Durbin’s relection, Illiniwek

Workout notes: 2000 yards (20 x 100 on the 2; 10 were free/back/fist/free, 5 were fly/free/fly/free, 5 were side/free/side/free). Then yoga with Ms. V.

Chief Illiniwek An issue with fans of the University Illinois football and basketball teams is the retirement of their mascot, Chief Illiniwek. The mascot was deemed to be hostile and racist by the NCAA.

I won’t get into that assertion, but I will comment on a couple of other ones:

  • The Chief is somehow there to “honor the past”: you hear this all of the time:

    And, for the first time, I was privileged to watch Chief Illiniwek proudly dance down the field to Indian war music.

    The last time I watched the Chief was Sept. 16, 2006. It will be the last time I ever see this 81-year-old symbol of my alma mater. The board of trustees last week eliminated Chief Illiniwek, bowing to years of pressure from Native American activists, the NCAA and liberal politicians. This is a melancholy moment for me, many other Illinois alumni and university officials, including President B. Joseph White. The university has been forced to yield to blackmail. The death of the Chief epitomizes some unsavory aspects of contemporary American public life: political correctness, hypocrisy and bureaucratic tyranny.

    Only a small minority of Native Americans is shown by polls to oppose Indian nicknames in sports. The campaign gained momentum only when the NCAA, which can hardly cope with policing athlete misconduct and illegal payments in college sports, crusaded against dozens of colleges in the name of political correctness. The NCAA, under Myles Brand’s presidency, labeled Chief Illiniwek one of the “hostile and abusive racial/ethnic/national origin mascots.”

    But the Chief is no mascot (the university calls him a symbol). The big-headed depiction of the father of this country at George Washington University, the turtle representing the University of Maryland and the Demon Deacon for Wake Forest are mascots. Such college mascots are comical figures who engage in sham battles with each other and go into the stands to hug children. Chief Illiniwek did not. He was always austere and dignified.

    The accusation that Illinois and other schools degrade Native Americans is absurd. These schools picked Indian symbols in admiration of their valor, ferociousness and indomitable spirit in the face of overwhelming odds. Native Americans were honored in naming states. Illinois is Algonquin for “tribe of superior men.” Indiana means the “land of the Indians.”


    Former Chief John Bitzer, 53, a Collinsville attorney, said the ruling shows how little the NCAA knows about the legacy of Chief Illiniwek.
    “The whole intent of Chief Illiniwek is to honor the past,” he said. “The tribes of Illinois were warriors, and they were loyal to their tribes. That’s what the Chief exemplifies.”
    John Bitzer said he received a few letters complaining about the Chief during his term as Illiniwek. He said he answered the letters with background information about the history of American Indians in Illinois and why the Chief was chosen to represent the University of Illinois. A member of the “Save the Chief” organization, he fears the Chief will be eliminated.
    “I’m afraid the university won’t have the stomach to stand up to this nonsense,” he said. “There needs to be a judge rule that the NCAA is stepping out of its sphere of authority.”

  • Hmmm, so fans to to basketball and football games to “honor the past”? I thought they went to whoop it up and cheer for their team. Silly me.

  • The Chief is proud and dignified.
  • You can see many more such photos here.

    Yep, I am sure that the old Native American Chiefs went around doing such jumps. 😉

Face it: people liked seeing “The Chief” dance around and jump; it got them fired up for the game. “Honor and dignity” had absolutely nothing to do with it.

Senator Durbin

Sure, Senator Durbin is an early favorite to win reelection, but that doesn’t mean that the Illinois Republic Party isn’t at least thinking about his seat:

There’s a lot of grousing that Republicans don’t yet have any clear candidates for the nomination for U.S. Senate to take on incumbent Democrat Dick Durbin next year. But there are some institutional realities to this race that have to be taken into account. It is, by no means, a worthless nomination. But it is the political equivalent of venture capital – a high-risk opportunity that offers a big return with ultimate success, but long odds against achieving that success. There are limitations on who can take on that type of risk.

First the problems. Durbin is a high-ranking member of Democratic leadership in the senate. He will start with access to all the resources he needs. He is a Democratic incumbent in a blue state. He is identified as an outspoken opponent of the war; a war that, whatever its merits, is currently both at the top of peoples minds and very unpopular.

If nothing significant changes in the political landscape, any serious GOP candidate would have to largely self-fund. The State Republican Party is coming off a devastating cycle. That dampens the ability of the state party to raise money for the next cycle. While it can’t give directly to a federal candidate anyway, it puts serious hurdles in the way of it being of serious help in offering support services in improving the climate or helping in direct fundraising appeals.

The rest of the article is worth reading.


