6.11.2005

A Rundown of the Republican gubernatorial candidates

Well personally, I believe on the IL state GOP has been in self-destruct mode for quite a while. But Governor Rod is unpopular enough to give the leadership a nice shot in the arm. So far, many names have been mentioned, with priority on a person who can win, no matter where they are on the issues. So here is everyone I've heard of so far:

Judy Baar Topinka - Originally from the Chicago area, she is the highest ranking Republican left in IL as the state treasurer, an elected position. She served as state GOP chairman before current one Andy McKenna. She has served 4 years in the state House, 10 years in the state Senate, and 12 years as treasurer. In the most recent election, she won 56% of the vote. Considered a moderate and a defender of abortion and gay rights, she is not extremely popular with grassroots conservatives, making a primary win difficult. Perhaps the party base will be concerned enough about electablility to ignore this. Rumor has it that Karl Rove has suggested that former Gov. Jim Edgar should run with Topinka in the lietenant spot. She has already begun making some trips and fundraising, though like most other candidates, hasn't officially declared herself in.

Jim Edgar - A former governor, he is moderate and extremely popular. He could probably raise more money than any other potential candidate. He would also have name recognition. Easily the best candidate as far as electablility, he has not begun any campaign-like activities. Rumor is that White House strategist Karl Rove is advocating Edgar for the primaries.

Steve Rauschenberger - A state senator for the 22nd district since 1993, he was invoilved with the importing of Alan Keyes for the '04 Senate race. He is the chief budget negotiator for Senate Republicans. He resides in Elgin where he was born, and attended the College of William and Mary. A true conservative, he was plagued by low fundraising in the 2004 US Senate primary, but with the support of the establishment, still got a good share of the vote. Strapped for cash, he pulled publicity stunts to get the public aware about him. He ordered flowers to Jack Ryan after Ryan refused to participate in the primary debate. A campaign theme of his was experience in government, so as a stab at frontrunner Ryan's inexperience, he applied to be the Chicago Bears head coach, and was of course rejected.

Ray LaHood - A US representative from a district covering Peoria and part of Springfield, he won his 6th term with 70% of the vote. A frequent officer of House debates, he ran the precedings against Bill Clinton. He began testing the waters for a run early, appearing at the Whiteside County Lincoln Day Dinner. Unfortunately he has made a habit of attacking fellow Republicans, including forcing Jack Ryan out of his bid over a sex scandal, and foretelling US Rep. Phil Crane's impending defeat. His stances are mostly conservative, especially socially, but he has moderate streaks on the environment and taxes, and is considered liberal on illegal immigration.

James "Jim" Oberweis - Owner of Oberweis Dairy in Chicago, he got second in the 2004 Senate primaries after spending much of his own money on the run. His is firmly against illegal immigration. He is the only Republican candidate officailly declared for the governors race so far. Both in the 2002 and 2004 Senate primaries, he was endorsed by Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert.

Other names mentioned such as former governor Jim Thompson (and a member of the 9/11 commission), former US Senator Patrick Fitzgerald, and current IL GOP chairman Andy McKenna are not, at this time, considered potential candidates. If any more names surface, I'll update everyone.

6.08.2005

The Howard Dean Quote-a-thon!

Since well before he was named chairman of the DNC, former Vermont governor Howard Dean has been making outrageous statements that can be, at times, both alarming and amusing. But recently he has really been outdoing himself. Republicans celebrated when he became chairman, but we've got even more than we could have hoped for: gifts including incredibly lackluster fundraising and some great quotes. I've decided to post some of his quotes here in the original post, and will add more as they appear. A lot of Democratic senators and '08 Dem hopefuls have already begun distancing themselves from Dean. The link is to an MSNBC article about his most recent offense.

