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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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    Friday, March 31, 2006

    Last chance to help out!!

    Please make your [tax-deductible] donation online TODAY!

    Thursday, March 30, 2006

    Only 24 Hours left

    There are only about 24 hours left, before this year's "Relay for Life" event. I am still short of my fundraising goal [for the American Cancer Society], as is my team.

    Please follow the link that I included in my entry below, and make a secure online contribution, towards this very-worthy cause.

    All contributions made to the American Cancer Society are 100% tax-deductible.

    In order to count towards the Relay for Life, donations must be made by tomorrow (Friday) night... Thanks for your help!!

    Friday, March 24, 2006

    To help sponsor me in the Relay for Life, just follow this link, and make your secure credit card contribution online.

    Relay for Life 2006!
    Relay for Life
    Only one week away!

    In past entries, I wrote about how the organization I lead, the UIS College Republicans, needs contributions, to help cover the costs, for our many continuing events and activities. While that is still [very-much!] true, the purpose of this current entry is to raise money for a different cause, and for a different organization - the American Cancer Society.

    Many of you have heard of the "Relay for Life." Here is an encyclopedia article on this annual event. Here in Springfield, Illinois, the "Relay for Life" this year is taking place in one week... It runs from 6:00 PM on Friday, March 31st until 6:00 AM the following morning (Saturday, April 1st). There are over a dozen teams formed from students of my university. In order to encourage some healthy competition, in order to raise money for the American Cancer Society, a system is devised, so that each team - and its individual members - get credit for the contributions that they are able to get (for the American Cancer Society). There is a website that lists the amount of money each team - and each team member - has raised.

    My "Relay for Life" team is the "College Republicans." I set our fundraising goal at $1,500.00, but so far, we have only managed to raise $110.00, for this worthy cause. And there is only a week left!!

    Using that American Cancer Society web system, anyone can easily make a secure contribution online, to sponsor our team members. We will have at least one member of our team running or walking on the track, at all times. In addition, one of our team members (Jeffrey Isbell) will be serving as the Master of Ceremonies for this event, and another (Kate Johnson) has been asked to sing the National Anthem there.

    To help sponsor me in the Relay for Life, just follow this link, and make your secure credit card contribution online.

    [There is also a printable form, if you would prefer to make a contribution by check, and mail it in... That needs to be done as quickly as possible, though. That form is linked to on that same web page... Here is the direct link to that form (it's a PDF file).]

    These donations are to the American Cancer Society, and they are 100% tax-deductible.

    Tuesday, March 21, 2006

    Go over there now...

    In accordance with Rich Miller's request for Illinois bloggers, I sent out Blogger invites to some of our UIS College Republicans leaders, allowing them to guest-publish on the UISGOP website, so we can live-blog tonight's results, and reflect on the conclusion of this primary season. [Popular blogger Gordy Hulten, right up the interstate from us, indicated that that's what he was going to do tonight - and I see that that's what's happening...

    I might be too exhausted to post much, so I hope that some of the other CRs will do so. Please head on over there now, to check it out!

    The voting ends...

    The waiting begins.

    Together for Forever

    This is 27 minutes late... But in the hustle-and-bustle of the elections, CRs, coursework, etc..., it's easy to lose perspective, about those things that are the most important.

    Happy Anniversary (for March 20th) to my mother and father, on --* years together!!

    I don't want to date them, by giving the anniversary number, but let's just say it's somewhere in between "china" and "coral"!! :-)

    Monday, March 20, 2006

    Elections Tomorrow

    Sometimes, you just feel like a character on 24... If not Jack, then perhaps Edgar, or Chloe... As 24 is being shown on Fox, I myself am [once again] having to be in 'Jack Bauer' mode. Unlike last night, I think I may actually have to pull the all-nighter this time. I don't know if it will all be indoors... There are a number of signs that still need to be posted up, though with the snow coming in, I don't know if or when I should go out tonight/this morning.

    I did want to get in at least one entry about the elections, before the big day [tomorrow].

