Thursday, December 24, 2009

Avatar: A must see for the holidays

You might be wondering why Lefty's is doing a movie review. That's not our thing, right? Well there are times to make exceptions. And this is one of them.

The movie is  James Cameron's Avatar
and you absolutely must see it once you get the chance. Besides the fact that the movie is stunningly beautiful and revolutionary in terms of film-making, I think you'll find something else to take away from it.

Interestingly, when Joe Lieberman said he voted against the Public Option because liberals were too excited about it, I thought in a similar fashion with this movie review. Only after sufficient conservative whining did I realize the potential fuss this movie could generate. So I went and saw it, and to be honest, 99% of my satisfaction came directly from the imaginative and beautiful world of Pandora and the Na'vi- their story and lifestyle. Only a small sliver of me got excited because the message of the film was so clearly anti-imperialist and against American intrusion in the Middle East.

So although most Americans will go and simply enjoy this film for what it is, a small minority will sh#t a brick and begin their political whining. In the same way, it would be awesome to keep the comments about this post strictly about the movie. I'm a little tired of hearing obnoxious "Hollywood is liberal" arguments, even if they are probably true. So what? STFU, sit down and watch the movie, and get over yourselves. Thank you, and Merry Christmas Lefties!

Visual: A
Sound: A
Story: A-
Experience: A
Overall: A

Friday, December 18, 2009

Joe Lieberman Is A Dirty Whore (as if you didn't know)

Joe Lieberman's backstabbing of the Democratic caucus has come to an intolerable point (Actually, I think it reached this point years ago, but now it's finally getting more attention).  Joe Lieberman is known as the Senator from Aetna for the way he whores out his power in the Senate to the health insurance giant Aetna, and other members of the corporate health insurance lobby.  The Democratic leadership has been continuously compromising on the health care proposal in the Senate to court the vote of Lieberman and other conservative Democrats.  This past week the latest compromise was scrapping the public option for an expansion of Medicare to allow people 55+ to buy into the program early... a compromise by the way, that Joe Lieberman supported three months ago.  As soon as this asshole caught onto the fact that liberals actually thought this would be a good idea, he suddenly changed his mind.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

A Crazy Week of Politics

Last night, I watched an interesting special comment by Keith Olbermann on the problems with the new health care reform bill.

Then today I heard Bill Clinton come out and support it.

Angry progressives are voicing their ire with Joseph Lieberman, including one man who threatens to organize a boycott of pro-Lieberman businesses in Connecticut.

MoveOn has reportedly raised over $1 million against Lieberman in under 48 hours.

Albeit finals week at ND, it's been interesting in the world of politics, from Copenhagen to Washington.

Finally, here is Olbermann's special comment, for your viewing pleasure:

Monday, December 14, 2009

Stop Joe Lieberman.

Today I watched the news and was absolutely disgusted to find that
Sen. Joe Lieberman may be shutting down progressive health care reform
by himself! I have opposed the filibuster rule in the Senate for
quite some time, even though Sen. Harkin is raising that issue again
it will not be able to get passed in time to help us pass health care

Lets make our democracy work by putting pressure on Lieberman. How do
you put pressure on a politician? You make them look bad to their
constituents. Progressive Change Campaign Committee is an up and
coming organization that is widely being recognized as a liberal
megaphone in our political system. They have a great ad targeting
Sen. Joe Lieberman they want to air in Connecticut and are asking 3
dollars from health reform supporters like us to help them air it.

Please go to this link, watch the ad, and consider donating 3$



Saturday, December 12, 2009

2009: The Great Recession

I'm not the kind of person to go crush hopes and cast everything in a dark manner. There are plenty of people out there who make a living doing this. But for most people, 2009 was rough.

This seems to be a fitting mantra, at times...
2009: When dreams were crushed and nothing was truly great.

  • In 2009, many faithful Obama supporters lost the faith, as a compromise turned to betrayal at times and progressives were left in the dark. The war machine was only pushed harder, and definitive progress toward universal health care was unclear, not to mention the soft hand that was given to corporate America.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Kroc Institute Prof. Comments on Obama's Nobel Speech

I hope everyone's final exam cram sessions are going well.  As I was recovering today from writing a paper all night, before I get started on yet another :( I stumbled upon this interesting bit of information on the intertubes...

Professor David Cortright, Director of Policy Studies at the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies here at Notre Dame was recently interviewed by Christopher Hayes of The Nation Magazine, for his reaction on President Obama's speech at the awards ceremony for the Nobel Prize.

I caught this onto this from Chris Hayes' Twitter feed.  Shameless self-promotion: you can also now follow Lefty's on Twitter, as well as ME your loyal Lefty's editor, and the Kroc Institute!!!

When asked for his reaction to the President's speech, Professor Cortright had the following reaction:
"I found the Nobel speech disappointing." He continued: "To use the Nobel dais to justify the use of military force is unseemly. The president's characterization of the historic role of US military power was distorted, and his interpretation of just war theory was incomplete."
Read the rest of his reaction at The Nation.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The New Way Forward - The President's Address

Well, earlier today you had the opportunity to read the speech that Tom Engelhardt (and many other progressives) think the President should have given (but wouldn't). Here now is the video and full transcript of the actual speech delivered by President Obama tonight at West Point:

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary

Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on the Way Forward in Afghanistan and Pakistan

Eisenhower Hall Theatre, United States Military Academy at West Point, West Point, New York

8:01 P.M. EST
THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. To the United States Corps of Cadets, to the men and women of our Armed Services, and to my fellow Americans: I want to speak to you tonight about our effort in Afghanistan -- the nature of our commitment there, the scope of our interests, and the strategy that my administration will pursue to bring this war to a successful conclusion. It's an extraordinary honor for me to do so here at West Point -- where so many men and women have prepared to stand up for our security, and to represent what is finest about our country.
To address these important issues, it's important to recall why America and our allies were compelled to fight a war in Afghanistan in the first place. We did not ask for this fight. On September 11, 2001, 19 men hijacked four airplanes and used them to murder nearly 3,000 people. They struck at our military and economic nerve centers. They took the lives of innocent men, women, and children without regard to their faith or race or station. Were it not for the heroic actions of passengers onboard one of those flights, they could have also struck at one of the great symbols of our democracy in Washington, and killed many more.