I'll start with some of the more famous recent ones:

(Republicans are) “not very friendly to different kinds of people, they are a pretty monolithic party ... it’s pretty much a white, Christian party.”
As mentioned in the article, RNC chair Ken Mehlman is Jewish. I would also like to note some other prominent minority Republicans: Senator Mel Martinez, former Education head Rod Paige, Condeleeza Rice, Colin Powell, and Supreme COurt justice Clarence Thomas. Clinton was called the first black president, but did he have half the diversity of the Bush administration? No. Bush also won 60% of the Hispanic vote in Florida, add increased his percentages among nearly all racial and religious minorities from 2000 to 2004. 'Nuff said.

Republicans “never made an honest living in their lives.”
He later said that this only applied to the leadership, as if that makes a difference.

"We're going to use Terry Schiavo later on."
I thought it was about respecting the family's rights, Dean? No, you just wanted something to cling on to in '06.

"Tom Delay ought to go back to Houston, where he can serve his jail sentence down there courtesy of the Texas taxpayers"
Well I guess Dean disagrees with the law on that innocent until proven guilty part. And on the matter of lobbyist related ethics, if Delay is guilty, so is nearly every other person alive who has served in Congress.

And some other good ones:

"We won't always have the strongest military."

"I've waffled before. I'll waffle again."

"I don't care what you label me as long as you call me president."

"I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks."

And the most telling about why he can't succeed as chair in any area:
"I hate the Republicans and everything they stand for."

I'm sure there will be plenty more in the future.

6.07.2005

The '06 IL Governor's Race

Well few sites I know of on the net are into any non-national elections, except for ones involving Arnold or the screwed up Washington governor's race. So I thought I would put some info out there for others who are interested.

Democrats:
It would seem as though governor Rod Blagojevich should have a state like Illinois wrapped up. It is a very blue state, and only one statewide position is held by a Republican. Never-the-less, Blago has made so many errors and left himself open to so much criticism that his terrible policies are but a sidenote. He has constantly feuded with other Democrats, including Chicago mayor Richard Daley, Illinois Senate leader Emil Jones, and even the powerful pair of Lisa and Michael Madigan (Illinois Attorney General and Speaker of the Illinois House, respectively). He has been plagued with as many lawsuits and scandals as George Ryan. Therefore, it would be much easier than usual for another Democrat to win the primary. But at this point, which admittedly is early, no one seems interested. The two most likely, the Madigans, seem to have reached a peace with Rod.

In the general election, his largest advantage is money. He has ammassed a huge 10.1 million dollar warchest, almost certainly more than any Republican could raise. Fortunately for Republicans, his approval ratings have tanked recently, and that is not surprising.

He is the defendant in a court case as we speak, has been accused of mismangement of various sorts (both employment practices and illegal contracting), and even feuded with his own family. He pledged to clean up the George Ryan practice of awarding government contracts to companies he favors or is involved with, but instead went further in this than Ryan himself. Early in his term, he fired all the snowplow employees in the state that were registered Republicans.

He literally overtook the state board of education, changing the rules so that he himself could appoint a majority of it's members this alienates members of his own party, and strongly liberal teacher's unions that should be among his best supporters.

Since elected, he has talked about his success in not raising taxes, which is true, sort of. He has gone mad raising fees for everything from car titles to alcohol licenses, putting a serious dent in the already struggling economy. Make no mistake, Mr. Blagojevich has made Illinois a terrible place to have a business. I was recently told by a knowledgeable individual that he has been told by numerous individuals that putting a business in Iowa rather than Illinois will cut the government related costs in half.

Rarely in Springfield, many say he has moved the real capitol to Chicago. I believe this plays strongly with the non-Chicago vote, even Democrats. The rest of Illinois doesn't identify Chicago as part of their state, and they don't want to be affiliated with it.

His incompetent spending and budget proposals have prevented even a largely Democrat controlled legislature from passing them with any ease. He has channelled extensive money to Chicago (especially in education) at the expense of the rest of the state.

A smaller matter, he is habitually late for everything from meetings with legislators to (I'm not kidding) funerals. We are not talking about 5 minutes here either, we are talking 2 to 3 hours, and many times he does not bother to show at all.

