Saturday, April 17, 2010

Lefty's Caption Contest #7

Saturday is our day for Caption Contests on Lefty's Last Cry. 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.

Thanks to the Huffington Post for this image.

ND students: Be sure to join us at our weekly College Democrats meeting!

UPDATE: The winner of this week's caption contest is Anonymous. We encourage our commenters to put some kind of name (it can be fake) so we can give you proper credit. Check out the captioned photo here.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Loving Our Neighbors

As progressives, we are often dissatisfied with the tepid liberalism of our President. We expect Guantanamo to be closed tomorrow, our troops to withdraw from Afghanistan within the next 2 years, and our policy of Don't Ask, Don't Tell to be revoked immediately. Although we support and fight for the President's agenda, I know as well as you do, that the glass is half-empty most of the time. It is only in times of great jubilance over major legislative victories that we are enthusiastic in the way we were back in November of 2008.

Yesterday, President Obama signed an executive order to grant visitation rights to gay and lesbian partners in all hospitals that receive Medicare and Medicaid payments. I encourage you to consider the significance of this action. While we had not seen any major changes in GLBT rights yet (still waiting on DADT repeal), I believe this to be a giant step in the right direction.

Through baby steps, Americans begin to realize that their well-being isn't adversely affected by the rights bestowed upon their gay and lesbian neighbors. When the stigma of our outdated policies fades away, it becomes easier to confront the major hurdles that keep us from the ultimate goal: national recognition of gay marriage. There are others that support my claim that the President is in fact making meaningful progress toward this goal. Here is a good assortment of perspectives on the President's approach to GLBT rights. The Washington Post (a day after me) seems to agree.

In the end, I believe history will smile favorably upon President Obama and his efforts to secure rights for the GLBT community. As the number of homophobic and homo-resistant Americans shrinks, and the middle-grounders who have advocated half-hearted consolation prizes become normalized to basic GLBT rights, we will witness the change we have fought for.

At Notre Dame, we have just finished the StaND Against Hate week, dedicated to "ending all forms of hate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people and serves to create an inclusive spirit at Notre Dame for all people, irrespective of sexual orientation and gender identity." It is so fitting that we should witness such a relevant action by our President during this time. As Catholics or non-Catholics, we can reflect upon the movement for universal civil rights in the words of Jesus of Nazareth, who calls us to love our neighbors (Matthew 22:39), all of them.

(photo courtesy of the San Francisco Sentinel)

Walking a Mile

The so-called "Tea Party" movement has been met with little respect by the Democratic party. It is, to be frank, easy to criticize. The movement has come to be associated with Fox News and the Republican machine, and as the result the protesters come off as pawns at best and racists at worst.

Let's be straight: I love to bash the Tea Party movement as much as the next liberal. But on April 15th, I actually attended a Tea Party rally in Bloomington, Indiana. My account of the event is meant not to serve as a defense of the protesters, but as a reminder of the dangers of generalization.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Dealing With Our Demons

I have spent a tremendous amount of energy over the past seven years on human and civil rights activism. When I was in high school, I started a chapter of Amnesty International which now thrives; during my first three years of college, I tried to save the AI chapter at Indiana. The fight for the universal recognition and defense of human rights is a really big deal for me as a person, and because of that, the biggest problems I had with the Bush Administration weren't the economy or the gross abuses of power -- they were always things like Guantanamo Bay and torture.

Of all the things that the preceding administration did, I feel like the use of "enhanced interrogation techniques" was the worst, primarily because it's something about which I can't believe there's disagreement. It seems so antithetical to the things that America stands for, and the flaws in the argument for its effectiveness are abundant. (Here is where I was going to link to a clip of Dee getting waterboarded on "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia," but evidently none exist. Thanks, Internet. The relevant line is Frank's "Yeah, I got her to admit to things she never even did!") Hell, even Shepard Smith agrees. He even swore and banged on his desk about it.

I know that if you're reading this you probably already agree with all or most of what I just said, so I won't waste any more time trying to convince you. What's more important is the way we proceed.

The Party of "NO"

Today is April 15. Today is also my third favorite holiday, following the Fourth of July and Labor Day (I'm not much for conventional holidays). I remember being a little girl and going to the main post office downtown with my dad every April 15 just before midnight. The local television stations were all there, the radio stations were blaring rock music, and everyone was handing out free souvenirs. There was always food, stickers, and a guaranteed oversize t-shirt for a little girl to go home in.

Today is Tax Day.

Most people hate tax day, the day when their federal and state taxes are officially due to the US government, but I love it (probably because my taxes are meager at the moment and a good return is usually in the forecast). I recall standing on my tiptoes and using all my might to open the massive mailbox door to drop in my family's tax return.