The Next Page In the Afghanistan War

President Obama will be giving a speech tonight to be broadcast live from West Point, in which he will outline his strategy to move forward in Afghanistan. It will be interesting to hear how he describes the mission, and what constitutes success. From what has leaked so far, it seems he plans to deploy 30,000 more troops and set a timetable of about 3 years. I won't comment on this until his actual speech, but this interesting post was published a week or so ago, and deserves some consideration:

Originally posted on Read the whole post, with additional commentary from Tom Englehardt, here.

The Afghanistan Speech Obama Should Give (but won't)

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

A New Way Forward:

The President's Address to the American People on Afghan Strategy

Oval Office

For Immediate Release

December 2nd

8:01 P.M. EDT
My fellow Americans,
On March 28th, I outlined what I called a "comprehensive, new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan." It was ambitious. It was also an attempt to fulfill a campaign promise that was heartfelt. I believed -- and still believe -- that, in invading Iraq, a war this administration is now ending, we took our eye off Afghanistan. Our well-being and safety, as well as that of the Afghan people, suffered for it.
I suggested then that the situation in Afghanistan was already "perilous." I announced that we would be sending 17,000 more American soldiers into that war zone, as well as 4,000 trainers and advisors whose job would be to increase the size of the Afghan security forces so that they could someday take the lead in securing their own country. There could be no more serious decision for an American president.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

5 Lessons From the Charlie Weis Era

This might be a bit presumptuous, given that the firing hasn't happened yet, but that is a gamble I'm willing to make.

Presenting: Henry's 5 Lessons From the Charlie Weis Era

#5: Being a native son shouldn't earn you preferential treatment.

#4: Notre Dame can recruit again. However, a coach cannot lean only on the caliber of his recruits. He must develop those players.

#3: Hire someone who has already proven themselves as a head coach at the D-1 FBS college level.

#2: College football is more about executing fundamentals well and less about "schematic advantages."

#1: Don't give 10-year contracts to anyone.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Game Day!!!

Notre Dame vs. Stanford
Palo Alto, CA

...ah, the Rose Bowl... Those were the days, eh?

Well, here we are. The last game of what was supposed to be the year Notre Dame returned to glory. So much for that. But dammit, We Are ND! And we'll cheer just as hard for them to defeat the Cardinals today as if we were 10-2 with our eyes on a bowl game! Well, maybe... writing a paper might be a better use of my time... even though this will be the last game during my time here as a student. *tear*

The Irish have been looking... uninspired... as of late--to say the least. Here's to hoping that the skies will part and shine down some inspiration (or a decent defensive strategy) on our dear team so we can at least walk away with a winning season.

And of course, rumor (and common sense) has it that this will likely be Charlie Weis' last game with ND.
So, Domers... who is on your Christmas wish list to take over the program next year???

As always, pre-game predictions, real-time cheering/cursing, post-game celebration/mourning... and your coaching wish list for next year, are all welcomed in the comments. Blog away, dear Lefties!

Thursday, November 26, 2009

5 Things To Be Thankful For in 2009

I'd like to wish a Happy Thanksgiving to all our readers and writers at Lefty's Last Cry. Lefty's has been in a bit of a hiatus right now. To be completely honest, I've been discouraged by some of the buzz surrounding the health care debate. The dramatization and horse-race style of the MSM is too exhausting. However, I was happy to see that someone bothered to point out how ridiculous the filibuster has become.

As we sit and watch football, drink beer, and stuff our faces, I'd like to present a little list of 5 things I am thankful for. If you have any thanks to give, feel free to add them into the comments.

#1: I am thankful our national soccer team didn't miss the world cup because of some silly hand ball.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Calling All Lefties! Let Senator Bayh hear your voice!

Health Care Reform is now in the Senate, which means that now is the time for Americans to express their support for Health Care Reform to their Senators. For all of our Lefty's Hoosiers, I encourage you to call the office of Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) to offer your support. Whether you live in Notre Dame, South Bend, or Mishawaka, this means you (students too!). Here's the number for you. It literally takes 30 seconds:

Senator Evan Bayh
South Bend #: (574) 236-8302

Washington #: (202) 224-5623

This evening, 20 College Democrats of Notre Dame got together and made over 1000 calls to Hoosiers in Northern Indiana asking them to call their Senator. If you haven't already had the chance, take a minute and call. Your voice matters!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

On the other hand

Here's the Democratic Strategist take. But if people hate it, then its not a success and you cant build off it. Throwing more money into a fundamentally unsound system is the wrong approach, I think.

On the supposed victory...

"Political liberalism has no quarrel at all with wealth and power. It timidly exhorts the wealthy and powerful to play nice; but if they don't choose to take liberalism's advice, then liberalism sighs, and wrings its hands, and murmurs something about being "realistic."

