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This is the personal weblog of Aakash Raut, established Sept. 2002. It will cover current affairs, worldwide & national topics, local & university events, and provide insight and commentary on contemporary issues and the news from his perspective. Enjoy!

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    Sunday, December 29, 2002

    For this Season of Giving...

    Two worthy causes to contribute to... (one more worthy than the other):

    I received this message some days ago:
    (This expires after Dec. 31st [Tuesday], so it's best to follow the link to Excedrin's home page right away... see below!)

    Dear Friends and Family:

    The following is very legitimate and perhaps you'll consider joining the thousands of others! There is no requirement to sign anything. All you do is click on the Toys for Tots logo in the upper left section.

    If you go to the Excedrin home page and click on the link for the Toys for Tots, Excedrin will donate $1 to the Marine Corps Toys for Tots program. There is no cost to you. [] When you are finished, please forward this to everyone!

    Have a SUPER holiday and a GREAT New Year!
    Note: This expires after Dec. 31, so please follow that link right away!

    I'll update this entry with the other worthy cause shortly...

    Wednesday, December 25, 2002

    Merry Christmas!!

    May your season be filled with joy and goodwill... And may you feel free to share the Truth about Christmas with others as we reflect upon the birth of our Savior.

    Tuesday, December 24, 2002

    Merry Christmas... Eve!!

    Here are some recent postings and articles for this season:

    The Week Before Christmas, BreakPoint
    The Gift of Christmas, Acton Institute
    It's a Wonderful Country, Roger Clegg, National Review
    Merry Christmas, Oliver North, Freedom Alliance

    Virginia Beach Snags 2002 Scrooge Award, Concerned Women for America
    Political Correctness at Absurd Levels During Christmas Season, James L. Lambert, Agape Press

    Thanks to for the above links!

    Also see:
    Christmas in Kosovo, BBC
    On Earth, Peace, Good Will Toward Men - Except Those Living in Iraq, Lee R. Shelton, IV
    Peace in No Man's Land ~ Christmas 1914, Jennifer Rosenberg
    The Christmas Truce ~ Fact and Fiction, BBC
    The Christmas Truce - 1914

    And from past years:

    No Merry Christmas for Persecuted Christians Around the World, Don Feder, Dec. 22, 1997
    Get in the Spirit of the Holidays, Linda Bowles, Dec. 27, 2001
    A Christmas Healing, Cal Thomas, Dec. 13, 2001
    Christmas at, Ludwig Von Mises Institute

    From Col. David Hackworth [Soldiers for the Truth]:
    A Christmas Wish: Let's End Our Role as Globo Cop, Dec. 26, 2001
    Wanted: Peace Goodwill, and a Wise Leader, Dec. 21, 1999

    From Nathaniel Krause (U of IL, Urbana-Champaign):
    Why Coal Makes the Best Christmas Present, Dec. 1997 - quite funny!

    Thursday, December 19, 2002

    Four years ago...
    I just couldn't let this day go by without commenting on the historic event which occured on this day four years ago. This date in '98 marks one of the most historic occurences of our lifetimes (so far...). It was a very exciting time to be a high school student following politics and current affairs. In the exciting time prior to this historic event, I had been volunteering in the office of my Congressman. It will be hard to forget the news, views, and debate which went on during this period.

    Tuesday, December 17, 2002

    Well, school is finshed - for now - and I'm back! A lot of things to catch up on blog-wise:

    First off, the obvious:

    Lott of Trouble

    Well, the blogosphere went berzerk this past week following those comments made by Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) at Senator Strom Thurmond's 100th birthday party. (See my post for 12/5 below for more on that.) In fact, we bloggers and political web junkies were actually on this story before it became news in the mainstream public arena. Read about how that happened here in the Washington Post or here in the New York Post. It is amazing how, when you use the web and online publications as sources to keep up on the latest news and views, you can be informed of key issues and events before everyone else.

    There was so much that transpired between now and then - with respect to writers, commentators, and bloggers - that it is very difficult to choose what to include in this post. As mentioned below, conservative blogger InstaPundit expressed outrage at Lott's comments early on. So did neoconservatives Andrew Sullivan, Jonah Goldberg, David Frum, and Bill Kristol. It is incredible how so many of the leading respected conservative commentators piled onto Lott so early on.

