front of the public). Although he won this last race, Rep. Hyde acknowledged the reason for his withdrawal and endorsement of Peter Roskam, a conservative lawyer who worked for him as a legislative aide in 1986, and also as an aide to majority whip Tom DeLay. He admitted that he retired because he did not want the district to “go Democrat”, and he did not think he could campaign successfully against Christine during the 2006 Election Cycle. That is a true testament to the hard work of her supporters in the 2004 campaign.

Mr. Roskam is a Republican opponent even more conservative than Henry Hyde. Christine knows that the 6th CD is ready for change. Her constituents want a representative who will put Americans first, not multi-national corporations. They want leaders who are committed to making education accessible to everyone. They want leaders who believe that it is not enough to have the best military in the world – that the country needs the best diplomats as well. Mr. Roskam is Tom DeLay’s protégé. He does not understand this. In 2006, he will learn that the district is “going Democratic”.

Democrats need to maintain the pressure. They need to show Rep. Hyde and his heir-apparent that it is a new day. The Party is reclaiming the 6th CD. Supporters should mark their calendars for Wednesday, September 14, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Holiday Inn, 1250 Roosevelt Road in Glen Ellyn (the NW corner of Roosevelt and Finley). Donation is $35.

Sheldon and Anita will have copies of their recent book, Road to Air America: Breaking the Right Wing Stranglehold on Our Nation's Airwaves, for sale. Everyone can meet them and have the authors sign the book.

This is a special campaign fundraiser and book-signing. To RSVP for the event, please send an e-mail to or call 630-693-0500.

To contribute at any time, donors can link to Christine’s website or use ActBlue.

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Shimkus Promises, Bupkis Personified

Sometimes the line between truth and fiction becomes a little blurred. A self-centered man with very little honor is so adept at maintaining the blurriness that some constituents will ask him to remain in office. It is the right thing to do when they suffer from chronic kidney failure, and their congressman decides to interrupt their expensive dialysis. It also makes sense when that congressman is a good little soldier for his TRUE constituents: the insurance, health care, and pharmaceutical companies -- in addition to the oil and gas industry, the energy companies, and communication technologies. When seriously ill people have no one else, they will look to the most dishonorable character for potential assistance.

Allowing John Shimkus to remain in Congress without a challenger and total support for that challenger is a betrayal of the public trust. Betrayal always results when gerrymandering replaces true leadership. As the largest county in the 19th CD, Madison Co. Democrats should encourage a challenger and truly support that person. In other words, they need to do the opposite of their 2004 no-challenger-support inactivity (i.e., actually INCLUDE the congressional challenger's name on sample ballots, doorknockers, miscellaneous mailers, etc.). Allowing any incumbent to cruise through an election is a truly disingenuous act. A policy of the most money wins a congressional seat (especially when a congressional seat is NOT a "prize" for someone to "win") is an irresponsible guaranteed failure for democracy.

For several years now, neither party has represented Illinois constituents. The state's political system reinforces the long-established old-boy network. The "Good-Ol'-Boy" Springfield network uses backroom deals to ensure the election of candidates into office. It does not matter that the candidate should never be in office in the first place. A deal is a deal. That is the political system in Illinois. That is the system that put John Shimkus in office. The constituents of the 19th CD and people of Illinois deserve better. They do not deserve the same incumbent network deal as usual.

According to Thomas Jefferson, there is no safe depository of the ultimate powers of society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them, but to inform their discretion by education. That means the following:

  • No district is "solidly" Democrat or Republican.
  • Every district is "winnable".
  • Voters deserve a choice between truly good political candidates.
  • The candidates deserve a solid support system.
That means that Thomas Jefferson's vision never included unchallenged incumbents or unsupported challengers. The people living in Central and So. IL have lived with both for too many years.

Friday, August 19, 2005

For an Ultimatum, Humor ad Infinitum

The Madison Co. Democart "leaders" chose to ignore Dr. Tim Bagwell's 2004 Congressional Campaign (& omit his name from the sample ballots & other campaign materials). They deserve the latest highly predictable threatening ultimatum from Rep. Shimkus.