I laughed out loud when I read this. See this is the way the "liberals" in congress and our Democratic leadership choose to deal with problems in our country. Take the banking issue for example, Obama has asked them to stop engaging in fraud, but he wont make them do it. He has asked the drug companies to make drugs more affordable for people, but he wont punish them if they don’t. He says he wants a viable public option, but he wont commit to anything. He wont use the government to enforce the will of the people, because, you know, that would be rude. He will just ask nicely, and if he doesn’t get it, he will "sigh, wring his hands, and murmur something about being realistic."

Health Care Reform Passes in House 220-215

Saturday evening, The US House of Representatives passed HR 3962 by a vote of 220-215.

1 Republican, Congressman Joseph Cao (R-LA) joined 219 Democrats, including our own Joseph Donnelly (D-IN), in passing the measure. Here is Congressman Donnelly's contact info so you can call and thank him:

South Bend: (574) 288-2780
Washington, DC (202) 225-3915

176 Republicans and 39 Democrats opposed the bill. The following Democrats voted against HR 3962.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Where We Are Now

Ian Welsh has been consistanly right about things for a long time, so it would make sense to listen to what he has to say. That said I probably won't leave the US, until I get my degree!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Game Day!

Notre Dame vs. Washington St.
7:30PM EST on NBC

Today is a "home" game, at a neutral site. We face off against Washington St. at the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas. Those of you who made it down to Texas, have a blast cheering on the Irish!

Oh, and Happy Halloween to everyone! I have an exciting night of partying paper writing ahead! Woohoo!


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Pickens comes to Notre Dame

A Town Hall event with T. Boone Pickens

This week, I had the opportunity to visit a town hall meeting hosted by T. Boone Pickens in the Debartolo Performing Arts Center.

The event was kicked off by an ND alum, Salem Abraham (class of '88), Pickens' friend and neighbor and the head of Abraham Trading Company, a commodity trading company based in Canadian, Texas.

Pickens came to Notre Dame as part of a college speaking tour across the country to promote his ambitious energy proposal, the Pickens Plan. The Plan kicked off in July of 2008 with the goal of reducing American dependence on foreign oil with investments in natural gas and wind farms. Pickens has invested $62 million of his own money into the Pickens Plan, which boasts over 1 million supporters.

Pickens' lecture largely focused on expanding the use of domestically produced natural gas as a substitute for oil. He believes that global oil production will never exceed the current rate of 85 million barrels per day, meaning that we have currently reached peak oil, the maximum rate of global petroleum production. He also also cited the increasing percentage of imported oil in the total consumption of oil in the United States as a concern.

Foreign Oil

He recalled that President Nixon once promised that the United States would not import oil by the end of the 1970s. In that time, foreign oil imports actually increased from 24% to 28%. Since then, Pickens said that he has seen every subsequent presidential candidate promise a reduction in oil imports. Meanwhile the actual percentage of the oil Americans consume that comes from outside the country has continued to increase. Currently, around 67% of our oil comes from overseas, and Pickens expects that number to go up to 75% in the next ten years if there isn't a significant change in our energy policy. He added, "I don't think the folks in Washington lie to us about energy. They just don't understand it."


He commented briefly about his meetings with both John McCain and Barack Obama during the 2008 elections to discuss their energy proposals. John McCain proposed increasing nuclear power, while Barack Obama wanted to focus more on renewable fuels. Both of them wanted to invest in battery technology for transportation. As Pickens' story goes, he asked both of them "You know a battery won't move an 18-wheeler, right?" to which both candidates responded "It won't?".

Speaking further about President Obama, he recalled that he criticized Obama's promise of 1 million plug-in hybrids by 2015 for being "too small". While Pickens himself drives a fuel-efficient car that runs on natural gas, he's more interested in focusing on commercial vehicles like trucks which consume much more oil and produce more pollution than cars.

Though he claims his movement "doesn't have anything to do with politics, it has to do with being Americans", Pickens hasn't been at all cautious about involving himself in politics. Pickens is a supporter of HR 1835, the "New Alternative Transportation to Give Americans Solutions Act of 2009" which he dubbed, "the climate bill".

Natural Gas

Pickens went into more detail about his plan, which can be broken into two parts. First, Pickens predicts that the United States' electricity consumption will increse 20% in the next ten years. Most electricity in the US comes from coal fired plants, but Pickens argues that natural gas and, eventually, renewable fuels can be used to meet that demand in an effort to reduce costs and environmental damage.

Second, Pickens supports the expanded use of natural gas-powered trucks instead of diesel trucks. The majority of his speech consisted of outlining his plan to incentivize the replacement of what he referred to as diesel "heavy-duties" (big trucks), with more efficient trucks powered by natural gas engines. He cited the use of natural gas to fuel garbage trucks in Los Angeles as an example.

Aside from the benefits of diminished cost and pollution, Pickens notes that at over 2000 Tcfs (trillion cubic feet) the United States has the largest natural gas reserves in the world, so we could be replacing foreign fuel with a domestic one.

"6.5 million heavy-duty vehicles can be switched to natural gas. We can cut 2.5 million barrels (of oil imports) per day. That would cut half of the amount that we import from OPEC"


Q & A

After his 30 minute lecture, Pickens stayed for 30 minutes of the audience's questions. Here are some of his answers to what I thought were the best questions:

Q: What's your stance on Cap and Trade?
A: Cap and Trade will be in the Climate Bill, which I support. But, I think Cap and Trade is really just a tax, and as a businessman I don't like taxes. If Congress wants to raise revenues with an energy tax they should pass a gas tax.