    There was also a lot of good discussion that went on at Hoosier Review. Zach Wendling posted an entry on Monday, December 9 (see the 12:37 PM post), about how Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) made a racial remark not too long ago, and has gone a lot further than Senator Lott, but never had to face anything like this. There was a good dialogue that followed on the comments section of that post. In the 18th comment on that page, I pointed out the discrepancies between the treatment of Republican and Democrat senators in matters such as this:
    But even aside from Robert Byrd...

    What about the comments made by other Democrat Senators, such as Hillary's verbal attack on Paul Fray (for how he managed Bill's congressional campaign), and John McCain's statement to reporters in the last presidential election?

    Why do liberals and Democrats get a free pass?
    (By the way, the inclusion of McCain as a Democrat Senator was intentional...) See the responses to my comment by Paul Musgrave, Bobby Allison-Gilmore, and others.

    Overall, I have been literally amazed at the way that everyone - the media, the members of Congress, and even conservatives (especially neocons) and Republicans - have pounced on Senator Lott's stupid comments and have blown this whole thing way out of proportion. Lott's statement was dumb, and he should not have said it, but the amount and severity of the response is hard to believe and difficult to comprehend. Fortunately (though a bit surprisingly), our former Senator Paul Simon (D-IL) contributed some much-needed common sense in this matter. Senator Simon was actually at the birthday party, and has publicly stated that Lott's comments, like many others that day, were jokingly made. See more about Simon's principled statements here, here, and here. Also see the quote at the very end of this Fox News report about Senator Lott's apology:
    Kevin L. Martin, government and political affairs director of the African American Republican Leadership Council, said people were overreacting to Lott's remarks.
    "By no means was he endorsing segregation or anything like that. It was lighthearted, it was humorous."

    But the reaction kept on coming. Hoosier Review bloggers posted links to the National Review magazine piece in which the NR editors called for Lott to step down. Read the resulting comment dialogue that ensued after that was posted at Hoosier Review.

    At the popular blog of Josh Claybourn (an editor of the Hoosier Review), his December 13th entry featured the same thing. Scroll down to see the comments dialogue between myself and others. I haven't even read what the National Review editors had to say, nor do I necessarily intend to - I think that that magazine has been in decline for the past several years. Compare NR's treatment of the Lott affair to that of Human Events, a much better conservative publication.

    Paul Musgrave, another editor of the Hoosier Review, wrote an article on this subject, which I did read. (The opinions of students and young people can sometimes be more insightful and captivating that those of... well, you know...)

    Update: Another Hoosier Review columnist, Scott Tibbs, just wrote an article on this topic. It is very good. See Mr. Tibbs' home page here.

    (Note: I am definitely not endorsing the content of all the pages linked to from my blog entries. I have not even completely read some of the articles that I link to.)

    For a unique perspective on all of this, the paleo-libertarians and Old Rightists over at have some interesting commentary and perspective on this controversy. John R. Parker, Jr. asks "What's the difference?" [between the liberals and neocons re: the Lott affair]. Below are some more articles and commentary:
    On the Lottamania - Gene Callahan comments
    Lott didn't say this - A thought experiment by Lew Rockwell
    American Groupthink - Daniel McCarthy on the neocon reaction to Lott
    Missed Lottian Opportunities - Steven Yates comments

    And also:
    Michelle Malkin on the Vacant Lott
    Washington Post: For Lott, some Key Endorsements (nice photo!)
    Ben Domenech with another speech Trent Lott didn't give
    Richard Nixon: The Checkers Speech (September 23, 1952)

    Updates (12/24/02): Here are some more interesting pieces:
    The Real Reason Lott was Forced Out, Dr. Chuck Baldwin
    Strom Thurmond vs. Harry Truman - includes another proposed Lott speech, Harry Browne
    --- More on Truman, from the NY Times
    Both of the last two articles were in yesterday's edition (Mon., Dec. 23) of The one below is featured in today's edition:
    The Purge Trial of Trent Lott, Lew Rockwell

    Wednesday, December 11, 2002

    Well, it's that time of year again!

    For a lot of us collegiate bloggers, now is the time when we aren't able to post as much... We are instead occupied with writing ten-page papers after ten-page papers, cramming for final exams, losing hair, and stressing out over our classes, our grades, and whatever else. I haven't been able to post in several days. My last exam is on Thursday night, though, so by Friday or this weekend, I should be back.

