Friday, April 28, 2006

Free Executive MBAs for Illinois Vets

The College of Business at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the state of Illinois has 110 academic scholarships for Illinois-based veterans and active-duty military personnel. The scholarships are for Executive MBAs (Masters of Business Administration).

This is a wonderful opportunity:

The program combines the University's Military Scholarship Program with the Illinois Veteran Grant. Applicants must qualify for admission to the MBA program and satisfy Illinois residency, military service and other eligibility requirements.

This full-ride scholarship is best suited for employees one or two steps from a general management or department leadership position. The Program puts heavy emphasis on the tools and methods required for running a P&L (profit & loss). The average age of students is 38.

The program grants an MBA after successful completion of 18 courses over approximately 20 months on an employer-friendly schedule that minimizes time away from the job. The 20-month MBA program usually costs $74,000 and includes a trip to China where students will participate in a real-world consulting project.
The Illini Center at 200 South Wacker Drive in Chicago has information sessions available on these dates:
  • May 3rd
  • May 23rd
  • June 1st
  • June 15th
  • June 28th
Veterans or active duty personnel meeting the qualifications would benefit from this program. Also, anyone can recommend someone for this exceptional full-ride scholarship.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Estate Tax Realities

The Center for American Progress always has wonderful progressive policy analyses. The Progress Report has the information below for anyone thinking that repealing the Estate Tax will benefit them:

TAXES -- EIGHTEEN FAMILIES BANKROLL ESTATE TAX REPEAL CAMPAIGN: The 10-year effort to repeal the estate tax (aka the Paris Hilton Tax) on heirs of the super wealthy has been financed and coordinated by just 18 families, according to a new report by Public Citizen and United for a Fair Economy. The families include “the candy magnate Mars family, Waltons of Wal-Mart fame, Kochs of Koch Industries and Dorrance family of the Campbell’s Soup Co.” Together, they are worth a total of $185.5 billion. The estate tax repeal would “collectively net them a windfall of $71.6 billion.” Bending to the will of these families, House and Senate conservatives are proposing to permanently repeal the estate tax -- or seek a “compromise” that is nearly as bad -- even though such a move would cost over three quarters of a trillion dollars in the next decade. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) has promised a vote on repeal in May. Meanwhile, a new poll finds that 57 percent favor reforming or leaving alone the estate tax; only 23 percent back repealing it. And for good reason: Americans are about four times as likely to be hit by lightning than to have to pay estate taxes on small businesses or farms.
John Shimkus (IL-19) is nothing if not a walking foregone conclusion lacking an original thought (if he even knows what one is). Therefore, his corporate constituents and the residents of IL-19 know how he votes every time.

Too bad no one living in Central and So. IL will ever benefit from his Roll Call vote.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

John Shimkus Works Against The People

The latest scuttlebutt is about Net Neutrality (e.g., all Internet traffic should be delivered at the same rate -- regardless of who sent it). John Shimkus (IL-19) is naturally against this and for AT&T becoming the monopoly. Corporations pay well for his services, and he does not disappoint. It is so typical of someone so firmly committed to the survival of the fittest. Soapblox/Chicago has a post on this issue.

Obviously, Rep. Shimkus would not have done well if he had attended Concordia Seminary instead of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. As a regular on the "other" Dean's List at West Point, he is lucky to have graduated at all. As a congressman, he does not incorporate the values of his faith in his legislative ethics. His activities during his tenure in Congress have not met the human physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of those who are suffering. He has proven that he is in Congress to serve the corporations rather than serve people in their need. To the nations, races, and people who have come to truly know him, there is no mistake. He is not a person of good reputation.

The reasons to vote him out of office in November continue to increase. Dan Stover is the better choice.

Monday, April 17, 2006

True Colors

This afternoon’s guilty verdict in the George Ryan trial was no surprise to anyone understanding federal law. When Deb Detmers accepted immunity for her testimony, it was just a matter of time.

Shades of Michael Tristano -- former Secretary of State employees helped John Shimkus (IL-19) -- on state time -- achieve his 1996 victory in the Republican Primary. Deb Detmers Fansler, his current district director, acknowledged that she initially adopted fundraising goals from former Secretary of State Jim Edgar's administration. After the election, Rep. John Shimkus hired Deb from the Index Department in Ryan's office in addition to Craig Roberts, Rodney Davis, and Mary Ellen Madonia. Steve Tomaszewski worked for George Ryan when he was the Secretary of State concentrating on operations in Central and So. IL. Common practice for staffers during the Edgar and Ryan years included campaign work on state time and using state computers and other taxpayer-paid resources to increase the campaign war chests for the GOP legislative candidates. On the record, the time for the state workers appeared as compensatory leave and payments from the House Republican Campaign Committee although the time off and payments never covered all the campaign work.