Q: What about ethanol?
A: I support anything made in America. Corn ethanol won't move an 18-wheeler either, but it'll help

Q: What about nuclear power?
A: Nuclear won't move vehicles, but it makes up 20% of our power generation. It could be a clean alternative to coal, and it's American, so I'm for it.

Q: In 2008 you were promoting the idea of creating wind farms from Texas to North Carolina. What happened to that?
A: In 2008, gas was more expensive than it is today. When gas is cheap, wind is not affordable. When the cost of gas goes up, wind power will be a better option. Both wind and solar technology will improve and be more useful in the future. But for now the storage technology isn't good enough either.

Natural gas is a bridge. Right now we need to reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Hopefully in 50 years we can move completely to renewable fuels, and batteries and fuel cells. As long as those batteries are American. As I told Al Gore, I don't want to trade Saudi oil for Chinese batteries.

Q: What about volatile gas prices and the role that speculators have in driving up the cost of energy?
A: Speculators don't manipulate the cost of energy. The commodities market is different than the stock market. When someone sells shares of a commodity, someone else actually has to buy it. Energy markets are volatile, but part of the volatility comes from the fact that too much of our energy comes from foreign oil. We can't be buying oil from people that don't like us.

Q: Don't you agree that oil has been demonized too much in the national discussion of energy policy? We need oil for synthetics and other petroleum products like plastic.

A: 70% of the oil we use goes to transportation. Right now we have no energy plan. We have to get one. Oil from the enemy is likely to become very expensive. 5 years ago OPEC made $250 billion. In 2008, OPEC made $1.25 trillion.
This post is getting kind of long, so I'll put my own impressions of the town hall and the Pickens Plan in general in the comments section. If anybody else went to the town hall and wants to share their thoughts, feel free to add comments.

Regarding Our Last Poll:

Last week we had a poll about the U.S. military's decision to ban photos of dead soldiers in the Afghan war. Here is a screen shot of your responses: (click image for larger view)

It is important to note that the U.S. military has since reversed its decision. I missed that story somehow, but they apparently came to it fairly quickly after the initial controversy. I'm glad to see them err on the side of free speech.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Bold and Honorable Words from Our New Democrat

Senator Arlen Specter (D-PA) wrote the following op-ed, which was published this morning. I was very impressed. Well said, Senator.


     The time has come to repeal the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Enacted 13 years ago when the idea of same sex marriage was struggling for acceptance, the Act is a relic of a more tradition-bound time and culture.
     Connecticut, Iowa, and Massachusetts have already passed laws recognizing same sex marriage and other states are moving in that direction. The states are the proper forum to address this divisive social and moral issue, not the Federal Government with a law that attempts to set one national standard for marriage.
     Prohibition showed just how difficult it is to enforce law establishing standards of personal behavior or morality. Coercion, whether civic or legal, in matters of this kind rarely works. It certainly won't halt public controversy surrounding the issue.
     The repeal of DOMA is one step among several designed to fully integrate and protect the rights of gays and lesbians in American society. Recently enacted hate crimes legislation is another. The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Prevention Act (S 909), which I sponsored with the late Senator Kennedy, makes it a federal crime to target victims on the basis of disability, sex, sexual orientation, or gender identity. President Obama has said he will sign the measure.
     Nothing in the Act impedes the lawful expression of one's political or religious beliefs. All Americans are entitled to hold and express their own beliefs, no matter how provocative. At the same time, no person has the right to engage in violent acts of hate or incite to violence. Protecting Americans against such hate crimes does not inhibit free speech but rather serves us all by halting and penalizing those who carry out those acts of cruelty.
     Measures to combat discrimination against gays and transgendered people in the workplace are another needed measure. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act of 2009, of which I am an original cosponsor, was introduced on August 5, 2009 and is currently before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.
     Finally, the military's Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy is outdated, and should be rescinded entirely. A person's sexual orientation has no bearing on their ability to serve their country in the armed services. Countless studies and the experiences of gays who have served in the military have borne out these findings.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Game Day!

The Holy War Continues!

Notre Dame vs. Boston College
3:30PM EST Notre Dame Stadium


Leave your predictions, cheering/cursing & other shenanigans in the comments!

Grab a Mop

Yesterday a group of concerned Hoosiers delivered mops to Republican Party offices all across the state and asked them to pitch in and help clean up the mess they’ve made over the last eight years. Recognizing that we are all in this together the President has been hard at work to create jobs, ensure stable and affordable insurance, and better secure the country. But he has been met by Indiana Republicans (ex: Mark Souter, Mike Pence & Steve Buyer) with knee-jerk opposition and partisan obstruction to every new idea. Last week, the President suggested that rather than simply saying "NO" to efforts to help put the country back on the right track, the GOP should “grab a mop” and help clean up the mess we're in to move the country forward.

The College Democrats of Indiana are asking the Republican Party to take the President’s advice: either grab a mop and help clean up the mess, or get out of the way!

"And this is the cause of my life, new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American -- north, south, east, west, young, old -- will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege."

Edward Kennedy (1932-2009)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The World of The Conservative Base

This is an extremely illuminating article about the way the mind of your average Republican conservative works. "Why would I want to know that?" I hear you asking, "I already know they're crazy." Good point, liberal-person-in-my-head (I'm losing my mind), but there will certainly come a time when you'll encounter people like this, and if you're anything like me, you'll want to argue with them. It helps to know exactly how they think: about Obama, about themselves, about the media, and about "elites" like us. Especially chilling is their praise for some of our favorite people here at Lefty's: Sarah Palin and Glenn Beck.