    Election Surprises

    While the Topinka/Birkett team is viewed as the "frontrunner" for the Republican nominations for Governor and Lt. Governor, there are many factors that could affect the outcome of thoses races. The following are a few of them, that I've been speculating on:

    1) The George Ryan Trial

    It was via Rich Miller's Capitol Fax website - which is now a blog - that I found this article from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch a couple of weeks ago. [For some reason, I've lately noticed that that newspaper, despite being across the state line, has been providing some excellent coverage of our state's gubernatorial elections.] It explains that while the Democrats would prefer that the verdict in the George Ryan trial be handed down shortly before the general election day [something that isn't going to happen, since they started deliberations last week], the next best thing for the Dems would be if the verdict came in on the eve of the primary.

    [My professor, for whose class I bombed the mid-term the week before last, and for which I really, really need to get caught up on - something that's been incredibly difficult - was quoted in that article.]

    I don't know if this would be best for the Democrats [those Democrats and Republicans who think that Topinka would be the best option for defeating Blagojevich, and for helping the Illinois GOP, may be thinking rather myopically], but it might be best for the other Republicans running for Governor.

    But alas, it appears that the jury stopped deliberating on Thursday [lazy bums!!], and didn't resume until today.

    The other factor however, may be in the process of being fulfilled.

    2) The Weather

    Please help! It was in the aftermath of the horrible tornados, one week ago, I had certain thoughts... [By the way, I feel bad that I haven't been able to blog about last week's disasters; I was hoping I'd been able to post an entry, regarding this... especially since I was right here, in the midst of the sudden events. I will do that after Tuesday.]

    I remember, back in November 2004, there was the thought of what would happen, if it rains on Election Day. If something like that happens in the general election, it can hurt the Democrats, with regard to voter turnout. However, what if it happens on Primary Election Day? Also, keep in mind that this is not a presidential election year, so turnout [at least for the general election] can be lower anyway. It is theorized that inclement weather on Election Day would hurt Establishment candidates (such as Judy Barr Topinka) in a primary. The die-hards [i.e. - "right-wing wackos" are the ones who will go out the polls, rain or shine], and those people are more likely to support either Jim Oberweis, Bill Brady, or Ron Gidwitz for Governor, and either Steve Rauschenberger or Sandy Wegman for Lt. Governor.

    I was discussing this issue with several young Republicans last week, and on Tuesday (one week ago, the day after the tornados), someone up in Kane County told me that snow was coming in. I hadn't heard anything about snow [especially at this point, with winter officially ending], here in downstate Illinois. I was with another UIS CR member on Friday afternoon however, discussing this, and we looked up the forecast. I checked the forecast for Tuesday [March 21st], for both Chicago, and for here in Springfield, and I found that snow - while not predicted for Monday or Wednesday - was indeed being forecast for Election Day. And sure enough, from what I've heard, we are under a severe snow advisory... A blizzard is coming in late tonight, and the snow will continue through tomorrow. I was thinking of organizing one of those "Road Rallies" for Election Day, but Chris Bennett (the Chairman of "Students for Rauschenberger," in our CR organization), told me that about four to seven inches of snow is predicted for Springfield. They recommended, on the news, that people not go outdoors, unless it's necessary. I think that less known is predicted for other parts of Illinois, but you never know.

    Is this by Design?

    Sunday, March 19, 2006

    Iraq War
    Third Anniversary

    It was three years ago, during Spring Break, that that which many of us were hoping wouldn't happen, ended up happening.

    The Iraq War commenced on March 19, 2003. Many of those who are now prominent in the Blogosphere were not even around at that time... But here is the blog entry I did, marking the beginning of the war. All of my blog entries pertaining to war-related and foreign policy matters, from before this war began, were archived here.

    There is sooooo... much that I could say about this topic (and have said before), but like with the second anniversary, there is a major defincieny - of energy, and especially now - of time!! Election Day (for the primaries, here in Illinois) is on Tuesday, and this evening, we are concluding the Weekend Blitz. I need to run off to church right now, but I will hopefully get a chance [though you never know...] to post some stuff up here [and at the CR blog!] before the Election. (Some people are even talking about live-blogging the elections... I might consider doing that.)