Ah, those were the days...

CDIN State Convention

Last Saturday April 10th, the College Democrats of Indiana hosted its annual convention at Purdue University. Approximately 70 Indiana college students were in attendance. Chapters represented included Purdue University, Indiana University, University of Notre Dame, Ball State University, Manchester College, St. Mary's and University of Indianapolis. Speakers on Saturday included Indiana Democratic Party chairman Dan Parker, candidate for State Auditor Sam Locke, candidate for Indiana House District 26 Paul Roales, candidate for Secretary of State Tom McKenna, Una Osili from Vop's Secretary of State campaign, and an OFA strategy workshop for the midterm election.

Needless to say, the College Democrats of Indiana want to ensure a lasting change and are fired up for the midterm elections! From Students for Brad Ellsworth to the "less sexy" local races, CDIN chapters are working across the state hoping to sustain the electoral results of the last election. In 2008 the College Democrats of Indiana registered 36,000 voters and Barack Obama won the state by 26,000. We hope to ride off that momentum to keep Indiana blue!

I would like to offer my sincerest gratitude to Caitlin Worm, Mike Uehlein, Sean Dvorak, Chris Rhodenbaugh, Eddie VanBogaert and Kevin Casimer for their incredible hard work and dedication to this organization. Last weekend's convention not only gave us the chance to fraternize with our liberal like-minded friends, but it also re-energized CDIN to take us strongly into the midterm elections. As the new federation president, I am humbled to serve such a passionate group of democrats and activists.

Here's the newly elected CDIN executive board (many being Lefty's writers):

President - Andrea Watts (Ball State) - Facebook - Twitter
Vice President: Kelly Smith (Indiana University-Bloomington) - Facebook - Twitter
Political Director: Eddie Van Bogaert (Purdue) - Facebook - Twitter
Communications Director: Nick DeBoer (Purdue) - Facebook - Twitter
Finance Director: Colleen Lowry (Saint Mary’s) - Facebook - Twitter
Membership Director: Evan Thompson (Notre Dame) - Facebook

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Overcharged: Nuclear Proliferation

“You’re either with us or against us.” This was the unofficial foreign policy motto of the Bush Administration. Two wars later our enemies are angry, our allies are even angrier, and former enemies such as Russia and Eastern Europe are fed up with American unilateralism. Russian–American relations have been tense to say the least since the Bush Administration. However, after scrapping the planned anti-missile units in Poland, the Obama administration has symbolically pressed the “reset” (or “overcharged” if you speak Russian, thanks to a typical American mistranslation) button on US-Russia relations and it’s already paying off.

Obama is doing what Bush failed miserably to do in either of his two terms; he’s making the world safer. Obama recently signed the New START treaty with Russian President Medvedev, which will cut both US and Russian nuclear arsenals by about a third.

Perhaps even more importantly, Obama just held the largest gathering of heads of state called by the President since the founding of the UN in 1945 at the Nuclear Security Summit. On the first day of the summit, the Ukraine promised to give up all its weapons-grade uranium AND China promised to impose more sanctions on Iran. In addition, on the second day, an agreement between Canada, the US, and Mexico was signed, in which the US and Canada will fund Mexico’s transfer from weapons-grade to lower grade uranium in nuclear plants.

In only a week, the Obama administration has made the world significantly safer from nuclear attacks. Meanwhile Senator Kyl of Arizona has lead the Republican offensive against the meeting, claiming that nuclear terrorism is not the primary threat to the US, rather, Iran is. Yes, Senator Kyl, Iran is a threat to the US. But to understate the threat of Al Qaida using a nuclear weapon (as is a stated goal of that organization) because you want to continue the politically popular tactic of attacking a token US enemy is ignorance. Dear Senator Kyl: on September 11, 2001 America was attacked by Al Qaida, not Iraq, like your party claimed, and not Iran, like you seem to think. President Obama is making real progress in making the world safer, progress which should have begun on September 12, 2001.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Thank You, ND Faculty and Staff, For Your Support!

I would like to be the first to say thank you to our wonderful progressive faculty and staff for standing up in support of student action on behalf of HEI workers. The following letter was printed in Monday's Observer. It brings great joy to our hearts to see faculty and staff so boldly defending the progressive cause. We would love you to personally thank anyone on the list below for their support.

