Friday, October 12, 2007

A corner-sitter

Living in Champaign, I know that many (like our own Pete) are upset that the University of Illinois got rid of its mascot, Chief Illiniwek. Not having the memories of watching the Chief as I walked around good ol' State U when I was a feckless youth, I mostly found the Chief's halftime dance an absurd mockery, and was glad when it was discontinued. Whichever side of the issue you're on, however, I hope you can see the sadness in the following letter in the News-Gazette:

Chief's gone, so what is point of returning?

I was disappointed to learn that Chief Illiniwek is no more. How sad. I grew up in Champaign, graduated in 1964 from Champaign High School and went to the University of Illinois for two years before the U.S. Army came calling.

I remember going to many games at Memorial Stadium as I grew up. We'd park on the grass on the west side of the stadium and walk through the falling leaves to the stadium; I loved those cool, crisp, sunny days.

Even though we lived in Kansas and now reside in Colorado, I'd bring my family back to Champaign occasionally and go the UI's homecoming games specifically to watch the halftime show. The football games often weren't very good. But I still got chills when the band would march across the field, and Chief Illiniwek would crouch down, sneak out through the marching band and then appear to cheers from the crowd.

I used to point him amid the band members to my son. He'd try to find him before I did.

Now I wonder what will happen to the Chief Illiniwek logo that was so common. As for the name Fighting Illini, how long before it will be in danger? Will we call the UI's team "the Fighting Midwesterners" or the "Fighting Central Illinoisans"?

The local Chamber of Commerce should know that I won't be coming back to Champaign and spending several hundred dollars while there. If Chief Illiniwek is gone, so is my desire to return to Champaign. Goodby.

So, Mr. Bergethon spent his formative years in Champaign, up through part of college, and the only thing of value he can find to return to is the frickin' halftime show? That's truly pathetic. We still have the "cool, crisp, sunny days" and the falling leaves and the marching band, and the football team is actually good. But because a white kid no longer dresses up in a headdress for 5 minutes a week, it's all for naught.

Well, I'm glad you won't be here. I'll enjoy it more without you.

The magic beans

Just as Pete from time to time listens to wingnut radio, to hear what hate is being spewed over the air, I find myself drawn to their half-illiterate ramblings.

Today we find:

Ann Coulter saying that she hopes that one day Jews will perfect themselves and become Christian.

Debbie Schlussel comparing the Empire State Building being lit with green lights for the end of Ramadan to the planes flying into the WTC: "Planes into the building, yesterday. Jihadist-Green atop the building, today. Same difference."

BillO ranting about how John Edwards would be a horrible president because he wouldn't torture, he'd give prisoners access to attorneys, and he'd restore the Great Writ of Habeas Corpus.

And my favorite - the Nobel Prize committee is liberal because they gave Al Gore the Nobel Peace Prize for his work alerting the world about the dangers of global warming: "I can't help thinking that Gore's prize is yet another attempt by the left to undo the horrible trauma of Election 2000."

Now back to your regularly scheduled hate attacks against 12 year olds.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Anniversary of Shame

Five years ago, the U.S. Senate completed what the House had done the night before. They gave a madman a blank check to wage unprovoked war. Here are the words of that madman:
The United States does not desire military conflict, because we know the awful nature of war. Our country values life, and we will never seek war unless it is essential to security and justice. We hope that Iraq complies with the world's demands. If, however, the Iraqi regime persists in its defiance, the use of force may become unavoidable. Delay, indecision, and inaction are not options for America, because they could lead to massive and sudden horror. Should force be required to bring Saddam to account, the United States will work with other nations to help the Iraqi people rebuild and form a just government. We have no quarrel with the Iraqi people. They are the daily victims of Saddam Hussein's oppression, and they will be the first to benefit when the world's demands are met.
The Congress gave him all he wanted, as many craven democrats, afraid of what the big bad media would say, shamelessly caved.

The president's conduct is shocking, though, even in light of the egregious grant of authority by Congress, because even that pathetic measure allowed for the use of force only if the president certified to Congress that
(1) reliance by the United States on further diplomatic or other peaceful means alone either (A) will not adequately protect the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq or (B) is not likely to lead to enforcement of all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions regarding Iraq, and

(2) acting pursuant to this resolution is consistent with the United States and other countries continuing to take the necessary actions against international terrorists and terrorist organizations, including those nations, organizations or persons who planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorists attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001.
Lies upon lies in a night of shame.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

An outstanding liberal arts college....

Yet we produce Dan Quayle and Fred's trophy wife

Take a second look...

(Thanks to team member/all too infrequent contributor JB)

Much attention has been given to the military force authorization vote concerning Iraq. We conveniently forget, though, the outrageous power grant given to the president just a week after the terror attacks:

(a) IN GENERAL- that the President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.
Remember the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution?
That the Congress approves and supports the determination of the President, as Commander in Chief, to take all necessary measures to repel any armed attack against the forces of the United States and to prevent further aggression
This resolution shall expire when the President shall determine that the peace and security of the area is reasonably assured by international conditions created by action of the United Nations or otherwise, except that it may be terminated earlier by concurrent resolution of the Congress.
Read that in light of the odious "Lieberman-Kyl" amendment that says
the United States should designate the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps as a foreign terrorist organization
Feel good about that?