The So. IL Democrat constituents have to live with the
Party's perpetual perfidiousness & do not deserve it. For them, a little humor.

"In a radio speech this weekend Bush said I will not be satisfied until every American who wants to work can find a job. Then Bush went back to his five-week vacation."
- Conan O'Brien

"President Bush is now in the second week of his five-week vacation down there in Crawford, Texas. He's been taking a lot of criticism for this long vacation and his aides say he has his laptop with him so he can still play Solitaire and Minesweep -- so it's business as usual."
- Jay Leno

"So Congress is on recess and Bush is on vacation -- the town is empty. It's so lonely in D.C. right now the NRA and the Oil lobby are just giving money to each other."
- Jay Leno

"President Bush talked tough today. He said he's not backing out, he's staying the course for as long as it takes. He's in it for the long haul. Not Iraq -- his 5-week vacation."
- Jay Leno

"According to President Bush's most recent health results, he's the most fit president in history. He's in the 99 percentile for men 55 to 59 years old. Bush said he could make it into the 100% league if his damn job didn't take up most of his morning."
- Jay Leno

"A lot of people are every critical of President Bush for taking the entire month of August off for his vacation. But his staff points out, there's nothing at the White House he can't do at the ranch because the ranch is fully equipped. It's got the treadmill, the weight room, the jogging path, the big screen TV, they get Nickelodeon. It's got everything he would do."
- Jay Leno

"It turns out President Bush can run again in the next election. Now I know you're only supposed to be allowed two terms, but the Supreme Court said if you count his vacation time, he's barely served one."
- Jay Leno
How about another deal? John Shimkus gets "elected" to his old job as Madison Co. Treasurer -- a position to which he excels and is most suited.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Denny Boy's Link to al-Qaeda

Corporate Crime Reporter posted an article entitled, Vanity Fair: Turks Boasted of Payments to Hastert. Everyone knows the Unholy Trinity & their minions are totally corrupt so this was not a big surprise. It is only two degrees of separation in Speaker Hastert's Chicago-area 14th Congressional District.

THANK YOU to Craig Rhodes from the SIDemocrat YAHOO! Discussion Group. He has supplied the next chapter in this long and complex saga. A few highlights from Lynn Grant’s International Post article, Hastert’s Turkish Allies Tied to Bin Laden, are below. This quote sets the tone: “If they were to allow the whole picture to emerge… certain elected officials will stand trial and go to prison.” – Sibel Edmonds, former FBI translator.

CHICAGO, Illinois, Aug 15 (IP) – During the current flurry of September 11th related news, one item has gone largely unnoticed. Reports of former FBI translator Sibel Edmonds’ allegations concerning improper financial ties between House Speaker Dennis Hastert and Turkish officials and businessman have been a source of discontent for beltway insiders on both sides of the aisle.

However, the recent coverage has not addressed why Sibel Edmonds’ information regarding Speaker Hastert’s dealings with the Turks necessitated an in-depth investigation by the September 11th Commission.

In an August 10, 2005 interview about her reported allegations, Edmonds was asked, “What are you alleging about the Speaker of the House?” Though under a strict gag order, she replied:
I have been giving all the details to the appropriate channels. And they have been confirmed. And what I have said all along is the fact that as far as the 9/11 is concerned, September 11 is concerned, these departments -- and when I say “these departments,” the Department of Justice, the Department of State, and the Department of Defense -- have intentionally blocked the investigations of real -- the real criminals in this country…

Most of al Qaeda’s funding is… through narcotics. And have you heard anything to this date, anything about these issues which we have had information since 1997? And as I would again emphasize, we are talking about countries. And they are blocking this information, and also the fact that certain officials in this country are engaged in treason against the United States and its interests and its national security, be it the Department of State or certain elected officials.
While alluding to treason, Edmonds’ reply indicates that her allegations about Speaker Hastert are linked to al-Qaeda and the September 11th attacks. [. . .]