    Best of luck to all students on finals!!

    Update: Well, I finished up my exams and class work on Thursday; I think it went pretty well. All in all, this was an okay semester. And starting a blog just may be one of the greatest, most productive, and most enjoyable things that I have accomplished this semester. I still have some things to take care of (registering for new classes, paying bills, etc.), but things seem to be pretty much wrapped up for now. I had wanted to blog some last week, when the Blogosphere was abuzz with heated comments and polemics about Trent Lott, the Republicans and Democrats, and other current affairs topics. I will try to post shortly with some commentary and links. To those students who still have finals, tests, and course work, best of luck!

    Saturday, December 07, 2002

    Here's my Pearl Harbor post for today (it's the 61st anniversary of that 'day of infamy'...) This post may be updated shortly:

    Did FDR Know?
    Find out here...

    Well, it's December 7th, which means that I am required to update my blog with at least two news items:

    First, the less important of those two:

    Battle of the Bayou
    It's Election Day again! At least, it is in Louisiana. The election runoffs in that state are scheduled for today. The one that we are watching nationwide is the U.S. Senate race between incumbent Democrat Senator Mary Landrieu and Republican challenger Suzy Terrell. While I would have preferred one of the other, more conservative, Republican candidates to have been the challenger to Landrieu, I hope Terrell wins. A victory here is necessary in case R.I.N.O. Senators Lincoln Chafee and/or John McCain decide to switch parties or become independent. Also, a majority of 52 (rather than 51) could impact the committee ratios, and help the Republicans push their bills across with greater ease.

    I will update this post later this evening with information and links about Mary Landrieu suspicious "victory" over conservative Republican Woody Jenkins in the last election (1996). It is said that many dead people voted for her. Meanwhile, here's a CNN article on this race - it emphasizes that voter turnout is what will likely make all the difference in this dead heat contest. An interesting excerpt from this article:
    At least a dozen members of the Congressional Black Caucus are traveling in Louisiana this week. In a sign of how much she fears alienating white voters, the senator has not joined them in public appearances because it could alienate moderate white Democrats, according to Democratic strategists.

    "If people vote, Mary wins -- and if people don't vote or vote in lower numbers, Mary doesn't win. It's just that simple," Breaux said Thursday during the campaign stop with Landrieu in Lafayette.

    But at least one African-American Democrat is worried. State Sen. Cleo Fields, a former congressman who put aside his storied rivalry with Landrieu last month to endorse her re-election campaign, said he's still not seeing much enthusiasm among black voters. "I don't see the fire I was hoping to see by now," Fields told the New Orleans (Louisiana) Times-Picayune this week.

    More to come soon. Also expect a provocative post on the other item for today- Pearl Harbor... Today is the 61st anniversay of that "day of infamy."

    Thursday, December 05, 2002

    I am currently in the middle of writing a paper (it's the last one for the semester!), so I should not be on web, but I couldn't let the day go by without including this amazing news item:


    (USA Today photo)

    Senator Strom Thurmond (R-SC) turns the big 100!!

    Congratulations, Senator Thurmond!

    Update (12/7/02): C-Span's website has a video of Strom's birthday celebration on Capitol Hill yesterday. Former and future Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) is taking a lot of heat for saying at that event that the country would have been better off if Strom had been elected President in 1948. (Strom, who at the time was a Democrat, ran for President as a third party candidate. Though he only won about 2% of the nationwide popular vote, he managed to take four states.) Even famous conservative blogger InstaPundit is mad at Senator Lott for this statement.

    Here is a good Associated Press article in USA Today on this birthday celebration.
    Also see the following:
    From the Augusta Chronicle: Happy Birthday, Mr. Thurmond
    From the Kansas City Star: Centenarian Thurmond's legacy will be more than just longevity
    From the BBC: American Senator celebrates 100th birthday

    For those who still dislike Senator Thurmond, here is an interesting true story from an Armstrong Williams column:
    ...[W]hen opposition to segregation ebbed, Thurmond abandoned his separatists' rhetoric... In 1983, he voted to make Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday a national holiday. And in 1987, I watched him single-handedly save the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission.