    To those of you involved in the election blitzing this weekend [regardless of who you're doing it for], thank you for you activism and involvement. I know it can be very weary around this time; for many of us, "Spring Break" was neither. When so many people our age are doing certain other things during this time, it is refreshing to see that there are students who are choosing to put this time to a productive use - some to a use that's even more 'productive' and edifying than what we've been doing, here in Illinois.

    Friday, March 17, 2006

    This is Joe, Aakash's guest blogger.

    Click here to read one of the worst ideas I have ever heard in my life!

    Wednesday, March 15, 2006

    Today is the Ides of March


    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Blessed are the Meeks

    It was (of all places!), at the "Tuesday Night Bible Study" group, that I first heard that the latest issue of Capitol Fax was reporting the Reverend Senator James Meeks (I) was considering a third-party run for Governor. From the conversation we had on that Tuesday evening [this was after the Bible Study concluded, and we were talking politics], I was under the impression that this consideration of candidacy by Senator Meeks (I) was due to a statement made by Governor Blagojevich (D-Chicago) regarding the possibility that he would raise taxes during his second term. From the Sun Times article I was reading last night however, it seems I misunderstood; it appears that Sen. Meeks is upset about our current Governor's pledge that he will not raise taxes during his second term. Though, I'm not sure if I have that right either. (I would prefer the former to be true, of course, but it not, oh well.)

    In one of my entries for Black History Month in 2004, Senator Meeks was one of the Democrats who I included in that post, under "Honorable Mentions." (Well, Sen. Meeks is no longer a Democrat; he left that party, and ran for re-election election as an independent, a race which he won... He is currenty the only Independent in the Illinois state legislature.) The reason I included him in that entry was because of his positions on social issues (there are other reasons to admire him, but we'll get to those in a minute).

    In the entry below on Louis Farrakhan, I addressed the competing 20th-Century black American political traditions - the contrary ones of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Aside from this however, I want to discuss a more-modern line of African-American political thought, one to which I believe that Senator Meeks belongs. This school of thought relates to the fact that many African-Americans are highly-religious, and conservative on social issues. However, due to the history of the past several decades, and due to deceptive practices used by the LBJ Democrats, and still used by the Democrats (and neoconservatives) of today, most black Americans have been indentifying with the Democratic Party, and voting for those candidates (though that has been changing in recent years). While more and more African-Americans are moving to the Right on fiscal and economic issues, it is the social issues on which many (or most) of them have already been on the Republican side. Still, this factor has, for many, not been enough to cause them to leave the Democrat Party.

    While many are, in fact, liberal on social (as well as economic) issues, there are some African-American elected officials who are Democrats, and yet maintain (to varying degrees) their socially conservative viewpoints. Several of them were listed in that blog entry from February 2004, and this is the modern political tradition that I was alluding to, above. The following are some prominent black Democrats to whom this philosophy may apply:

    Former U.S. Congressman Rev. Floyd Flake (D-NY)
    Reverend Flake was a prominent U.S. Representative from Harlem, and is a Democrat with leftist leanings. He resigned from Congress in 1997, to focus his efforts on leading his church. The Allen African Methodist Episcopal Church is now one of largest in New York, with 800 employees and 12,000 members.

    Since he left Congress (and even sometimes while he was serving), Reverend Flake has shown an increased degree of independence, and has been somewhat favorable to Republicans. He endorsed the re-elections of Govenor George Pataki and Mayor Rudolph Giuliani (neither of whom are conservatives, though), and there was speculation, during the 1999-2000 presidential election, that he would endorse George W. Bush (also not a conservative). Dr. Flake is actually a current fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which is a major conservative organization. Also particularly notable is this FreeRepublic thread, which contains an article that I came across a few years ago. It was published in the New York Post, on March 6, 2000.

    Keyes: The Candidate We Can't Forget, Rev. Floyd Flake

    [FR thread #1] [FR thread #2]
    [Support from an unlikely source: Alan Keyes praised by Flake]

    Though portrayed (especially during our state's previous U.S. Senate race) as an out-of-touch extremist, Dr. Alan Keyes' emphasis on traditional moral values strikes a chord with many people - and not just conservative Republicans. If he had been given more time (2 and a half months is no time in which to start - and finish - a campaign for United States Senate), and at least some support from the organized party machinery [though in Illinois, that's something that would be very difficult to get, for someone like him...], he could have done even better against Barack Obama than he did. (Despite all that was gong against him, Dr. Keyes managed to pull more votes than our party's nominee in the previous U.S. Senate race.)