Edmonds wrote in a July 2004 article that she has “firsthand knowledge of ongoing intelligence received and processed by the FBI since 1997, which contained specific information implicating certain high level government and elected officials in criminal activities directly and indirectly related to terrorist money laundering, narcotics, and illegal arms sales.”

Yet Edmonds may not be the only well-known FBI Whistleblower with connections to this 9/11-related investigation in Chicago.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, FBI Special Agent Robert Wright was given orders to investigate several Chicago-based businessmen with ties to Turkey – and Osama bin Laden. [. . .]
In 1998, Al-Qaeda terrorists bombed two American Embassies in Africa, killing more than 200 people. The agents say some of the money for the attack led back to the people they had been tracking in Chicago, and to a powerful Saudi Arabian businessman, this man, Yassin Kadi, who had extensive business and financial ties in Chicago. Yet, even after the bombings, the agents say headquarters ordered no arrests.
Wright’s investigation appeared to have had little effect on Chicago businessman Yassin Kadi. The Boston Globe reported in 2002, “Qadi was so well respected that he escorted former president Jimmy Carter around a Saudi women’s college in 2000.”

Kadi, now 48, acted as ‘the financier of Osama bin Laden’ not only in the Chicago area, but in Turkey as well. Two months after 9/11, The Turkish Daily News published an article detailing Kadi’s investments entitled “Osama bin Laden’s ‘Cashier’ in Turkey”. [. . .]

In March 2005, Turkish authorities concluded an investigation into Yassin Kadi’s suspected links with al-Qaeda. The Arab News described the probe’s findings:
Turkey’s chief public prosecutor has formally ruled that there is no evidence whatsoever to suggest that Saudi businessman and philanthropist Yassin Abdullah Al-Qadi has had contact with or has assisted the Al-Qaeda terrorist organization. . .

The probe concluded that, far from being a member or supporter of Al-Qaeda, Al-Qadi was above board and his actions were at all times wholly legitimate.
Turkey’s Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, took no issue with his chief prosecutor’s questionable ruling. Though few familiar with Turkish politics would be surprised at Prime Minister Erdogan’s position.

In November of 2001, The Turkish Daily News published an article with the headline ‘Tayyip – bin Laden Relationship’ referring to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The article provided translation of a Turkish language report one of the country’s largest newspapers which stated, “A Cumhuriyet headline said, referring to Justice and Development Party (AKP) leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan: “… Al Kadi’s business partner Faruk Sarac is a close friend of the Erdogan family.”

Though the Turkish Prime Minister is a close family friend of a business partner of bin Laden’s financier, this may be nothing more than a coincidence. [. . .]

Though even without the recent allegations by Sibel Edmonds, the following report from The Turkish Daily News regarding Prime Minister Erdogan’s 2004 trip stateside to meet President Bush may have raised an eyebrow:
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan… first arrived at the Peninsula Hotel in Chicago. …

After the concert, Chicago Municipal Mayor Richard M. Daley held a dinner for Erdogan.
It is amazing what can happen when someone has the power to shut down a federal-level criminal investigation two months after the hit on the embassies in Africa. It usually takes an elected official from The Hill or the White House. The move outraged the Federal Prosecutor in Chicago. Agent Wright and his professional associates were helping him build a strong criminal case against Kadi and others.

Hopefully, Mrs. Hastert enjoyed the Turkish rugs and pashminas her husband brought back with him after his trip this past Spring. The variety available to him was probably better than what is available on e-Bay.

Friday, August 12, 2005

Truth vs. Myth

To those willing to believe the John Shimkus propaganda machine, the man is honorable, trustworthy, and hard working. His only interests are those benefitting the quality of life for his 19th CD constituents. To those knowing the true qualities of John Shimkus, the statements are laughable.

Very little research unearths a non-existent legislative record. He brings in the pork funding. He does quite well selling himself and responding to mailbag questions on the Congressional Record. He remains in Congress because he is a product of the good-ol'-boy establishment -- something IL excels at. He is an embarrassment to the people that grew up with him, thought they knew him, & now regret ever voting for him.