The Very Separate World of Conservative Republicans

A Lefty's Call to Action

With today's important negotiations and the public option showing more and more support from the majority of Americans, Organizing for America is making a big push with the goal of reaching 150,000 (already reached!) 200,000 calls made to congress by the end of the day. It's fall break for most of us, so take the time to make a quick call or two.

Make the call Lefties.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Game Day!

Notre Dame vs. USC

If you're not fortunate enough to join us today, you can cheer us on via NBC at 3:30PM EST.
Gather your friends at home, or head to your local watering hole and cause a ruckus! Especially to all my loyal ND fans back in Southern California... make those sorry SC fans want to leave the bar!!!

Big game today... USC is trying to earn its way back into the discussion about a national championship. Meanwhile, we at Notre Dame are looking to reassert ourselves as a serious top-tier program--a team that can beat an elite program like USC. This is more than just getting the W. This is for the heart and soul of Notre Dame--breaking the streak of SC defeats--waking up the echoes. It can be done. Trojans break!

We're rooting for you guys! Go get 'em!

...Don't forget, Irish, touchdown Jesus will be looking over you. And he's already phoned in his support.


As always... pre-game predictions, real-time cheering/cursing, and your general thoughts are all welcome in the comments!

The Real Reason Behind The Nobel Prize

Some lawlz before the big game:

Go Irish! Beat Trojans!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Lefty's Writer Spotted on The Huffington Post!

Lefty's is proud to take a moment to recognize it's own mini-celebrity, writer, Andrea Watts, who was spotted on The Huffington Post homepage today!
Don't be fooled by the Sarah Palin disguise, and Joe the Plumber on her arm. We at Lefty's can assure you that this version of the wolf huntress is far more intelligent, doesn't really shoot wolves from helicopters, and "pals around with terrorists" like us.

Looking good, Andrea! ;)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Michael Steele: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

This little dose of hilarity is brought to you by Jed Lewison at DailyKos.

Monday, October 12, 2009

College Democrats Are Working Hard For Health Care Reform

Not to be redundant after Tim Ryan's post, but I think it's nice to let our Lefty's readers know that the Observer has been covering their hard work. Here's a copy of the article from today's (10/12) paper. Thanks, Robert Singer!

 College Democrats rally for health care reform
By Robert Singer

The College Democrats of Notre Dame co-sponsored the "Health Care for All" rally in downtown South Bend Saturday to support health care reform, a cause they say will make for a wiser system of medical insurance - and a healthier and wealthier nation.

Attended by about 150 community residents and students, the rally kicked off at 1:30 p.m. in front of the Morris Performing Arts Center.

"It becomes unaffordable for our businesses to provide health care for the people who work for those businesses," Congressman Joe Donnelly, a Democrat who represents Indiana's 2nd District, said at the rally, arguing the current system is unsustainable in the long term.

The rally was intended to put political pressure on Indiana's Democratic elected officials, College Democrats co-president and junior Christopher Rhodenbaugh said.

"The rally is about showing the widespread support in South Bend and the surrounding area for health insurance reform, showing the members of Congress that this is something that people really need and want and anyone who votes for it, this community will support and volunteer for them when they come up for re-election," he said.

To demonstrate public support for health care reform, the College Democrats have been calling Indiana residents during a weekly phone bank. Their goal is to reach five thousand people before the health care bill is submitted for a vote, which should be in mid-November, Rhodenbaugh said.

Rally attendee Sean Fritts shared the story of a family tragedy, which he believed could have been avoided with affordable health insurance.

When his wife Jennifer sought medical care for a cold during her pregnancy, the hospital turned her away. The next day, feeling more ill, Jennifer went with Sean to a different hospital. There, they lied that they had insurance, and she was diagnosed with double pneumonia. But the finding came too late - 55 days later, she died in an intensive care unit.

Citing a recent study by Harvard Medical School and the Cambridge Health Alliance that found 45 thousand deaths each year are linked to a lack of health insurance, Rhodenbaugh voiced a moral argument for health care reform.

"We believe that health care is a human right and that it is a social justice issue and to have one of the wealthiest countries in world have 45 thousand people die every year because of lack of insurance is wrong," he said.

Sophomore Tim Ryan, who attended the rally, said that a for-profit system of health insurance is immoral.

"It's unethical," he said. "It's a violation of human rights."

Freshman James Crowe said any short-term costs will be outweighed by a system that cuts expenses in the long term.

"In the short run, it will send us into a deficit, but in the long run, it will be more efficient," he said.

"The fact that the public option means a government takeover" is a part of the debate that Rhodenbaugh believes is often misunderstood.

"President Obama said in the health care speech that with the public option, roughly five percent of the population will be getting health insurance from the government," he said.

About 15 people attended an adjacent counter-demonstration in opposition to public intervention in the health care system.

Tim Grimes, founder and assistant organizer of Michiana's "9/12 Project," said he believed President Barack Obama's health care initiative was part of a larger scheme by the current administration to seize absolute control of the government and implement Obama's "total socialistic views."

Grimes also saw a conspiracy in the program proposed to limit carbon emissions, claiming that "cap-and-trade is going to make Al Gore rich."

Rhodenbaugh said he was displeased with the debate's level of discourse thus far.

"I am unhappy with how the debate among the American people has gone about. The fact is that it's been very much reflex politics," he said. "I wish there was more thoughtful debate. A lot of people forget that Medicare is a successful government health insurance program."

