Saturday, March 27, 2010

Lefty's Caption Contest #4



Saturday is Caption Contest Day again. If you have an idea for a funny caption respond in the comments section for the photo above. At the end of the weekend we'll pick the best one and post it on our Comedy page! While you're at it, check out our old Caption Contest winners here.


This photo was found on CNN.com. I promise I don't go on there regularly.


UPDATE:

The winner of this week's caption contest is Andrea Watts. You can see the captioned image here.

Friday, March 26, 2010

A Fair Don't Ask, Don't Tell? Impossible.

Yesterday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters that changes have been made that will make it much more difficult to discharge members of the military under the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding homosexuality.

Among the changes, the Pentagon will no longer acknowledge anonymous accusations of homosexuality - anyone identifying a member of the military as being gay will be required to do so under oath and will also have to pass a scrutiny test, making it much less likely that a serviceman or woman will be wrongly victimized in some twisted gay witch-hunt.

Additionally, only generals will be able to initiate proceedings and inquiries once a soldier has been accused of being gay, making the process of discharging a gay soldier a little bit more troublesome for those who feel gays have no place in the military.

Perhaps the best new measure is that any information divulged by a member of the military to a physician, attorney, clergyman or mental health therapist will be not be used to identify a solider as gay or in any discharge proceedings, allowing any gay service members to openly seek help in any capacity without fear of being fired.

Thanks to these measures, some are saying that “don’t ask, don’t tell” is all but dead, since these measures make it nearly impossible to identify and charge gay members of the military. Gates said yesterday that these new measures “...will allow us to execute the law in a fair and more appropriate manner.”

Now, I may be naive, but I’m fairly certain there is no fair way to execute DADT. While I can recognize the value of these measures, and that they are certainly a step in the right direction, I cannot understand how Gates, or anyone else, regards this small step to be fair. Consider: to this date, over 13,000 servicemen and women have been fired from their positions because of their sexual orientation. That doesn’t sound so fair to me. I know Gates is trying to appease us with these measures until the Pentagon can complete its investigation of the effects of having openly gay soldiers in the military, but it’s insulting to say that any form of DADT, no matter how progressive, is “fair and more appropriate”.

The actual fair thing to do is throw out all these ludicrous reviews and investigations and do the right thing: repeal DADT, right now. I don’t now about you all, but I don’t want to wait until December 1 when the Pentagon comes out with its findings on whether gays in the military causes a morale problem. Because let’s all be honest, there isn’t a problem with gays serving in the military, morale or otherwise. Rather, there’s a problem with people who have a problem with gays serving in the military. It’s time to stop with the excuses, throw DADT out the window, and allow all military members to serve their country without having to fear it at the same time.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Biased Observer Article? About HEI? Can't be...


Today in the Observer is a shamelessly biased article basically trashing our HEI campaign and calling us uninformed. This is ridiculous. We are informed. We have researched. We have talked to workers. We are right; HEI is an abusive and unethical company that needs to be held accountable by a university that supposedly upholds Catholic Social Teaching. Yeah, this article fucking sucks, and that reporter included hardly any of our 45 minute interview where we responded to many of Malpass's claims expressed in the article.


The text of OUR side of the story that was NOT published:

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Health Care: Chile vs. United States

¡Hola Lefties! I've been in Chile for almost two months now and it has surprised me (not only with earthquakes!) by how progressive it is. Chile went about fifty years without democratically electing a conservative president (streak ending last year with Sebastián Piñera). The last president, Michelle Bachelet, is an agnostic socialist woman, three adjectives that have yet to describe any American president. But most amazing of all (at least with the current health care frenzy) - Chile has a health care system with a public option! Yes! Chile, a developing country, guarantees health care to all citizens, regardless of their ability to pay.


I'm not creative enough to think of a picture that represents Chilean health care, so here's the beautiful 2010 Santiago study abroad group :)


*Disclaimer, I am not a Chilean health care system expert, but I had to go on a field trip to a Chilean hospital for a presentation about health care with the rest of the ND study abroad students. My understanding of the health care here mainly comes from that.