His main legislative staffers are former staff members for former-governor and future-imnate Ryan (e.g., Deb Detmers, et al.). Everyone knows that each one of them actively raises campaign funds for their boss. Translation: They regularly violate the Hatch Act (& one got a European trip one taxpayers' expense -- A person can only imagine the taxpayer-paid perks his family members enjoy!).

Campaign contributions are an issue for everyone, and anyone willing to look hard enough finds what they seek. The Shimkus PAC has never returned the money from Tom DeLay's PACs. In an additional note, the Wal-Mart Stores Inc. PAC for Responsible Government is listed on the FEC website as a qualified non-party committee. According to the McCain-Feingold finance law, the Wal-Mart PAC can only contribute $5,000.00 to a candidate per election. The organization contributed that amount on October 28, 2003. This is correct - assuming that it is a multi-candidate PAC. That makes their contribution of December 16, 2003, above the total amount a PAC can contribute per election, and in violation of McCain-Feingold. His staff provides Wal-Mart-level quality customer service. The company influences well.

So. IL's economic health is worse than ever thanks to their illustrious representative. He has yet to lift a finger. He is in the White House's good graces, AND So. IL counties suffer some of the highest unemployment numbers in the state. All legislation that benefits labor is a guaranteed Role Call NO vote from John Shimkus, too.

His work on the House Energy Cmte. funds his campaigns rather well, obviously (everyone does it so why not?). Land south of I-64 has some of the richest coalfields in the nation & a good deal of oil. The current technology should be enough for processing without severe environmental degradation. His "power" in the committee has done nothing about this and making So. IL the most important thing on the agenda. Instead, he "delivered" tort reform for the White House by campaigning for Judge Karmaier last year. The incument gerrymandering, & the DCCC assured him that he did not have to campaign for himself.

His "powerful" seniority on the House Energy Cmte. is worth less than nothing to his IL constituents - AND - It is the only committee assignment has had since the first time his gullible supporters erroneously put him in office. After completing negotiations on the Energy Bill, House Majority Leader Tom DeLay reportedly snuck in a $1.5 billion taxpayer-funded giveaway to Halliburton Corporation and other big oil companies. This Energy Bill is so full of pork and taxpayer subsidies for profitable oil and gas companies that Tom DeLay did not think anyone would notice. Nevertheless, Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) caught it and blew the whistle. Adding insult to injury, DeLay's provision could funnel the money through a private consortium in his hometown of Sugar Land, Texas. Approximately $3.6 million in Texas taxpayer funds created the organization with the promise of creating 1,500 jobs. So far, new jobs have yet to materialize, and gasoline prices continue to rise. For looking the other way, John Shimkus could see additional contributions from TRMPAC. It has been a few years so he is due for a show of Majority Leader gratitude.

Loopholes in American fuel economy regulations have allowed automakers to produce cars and trucks that are significantly less fuel-efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's. He "values" bi-partisanship on such issues as the SIUE Ethanol plant. Ethanol plants would ensure the use of a LOCAL renewable fuel source, yet IL does not have more ethanol refineries to show for it. Again, so much for the value of all that seniority power from the ONLY committee assignment John Shimkus has ever had.

As for the military record of the 1976 plebe, he does not even qualify for "weekend warrior". Any combat-trained active-duty Army service member knows that real weekend warriors serve 1 weekend monthly & 2 wks. in the summer. John Shimkus does not. His current unit is the 157th Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA) Detachment. It is a local unit that includes many staffers, Secret Service agents, and CIA agents, among others. It allows members of Congress and other public servants to stay connected to the military after leaving active duty. Today, most serve on a points-only basis, in which they receive only points toward their retirement fund as compensation. That means he never attends a drill. For the past 9 yrs. (& counting), the Hill's unit lets him attend special "VIP drills" to maintain his current time in grade. Beyond that, weekly meetings when Congress is in session. He will probably retire a full colonel, too. The best his constituents can expect from a West Pointer that spent 4 years on the "other" Dean's list.