    That article about Dr. Keyes is from the 2000 presidential race. However, one of Reverend Flake's key causes of advocacy is charter schools and freedom of choice in education, an area in which his efforts have continued to be needed. President Bush was considering Rev. Flake as the Secretary of Education, a position that he did not want [and a position that none of us should want... hi Greg!].

    Related items, from the 1999-2000 presidential race: George W. Bush is Rev. Floyd Flake's "homeboy" in Harlem!

    Former U.S. Congressman Rev. Walter Fauntroy (D-D.C.) - He may not really be in this category of black leaders, but the former D.C. Delegate in the U.S. Congress is not afraid to come close to it. This was most evident with Rev. Faunteroy's endorsement of the Federal Marriage Amendment. The fact that he had put his support behind this controversial proposal riled those on the left, some of whom attempted to pressure Rev. Faunteroy to change his position on this issue. Some of them asserted that the former Congressman was a "conservative"... Though he has taken a conservative viewpoint on the marriage issues, and I think he also joined with Rev. Floyd Flake in expressing support for school choice and charter schools (at least to some degree), the Rev. Faunteroy is not a conservative. Anyway, conservative columnist Maggie Gallagher outlined this whole deal in a pair of columns [see here and here] from 2001.

    State Representative Sharon Weston Broome (D-LA)
    I included her in that entry from last year, in large part because of her action taken against Charles Darwin's theory of evolution. Speaker Pro Tempore Boome, the first woman to hold this position in the Louisiana House of Representatives, was a 1984 graduate of Regent University. From info on the web, it appears that, unlike people such as Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, she seems to genuinely support Christian values, and is disappointed that her party does not appear to be sharing in these principles.

    Dr. Alveda King, who also served as a southern State Representative [as a Democrat] switched to the Republican Party.
    King for America
    1998 profile article from National Review

    Rev. Ralph Abernathy, before he passed away, worked closely with some conservatives, in some issues and causes. He even served, up until his 1990 death, as the Vice-President of the American Freedom Coalition, a controversial anti-communist organization.

    Back to Meeks

    The Rev. Sen. James Meeks is quite the unique character in Illinois politics. That being said, I wish we had more like him. Meeks has, over the past few years that I've known about him, been in reciept of simultaneous ridicule & criticism, and praise & admiration, from the conservative columnists of our state. Our friend, the libertarian-minded Dan Proft, wrote an Illinois Leader column ridiculing the flamboyant Senator. (Though I don't know this for sure, I suspect that Mr. Proft's views on certain social issues, being a libertarian, would be different from those of Senator Meeks.) Meanwhile, Kevin McCullough, known as a social conservative, included, in this balanced column, some praise for the Senator for his pro-values positions, tempered with criticism regarding Meeks' close relationship with both Jesse Jacksons (Sr. and Jr.).

    At the 2004 statewide College Republicans convention, held in Chicago, Senator Meeks was cited, by one of our speakers, as a positive example of someone who has had success in taking on the Democratic machine of this state.

    In the event that:

    - Judy Barr Topinka wins the Republican nomination for Governor, AND
    - Rod Blagojevich is re-nominated by the Democrats for his current position, AND
    - No other social conservative candidates (such as Randy Stufflebeam) get ballot access, AND
    - the Rev. Sen. James Meeks decides to run for Governor

    Then: We could see one of the oddest coalitions in our state's political history line up behind the Meeks gubernatorial bid. This could include:

    - liberals and Democrats dissatisfied with Governor Blagojevich (many!)
    - Chicago Democrats and minority voters
    - Illinoisans who don't ordinarily vote in non-presidential election years
    - southern Illinois (Glenn Poshard-type) Democrats and independents
    - the "Reagan Democrats" and union members
    - some staunch pro-life Republicans and conservatives and Christians

    That is a number of "ifs" (all of which are very feasible), and even if they are fulfilled, it's hard to say whether such a coalition would form. But in this state, and in the climate that we're currently in (both statewide and nationally), there are many things that could happen.

    And this scenario is one of them.