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Sunday Evening Tunes

This is kind of random, but I liked it. A catchy autotune remix of Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking.

Healthcare Reform Rally

Yesterday afternoon, this writer and maybe about 15-20 other enlightened ND liberals made their way to the courtyard in front of the Morris PAC for a rally in support of our President's healthcare reform plan. Naturally, the teabaggers could not allow such an event to go on without making sure we knew their feelings, which were well summed up by one man's hilariously misspelled sign "Oboma lies". If I ever meet this Oboma, I'll make sure not to trust him. Another protester simply covered her sign with pictures of guns. Disturbing. But I digress.

After an "interesting" (but passionate) take on our national anthem, the speakers began to take the stage. Congressman Joe Donnelly made a surprise appearance. It was nice to see him finally (at least by all appearances) choosing the right side. He's not necessarily a leader in the House, but every vote is important. Another elected official, Congressman State Representative David Niezgodski, showed up and gave a refreshingly impassioned speech about the importance of real reform. It was great to hear from an elected official that actually listens to the needs of the people, rather than the lobbyists. Other speakers included leaders of the Latin American Union, the AFL-CIO, and a woman with complications from MS who, despite having insurance, is still paying $1,000 a month out of pocket. Not easy to do when only living off social security and disability pension. She gave my favorite line of the afternoon: "Death panels? We already have death panels. They're called insurance companies."

But by far the most moving moment was the man who told us the story of how he lost his wife. She was 24, pregnant, and without insurance, when she came down with a mysterious illness. They went to a doctor, but because of her lack of insurance she was told there was little they could do, given an inhaler, and sent home. The next day her condition visibly worsened, so she was taken to another hospital and put on a respirator. At the cost of $22,000 a day. With no insurance. (At this point, the man was understandably unable to continue, so a woman whose relation to the family I did not catch continued the story for him.) Naturally, no average citizen is unable to sustain that sort of payment without assistance, so she was taken off the respirator. The baby was lost. Then she passed away. Leaving her husband and her two and a half year old child. Her memorial service was yesterday. Her husband came from the service to the healthcare rally. You can't hear a story like that and not choke up. When something like this happens in a country as wealthy and supposedly morally upstanding as America, the system is broken. Healthcare is a basic human right, and if we are unable to pass meaningful reform, then we will be hearing more stories like this every day.

CORRECTION: David Niezgodski is a state representative, not a congressman. Maybe he should be one, though.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

In Review- Capitalism: A Love Story

Michael Moore's new documentary hit theatres October 2, so we decided that the College Democrats should get together to go see it in South Bend. This Friday, eight of us went to ShowPlace 16 and watched it. Because I like to talk about Notre Dame/College Democrats activities and issues, keeping it local, I decided it would be a good idea to give a review of the film. So here it is...

Presentation: B+

Evidence: A-

Fairness: B+

Relevance: A


In general, Moore does an excellent job nailing a timely problem in a way that is effective and persuasive. It was hard not to be teary-eyed during the FDR speech during this film. When you realize that you're watching a movie about things so recent and so painfully real, this movie really hits you. The movie probably only loses a few point by being overly abstract and preachy in the beginning. After about 30 minutes, though, it starts to get very real. I really love the parts of the film that try to emphasize that capitalism is inherently anti-Christian and anti-Catholic. It's time to realize that you must pick one or the other. Money or The Lord? Who is your God? Some of the other Lefty's writers and I thought it would awesome if we could get some conservatives to go watch this film. If anyone has any brilliant ideas on how to do this (pay for their tickets?) let us know. I would love to see this happen.

 Finally, about the message of the film:

I'm going to make an assumption and give our readers credit for being an intelligent bunch. Many of you are college-educated or successful professionals. In this same light, I hope that you will be fair and realize that what I am about to say is actually NOT elitist, as much as it may seem so at first. 

The reality, that Moore shows us, is that capitalism has erased that which democracy had achieved. Before democracy, there was aristocracy/monarchy/plutocracy. Only the smartest and most privileged ruled. Democracy meant "1 man, 1 vote" and tried to defy this inequality. Capitalism, on the other hand, disproportionally rewards those who are smart and privileged, far beyond what is deserved for being smart and privileged. So for people like ourselves, in the most basic self-interested sort of way, capitalism is excellent. Most of you will probably do well. There is no guarantee, of course. The problem is, that for the other 95% of people, capitalism is mostly shitty.

Think about it like this. We all love to play a game that we know we can win. Even if the rules aren't the most fair, we will find enjoyment in competition and victory. Fairness only becomes a serious issue when we are less sure we can win or when we know we will lose. No one wants to play a game that seems rigged against them.

And this is the problem. Intelligent people try (successfully) to export their enthusiasm for this whole "capitalism" idea to the rest of the bunch- the 95% that probably won't win. They're so smart in fact that they actually persuade all those people that the game is fair after all. "You can win, too." Our enthusiasm is contingent on the high that we get from winning. This is fine and dandy, then. We can keep playing this game and keep winning. I mean, if it makes us feel good, and we're winning, who really cares, right?

We should care. We should realize that the people who already hate capitalism can't afford to watch Michael Moore's film, don't have the power to ever really do anything about it (this is debatable), and really don't have as much to gain from seeing it. THIS MOVIE IS FOR PEOPLE LIKE US. It is a wake-up call for those who are winning at this game called capitalism that maybe winning isn't everything. Maybe there are other virtues that matter- like equality/shared prosperity (everyone having some fun playing), fairness, democracy, accountability, and for God's sake, maybe some humility. Let's think about who we serve sometimes. Maybe if we weren't always feeling the high from winning we would realize that it is money who we serve. Let's get sober, Lefties.

Another Take on the Nobel Prize

Barack Obama, President of the United States, won the Nobel Prize for peace. When I woke up yesterday morning and flipped open my laptop to check the news I was honestly as shocked as anyone. "What the heck? What did they decide to do that for already?" was my honest, initial reaction.

I wasn't upset by it or anything, but then I saw all the usual suspects on the right start freaking the fuck out over it, I sighed, and said to myself, "really? Again? Like it wasn't enough to get all uppity about the Olympics nonsense?" It's just pathetic the level of outrage the right has for anything the President tries to do (or in this case, has happen to him beyond his will!).

Then I read some comments by people on the left, as well as some friends who I typically agree with on most issue. Their concerns weren't hostile like the right. They express legitimate concerns and criticisms that the President hasn't yet accomplished enough to deserve such a prestigious award. This is understandable. I agree with some of the sentiments of Blakey and JD in their earlier posts. And I especially sympathize with those who are concerned about what the President may do next in Afghanistan. But read these words from the President's remarks where he says that he will accept the award:
To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many transformative figures who've been honored by this prize... But I also know that this prize reflects the kind of world that those men and women, and all Americans want to build. A world that gives life to the promise of our founding documents. And I know that throughout history the Nobel Peace Prize has not just been used to honor specific achievement, it's also been used to give momentum to a set of causes. And that is why I will accept this award as a call to action. A call to all nations to confront the common challenges of the 21st century.
Many previous recipients of the Nobel Prize for peace received the award before actually accomplishing what it was they fought for. I see this award as deserved and beneficial on two fronts. One, despite the President's flaws, and all of the criticism he deserves from those of us on the left who must hold his feet to the fire, his election did transform the country, and transform the world.

American favorability in the world has significantly increased since President Obama took office. One of the most damaging aspects of the last eight years has been how image of the United States was tarnished among the rest of the world, significantly impeding our ability to conduct successful diplomacy. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) was a guest on the Rachel Maddow show last night to talk about this, and she read a quote from French President Nicolas Sarkozy, which sums this up beautifully:
It confirms, finally, America's return to the hearts of the people of the world.
Furthermore, as Rachel Maddow points out, his speech calling for the reduction of nuclear weapons was a significant moment. Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency and 2005 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize had this to say:
I cannot think of anyone today more deserving of this honor ... President Obama has provided outstanding leadership on moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
The reduction of nuclear weapons hasn't gained much publicity here in the U.S., but nuclear proliferation has been a consistent theme in this administration so far, and small but significant steps are being taken in the right directions. A dramatic break from previous administration policy, which not only improves our credibility abroad in working on this issue (say with Iran and North Korea) but is also a giant step towards a more peaceful world.

Secondly, as President Obama is a young president in a young administration leaving much to still be desired, I see this award as a raising of the bar for the Obama administration. It is a tremendous statement that the international community is behind him, and supports him in his goals of creating a more peaceful world. And, it will no doubt weigh on the President's mind and conscience when he is making critical decisions in the oval office that he carries the expectations of the entire world with him in his pursuit of peace.

I recommend watching Rachel's take on this issue:

Friday, October 9, 2009

The Nobel Prize

My first thought when I learned that Obama got the award was that it was just politics. Because in some ways that is all the Nobel Peace prize has been about, Kissinger got the award back in the 1970's for instance, and he is one of the biggest war criminals of our era. The Europeans are just sending a message that they don’t like Republicans. But it really does cheapen it more, for people who actually deserved it like Mandela, King, and Carter. It takes a lot of balls to give the Peace prize to someone who is currently presiding over two wars and escalating one of them. Someone who supports indefinite detention, refuses to prosecute torture, and has basically kept most of Bush's draconian "anti-terror" laws. Of course he doesn’t deserve it.

I don’t care that the DNC says those who oppose it are terrorists, or that the Right Wing is also against it. Some of the comments from the Left are so servile and pathetic. They just want to clap for their leader even if it doesn’t make sense, because they are happy "their" team scored a point. Imagine how many people truly deserved this award, who are out there in the trenches every day that could have used this recognition and exposure, real peace activists. This also neuters peace activist in this country who are opposed to the Afghan war, because Obama can just wave his award at them. This is absurd.

Big Mistake, Barack

Barack. Buddy. We gotta talk.

Listen, I know you're doing everything you can to engage with other nations and lay down some real diplomatic roadways so that the US can crawl its way out of the international relations morass your predecessor created. Really. We all get it. We know you're working hard out there.

But this Nobel Prize thing? Honestly? Not a good move.

Sure, many of my friends on the left will look at me askance here. We (in general) love our President and want him to succeed. On the surface, the Nobel Prize for Peace looks like a giant win. It looks like affirmation from the world that Barack Obama is respected and a positive change from The Last Guy.

Unfortunately, the local ramifications are troublesome. Let's face it: the guy is in the PROCESS of accomplishing things, but there isn't a whole lot to hang a Nobel Peace Prize on yet. I am willing to wager that he'll have accomplished a lot of good by the end of his term (hopefully two terms), but he's not there yet, and the awarding of the prize is embarrassing.

If, on the other hand, the President had graciously refused the prize, he would have earned himself an ENORMOUS amount of political capital. Can you imagine the speech? "I cannot accept the honor of this accolade until we have accomplished what we've set out to do." I mean for God's sake, it practically writes itself. The Republicans would have been falling all over themselves trying to find some way to criticize it.