February 22, 2007 Posted by | Peoria/local, politics/social | Leave a comment

Obama stands up to Hillary Clinton, Romney, religion and kool-aid

Unfortunately, Senator Barack Obama and Senator Hillary Clinton got into a bit of a tussle. It started when New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd wrote an unflattering article about Senator Obama on the campaign trail. Her article has been debunked at the source that I cited and here as well (same article); of course her article was mostly her opinion on Senator Obama’s reactions while on the campaign trail.

But her article contained more than this; it also contained a rant by a former Clinton supporter:

While Ms. Dowd’s column is available only to Times-Select subscribers, here are a few choice Geffen quotes that the Clinton campaign calls “personal attacks” on the senator and the former president:

“Not since the Vietnam War has there been this level of disappointment in the behavior of America throughout the world, and I don’t think that another incredibly polarizing figure, no matter how smart she is and no matter how ambitious she is — and God knows, is there anybody more ambitious than Hillary Clinton? — can bring the country together.

“Obama is inspirational, and he’s not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family. Americans are dying every day in Iraq. And I’m tired of hearing James Carville on television.”

Of Mr. Clinton, and whether there’s Clinton fatigue these days, as Ms. Dowd writes, Mr. Geffen continued:

“I don’t think anybody believes that in the last six years, all of a sudden Bill Clinton has become a different person,” Mr. Geffen says, adding that if Republicans are digging up dirt, they’ll wait until Hillary is the nominee to use it. “I think they believe she’s the easiest to defeat.”

And of Mrs. Clinton’s war stance and campaign so far: “It’s not a very big thing to say, ‘I made a mistake’ on the war, and typical of Hillary Clinton that she can’t,” Mr. Geffen says. “She’s so advised by so many smart advisers who are covering every base. I think that America was better served when the candidates were chosen in smoke-filled rooms.”

Now Senator Clinton didn’t get where she is today by taking things lying down. She, or rather her campaign responded:

Howard Wolfson, one of Mrs. Clinton’s top advisers said in a statement:

While Senator Obama was denouncing slash and burn politics yesterday, his campaign’s finance chair was viciously and personally attacking Senator Clinton and her husband.

If Senator Obama is indeed sincere about his repeated claims to change the tone of our politics, he should immediately denounce these remarks, remove Mr. Geffen from his campaign and return his money.

While Democrats should engage in a vigorous debate on the issues, there is no place in our party or our politics for the kind of personal insults made by Senator Obama’s principal fundraiser.

But Senator Obama is no milqutoast politician. He, or rather his campaign came back very quickly:

Well, the Obama campaign responds rapidly, and we’d add, pretty much just as sharply. From Robert Gibbs, the campaign’s communications director:

We aren’t going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters.

It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom.

It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because ’he’s black.’”

Needless to say, Obama supporters were overjoyed!

Remember in 2004 how disappointed we were with Kerry’s slow and creaky rapid response team. (Actually, even calling it a rapid response team is somewhat generous).

Well, it appears that with respect to at least one of this year’s Presidential candidates, we needn’t have any worries. Hillary Clinton launched an attack on Obama today, demanding that he disavow the statements of one of his biggest supporters, David Geffen.

How did Obama respond? With a friggen wrecking ball. And within the same news cycle to boot.

Blueollie Moran Award

Have you ever wondered what kool-aid Bush’s loyal 30-35% is drinking, or where they get it? One place is NewsMax:

Bush Camp Supports Romney

Ronald Kessler
Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2007

When former Bush White House aides ask Karl Rove for guidance on where to throw their support in the next presidential election, he tells them President Bush is neutral about the candidates. But Bush family members, friends, and key supporters are solidly behind Mitt Romney.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush has quietly given his blessing to key staffers to migrate to the Romney camp, Sally Bradshaw, who was Jeb’s staff director and is now working for Romney, told me.

There are some striking similarities between George W. Bush and Mitt Romney. Both are sons of presidential candidates. Both are multimillionaires who made their money as highly successful businessmen. Both were state governors.

Emphasis mine. “Successful businessmen” who made their money????? NewsMax readers who believe such stuff win my “moran award.”

Unless this is what you mean by success:

On the cusp of his 40th birthday, Bush had two choices: Cut his staff to the bone, hunker down and pray for oil prices to climb before the banks foreclosed; or find a bigger company that was willing to scoop him up, debts and all. “I’m all name and no money,” the son of the then-vice president used to say.

Bush’s name, however, was to help rescue him, just as it had attracted investors and helped revive his flagging fortunes throughout his years in the dusty plains city of Midland. A big Dallas-based firm, Harken Oil and Gas, was looking to buy up troubled oil companies. After finding Spectrum, Harken’s executives saw a bonus in their target’s CEO, despite his spotty track record.