I believe the net effect of this is that many Democrats, unenthusiastic about Rod's reelection, will stay at home on election day, while Republicans will come out in force to try to defeat someone they hate with a passion. While the states blue leanings and his cash will help, ultimately I believe a good Republican candidate could win.

I'll get to the Republican candidates in the future.

6.06.2005

Yet another paper!

Here is a paper I wrote as an assignement of the cause and effect type. The topic, as you will see, was 9/11. Again, bare with the grammar.

No single event in modern American history has come so violently or as unexpected as the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001. It has left footprints in the minds of people who experienced it and thrown our country into a new era of foreign policy. But before we can decide what to do in the future, we must understand the past. It is important to examine the causes of this tragedy in two different perspectives. What could possess people to give up their lives to kill thousands of innocents in the name of God? And the most pressing concern immediately following the attacks: why couldn’t our country of such military might and power stop these people?
The first cause of any event such as this is people who have the motive to do it. Each of the nineteen 9/11 hijackers was a fanatical Arab Muslim with a deep hatred for us. Radical Islam is nothing new, but it has been growing for several decades. Osama Bin Laden and his associates believe that by killing those that they label infidels, which includes Americans, Israelis, and even moderate Muslims, they gain entrance to heaven. They believe that any foreigner in an Islamic country is a threat to their religion. To promote their radical agenda, the extremists use what Muslim scholars decree as a gross misinterpretation of the Koran (the Muslim holy book). This set of beliefs allows them to incite their followers against other groups. Radical Muslims are very anti-Semitic and have labeled America as “The great Satan” (Terrorism).
Free and prosperous citizens of developed Western countries struggle to comprehend how a person could subscribe to such a hateful and violent sect. One of the main reasons it is successful is the level of poverty in the Middle East. A lot of Al-Qaeda recruits come from impoverished areas of Palestine and the country of Pakistan. There most of the people have no hope to overcome the situation they are in. Al-Qaeda is able to take the despair of these people and turn it into anger against Western powers and Israel. Without a public school system in Pakistan, fanatical Muslims set up Madrasas, religious schools where, along with math and reading, they learn to hate America and praise Osama bin Laden as a hero. A large help in this is a media throughout the Middle East that sympathizes and plots with radical groups (Terrorism).
When one realizes that much of radical Islam’s existence is due to hatred of certain peoples or countries, we must examine why. Chief on the list, at least for Osama Bin Laden himself, is the U.S. military presence in Saudi Arabia. Prince Sultan Air Force Base in Saudi Arabia is a base used from the Gulf War until this day to patrol no-fly zones over Iraq. Many Muslims detest this presence in the land where the prophet Mohammed was born, and the country of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina. Al-Qaeda uses this both as a recruiting tool and a reason for violence. They see it, as well as other situations, as the U.S. colonizing the Middle East for oil gathering purposes (Terrorism).
Also a motivator for fundamentalists is the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Since it’s creation in 1948, Israel’s Muslim Palestinian minority has tried to create a separate state. The problem lies in the fact that the Muslims were there first, and lay claim to Jerusalem as a holy site, as do the Jewish Israelis. Radical groups such as Hamas and Hezbollah, which have ties to Al-Qaeda, resort to suicide bombings to advance their cause. Israel responds with strong showings of military force that often harm Palestinian civilians. Each side blames the other and is unwilling to compromise, meaning that at least for now, there is a continual circle of violence. The U.S. government has a long history of supporting Israel, and continues to send military and economic aid. Some in the Arab public, however, see Israel as an oppressor, and view suicide attacks on innocent civilians as acceptable. To them, America is supporting the killing of Palestinians, and is just as guilty as Israel itself. Because this issue is so polarizing for Arabs, Bin Laden uses it to persuade the public (Terrorism).
The most common reason for 9/11 given by our government is one version or another of the simple phrase “they hate our freedoms”. While we should all realize that the situation is much more complex than that, it holds some truth. A certain amount of jealousy can be expected from people who come mostly from countries where laws are dictated by religious clerics and women are forbidden from showing their faces in public.
However, the most important factors they resent are our economic power and the prestige of our military. They refer to us as an “evil empire” because they recognize and hate the influence we have everywhere in the world. It is this power that we have that they were trying to undermine with the attacks of 9/11. They knew that the images we saw on our televisions would paint a picture of America as weak and vulnerable, which plays perfectly to their objectives.