    The latter occurred after I received a phone call from Coretta Scott King in late 1987. Her voice quivered with anger as she explained that the government was considering defunding the Martin Luther King Jr. Commission, which helped preserve her husband's legacy. I arranged a conference call with Senator Thurmond, who was then Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. King pleaded her case. Senator Thurmond listened patiently. When she finished, he simply replied, "I'll call you back in 45 minutes."

    An hour later funding for the commission had been doubled.

    Later that month, Senator Thurmond, Coretta Scott King and myself all strolled over to President George H.W. Bush's inauguration. During the ensuing festivities, King sat next to Thurmond. The image summed up an enduring fact of Thurmond's career--the Senator who turns 100 in December never seemed to have outlived his era.
    From James Edwards, Jr. in National Review: Thurmond's legacy

    Visit the site of the Strong Thurmond Institute at Clemson University (home of the Clemson Tigers).

    Monday, December 02, 2002

    The U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear several important cases, and their rulings could have an impact on the lives of people across the country.

    Is Affirmative Action on its last legs?

    Many college students have been following the cases of Barbara Grutter and Jennifer Gratz, the two University of Michigan applicants who were denied admission to the Law School and the the College of Literature, Science and the Arts, respectively, reportedly due to the school's affirmative action policies. These policies have been causing a great deal of controversy and debate at Big Ten schools in recent years. In 1997, both women sued the University, alleging that the admissions policies discriminated against them. Back in March 2001, a federal judge ruled in favor of the plantiff in the law school case (Grutter v. Bollinger). I guess that the school appealed the case, though, and in May the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that judge's ruling (see that court's opinion here) The U.S. Supreme Court announced today that it will be accepting both cases - the Grutter law school case, and the undergraduate school case, Gratz v. Bollinger.

    Below are some articles on this:
    Michigan Daily: High Court Takes On 'U' Admissions Case
    Washington Post: Supreme Court to Weigh in on Affirmative Action
    USA Today: Court to Rule on College Race Issue
    CNN: Affirmative Action Case Awaits Supreme Court
    Voice of America: SCOTUS to Hear Racial Preferences Case
    Seattle Times: After 24 years, Supreme Court ready to settle higher education affirmative action
    ----> More of the latest news coverage on this...

    This could be the first time that the Supreme Court is dealing of a case of this magitude on this topic since the famous Bakke ruling of 1978. In that case, the Court issed a split decision, ruling that race could be used as a factor in school admissions, but racial quotas should not be allowed. Now, some are predicting that in this case, the Court will outlaw the use of race as a factor alltogether. It could be a 5 to 4 decision, with the Court's three conservative justices, Rehnquist, Scalia, Thomas joining with moderate, right-leaning justices Kennedy and O'Connor to form a majority. Dissenting, in this scenario, would be liberal justices Stevens, Souter, Breyer, and Bader-Ginsburg. If this happens, it will trigger even stronger emotions from those on all sides of this issue, and could have repurcussions throughout the nation.

    What impact would this case have on the University of Illinois system? We are in a different federal court circuit than Michigan, but if this is a U.S. Supreme Court ruling, I am assuming that it would have an effect on the admissions policies in all the states. I will have to inquire more about this.

    UCLA School of Law Professor Eugene Volokh was just in an online discussion forum at the Washington Post's website. Many bloggers recognize the Professor as the author of The Volokh Conspiracy, a well-known blog. Check it out here. Professor Volokh comments on the U of Michigan case and other cases in his latest posts.

    Other Cases

    Other cases will also be decided by the Supreme Court. In addition to the affirmative action case, the Court has also accepted a challenge to a Texas anti-sodomy law which bars sexual acts between same-gender couples. In doing so, they will be deciding whether to overturn their previous ruling on this issue from 1986 (in the case of Bowers v. Hardwick). See more of the latest news articles on this case here.
    Aside from Texas, the other states that have this type of law are Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri. (A similar statute in Arkansas was struck down a few months ago.) Nine other states have laws prohibiting sodomy between all persons, regardless of gender.

    The famous Miranda decision will also be under review by the Supreme Court.
    See the following news items on this:
    Supreme Court could make Miranda warnings a thing of the past, SF Chronicle
    Testing limits of police tactics in investigations: Court hears case that could affect terror probe, Christian Science Monitor

    Visit the Supreme Court on the web at: