Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Happy First Birthday, Lefty's Last Cry!

As founder of Lefty's Last Cry, I would like to wish the blog a happy 1st birthday. On June 10, 2008, I was sitting in the basement of the my house in Washington, D.C., my mind exhausted from the long day at work, and I thought to myself- "maybe I should start a blog to talk about my experiences in DC."

So there it was, my little baby, with no expert graphics help (thanks Dylan), no editors at my side (thanks Bill and Brendan), and none of my trusty comrades (thank you all). I've watched Lefty's grow from a measly personal blog that got 10 hits a day to a busy, energetic arena that averaged
400 visitors a day.

Today, on Lefty's 1st birthday, I'd like to say thank you to all of you who have made this site yours. Your hard work has made a difference, through all the big stories we have covered and the hundreds of comments we've received. You are "Lefty" as much as I.

So in honor of Lefty's 1st birthday, I'd like to recognize the highlights and pitfalls of the past year. Here they are:

#3 PITFALL: DNC bosses command Lefty's to become comatose for summer. (June 2008)

Within a few weeks of its birth, Lefty's was sent into hiding by the big bad Democratic National Committee (DNC) bosses, who told me that interns aren't allowed to have political blogs while working at the DNC. This broke my spirits, and almost killed the blog altogether.

#3 HIGHLIGHT: Bill joins the blog (October 2008).

This was the first bit of good news in months. Lefty's had been dead for months, and it never seemed that I would resurrect her. Until one day, I visited my neighbor and best friend Bill. I asked him if he wanted to run a blog with me to cover all the election hoopla, and he happily agreed. Lefty's began her first big run.

#2 PITFALL: Lefty's failure to attract writers (Winter 08-09)

With the buzz of the Obama victory wearing off, Lefty's had little left to run on. I went around campus asking my fellow liberal friends to join the blog or check it out, to little avail. Lefty's truly experienced a winter of the soul. Perhaps this was necessary because come springtime, she would be running full steam.

: Lefty's attracts outsiders, attention on campus. (April 2009)

One fine April day, I was walking across the quad, and a female ND student, who I had never met, came up and said- "I love Lefty's Last Cry! You guys are awesome. Keep it up." I was completely taken aback. Wow! Someone knew about Lefty's and I didn't tell them directly. How cool! It wasn't long before random right-wingers and comment warriors began their invasion, drawing even more traffic and conversation on the blog.

: The Lefty's Writer's Strike (November 2008)

Now I know what your first reaction is- "Wait a second, Lefty's doesn't have any paid writers. How can there be a writer's strike?" Well that's where you're wrong... Even though it none of our 5 writers were paid, they all (including myself) decided to not show up to work anymore, for a long ass time. So even though "the man" never felt the sting, poor Lefty's did. The blog sadly went into its second major hibernation, lasting roughly 3 months (again).

: Cenk Uygur speaks to Lefties and College Dems (April 2009)

Finally, the highlight of all highlights. Cenk Uygur, from The Young Turks, a program that we (Lefty's) had been covering for a while, came to visit Notre Dame and speak to our College Democrats. Lefty's writers gathered from the far corners of our dear state to celebrate the goodness. Many of our writers met for the first time. Not long after the Cenk visit, Lefty's had its biggest week ever, attracting 1800 visitors. For all who were there, this was truly a high point for the blog.

In conclusion, I would like to encourage all of our writers and readers to remind us of their favorite moments, via post or comment. Lefty's is glad to have you here to celebrate the big numero uno.

Very Funny Video from Media Matters

(Super) Good News From Our Buddy Cenk

I just saw this the other day and thought Lefty's would be a great place to post it...

Cenk Uygur, host of The Young Turks, visitor to Notre Dame, Huffington Post contributor, wrote a piece about how his show has amassed 92 million views on YouTube.

"What is the significance of this number?" you ask.

As a matter of fact, I asked the same thing. The first thing that came to my head was- "I know! That's the population of The Philippines." Of course. Everyone in the Philippines has watched Cenk Uygur.

Then I thought about it, and realized that TYT hadn't been translated to Tagolog. Darn! Must be something else...

Turns out, that's the magic number known as the "Super Bowl Threshold." Apparently, about 90.4 million people watch the ole pigskin fly around. Now, this is no joking matter. A mere 57 million watched the first 2008 Presidential Debate. Even though Cenk recognizes that the 92 million views came over a series of months, instead of 4 hours, the benchmark is significant.

Anyway, the point is... that Cenk was right about one thing when he spoke at Notre Dame in April- it can be done. The new media way-to-the-top CAN work for some. For others, like ourselves, we wallow in our puny 13,000-view pool of shame (named Anguilla).

So as an editor of Lefty's, I'm here to congratulate TYT for blazing the trail for the rest of us. Hats off to you!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

More Analysis of the President's Cairo Speech

I just checked my Twitter account (ugh, yes, I have one) and saw a message from the Arts & Letters department at ND directing me to a You Tube clip of R. Scott Appleby, a Notre Dame professor of history and director of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, commenting on President Obama's speech in Cairo.

