Monday, October 25, 2004

Lagniappe: Kerry, Bush, and the "Life" Issue -- A Note to Catholic Voters - Where should the pro-life vote go this election? Andrew Sullivan gives perhaps the most rational explanation for voting for Kerry on this issue. He writes:

The Church hierarchy, of course, distinguishes between abortion and the death penalty. Abortion is always wrong. The death penalty is almost always wrong. The "almost" is very small - Rome has come extremely close to saying it is wrong in all cases, and certainly believes it should be restricted to a tiny number of cases where the alternative could be disastrous. Now compare that to Bush's own record. He has signed more death warrants than almost any man in the country. As Texas governor, he showed absolutely no qualms about giving the nod to hundreds of deaths; in fact, he bragged about it. In one case, he even joked about it. He is far closer to the evil of the death penalty than Kerry is to the evil of abortion. And he has shown in his statements on the issue far more glibness than Kerry has ever revealed in the case of abortion. I should say: I think Kerry's support for partial birth abortion and his extreme backing of everything the pro-choice movement wants is troubling. But Bush doesn't get a free pass here. And I'd have more respect for pro-life, pro-Bush Catholics if they averred at least some discomfort with Bush's ease with this particular culture of death.
I've added the emphasis in the above citation because I think it provides a comparative context in defense of the morality of voting for Kerry. If we have two candidates who cannot distance themselves from the evils of abortion and/or capital punishment, then "human prudential judgment" requires Catholics to either abstain from voting altogether in this election or voting for the lesser of two evils, which in the big "pro-life" picture requires a vote for John Kerry.

Lagniappe: Vote for Life - Vote Kerry/Edwards - Read this heartbreaking letter from Brooke M. Campbell, whose brother, Ryan, was death casualty #832 in Bush's misguided war in Iraq. How can anyone with a conscience vote for Bush after reading this? A month before Ryan's death, Bush thought he was being funny when he joked about not having found WMD in Iraq. This C-rate, pathetic excuse of a leader has got to be removed from office. Gof forbid, if Bush wins the Presidency, I will NEVER support him, NEVER "rally behind him," NEVER! (Hat tip to Michael at 2Millionth Web Log for this poignant story.)

Sunday, October 24, 2004

Liberal Lighthouse: Alan Keyes vs. Barack Obama - Perhaps the best introductory paragraph to an article that I have ever read. I laughed from one sentence to the next. Here's Tom Franks from The New Republic:

In the Illinois Senate race, Barack Obama leads Alan Keyes by a margin so wide (over 50 points, according to one poll) that a debate between the candidates must--almost as a matter of science--help narrow the campaign. But that would be to underestimate Alan Keyes. As people know, Keyes is candid, eloquent, and intellectually consistent. He argues rather than spins, allowing his logic to take him where it will. He panders to no (earthly) constituency. And he may well have pulled off the impossible last night: lowering his poll numbers even more. Obama is an unconventionally gifted politician, but even an incompetent one--let's go farther, actually: even a dolphin or trained seal--could have done better last night than Alan Keyes. All Obama had to do yesterday was play the Earthling card; Keyes took care of the rest.
Read the whole piece. It's a classic.

Thursday, October 21, 2004

Lagniappe: Celebrating the United Nations - Most Americans know of the existence of the United Nations, but very few know much about the organization. For instance, it may come as shocking news to many people that the United States has set aside Oct. 24th as "United Nations Day." If you want to learn about the United Nations more completely, you can visit the UN website by clicking here. But a better site for US Citizens to check out is the United Nations Association of the United States of America (UNAUSA). Their website can be accessed here.

The good number of United States citizens express either ambivalence or even outright hostility to the United Nations as an organization. And this comes primarily out of a very limited understanding of the United Nations in its POLITICAL role. We hear about the Security Council and most of us can recognize the name of the UN Secretary General (Kofi Annan). And we have probably also read about or heard about UN peacekeeping operations or, more recently, UN Security Council battles over the situation in Iraq. But this is simply a tiny fraction of what the UN is all about. What I would encourage reflective people to do is to make a distinction between the "politics" of the UN and the "on-the-ground" work of the UN.