All these factors combine to help far out ideologies take hold in the Arab world. But why, then, should they resort to terrorism, which is viewed with distaste around the globe. Against an enemy as powerful as the U.S. (and Israel, which also has a large army) the only course of action left is terrorism. Guerrilla warfare is historically used when an enemy is well trained and better equipped than you. A direct and honest military assault would be fatal to them. Consequentially diplomatic efforts would be worthless without the threat of military action. Nor do radical groups have significant financial reach to influence other’s policies. The only option left is to strike unexpectedly against weakly guarded targets in a manner that most civilized peoples deplore. Yet we all saw videos of Palestinians dancing in the street, throwing candy and having parades, on the day we know so infamously as September 11th. Only the fact that some Arabs have been convinced that we deserved this allows Al-Qaeda to continue to exist and operate (Terrorism).
Beyond this complex motive, perhaps the causes easier understood are those that are directly our own fault, though they are by no means easier to stomach. Radical Islam as a philosophy survives because of state sponsors of terrorism. The State department lists seven countries as sponsors of terrorism (Commission). Some others are excluded for political reasons, while still more are not sponsors, but simply provide havens for terrorist cells. Some of the more potent sponsors are Iran, the former Taliban government of Afghanistan, and Syria.
The single country most responsible is Afghanistan. In the early 1990’s, the Taliban, a fundamentalist Islamic group, took control of most of the country. They ruled with an iron fist, forbidding women to go to school or appear publicly. Osama Bin Laden shared their political and religious views, and made his bases there. Afghanistan was used to construct terrorist training camps and operations centers. Without a harbor such as Afghanistan, it is doubtful that Al-Qaeda could have pulled off such an attack (Terrorism).
Overall, state sponsors allow rogue organizations to become highly organized and orchestrate complicated strikes. While it is not our fault that they exist, we hold the responsibility for not acting against them, be it financially, diplomatically, or militarily. Several administrations over several decades ignored them because they didn’t believe action was economically feasible. We needed the Oil exports of these countries, and continue to need it, sometimes so badly that we were willing to ignore the human rights violations and blatant acts of violence of these rogue states. Arabs see this and call on us to stop sponsorship of oppressive regimes, which is one of the most legitimate claims radical Islam makes (Commission).
9/11 seemed quite unexpected to most Americans, but in reality, Islamic terrorists have struck many times before. Though earlier attacks occurred, the root of the power Islamic fundamentalism enjoys today is rooted in the terrorist attacks of the early 1990s. After the first (unsuccessful) attempt by Al-Qaeda to blow up the Twin Towers, it would seem obvious that we were a sitting duck. Unfortunately, policymakers in Washington failed to take action. In 1993, American troops were sent to Somalia on a humanitarian mission. When Special Forces got in a firefight with Al-Qaeda trained fighters and 18 American soldiers died, you would think retaliation would be in line. We did not attack or even identify the enemy; we abandoned the country. Bin Laden said of it, “The youth realized that the American soldier was a paper tiger”. In 1996, Al-Qaeda bombed the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia. 19 Americans died, and the radical Islamic government of Iran was to blame. Instead of action against them, we avoided looking into the situation further specifically because it might force us into military action. The attacks came to a climax in 1998, when Al-Qaeda obliterated two U.S. embassies in Africa. Our response was cruise missile strikes. Gen. Wayne Downing, who is the former commander of U.S. Special Forces, lamented, “We used kids gloves after the embassy bombings. Cruise missiles – that’s the cowards way out.” Right before the end of the Clinton administration in 2000, Al-Qaeda operatives in Yemen rammed a boat of explosives into the destroyer USS Cole, and 17 servicemen were killed. There was no response (Lowry).
All of these successful strikes emboldened radical Muslims. Their plotting became increasingly larger in scale and ambitions for a major hit on American soil arose. They continued to spit anti-Americanism from Afghanistan, now confident that the United States of America was unable to defend itself (Commission).
Also disturbing was the lax security at vital points in our interior. Our borders were weakly defended, and we accepted foreigners too quickly and easily. Al-Qaeda cells from California to New York (including one in Peoria, IL) easily came into and out of the U.S., and received funds disguised as Muslim charities. Airport screening and immigration processes put in place after 9/11 could have kept Mohammed Atta and the rest of the hijackers out of the our airplanes and our country. On that fateful day, we saw the failures of the intelligence community and a government communication structure that was unable to deal with such a horror. It was a high price to pay to realize the failures of our government to adapt to changing threats (Commission).
While Bill Clinton gets credit for helping the economy, his Neville Chamberlain-like foreign policy was at least partially responsible for the loss of those 2,792 lives. By September 11th, George W. Bush had not even finished appointing his Cabinet, but was faced with the largest attack ever in our nation’s history. The 9/11 commission, being half Democratic, didn’t want to put blame where blame was due, but the facts speak for themselves.
No one sentence can sum up the complexity of why September 11th, 2001 is a day that will surely live in infamy as much as Pearl Harbor or D-Day. It is important that measures be taken to prevent it from happening again. But true safety will come only by understanding the culture of the people that harbor such hateful feelings toward us. We have endured the effect of these causes, and may we use the knowledge we have gained from it to bring freedom and prosperity to the world.