And yet here we are with a Nobel awardee President and massive amounts of fodder for conservative attacks, with no additional "oomph" for the President's agenda.

Bad form, Barack. Bad form.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unacceptable Policy

In response to Sean Mullen's letter, "Don't ask, don't tell," (Oct. 7) I would like to begin by questioning how he can possibly say he has nothing against gay people. As students at Notre Dame, I would hope that we know enough about the policy of "don't ask, don't tell" that we would never want to widen the group of people to which that policy applies. To suggest that we subject gay students at Notre Dame to the shameful, condescending and homophobic policy that our military unfortunately still employs is something a person who has nothing against gay people would never consider.

Mullen's letter suggests that we use a "don't ask, don't tell" policy to avoid including gay students, staff and faculty in Notre Dame's non-discrimination clause. I sincerely hope Mullen is not implying that it is acceptable to tolerate discrimination against members of the Notre Dame community who are openly gay. How does that fit in with the Catholic nature of our University? As a Catholic, you should respect the inherent dignity of every human being, and that means rejecting all forms of discrimination. Furthermore, being openly gay does not necessarily mean practicing homosexuality any more than being straight means that you are actively engaging in sexual activities.

Does Mullen believe that the University should exclude unmarried sexually active heterosexuals from the non-discrimination clause as well? While I'm in no way an expert on Catholic social teachings, I believe it is your responsibility as a Catholic to strive to love everyone, regardless of sexuality. It is detestable to try to hide behind Catholic social teachings to justify a tolerance of discrimination when in fact I believe it calls on you to do the opposite.

Mr. Mullen, I'm horrified that you would like to force our gay friends, neighbors and classmates into the closet just because homosexuality makes you uncomfortable.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Why Wait On "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"?

About 10 months into the Obama presidency, and the policy that prevents openly gay personnel from serving in the military still stands. Sure, there are important issues taking priority, like healthcare and the increasing mess in the Middle East, but common sense and decency would seem to dictate that a reversal of this policy would get rushed through the legislative system. Unfortunately, common sense and decency are in short supply in Washington D.C. these days.

A petition was sent to Congress last spring by about 1,000 (homophobic) military officers stating that "We believe that imposing this burden on our men and women in uniform would undermine recruiting and retention, impact leadership at all levels, have adverse effects on the willingness of parents who lend their sons and daughters to military service, and eventually break the all-volunteer force." Apparently, these officers believe that having to serve with - or god forbid, under - an openly homosexual person would constitute a "burden" on our military. Go ahead, Congress, turn your heads while America's bravest get stuck in an unconstitutional quagmire in the desert, but please, please keep the gays away from them! Meanwhile, the Pentagon is looking for ways to continue "humanely" instituting the policy. Sorry Pentagon, there is no way, because it's an inhumane policy. These people are volunteering to protect the rights we believe in, but we are denying them theirs.

My father is a colonel in the United States Army who has served in both Iraq conflicts. I can assure you that whether deployed or on home turf, the least of his worries is the sexual orientation of the people who work for or with him. We insult the intelligence and fortitude of our men and women in uniform if we assume that they will be unable to perform as they are asked to if they have to work with somebody who is openly gay. This repulsive policy has to be repealed, and it has to be repealed now.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Game Day!

Notre Dame vs. Washington

3:30PM EST, on NBC

Predictions, Comments, Game-Time Cheering/Cursing for those not able to join us today, all welcome in the comments section...

Well I'm getting a late start today... Just cracked open a Stone IPA, and it's time to head out. Go Irish!!!

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

What More Should It Take?

This from Wednesday's Observer:

Bishops Support Universal Health Care Policy

"Universal health care is an intrinsic human right that proceeds from human dignity, according to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB)."

The article continues:

The following appears on USCCB's website: "Every person, created in the image and likeness of God, has a right to life and to those things necessary to sustain life, including affordable, quality health care."

The Bishops were pleased by President Obama's reference to a conscience clause and a recognition of the ethical issues at hand. "[Let's] make sure that all of our health care policies are grounded not only in sound science, but also in clear ethics, as well as respect for the equality of women," said Obama at the ND 2009 Commencement ceremony.

Bill Purcell, Associate Director for the Center for Social Concerns, sees the issue within the framework of Catholic Social Teaching. "Yes, there needs to be health care; it has to be universal, especially for the poor and the vulnerable; but health care has to protect life from conception to natural death," Purcell said.

Some may feel as I do...that if a convincing majority of the American people, the Catholic Church, and many of the medical professionals support universal health care, what is holding us back? Left Coast Lefty suggested a fairly probable answer yesterday. What are your thoughts? What more should it take?

The Crusade Against ACORN

Anyone who has been following politics for the past year is aware that the right has taken up a crusade against the community organizing group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now). Most people have no idea what ACORN actually does, but they consume Fox News soundbites just enough to know that they don't like it. They even recently passed, with Bipartisan support, the De-fund ACORN Act, stripping the organization of federal funding.

What you may not be aware of, was that the case that pushed ACORN over the edge has since been exposed as a conservative undercover hoax. You may also be unaware that such a bill, which directly targets ACORN for "breaking campaign finance laws" and "filing fraudulent paperwork," is now under question for unconstitutionality, because it unfairly targets an individual (or individual organization) without applying the law to all organizations that have violated such provisions. Rachel Maddow does a great job exposing the issue. Enjoy!