The IL-19 congressional representative’s record is mediocre at best. This year is no different. His schedule on The Hill for the 2nd Session of the 109th Congress is only 97 days (less than the 108 days in 1948) long. It is not much time to work in the best interests of the public trust. Rest assured he will find the time to follow the money as well as he has in the past. When he needs to prioritize, his constituents know that he prefers to work towards increasing the gap between the CEOs and the disappearing middle class. His military "experience" is a joke, and it shows in his record. He votes against vet legislation every chance possible. He could be better on senior citizen issues, too.

Promoting tax gimmickry, retrograding into pre-20th Century Social Darwinism, and delivering bupkis to the quality of life in IL-19 are the hallmarks of the John Shimkus anti-Christian values.

The constituents of IL-19 deserve a good representative. As an uber-conservative, fundamentalist conformist, non-questioning, Christian Republican, John Shimkus is not that man. His allegiance is blind obedience to his Party leaders (e.g. the very rational, coldly calculating, ruthless, unscrupulous Karl Rove, et al.) and a do-nothing Congress lacking any form of oversight. He will continue doing nothing to help the fortunates achieve a better quality of life for themselves. Recently, he has already voted against net neutrality. In the past, he never lifted a finger on the Antifreeze Bittering Act of 2005 (H.R. 2567 ) in his own committee. Wildlife and family pets simply are not worth his time and more proof of his belief in survival of the fittest.

For someone who was supposed to be a Lutheran minister, John Shimkus has proven himself to be nothing more than a sycophant for the Republican Party. As he shows his true colors to the voters willing to acknowledge fact, they are also reminded that everything happens for a reason.

Although Rep. Shimkus refuses to make good on his pledge of a term limit, IL-19 voters have the power and the opportunity to force it upon him – with a real majority.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Through Immigrant Eyes

There is a pre-med student at Rice University. Every year he re-applies for his scholarships. The application packet always has a 2-page written essay included.

One of the questions this year: If you could go back and ask the Framers to clarify the meaning of any part of the Constitution, what would it be.

If a person could go back and ask the Framers to clarify the meaning of any part of the Constitution, then the First Amendment of “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press….” certainly is an issue that needs clarification.

This part of the Bill of Rights has come under attack in the recent years. It remains an issue that is hotly contested in the courts and in the homes of many American citizens and clearly has no clear-cut definition that all can agree on. Paparazzi often cry out “freedom of the press” while they vehemently invade the lives of celebrities to a degree that make most people disgusted. Clearly society needs a balance between freedom of the press and the rights of others. Libel laws cover inalienable rights. When does one end and the other begin? How can a government invalidate a person’s rights on one hand and fundamentally uphold them on the other? When individual rights conflict with government, there is cause for concern with policy.

Upon examination, the Patriot Act appears that it severely limits the Freedom of Speech. The Bush Administration justifies the narrow language in the legislation as necessary for “security” purposes. While loyalty is a very important virtue that all citizens should apply, it does not justify removing a person’s rights due to some sort of atypical duress.

I personally question this method to combat terror because it appears that the terrorists are winning while the legislators continually concede civil rights. America is a county with undeniable rights found no where else in the world. Removing any part of them only serves to enhance society’s fear of terror. It feels as if the government fears outsiders and United States citizens sending a message that anyone could potentially be the new “enemy”. How can the few foreign and domestic enemies justify law-abiding citizens surrendering rights they have enjoyed all their lives?

What would James Madison and Thomas Jefferson feel if they could see how today’s legislators slowly eat away at the Bill of Rights? Thomas Jefferson understood how important a Bill of Rights would be and supported the draft that James Madison created. He also understood the controversy. In his March 15, 1789, letter to Madison, he wrote “If we cannot secure all our rights, let us secure what we can . . . it is not absolutely efficacious under all circumstances, it is of great potency always, and rarely inefficacious.” Little did he realize that 220 years later the Patriot Act would test that statement.

In addition to the memory of the Framers, I sincerely believe that the United States is a great country for its ability to introspect as a country. When people critique their own actions, they create a country capable of the meanings of “freedom, equality, and justice” that they espouse as fundamental ideas. However, when people question legislation restricting those values, it is treasonous. Consequently, people begin to close their minds what is truth, and the truly virtuous ideals become nothing more than empty words. America wholly symbolizes the ultimate goal of freedom, justice, equality, and the inability to question. It is wrong to feel that way if government only serves to open the door for the misuse and bastardization of American ideals and virtues.

Thus, I would ask questions concerning the right for free speech if I could go back in time. When is the government justified in taking away this right? How does the threat of terror justify the government right to impose its will so forcefully? While the Constitution’s strength lies in its flexibility, Jefferson and Madison should address this issue. The ramifications concerning the right of free speech affects the very core of democracy and equality in the United States of America in the 21st Century America.
A simple perspective from the son of immigrants. He is busy working on his pre-med undergraduate coursework at Rice University. He is also quite good playing the violin.

Cross-posted to LiberIL View

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