The UN is the single most important agency that undertakes massive and coordinated efforts world wide to battle discrimination, poverty, hunger, displacement, health crises and any other daily life issues that affect the world's most marginalized and ignored populations -- a group that, in fact, sadly, makes up a vast majority of the world's people. One quick look at the organizational chart of the United Nations will give you just a surface-level sense of the magnitude, reach, and impact of the United Nations in the world today. Let me list some of the UN agencies whose works are not only critical to the health, happiness, and well-being of many of the world's dispossessed, but also without which there would be no effective protections or help for the poor and marginalized of the world. For example, there are the myriad of agencies strictly dedicated to humanitarian affairs. Among these are the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), which protects and provides a living space for those people who have no "home" on the globe. There's also the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Children & Armed Conflict and the office of the International Strategy for Disaster Reduction. Some other critically important UN Agencies include the United Nations Economic and Social Council (UNESCO), which is the main agency coordinating the UN's impressive Economic and Social Development Programs. Included in this broad umbrella category are institutions like the World Health Organization and the World Food Programme among many, many others.

Needless to say, as you can very well see, the United Nations is not primarily dedicated to issues of war and peace, though certainly this forms an important part of its work. Instead, the United Nations is prinicipally dedicated to helping people, saving lives, and making for a better world for those who live in the most troubled of circumstances.

Many states in the United States have their own particular events and festivities planned in celebration of UN Day on October 24. Please check out the United Nations Association of the United States of America to find out what's going on in your own area. And then join in and become a part of celebrating the good work that the United Nations undertakes.

To look at the United Nations another way, try to envision a world in which the United Nations doesn't exist. How would starvation in Africa be dealt with in the absence of the United Nations? How would the AIDS epidemic worldwide (or the SARS epidemic) be managed without the United Nations? How would peoples displaced by famine or war survive without the United Nations? Who would care about the health and well-being of the world's marginalized and dispossessed if it weren't for the United Nations? We take for granted the presence and the work of the United Nations after almost 60 years of its existence, much like we take for granted the Social Security system of the United States which has saved innumerable lives from destitution and death. In spite of the many failings and weaknesses of the United Nations, the world is undoubtedly in better shape than it would have been without the UN's existence. Anyone concerned with social justice and the fight against global poverty and hunger should embrace the UN, warts and all, as the best chance the global community has of dealing with some of the world's most pernicious problems. I encourage you to do so, and I leave you with a quotation by U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell to inspire you: "...keep in mind what the UN is, the UN is us. It isn't a separate organization that exists separately from its members. It is a creature of its member states...." (Sec. of State Colin L. Powell, 10/1/04). Indeed. The UN is us. It's successes are ours, as well as its failures. We should do no finger-pointing at the UN unless we're willing to assume responsibility for it ourselves. And we most certainly need to do our part to make the United Nations what we want it to be.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Lagniappe: O'Reilly and Sexual Harrassment - I'm not a fan of blow-hard Bill O'Reilly of the FOX network. And I think O'Reilly could very well have a phone sex fetish and could very well be a sexual harrasser. ... But I do have to say that I find his accuser's claim that she was forced to have PHONE sex against her will to be incredible. Who is ever forced to have a phone conversation, any conversation, much less one about sex, against his/her will? Why didn't she just hang up?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Editorial on Cuban Academics at LASA - The New Orleans Times-Picayune takes a stand for the free exchange of ideas. Good for the Times-Pic.

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

Liberal Lighthouse: Andrew Sullivan on the VP Debate, again - This is what pro-War, libertarian/conservative pundit and blogger Andrew Sullivan has to say about the debate:

Maybe, of course, we're all hopelessly biased--and debates are so subjective as to make objective analysis impossible. Maybe my initial unfiltered response was distorted by my expectation that Cheney would win easily, by my watching the debate with a bunch of college students, or by what I'd eaten beforehand. But in the critical battle for the middle ground in this election, it seems to me indisputable that Edwards gained territory for Kerry last night.
Read the whole article here.

Liberal Lighthouse: Jay Nordlinger Take on the Debate - I call this one "Liberal Lighthouse" because Jay Nordlinger's "unvarnished" post-debate evaluation is more a critique of Cheney's debate failures rather than a promotion of the things that made the "debate" a draw as he claims. After reading this piece, one gets the impression that he calls it a draw because he needs to put the most positive spin on a failed performance, and the best he can do (and still be honest with himself) is to call it a draw. The most intellectually honest liberals and conservatives all seem to be saying that BOTH the Kerry/Bush debate and the Cheney/Edwards debate are decisive victories for the Democrats. Good news for Kerry/Edwards, hopeful news! A momentum switcher and an fourth-quarter run that is both exciting and encouraging. Bush/Cheney, on the other hand, seems like a campaign much akin to the New Orleans Saints with a fourth-quarter lead of 21 points that gets whittled down to a tie ball game and is decided by whether the opponent can connect on a 30 yard field goal as time expires in regulation. Oh, that sinking feeling in the gut that we Saints fans know. I imagine this is how it feels to be a Bush/Cheney supporter this morning.