There is one thing John Shimkus has accomplished. He proves to everyone how simple it is for the wrong person to win an election:

  • Know how work the Illinois political system that reinforces the already established ol'-boy network and make it work for personal political ambitions.
  • Have the right people in key positions to keep the campaign money rolling in on federal time. Getting caught is an opportunity to make a deal for immunity, take a European trip at taxpayer expense, and return to continue the work as if nothing ever happened.
  • Tell people what they want to hear to keep the votes rolling in. After being in office long enough to become the "darling of the party" and one of the "good little soldiers", it is too late. . .
. . . or is it? Yes, even a dishonorable, self-centered, mendacious person can keep his pledge of a term limit. The voters can force it on him by voting him out of an office he never should have entered in the first place & voting someone in (NOT a lawyer) that is really better for So. IL -- Something that should have happened in 2004. Something that NEEDED to happen in 2004.

IL residents need the Let's-Make-a-Deal incumbents to permanently retire. Their lives and livelihoods depend on it.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

UIUC's Foolish Dancing Caricature

Bill Plaschke wrote an article entitled Chief Justice - NCAA makes the right call by cracking down on Indian mascots for the Los Angeles Times on August 07, 2005. One of the people he interviewed is Joseph Red Cloud. He is an occasional contributor to Phil Konstantin's Newsletter.

Four hundred years ago, Middle America was populated by a group of native tribes known as the Illini.

They were among history's first underdogs -- hunters and farmers outmanned by war, disease, and displacement.

There were once 12,000 Illini in the area.

Today there are none.

That is, if you don't count the guy who entertains the University of Illinois sports crowds by pretending to be a whooping Illini chief, dressing like a caricature and dancing like a fool.

He's historically inaccurate. He's morally questionable.

He's also, finally, thankfully, endangered.

Making a rare move that actually reeks of education, the NCAA on Friday banned from its postseason tournaments the use of 18 Native American nicknames and mascots it considers abusive.

The University of Illinois is on that list. That means if it makes it to basketball's Final Four again, the words "Illini" and "Fighting Illini" will have to be as invisible as the culture they diminish. [. . .]

"It's about time," said Joseph Red Cloud, an administrative assistant with the influential Oglala Sioux tribe in Pine Ridge, S.D. "These names have always meant something different to Indians and non-Indians. They say they are honoring us. But many of us don't find it honorable."

To many sports fans, Native American nicknames are inspiration.

To many Native Americans, they are infuriating.

To many sports fans, the "Fighting Illini" is symbolic of their Midwestern spirit.

To which Native Americans ask, um, fellas, why do you think the original Illini were fighting in the first place?

Many feel that allowing Native Americans to force nickname changes is as silly as allowing folks from Ireland to mess with Notre Dame.

Yet few of those critics are from a culture that has been stolen, hidden and now demeaned.

In other words, Notre Dame fans, leprechauns weren't real people.

"These names and images have a damaging effect on Native Americans because it freezes us in our past, it distills our humanity to a one-dimensional term," said Joseph Gone, an assistant professor at the University of Michigan who once fought for the elimination of mascot Chief Illiniwek when he was a student at Illinois.

Gone said he was stunned by the effect that the chief's presence had upon the racial attitudes on campus.

"When I got there, I thought, sure, a mascot could be relevant," he said. "But then I saw how the Native American students on campus felt cheapened, they would have things thrown at them, they underwent a very bitter experience."

He thought removing the chief would be easy.

"I thought, he's just a mascot, right?" Gone said.

Wrong. At Illinois, as in other places, the Native American nicknames have become as important as the ancient library or tree-lined quad.

It's as if, instead of trying to recapture an identity, Native Americans are being accused of stripping one.

To understand the importance of the NCAA's fist here, one must understand the stubbornness of those it cannot touch.Think about this: It's illegal to drive around the Washington, D.C., area with a license plate reading "Redskin" because it's considered defamatory, yet the town's pro football team continues to embrace the same name.

Now think about this: The term "Redskin" was originally used by settlers who paid money to bounty hunters for the decomposing skin of dead Native Americans.