Students uphold Notre Dame mission
by Faculty and Staff

As members of the faculty and staff at Notre Dame, we take seriously the University’s mission statement, which says, “The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.”
We see it as our responsibility to help students learn about the world in which they live and to encourage them to make an impact on that world, so that “learning becomes service to justice.”
Some Notre Dame students recently passed out information on campus regarding what they believe are practices by the HEI Corporation that result in poverty, injustice and oppression. Their actions were peaceful and not disruptive, yet their informational leaflets were confiscated by Notre Dame security police and they are now being subject to disciplinary action by ResLife.
We believe that these students were acting in the best traditions of Notre Dame and living up to the ideals expressed in its mission statement. We do not think that they should be disciplined by the University for doing so. We call upon Father Jenkins to cancel these disciplinary actions.

Heidi Ardizzone
Lance Askildson
Kevin Barry
Mary Beckman
Gail Bederman
Mary Burgess

Rosemary Mandrici Fundraiser

Hello Lefty's :)
Just a quick post about an upcoming event tomorrow night (sorry about the late notice, I just found out about it!).

Tomorrow night, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010, Rosemary Mandrici, an SMC alum and all-around fantastic lady, will be having a fundraiser at Rocco's Italian Restaurant from 5:30pm-7:30pm. Donations are welcome, but College Dems eat free!

Rosemary is running for County Assessor and has a Democratic opponent in the primary (incumbent David Wesolowski). She made the effort to come to Notre Dame two weeks ago, so let's show her we appreciate it by attending her fundraiser.

She needs our support for her campaign, so if you're in the mood for a good Italian meal, you should go to this event!

After the fundraiser, head to the Gold Room of LaFortune from 7-9pm for some phonebanking fun! Hope to see you all at the fundraiser and phonebank!

On the Subjection of Women...University Style

My first recollection of sexism was as a seven year old on a coed basketball team. A boy told me I wouldn’t be able to make my free throws, “..cuz you’re a girl!” I made the shot (thanks to Bubba Smith’s crucial teaching that games are won and lost on free throws), turned to the boy and shouted, “YOU’RE A SEXIST!” The crowd, that packed into the gym to see their precious children play on a Saturday, roared with laughter but I remember being genuinely pissed. Maybe I was a little bit of an obnoxious child, but I grew up with a father and mother who are both feminists, and I was going to stand up to that boy, dammit. Ask any girl you know, and they will be able to remember some form of sexism from their early years.

Knowing the background of my early start with feminism, you can imagine how horrified I was when I read an article entitled, “Rating Girls” in IU’s greek-life newspaper The Odyssey. The article boasts that the handy dandy rating system of judging a girl on a scale of 1-10 based on her looks is one of the author’s favorite pastimes to do with his friends. As the article proceeds it goes through numbers 1-10, with detailed, demeaning descriptions of which girl fits into each number. It ranges from the 1s who are, “…as bad as it gets…They usually have 2-3 horrible features. This could be extreme obesity, a face that looks like it was hit with a frying pan, or a missing limb.” The middle score, a 5, is a girl who is, “..the first girl on the list that can be acceptable to bring around your friends from time to time…Sometimes a five has one redeeming quality, but that’s all.” And of course, the TEN, who is one who, “…can have the personality of a cardboard box, but what gives. They get what they want, when they want it.” I wonder what Yale Reardon’s mother feels about this piece. R.E.P.U.L.S.I.V.E.

I realize college can be fun and games, but placing women on a scale to determine their self worth throws you into the category of a demeaning and disgusting human being. While this was published in a greek newspaper (which God knows, we all have our reasons for why we did or didn’t join greek-life), this is not just a fraternity issue, it’s an issue that effects all college students in some way.

Not a day goes by where I don’t see sexism rear its ugly head on IU’s campus and I’m sure many women feel the same way at their given campus. Sexism is alive and thriving as girls stand outside fraternities during welcome week and file through the door as men holler the numbers (1-10) as they walk inside. Sexism is in the girls who starve themselves to fit some “ideal” body type that they were not naturally meant to look like because the pressure from males and other girls judging them is too much to bear. Sexism is in the lack of debate and participation of girls in classes that are male dominated. Sexism is present every time you hear someone call a girl a “bitch.” Sexism, in perhaps its most heart wrenching form, prevails in the number of girls who suffer from sexual assault; something so terrible to suffer through that it has the capacity to kill a woman’s spirit.

What are we doing, as a society, to our daughters, sisters, and future mothers? How do we let this behavior triumph and even be celebrated amongst a community that claims that girls, like me, who choose to speak against these articles, are just “uptight frigid bitches?”

After spending the weekend at the CDIN convention, surrounded by males who truly are feminists and supporters of equality, I feel like there is hope. Because of all of you there, I feel like not only women, but men, are devoted to the empowerment of women. Thank you, lovely liberals of the world, for respecting strong and confident women. Please join me in this fight that seems to never end: the fight against sexism especially on college campuses. Go forth and spread the girl power.