By the end of September 1986, the deal was done. Harken assumed $3.1 million in debts and swapped $2.2 million of its stock for a company that was hemorrhaging money, though it had oil and gas reserves projected to produce $4 million in future net revenue. Harken, a firm that liked to attach itself to stars, had also acquired Bush, whom it used not as an operating manager but as a high-profile board member.

“One of the reasons Harken was so interested in merging was because of George,” said Paul Rea, a geologist who had been president of Spectrum 7. “They believed having George’s name there would be a big help to them. They wanted him on their board.”

The buyout not only rescued Bush financially but gave him the collateral for an investment a few years later in the Texas Rangers baseball team that eventually made him a millionaire. In addition to the seat on the board, he received more than $300,000 of Harken stock, options to buy more, and a consulting contract that paid him as much as $120,000 a year in the late ’80s, when he was working full time on his father’s presidential campaign.

It was one of the biggest breaks of Bush’s life. Still, the Harken deal completed a disappointing reprise of what was becoming a familiar pattern. As an oilman, Bush always worked hard, winning a reputation as a straight-shooter and a good boss who was witty, warm and immensely likable. Even the investors who lost money in his ventures remained admirers, and some of them are now raising money for his presidential campaign.

But the story of Bush’s career in oil, which began following his graduation from Harvard Business School in the summer of 1975 and ended when he sold out to Harken and headed for Washington, is mostly about his failure to succeed, despite the sterling connections his lineage and Ivy League education brought him.

Thanks to his and his family’s ties to wealthy investors around the country, including prominent Republicans, Bush was repeatedly able to raise money to invest in oil drilling, especially when prices were booming and tax breaks were inviting in the late 1970s. But connections could not help with the tricky business of picking profitable holes to drill, and Bush never made a big score.

In fact, Bush lost money for most of his well-connected investors. At the same time, the management fees and other expenses he collected from them kept him in business and enabled him to buy oil reserves for his company’s own account, including the reserves that eventually attracted Harken’s attention. […]

Mind you, this article was written in 1999, before he became widely hated.

And not everyone was convinced that he was such a straight shooter:

George W. Bush drilled a lot of dry holes while in the oil and gas industry. But his business failings (it can be a rough business after all) are not what most detractors latch onto in condemning his record – it’s perceived conflicts of interest, alledged insider trading, and undue political influence.

“Reporters have been particularly intrigued by George W.’s adventure in the oil industry, and well they might be. There was something about it that smacked of a shell game run by a very fast hand.”
Robert Sherrill writing for The Texas Observer

“Bush was still at Harken [Energy, company that acquired a failing Spectrum 7 where Bush was CEO] when his father won the 1988 presidential election, and in January of 1990, the company acquired exclusive offshore drilling rights from the government of Bahrain.

Harken acquired those rights even though, according to the Wall Street Journal, the company had ‘never drilled a single well overseas or in water,’ and had to seek out additional investors.”
Michael King writing for The Texas Observer

Perhaps it was a coincidence or perhaps he was simply using the contacts at his disposal to get into a position to be considered for the contract. Whether or not he actually did anything wrong, it sure doesn’t make him look good.

In 1992 U.S. News and World Report reported on some questionable dealings including possible insider trading involving Harken Energy stock. Although the evidence was serious enough to warrant an SEC investigation they ultimately decided not to punish Bush. Yet there are lingering doubts about Bush’s activities and even about his Dad’s political influence having a hand in the outcome.

So what about Romney, and why would Bush support him?

Well, though Senator McCain is widely seen as supporting President Bush’s troop surge in Iraq, he now is a very vocal critic of former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Monday the war in Iraq has been mismanaged for years and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld will be remembered as one of the worst in history.

“We are paying a very heavy price for the mismanagement — that’s the kindest word I can give you — of Donald Rumsfeld, of this war,” the Arizona senator said.

“The price is very, very heavy and I regret it enormously.” McCain told an overflow crowd of more than 800 at a retirement community near Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.

McCain, the ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, complained that Rumsfeld never put enough troops on the ground to succeed in Iraq.

“I think that Donald Rumsfeld will go down in history as one of the worst secretaries of defense in history,” McCain said to applause.

The comments were in sharp contrast to McCain’s statement when Rumsfeld resigned in November, and failed to address the reality that President Bush is the commander in chief.

“While Secretary Rumsfeld and I have had our differences, he deserves Americans’ respect and gratitude for his many years of public service,” McCain said last year when Rumsfeld stepped down.

Hmmm; that can’t endear him to President Bush.

But what about Governor Romney? I’ll save my discussion of his apparent flip-flops; er, make that relatively changes in attitude on social issues, and McCain’s for that matter (for which Romney got hammered and McCain got a pass)

It is no secret that he is a Mormon. No problem so far as so is Senator Harry Reid. But Senator Reid is a Democrat and Democrats have been hammered for saying that religion ought to be kept out of the public square, though it can be a good thing to act on the moral values (e. g., compassion for the less fortunate) that one gets from their faith (or other places).