Yet politicians and influential media members sit silently while awaiting their weekly allotment of tickets."

On one hand, Washington says it wants a government-to-government relationship with Native Americans," Red Cloud said. "But on the other hand, politicians walk outside to a team with a nickname that degrades us. What is that?" [. . .]

Will the NCAA's decision force a change in the pros? Probably not.

There are millions of dollars tied up in those Redskin T-shirts and Indian mugs, and, in the world of sports, money always trumps manners.

But the NCAA's decision could certainly force a change in the college names. All it takes is one national championship game to be played with a patch over your nickname for a president to be convinced.

While the NCAA has no jurisdiction over the conference-ruled bowl championship series, look for the football playoff folks to eventually follow suit. And wouldn't that be fun for Florida State then?

Although, officially, the Seminole Tribe of Florida has no problem with it.

"If I had a child and wanted to name it after you, wouldn't you consider it an honor?" asked Max Osceola, a tribal council member. "Once again, we have non-natives trying to decide what is right for natives.

"Known as the Unconquered Seminoles, it is the only tribe that never lost a war and never signed a treaty.

It carries huge weight in their state, particularly in Tallahassee, where tribal consultants have helped the horse-riding Seminole mascot remain true to their heritage.

Said Osceola: "We have a great relationship with the university, we think our tribe is represented well."

Said Red Cloud: "I'm glad for them. But very few tribes are like that."

Said Osceola: "I agree, I am angered by many other things I see, I can only speak for us."

At least somebody is finally speaking for all of them, the NCAA taking a long-awaited step toward the sort of tolerance that is true learning.

One day, perhaps, the trivialization of a culture will no longer be dressed as school spirit.

And racism will no longer be disguised as the Tomahawk Chop.
NOTE: Illinois has had no federally recognized tribes since 1833. There are none in Missouri either.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

One More Step Back to the Bugs

A TX judge supports the charges against Tom DeLay's colleagues -- & nothing happened without his micromanaging approval, either.

A state district judge on Tuesday refused to dismiss charges of money laundering and accepting illegal political contributions against two associates of U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay.

Judge Bob Perkins denied arguments from attorneys for John Colyandro and Jim Ellis that the charges were based on an unconstitutionally vague law and that the indictments were improperly worded.

The attorneys said they would appeal, a move that likely would delay any trial for several months.

The charges stem from the 2002 Texas legislative elections. Colyandro worked for DeLay's fundraising committee Texans for a Republican Majority, and Ellis worked for Americans for a Republican Majority.

The money laundering charges are based on $190,000 in corporate money that was sent to the Republican National State Elections Committee. That committee then gave the same amount of money in donations to seven Texas House candidates.

Colyandro and Ellis each were indicted on one count of money laundering, and Colyandro faces 13 counts of unlawful acceptance of a corporate political contribution.

DeLay, a Republican from Sugar Land, has not been charged with criminal wrongdoing.

Another defendant, Warren RoBold, a Washington consultant who helped raise money for the committees, also has been indicted on charges of accepting illegal corporate contributions. RoBold was not part of Tuesday's court proceedings.
Once the colleagues remember that they are entitled to having company in jail, the Unholy Trinity will lose a major minion.

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Another Interesting So. IL Blog

Almost a month ago, The Unfavorable Opinion went online. Black Sheep is "your average college Democrat student" & seems to have an opinion on many different topics - including political ones. She has her own posts & provides feedback comments on other blogs. She even provides links to other writings for Your Reading Enjoyment.

Silence equals consent, and a silent Democrat she refuses to be. It certainly takes Integrity and Courage in All Things to publish some of her statements. It is a commendable quality considering the truly critical feedback she has received for her comments to some obfuscating Republican (synonymous terms) posts.

Noteworthy points about Black Sheep:

  • Statements beyond conventional wisdom
  • Publicly vocal female
  • Liberal Southern Illinois resident
  • Twenty-Something college co-ed
  • Committed Democrat voter
With unconventional wisdom, the person using the pseudonym, Black Sheep, acts as an influential force for her peers & a reminder of the qualities older Democrats should actively display.