The "Truth" According To The Irish Rover

Now that Lefty's is at war with the Irish Rover, I find it appropriate to stick it to them in any way possible, regardless of how unrelated it may be to the central conflict in this fight. I am also deeply amused by the imbalance in this war because the Rover is a biweekly paper, making their potential response time akin to an enemy in a painfully boring turn-based RPG.

Although I assume the section with the Rover titled "Cheers & Jeers" isn't supposed to be taken seriously, I find a certain entry in this section unprintably offensive. I don't even need to comment on this piece to convey my point, so I'll just Media Matters it for ya and give you the text straight up. We now know what the Rover means when they say "truth" or as Chris pointed out earlier, 'thought editing.'

On Truth
Brandon Payne

I want to briefly reflect on something that I care deeply about: truth. Not "truth" in some grand philosophical sense as my Rover colleagues think of it. I mean truth as in just calling things like you see them. For example, why does the Observer use made up names in its April Fool's "Absurder" issue? Just use real names. We all know who they are talking about anyway. It's like their [sic] afraid of getting sued- then they might not be able to embezzle University funds for their house parties anymore? I don't get it. Just be honest. Like, say, Observer Editor-in-Chief Matt Gamber is a politically correct pussy-whipped dimwit who can't handle opposing viewpoints [referring to the following incident]. Or, say, Fr. Jenkins is a weaselly, spineless pushover with the hand shake of a dead fish. John Affleck-Graves' career is a minefield of conflicts of interest and backroom deals shadier than Toyota safety tests. The Panzer Pope covers up sex scandals. We all know those things are true, so why beat around the bush? Oh, and Polacks suck. The only thing Polacks have ever contributed to civilization are John Paul II and Esperanto. They can't even avoid crashing their presidential plane.

Lefty's Declares War On The Irish Rover

Ordinary times might ensure the convenience of peace, but these are not ordinary times. With honor and respect for our dear President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh, quite possibly the most important and admirable individual to ever be associated with our University, on this, the 13th of April, Two Thousand Ten, Lefty's Last Cry has declared war on the Irish Rover.

With the power of words and the support of numbers, we will defend Father Ted and make known the unacceptable offenses of our enemy. Catholicism, by no stretch of the imagination, should ever be confounded with a far-right agenda. Catholicism, by no means, is monogamously contracted to the message or mission of the Republican Party. The University of Notre Dame- our life, our sweetness, and our hope- must not be taken hostage by factions that insist it is not Catholic to engage those with whom we disagree, it is not Catholic to support health care for all, and most importantly, that it is not Catholic to question and even challenge the authority of the church when we believe it to be mistaken.

I ask you, our dear readers, to join in the fight to defend what is right. In the comments of this post, we ask that you leave your name to show support for Father Hesburgh. And please spread the word by printing the following flyers wherever you go and standing up for Father Ted. It is your voices that will make the difference.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Irish Rover Slanders Father Hesburgh

I thought everyone should know, the Irish Rover (Notre Dame's conservative newspaper) ran an ATTACK piece on Father Hesburgh on the front page of this week's edition. Declaring in the last sentence of the article after a series of veiled criticisms:

"Fr. Hesburgh spearheaded the famous "Land O'Lakes Statement," in which he, various Notre Dame officials, and representatives from other Catholic universities indicated their vision of a Catholic university divorced from the authority of the Catholic Church."

This quote is an obvious attempt to divorce Hesburgh's opinions from the Rover's limited view on the teachings of the Church. Why you ask? Because he called Joe Donnelly about the health care vote and told him to "vote his conscience."

The article is titled "Fr. Hesburgh Calls Donnelly at Pelosi's Behest."

I am sickened by the Rover, but I am overwhelmed with pride that the single most influential person in the history of the University is Notre Dame President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.

President Obama referred to the house that Hesburgh built as a "lighthouse, shining with the wisdom of the Catholic tradition."

Please say a prayer of gratitude, that amidst troubled times, the Catholic Church is still a lighthouse for millions of people because of individuals like Father Hesburgh.

*Image is a satirical ad from "The Absurder" - the April Fool's Day edition of The Observer

Hmmm...Culture & Thought Editor

An article in this week's Rover, "Tenure and Catholicism at Notre Dame," written by:

Gabby Speach
Culture & Thought Editor

The fact that no one became alarmed at what is hopefully just awkward phrasing really disturbs me.

Monday Morning Loons

Sunday night, our editors were collectively taken hostage by various assailants, rendering us all incapable of gracing our wonderful readers with a video for Sunday Evening Tunes. To avenge ourselves, we have posted the following video, which needs no description, though I warn you all, prepare to laugh uncontrollably for a few minutes. This video is NSFW for reasons of hilarity and hilarity alone. Enjoy!