Works Cited

Lowry, Rich. “What Clinton Knew – And What Clinton Did”. National Review Online.
October 17, 2003, 9:39 a.m. December 9, 2004.
Terrorism: Questions and Answers. 2004. December 9, 2004.
“The 9/11 Commission Report”. National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the
United States. September 20, 2004 12:00 a.m. EDT. December 9, 2004.

Re: Supreme Court ruling

Here is the text of my paper. It is unedited so expect errors. Also, the paper was required to be only a page in length, so many details were removed for the sake of my grade. Thanks for reading!

This March, the United States Supreme Court made one of its worst decisions since Plessy vs. Ferguson. The 5-4 vote ruled that individuals under the age of eighteen can not receive the death penalty. Justice Souter, in his affirmative opinion, cited scientific evidence, overwhelming public opinion, and international decisions.
It is a sad day in America when the law of the land is changed on the whims of justice systems with no relation to ours, and located thousands of miles distant. Our laws and principles are determined by our people, not the French or the Dutch. It is for this reason that the United States does not take part in the International Court of Justice. One is reminded of the saying, “if they jumped off of a cliff, would you, too?”
Souter also claims there is an overwhelming public opinion against the death penalty being applied to minors, but does so without saying where this information appears. The best way to gauge public opinion is by the content of laws passed by elected legislatures, not day-to-day polls that are notoriously inaccurate. Upon examining records, one finds that only 47% of states that allow the death penalty forbid it for minors. This is duly noted by Justice Scalia in his scathing dissenting opinion.
Also an issue brought up by Scalia is the claim that scientific, as shown to the court by the American Psychological Association, says that minors don’t emotionally grasp the concept of killing. In fact, the APA testified the exact opposite to the court only months before in a case involving parental notification for minors wishing to have an abortion.
Unless it is believable that 47% is a large majority, and that foreign powers should determine our legal basis, action should be taken against this ruling. Of course, one should not turn to violence, unless one is 17.

I'm back....Again

Well, to quote the great conservative Alice Cooper, "School's Out For Summer" so I've gotten back to this page. Lately I haven't had time to be an active member of the ever-growing blog community, but I'm going to take another stab at it. Anyways, I'll try to begin some posting about the upcoming 2006 elections, including the exciting gubernatorial Republican primary.