But the Republic Party has sought to return religion to the public square, hence I think it is fair game to examine Republic Party candidates on their beliefs.

These are the temple garmets which are worn as underwear to remind LDS members of what their committment to their religion.

For example, I couldn’t vote for someone who would take passages like this seriously (from the Book of Mormon, an official LDS religious text)

Another inspired scripture, according to the LDS, is the Book of Mormon. It discusses the Lamanite race, and how they received dark skins and a degenerate status as punishment:

2 Nephi 5:21-23:

“And he had caused the cursing to come upon them, yea, even a sore cursing, because of their iniquity. For behold, they had hardened their hearts against him, that they had become like unto a flint; wherefore, as they were white, and exceedingly fair and delightsome, that they might not be enticing unto my people the Lord God did cause a skin of blackness to come upon them.”

“And thus saith the Lord God: I will cause that they shall be loathsome unto thy people, save they shall repent of their iniquities.”

“And cursed shall be the seed of him that mixeth with their seed; for they shall be cursed even with the same cursing. And the Lord spake it, and it was done.”

“And because of their cursing which was upon them they did become an idle people, full of mischief and subtlety, and did seek in the wilderness for beasts of prey.”

In 2 Nephi 30:6, the the Book of Mormon as originally translated (or written; opinions differ) by Joseph Smith said that if Lamanites accepted the true gospel,

“…their scales of darkness shall begin to fall from their eyes; and many generations shall not pass away among them, save they shall be a white and a delightsome people.”

After 1981, the term “white and delightsome” was changed to read “pure” — an unusual action for a book considered to be inspired by God in its original version. 5

3 Nephi 2:15 reads:

“And their curse was taken from them, and their skin became white like unto the Nephites.” 5

There is a nice article at the Smirking Chimp about this (as it applies to Romney); it is long but well worth reading.

At the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Florida this weekend, a heckler yelled at presidential hopeful Mitt Romney that he was not a “real Christian,” since he was a Mormon. The heckler claimed that Romney’s church, also known as the Church of Later Day Saints (LDS), “is a cult.”

Romney didn’t lose his cool. He just smiled and a calmly replied that, what particular faith a candidate held was unimportant. All he cared about, Romney claimed, was that the next President of the United States “is a person of faith.”

Really? Does that mean Romney would support a fundamentalist Muslim candidate for President, one who believes that US law should be replaced with strict Islamic law?

How about a Scientologist? Would Romney be comfortable with Tom Cruise in the Oval Office? Don’t laugh. Remember, it was less than a century ago that the Mormon church was viewed by mainstream Christians the same way they view Scientology today. (Becoming a “religion” is, after all, a numbers game. Gather just a few followers, and you’re cult. Gather a few million and you’re officially a religion.)

My purpose here is not to bash Romney, his faith or anyone else’s. America is chuck full of faiths, and that’s just fine with me. Whatever floats your boat. But when I am picking a president, a person’s publicly stated faith becomes another matter entirely.

My goal is to encourage the media to break through the barriers that seem to shield a candidate’s right to advertise his or her faith from the publics right to know just more precisely what that faith teaches, and how much those teachings might shape a candidate’s decisions and public policy.

This is serious business – the most serious. We’ve had nearly seven years of experience with what happens when we fail to nail down just what a candidate really means when he or she claims they are “a person of faith.” We have a guy in the White House today who repeatedly evoked the name of God and Jesus during his campaign, assuring us that he had been “saved,” and was, therefore, a certified “person of faith,” — pronouncements that went unexplored and unchallenged.

What we discovered, too late, was that for once young George wasn’t lying. Among the things Bush had “faith” in was that his decisions were endorsed from on-high – by no less than God Himself. He also believes that creation had more to do with “intelligent design,” than natural evolutionary processes, and that bundles of cells moments after fertilization are itty-bitty people.

All the warnings were there, but weren’t pursued. And so it came to pass that George’s faith blessed an illegal and un-winnable war in which hundreds of thousands of “full-term humans” have been — and are still being — killed. […]

When Joe Biden mispoke a few weeks ago, describing Barack Obama as “clean,” reporters beat that horse to death. Why? Because, they reminded us, “words matter.” Well, if words matter so much, shouldn’t faith matter even more?

What I am suggesting here is that the media not allow candidates a free pass any longer on blanket claims of “faith.” Precisely what are the driving tenets of the faith they claim? And how much of it does the candidate believe is literal .. I mean really believe? Then ask the candidate to explain how he/she would handle the contradictions and tensions between what their stated faith holds true, and their duties as a secular leader.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | hillary clinton, morons, obama, politics/social | Leave a comment