More than 50% of Chileans use FONASA, Chile's public health care system. From what I understand, Chileans are classified by their annual income, which determines how much money is taken out of their wages or salaries to cover their health care costs. They can choose to pay into FONASA or into the private insurers, which would obviously cost more. People who use FONASA can go to any public hospital or clinic for treatment without paying. However, people who pay into FONASA can also choose to go to whatever private doctor they want, they would just have to make a co-pay. Essentially, the best of both worlds. Pay less premiums, but go to a private clinic for a bit extra.

For those of you who are number oriented, like I am, here are some stats (2006 numbers) from the World Health Organization (Organización Mundial de la Salud):

Gross national income per capita (PPP international $): USA, 44,070; Chile, 11,300
Life expectancy at birth m/f (years): USA, 75/80; Chile, 75/81
Probability of dying under five (per 1 000 live births): USA, 8; Chile, 9
Total expenditure on health per capita (Intl $, 2006): USA, 6,714; Chile, 697
Total expenditure on health as % of GDP (2006): USA, 15.3; Chile, 5.3

(Sources: Chile United States)

We already knew that the United States spends the most on health care per capita with mediocre results, but it's not just developed countries like the United Kingdom and France that have more and pay less. If we accept life expectancy and infant mortality rate (yes, I know that the WHO statistic isn't exactly the infant mortality rate) as the best quantitative measures of the quality of health in a country, then Chile, a poor, developing country, has achieved essentially the same quality of health as the United States, while also guaranteeing health care for every citizen and paying one tenth the amount per capita.

I'm glad that we've finally accomplished something for health care in the United States, but I think it's more of a step towards basic decency than something to actually be proud of. Millions of people still won't be covered and decisions regarding our health will still be made by profit seeking institutions. Maybe I'll just stay here in Chile forever, or at least until the United States makes some real progress.

New Lefty's YouTube Channel!

Just a quick announcement: We're transitioning from using Henry's YouTube channel for archiving our old podcasts to a new channel designated specifically for Lefty's Last Cry! Check it out!

We'll be gradually re-uploading our old classics on the new channel, as well as putting up new clips from past live shows, and even putting in some never-before-seen heard footage from our unreleased third podcast.

Excited?

You better be.

A non-facebook version of the Kennedy-Obama dinner video is already up. If you haven't seen it yet, or if you just want to see a less buggy version of the video, you should check it out.

And, don't forget, new live podcast tomorrow at 9 PM. Don't miss it.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Idiot America Comes to Notre Dame

To begin with, I'd like to outline Mr. Charles Pierce's Three Great Premises of Idiot America as written in his fantastic book Idiot America: How Stupidity Became A Virtue In The Land Of The Free. The First Great Premise: Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units. This is the premise that allows a crackpot like Glenn Beck to be taken seriously. And Glenn Beck and his followers bring us to the Second Great Premise: Anything can be true if someone says it loudly enough. And finally, the Third Great Premise of Idiot America: Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

The "debate" (if you even consider it civilized enough to label it as such) leading up to healthcare reform has embodied this version of America. Shouts of "socialist", "fascist" (which, of course, are the same thing assuming you yell it loud enough and believe it vigourously enough) and "baby killer" cloud the arena of rational discourse with smog so thick you could choke on it. And we almost did. However, despite making some concessions to the deluded along the way, meaningful healthcare reform has been passed. So it's over, right?