That is the definition of
leader. A definition that remains elusive to the DCCC & State Party “leaders”.

Monday, August 08, 2005

A Truly Unfeeling President

Edgar Lawrence Doctorow, a man of levelheaded, praiseworthy intellect, wrote The Unfeeling President. It appeared in Gifted Eloquence in a July posting. One mother of a servicemember killed in Iraq has met President Bush & knows exacting how unfeeling President Bush really is.

Currently, 1,810 people have died in a “war” with no legitimate justification. 1,810 PEOPLE – not cannon fodder.

This is what happens when the Supreme Court puts someone in the Oval Office the way they did in 2000. In November 2004, 62,040,610 people just did not get it.

Sunday, August 07, 2005

A Challenger for David Reis

Rep. David Reis (R) (pronounced Rice) is a first-termer for the 108th Illinois State District. He defeated appointed State Representative Grunloh (D) 62% to 38%. According to the election results, the 108th had more counties not voting their interest than any other Illinois Representative District. If that is not bad enough, here is another fact: More counties in the illustrious 108th voted for Alan Keyes than any other representative district in Illinois.

In addition, it is a well-known fact that Laborer's International Union of North America (LIUNA) subtantively controls Effingham, Wayne and Richland County central committees. Ed Smith is the vice president of the organization. Julie Vahling, Effingham Chairperson, now works for Mr. Smith, & many 108th constituents know where her interests are. On the other hand, could everyone be wrong & she is really considering the 54th Senate seat?

Either way, the November 2004 Election does not say many positive things about the Party "leaders" (Always out to lunch.), Mr. Smith's "leadership" skills (Does he even know the meaning of the word?), & the voters that chose to stay home.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

DCCC Ignores Another Opportunity

All the DCCC had to do was provide a little financial support. As usual, they do not understand the meaning of the word, & Rep. Rahm Emanuel, the DCCC Chairman, does not know the meaning of the word leader.

From MSNBC . . .

A Republican former state lawmaker claimed a seat in Congress on Tuesday by narrowly defeating an Iraq war veteran who drew national attention to the race with his military service and a series of harsh attacks on President Bush.

With all precincts reporting, Jean Schmidt had 52 percent, or 57,974 votes, compared with Democrat Paul Hackett's 48 percent, or 54,401 votes. Schmidt's margin of victory amounted to about 3,500 votes out of more than 112,000 cast.

[. . .]

Democrats had viewed the race as a bellwether for 2006, saying even a strong showing by Hackett in such a heavily GOP district would be a good sign for them in the midterm elections.

[. . .]

In Ohio, Schmidt billed herself as an experienced leader more in tune with the district than Hackett. She is the first woman ever elected to Congress from the 2nd District.
Hackett, 43, is a lawyer and Marine reservist who recently completed a seven-month tour and was vying to become the first combat veteran of the Iraq war to serve in Congress.

He drew attention to the race with his flame-throwing assaults on Bush, namely for the president's July 2003 "bring 'em on" comment about Iraqi insurgents. Hackett said such talk merely "cheered on the enemy."

[. . .]

Hackett has also referred to the president as "a chicken hawk ... a person who advocates war in a cavalier way."
Schmidt consistently supported Bush on the war, and said she shares the "moral values" of the district with her opposition to abortion and to gay marriage.

The DCCC insists on the Democrats maintaining their status as the Minority Party.

What fools.

Update: It seems that the DCCC provided some support to the Hackett campaign according to The Hill & gave new meaning to minimalism at the same time:
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee lent volunteers and campaign staff to the effort, ran a television and sent two pieces of mail to voters.
At least the organization recognized the man as a challenger.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Fallacious Right-Wing Message

Recently Jim Wallis wrote Must all religion be Right? It is a response to an article he found in the Wall Street Journal. The text is below in its entirety.