Liberal Lighthouse: Saletan and Sullivan on the Edwards Triumph - My gut first reaction was that the debate was a draw, with victory tilting toward Edwards if it tilted anywhere. However, I am heartened by how some pundits I respect on both the left and the right have so graphically described an Edwards triumph. William Saletan, of Slate, writes a piece that argues that Kerry cleaned Cheney's clock. And Andrew Sullivan wrote on his blog immediately after the debate the writes that the debate was a car-wreck for Cheney and that Cheney was the road'kill. Strong stuff. Looks like the Bush/Cheney ticket is in trouble. Perhaps the next four years will be one of those moments in Cheney's illustrious government career that he'll have to look for another private-sector, Halliburton job until the GOP next regains power.

Saturday, October 02, 2004

Liberal Lighthouse: Bush/Kerry Debate Quote of the Day - From Andrew Sullivan:

No president who has presided over Abu Ghraib should ever say he wants to put anyone on a leash.
Yep, that's right. Andrew Sullivan. "Wait a minute," you say ... Andrew Sullivan?!?!?! Jay Nordlinger?!?!?! ... Liberal Lighthouse?!?!?! What is the world coming to?

Cuaderno Latinoamericano: Cuba and the War on Terrorism - What is one country's terrorist is another country's freedom fighter. ... No, it's not what you think. As the Latin American Studies Association prepares for its upcoming conference in Las Vegas, we learn that all 61 Cuban academics who had applied for permission to attend this conference were denied visas. Here's New York Daily News columnist Albor Ruiz to explain in a piece aptly titledTerrorists welcome - if they're anti-Castro:

Let's see if we can make sense out of this: On Tuesday, Washington denied visas to a number of Cuban scholars - I repeat, scholars - who had been invited to participate in an academic conference in Las Vegas.

Yet, in what amounted to a suspension of the war on terror, a few weeks ago, Pedro Remón, Guillermo Novo Sampol and Gaspar Jiménez - three Cuban-Americans with long and proven ties to terrorist activities in this country and abroad - were given a celebrity welcome to the U.S.

Terrorists yes, scholars no? It doesn't make any sense.
Read the whole thing to get a sense of the lunacy and inconsistency (what does Bush call it? Mixed messages?) in the War on Terror. If you want to read up on any of these thugs and the kinds of terrorist acts of violence they have perpetrated over the years, just do a google search on any of the names. You'll be mind-boggled.

How can anyone take Bush seriously in his prosecution of the War on Terror when such unscrupulous murderers receive such a welcome in the United States. What was it that Bush said again about his administration's view of countries that harbor terrorists???

Lagniappe: Bush Debate "Strategery" - Just a random thought ... Many have said that Bush's debate strategy is rooted in setting the performance bar dismally low so that when Bush gives even a mediocre performance, it looks like he shined compared to expectations. I've been wondering if Bush's abysmal first debate performance is part of this "strategery" -- I mean, the only direction Bush can go in debates two and three compared to this last one is up, right?? But I have to say that if this is so, his "strategery" is about as boneheaded and buffoonish as is the word "strategery" itself. In this case, the rhetoric becomes the reality.

The Weak in (National) Review (Or should I classify this as a "Liberal Lighthouse" post?!?): Nordlinger's Zingers - The Bushies must really be sweating when one of their most stalwart supporters, Jay Nordlinger, of the National Review concedes that Bush handily lost the debate -- so much so that, as Nordlinger says, if he were to base his own vote only on the debate, he would have to go with Kerry. In his own words:

I thought Kerry did very, very well; and I thought Bush did poorly — much worse than he is capable of doing. Listen: If I were just a normal guy — not Joe Political Junkie — I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate, I would. If I were just a normal, fairly conservative, war-supporting guy: I would vote for Kerry. On the basis of that debate.
Read his whole piece. Boy, it really is one of Nordlinger's zingers, and a surprising one at that.

Liberal Lighthouse: Bumper Sticker of the Day - No one died when Clinton lied.