Not even close. The passing of healthcare has brought the idiots out in full force. All I had to do was look over my facebook feed the next day. Of course, the first to begin the explosion of uninformed outrage were my acquaintances from high school - that is, from Texas. That was fully expected. Texas was one of the first strongholds of Idiot America, and if the old value of intellectualism ever returns, you can expect Texas to put up a strong fight against it. But then, the Domers awoke. People that I talk to on a daily basis, people that I consider generally intelligent, saying things like "vengence will be swift, Mr. Obama" and "The term illegal aliens will no longer be used. They will henceforth be known as unregistered Democrats." and of course the mass migration to groups like the one called "10 million people against Obamacare" (which of course is an absurd number to choose in itself, as 22 million more people than that stand to gain insurance from the new law). After perusing the spewing of hatred over a piece of legislation that obviously nobody bothered to read (or else they'd realize that after seniors and young children, nobody receives more immediate benefits from reform than our age group), you can head over to the Observer website to see the "facts" brought forth by educated Notre Dame students, staff, and alumni that, as Chris pointed out in his well-researched article, are just not true. Walk down the quads and take a listen to students fearing for their freedom, threatening to move out of the country (generally to countries that have socialized medicine), or otherwise spouting bunk. But in Idiot America the bunk is true. Because people that get great ratings on TV said so. Because enough people yelled loudly enough. Because they couldn't be bothered to read the facts, or if they chose to read the facts they chose to disbelieve them because it clashed with the noise they had already fallen for. And it has spread here, to a bastion of young, supposedly intellectual adults.

The Death of the Grand Old Party?

A year ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see John McCain's daughter on the Rachel Maddow show on television's most liberal network. It was a bold move and one that I respected. Despite my surprise by her appearance on the show, I still expected her to spew out the typical conservative viewpoint that most Republicans today adhere to. Even more surprising? I was wrong. As Meghan McCain explained her role as the poster-child for moderate Republicans, she said:
"...have no doubt, the Republican Party is split into two halves of where they think the Republican Party should go. There are people who think we should go back to our conservative roots [and] become extremely conservative ... and there are people like me who think we should be more moderate and reach out to people." 
At the time, she was facing a lot of flak for bashing conservative superstar Ann Coulter (the most horrible woman in the world). McCain defended her attacks by saying that extremely conservative Republicans are really hurting the image of a changing party. Looking back now, I'm starting to believe that McCain was a step ahead of the party that she so dearly loves. Obama's first year in office has come to a close and it seems as though the Republican Party has come to the fork in the road that young McCain predicted. All of the Ann Coulters and Rush Limbaughs out there are beginning to really hurt the GOP and for the first time, the Republicans are starting to notice that.

The recent passage of healthcare reform highlighted the kind of conservatism that is holding the Republican Party back. The idea of racial slurs and anti-gay outbursts seems completely unprofessional and reprehensible. The Republican Party has no hope to sway the independent vote if their representatives are associated with that kind of behavior. However, it seems as if the GOP has begun to realize this and wants to change their public image. In past years, the Republicans have been unrelenting in their constant support of one another. It's what the GOP is known for. They protect their own. But Sunday marked a rare occasion in which congressional leaders distanced themselves from these extremely radical incidents. Although most Republicans still say that the outbursts represented their passion over the issue, I think they're beginning to see the detriment they're causing themselves. In comparison to the Democratic Party, the GOP doesn't permit a broad spectrum of varying ideologies. Democrats are as represented by liberal progressives as they are by Blue Dogs, but moderate and liberal Republicans tend to die quickly on the Hill. As President Obama signs healthcare reform into law, it is obvious that the Democratic Party has sustained its relevance for years to come. But if the Republican Party hopes to do the same, they must continue to distance themselves from breaking congressional decorum and unprofessional behavior.

Healthcare Reform DOES NOT Fund Abortion

I was inspired to write this post because of the response generated from today's Observer Article about reactions to the health care bill featuring quotes from myself, faculty, and the President of the College Republicans. In the post I explicitly state, “The Senate bill won’t fund abortion and the House bill won’t fund abortion,” he said. "Abortion will not be paid for in this bill.” I stand by my claim! Here is why...

National Right to Life (NRLC) writes, "A vote for the Senate-passed health bill (H.R. 3590) is a vote for the most expansively pro-abortion legislation ever to come before the House of Representatives, since Roe v. Wade."

A critic of my comments in the article writes, "Also, an executive order cannot overrule law passed by congress, and the bill that just passed allows insurance plans that cover elective abortions to receive federal subsidies."

Lets break down the two major arguments for why abortion is paid for in the bill: (http://www.nrlc.org/)

1. Subsidies provided for low income people to buy insurance in health insurance exchanges will go towards plans that have the option to cover abortion

2. Direct funding of abortion through the Community Health Centers program, or through high risk pools funding, will result in federal funding of abortion that can circumvent the Hyde Amendment.