The Conservative "Mind" at Work

Courtesy of Daily Kos, some tidbits from the sort of people you find flailing around the National Review, looking for a clue:

Are there even a thousand really poor people in all of America? Really poor. Dying-on-the-sidewalks-with-open-sores poor?

The so-called poor have cars and cable tv and free medical. They live in America in the 21st century, where school is free and libraries are free and a bus ticket to a better town costs less than a bag of crack. If they're "poor" it's because they were too lazy and stupid to a) finish high school and/or b) keep their pants on.


Advanced western democracies have delivered the most prosperous societies in human history. There simply are no longer genuinely "poor" people in sufficient numbers. As Miss Shaidle points out, if you're poor today, it's almost always for behavioral reasons - behavior which the state chooses not to discourage but to reward. Nonetheless, progressive types persist in deluding themselves that there are vast masses of the "needy" out there that only the government can rescue.

Yes, the conservative says, if you're poor, it's clearly a result of your choices, and besides, no one is really all that poor anyway - at least not the poor people they see on TV. One of the great things about this attitude is then nothing has to be done - poor people obviously have chosen to be that way because of their immoral lifestyles (we'll ignore the data, for example, about the preponderance of veterans among the homeless), so it's all their fault. And since we don't have, Ethiopian kids lying bloated and covered in flies on the street, no one is poor enough that they actually need help, so we're covered there.

I'm not going to bother to refute these arguments - those of us who actually have brains know poor people, from the truly extremely poor living on the street, or in constant threat of disaster, to the working poor - those with jobs (often multiple) but who still can't sustain a living and whose lives suffer every day because of it.

Schmidlap - is this an example of Evil, Greedy, or Stupid conservatives? I can see an argument for all 3.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Sen. Widestance and Der Chimpenfuhrer

George W. Bush and Larry Craig. Hmm, what do they have in common--other than an ambivalent sexuality? Very simple--neither one gives a damn about their Republican party.

The president brings out the veto pen to kill a bill that has widespread bipartisan support, a measure supported by 47 of 50 governors and radicals like Orrin Hatch. Fiscal conservatism? Please, more money falls off the back of supply planes in Iraq than this measure would have cost. There is no logical reason for the veto other than he wanted to do it and he doesn't give a damn about his party. That makes perfect sense, given that he feels he owes the party nothing. He did nothing with the party in terms of coming to prominence. He was the accidental empty suit who was the first spawn of a mediocre president and nothing else. He owes the party nothing, and is giving it nothing in return.

And Larry Craig? He is an embarrassment to the party and has angered even the Idaho GOP. He can do nothing as a legislator from now on, and he is a tremendous liability both locally and nationally. Does he care? No, like his president, "it's all about me."

How screwed up is our presidential selection system?

On how many levels is the process by which we choose our next president screwed up?

First of all--the "primaries."

Primaries have no explicit or implicit basis in the constitution. They are rooted in this rather bizarre "party" system we have now. The order of primaries is bound by nothing other than tradition.

With all due respect to the fine citizens of these states, WHY DO WE CARE ABOUT IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE? These two states together have fewer people than live in metro Chicago, yet they can determine who leads the free world? Iowa farmers who think Steve Alford is a great guy and the inhabitants of Our Town get to decide? Also note that a primary vote is only a vote for delegates, who, in many states, have no obligation to do what the voters want.

Second--money. I don't really need to say more, we have a perverse system where fundraising, rather than positions, defines who wins. I get at least 10 calls a day from various candidates because I stupidly gave $50 to the DNC in '04 (and the "Do Not Call" list does not apply to political solicitations.) Money has grotesquely perverted what used to be "the democratic process."

And finally--"the electoral college." Yes, I know it is defined in the constitution, and I am loathe to amend the constitution to put the social policy du jour in place.

However, it is beyond clear that this vestige of an era when the vote was not universal and there was no national media no longer serves a defensible purpose. If a national candidate need not campaign in Texas or Illinois, the system is broken--period. Every vote counts, so--count them.

Thomas Jefferson on Blackwater

We're beyond being shocked at what this administration does, but the Blackwater revelations last week came close. We heard that this private army of mercenaries, hired by an ideological soulmate and close friend of the administration, has been killing Iraqis largely for sport, where drunken killers fire at random and face no legal consequences.

Mercenaries. Just think about it, what have we become? As Thomas Jefferson wrote of mercenaries 231 years ago,
He is at this time transporting large Armies of foreign Mercenaries to compleat the works of death, desolation, and tyranny, already begun with circumstances of Cruelty & Perfidy scarcely paralleled in the most barbarous ages, and totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation.
Indeed, this is "totally unworthy the Head of a civilized nation."