We've been wanting to feature content like this on Lefty's for some time, and it is something we are planning on looking into in the fall. In the meantime, when appropriate, I'll be posting interesting interviews such as this one that can be found on Notre Dame's YouTube channel.

And on another note, this was sent to me after posting a link to my previous Cairo post on Twitter, so it looks like getting the word out about Lefty's via Twitter and hash-tagging relevant topics (i.e. #politics #NotreDame) has been getting our site seen by people such as whoever runs the ND Arts & Letters twitter account who passed this info onto me. So by all means, comrades, keep spreading the word about our growing project. Your humble editors and writers are grateful.

Shameless self promotion:
You can follow me on Twitter @BrendanMcP

...And you can also follow the University of Notre Dame College of Arts & Letters @ArtsLettersND and the University of Notre Dame @NDdotEDU ...and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies @krocinstitute

Monday, June 8, 2009

NYS Senate Falls Apart

In 2008, the NYS Senate had a Democratic Majority for the first time in 40 years.  I know this sounds surprising for such a blue state, but the districts are such that Democrats controlled the Assembly, and the GOP the Senate.

Today, in a very surprising and unprecedented move, two State Senators joined up with 30 GOP Senators to overthrow the previous Majority government and create a bipartisan coalition.  One of the Senators was made the new Temporary President of the Senate, the first Latino Temporary President in the state.  A bunch of Senate rules were changed,

This presents a huge setback for the State of New York and especially it's push to legalize gay marriage.  Redstate is spinning this into a rebuttal against gay marriage.  That may be partially true, a few Senate Dems were strongly opposed to gay marriage.  The sad thing is, there were many more reasons that the Democratically-Controlled Senate fell. 

1. They could not get the budget under control that is facing massive deficits due to lower tax receipts
2. (Former) Senate Majority Leader Smith's polarizing and secretive nature
3. Incumbent Democratic Governor Paterson's massive unpopularity
4. Huge problems with NYC (namely, the MTA and mayoral control)

I don't think that a lawsuit will do the Party or the State any good, but I don't know NYS Senate rules that well.  Hopefully the economy will start to turn around and the NYS Democratic Party can bounce back after this embarrassment.  

Some people may refer to "the amigos."  This is a group of 3 Latino Senators from Brooklyn and The Bronx (one defected, and another was the biggest Democratic opponent to gay marriage).  Latino Senators representing Latino districts tend to be more socially conservative because their districts are heavily Catholic.

People still don't really know what's going on.  I don't believe that the Senate is meeting today.  The DailyKos ran an interesting piece on all of this.

Rumor has it that Manhattan Senator Tom Duane may join the new bipartisan coalition on the condition that they bring the gay marriage bill to the floor.  Former Majority Leader Smith had said that he would not bring the bill to the floor without the assurance that it would pass.  If Duane can convince enough moderate Republicans to vote for the bill and have it pass, it would be a huge victory for the state and the country.
This could also have implications for the Republican Party as a whole.  If gay marriage becomes legal in NY under GOP leadership, that would send a powerful message to the traditionalist wing of the GOP.
In the end, it looks as thought the Democratic Majority was too fragile and the leader (Smith) was too weak for anything to get done.  If losing the Senate means making real progress for the LGBT community, it might not be so bad after all....

Sunday, June 7, 2009

EU Elections Favor Conservative Candidates

Major elections culminated on Sunday throughout the EU with the results now showing pronounced shifts in the representation of America’s closest allies. Voters throughout the 27-nation Union handed considerable defeats to liberal candidates, a move that has been widely characterized as punishment for poor economic stewardship. Preliminary projections from the EU are reporting that the center-right coalition, led by the Liberal Democrats (yes, they’re the conservatives), could make up the largest bloc with as many as 273 seats. The multi-national parliament, which has control over the Union’s budget, has 736 seats overall.

Moderate conservative CHANCELLOR ANGELA MERKEL appears poised to benefit from this trend in Germany when their national elections are held this fall. British PRIME MINISTER GORDON BROWN, himself to the center-left, is expected to fare poorly when the next ballot is called in Great Britain sometime before June of 2010. Brown’s problems are perhaps more accurately attributed to a recent corruption scandal that has forced the resignation of several high-level administration officials.

From the American perspective, the implications of this political rebalancing are unclear. It should be noted that many “conservatives” in Europe favor social and economic policies that members of the Republican Party in United States would be quick to label as “socialist.” That being said, an alarming number of victories were won by anti-Islam and whites-only parties in Great Britain, Austria, and Italy, largely in response to illegal immigration problems from Eastern Europe, Asia, and the Middle East. This kind of xenophobia is not openly voiced in the United States; our politicians are remarkably homogenous, mostly as a result of our two-party system.

Overall, I expect President Obama to now have greater difficulty persuading European states to put up large sums of capital to loosen international credit markets or to “bailout” international firms, though this stage in his economic recovery agenda may well have already passed. It is possible that a shift to the right in Europe may mean greater support for the American military efforts in Afghanistan and Northern Pakistan. However, given the fiscal responsibility wave that many new conservative leaders were elected upon, they may be averse to expending more resources to fight international terrorism.