***Other arguments are centered around if the Hyde Amendment were to be overturned. Well, if the Hyde Amendment were overturned the government would still have complete discretion on funding abortion with federal dollars. Theoretically, any increase in health care coverage could be deemed as "paying for abortion" using this logic--assuming it would be possible that abortion could be paid for if a series of events occurred to change current law.

These arguments are based in ignorance and fear, and do not stand up to simple logic.  I deconstruct them after the break.  Take a look:

What's in a Win: The Significance of Reform


As we celebrate this momentous occasion, let's consider the profound impact that this legislation will have. Broadly speaking, the Congressional Budget Office reported that the new legislation will provide coverage for an additional 33 million Americans. On top of coverage expansion, here are the most important tangible provisions in the recent health care reform legislation package:
  1. An end to denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
  2. Prohibits insurance companies from dropping policies of sick people.
  3. Small business tax credits to help pay for premiums.
  4. Creation of high-risk pools for adults with pre-existing conditions.
  5. Medicare expanded to rural areas with less access.
  6. Rebates for seniors to cover the "donut hole" that limits medicine costs over $2700.
  7. Young adults can remain on their parents' plans until age 26.
  8. Lifetime and annual caps on insurance will be banned.
  9. Plans must cover preventive care as well, including checkups without copay.
  10. Transparency measures ensure overhead costs of companies are to be reported.
  11. All plans include an appeals process for coverage claims.
  12. Improves screening process to prevent fraud.
  13. New requirements for non-profit Blue Cross organizations to qualify to IRS tax benefits.
  14. Chain restaurants required to present nutrient content statements alongside items.
  15. Information provided by HHS on the web to help customers find optimal coverage.
  16. Tax credits created to incentivize research in new medical solutions.
On the policy side, it is clear that this is a pretty serious improvement for the American people. On the political side, the passage of this legislation might provide a well-needed boost to the Obama Administration, who is sitting on a 50% approval rating at the moment. A health care "bump" and an improved economy in the next 6 months might be just what it takes to defend Democratic majorities in the November midterm elections.

Some believe this legislation will go down in history as a major victory for the Democratic Party, the sort of win that is only achieved once in a generation. One conservative columnist, David Frum, felt that "Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s." Frum recognizes the virtually permanent nature of expanded entitlement programs, which is a point of discussion that has been floating around the pundisphere lately. Personally, I would love to see this program serve as a stepping stone toward a more centralized health care system (perhaps single-payer someday). For his entire analysis of how significant this reform was, you may read the rest of Frum's piece here.


My question to you, Lefties, is this:


Historically, how significant was the passing of health care reform?


*UPDATE* A University of Notre Dame College Democrats Co-President was quoted in today's Observer article on this issue. Please go offer him some supportive comments. The article will be read widely by students and alumni. Of course, please do this AFTER leaving us your thoughts in the comment thread here! :)


And now a moment of zen...

Monday, March 22, 2010

College Democrats in the Media Discussing Health Care

Last night as the House was preparing to vote an historic health care reform package, the local Fox 28 affiliate aired a piece about the debate from the perspective of Michiana residents.  Co-President of the University of Notre Dame College Democrats, Chris Rhodenbaugh, and your loyal Lefty's editor, ME!, were interviewed for the segment... along with Jackie Walorski, the wingnut running against Joe Donnelly, and some even crazier old man who clearly would benefit from healthcare reform because he's obviously been skipping his meds...

Check out the segment below and see what I mean:


Funny how the two college kids interviewed for the segment are the sensible ones when compared with two middle aged adults, one of whom is a freak'n candidate for Congress.  "There will be shooting in the streets"... Really?  Really, you crazy old fart???  I'm actually kind of surprised they would air crazy ranting like that, but it just goes to show how out of touch Jackie Walorski and the Republican Party really are.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sunday Evening Tunes: We Are The Champions!

Health Care Passes The House, Bitches!!!!

Hey, Republicans... double jizz-hands to you. FTW.