Joe Loconte is on a mission to make sure all religion in America (or at least the political expressions thereof) will be dependably right-wing, like his Washington, D.C.-based Heritage Foundation. Any moderate or, worse, "progressive" religious deviation from the Republican Party line is anathema to Joe, who feels called to stamp out such heresies.

In his recent Wall Street Journal commentary, "From Gospel to Government," published July 1, 2005, Loconte, a Heritage Foundation fellow, derides all such progressive religious groups as having "no obvious grassroots constituency," as being "composed mostly of mainline clergy and church elites who are often culturally out of step with the rank and file," and as people who "treat traditional religion with either suspicion or outright contempt." Wow. That certainly is true for the "secular fundamentalists" who exercise the same undue influence over the Democratic Party as the "religious fundamentalists" do over the Republican Party, but certainly not for orthodox Catholic and evangelical Christians (like me) who simply do not share Loconte's right-wing politics. It is hard to find ourselves in Loconte's diatribes.

He charges that such non-Religious Right heretics "leap directly from the Bible to contemporary politics" without the proper theological and political nuances. Interesting. Was not it Religious Right leaders who in a Nashville "Justice Sunday" event said that Christians who do not support all of President Bush's judicial nominees are not really "people of faith?" "Imagine my surprise," said an evangelical seminary professor from Asbury, Kentucky, at an alternative religious service when he realized that despite his biblically orthodox upbringing, he was not really a Christian unless he backed the Republican president's choices for the federal court. In his op-ed, Loconte attacked "religious progressives" for being "allied" with George Soros and MoveOn.Org when I know of no connections to those liberal funders and groups that are as direct as the Religious Right's ties to right-wing funders and think tanks such as Loconte's Heritage Foundation. Perhaps a good test of religious independence would be to examine how critical faith leaders and groups are of their natural political allies. I would love to compare the religious left and right on that score.

Loconte referenced the "best-selling book God's Politics" that I wrote and accused me of deriving from Isaiah a "blueprint for government welfare spending." On that book tour (in which we spoke to the constituency Loconte claims none of us have), we reached nearly 70,000 people face to face over 21 weeks in 53 cities and reached millions more through the media. What I found was a silent majority of moderate and progressive religious people who don't feel represented by the shrill tones and ideological agenda of the Religious Right, nor the disdainful attitudes toward religion from the secular left. But they do feel that poverty is a moral value and religious issue (there are 3,000 verses on the poor in the Bible), that protecting the environment (otherwise known as God's creation) is also matter of good faith and stewardship, and that the ethics of war - whether we go to war, when we go to war, and whether we tell the truth about going to war - are profoundly religious matters. The people I met don't see federal spending as the only answer to poverty (and neither do I), but they do believe that budgets are moral documents and that all of society is responsible (public, private, and civil society sectors - including faith-based organizations) for working together to overcome poverty.

In a recent National Public Radio commentary, Loconte accused all churches and religious groups who had questions about the war in Iraq of being hopelessly utopian pacifists, and invoked the example of theologian Reinhold Niebuhr's opposition to Hitler as the more realistic path. The problem is that Pope John Paul II, who opposed the war in Iraq, and the current Pope Benedict are not pacifists. Nor are the majority of church bodies around the world who studied the rationales for the war in Iraq (including the majority of evangelical churches worldwide) and concluded it did not fit the traditional just war categories. And Niebuhr, suggest many of his students (including his theologian daughter), would have been quite alarmed at the Bush theology in the war on terrorism, which too easily sees our adversaries as evil and us as good, denying the evil that runs through all human hearts and nation states.
So what's Joe's problem? I think he's worried about what I saw and felt around the country as I met the constituency he hopes doesn't exist. The monologue of the Religious Right is now over, and a new dialogue has just begun on the application of faith and values to politics. Joe wants the Religious Right's monologue to continue and to make sure that no serious dialogue about faith and politics in America gets a chance to really begin. His attacks do, however, serve one useful purpose. He gives credible evidence to the subtitle of God's Politics: Why the Right gets it wrong and the Left doesn't get it.
Now if the Left would only get it.

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