Monday, November 30, 2009


Let The Afghans Try

With President Obama scheduled to announce his Afghanistan strategy tomorrow at a United States Military Academy at West Point.  There have been many different viewpoints from many different experts on the level of American involvement in this unstable country.  With opinions ranging from those of Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, who requested an additional 40,000 troops to that of Karl W. Eikenberry, who opposes troop increases.  Mr. Eikenberry opposes these increases because he fears the Afghan government will be too reliant on American forces in the country.  With a wide range of opinions, it is no wonder President Obama is still strategizing the war plan.  Many of Obama’s supporters and critics take caution because they fear Obama will make the same mistakes in the Afghan war that President Lyndon B. Johnson made during his Vietnam strategy. 

I agree more along the side of the argument against substantial troop increases.  Afghanistan has, for thousands of years, proved impenetrable to outside forces (from Genghis Khan to the Soviet Union), often proving the collapse of these invaders.  Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee Carl Levin proposes an increase of security training for the Afghan forces to ensure Afghan control.  This is a key step in reducing Afghan dependence on the United States, in addition to guaranteeing the stability of the Afghan government, which in turn will hinder any Taliban insurgency from thriving in the rural countryside of Afghanistan. 

Because the Afghan Government is so weak and corrupt, and President Karzai.’s power so feeble, the United States is funneling many billions of dollars into a war against guerilla insurgents that will become useless when the troops do withdraw.              Unless the our government wishes to have a never ending presence in Afghanistan, we will eventually have to hand back control to the Afghans. 

However much the many experts in this field disagree, there is one common element in the key to success in Afghanistan, there needs to be more control given back to the Afghans, this involves training more Afghan led security forces, maybe even more NATO and UN involvement.  Another valid point brought up by David R. Obey of the House Appropriations Committee, there needs to be an additional source of revenue to fund the war.  To empower the Afghans and to protect our own people, steps that are often unpopular will have to be taken to ensure the survival of the Afghan government so our troops can come home. 

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Blog 11

Increase Entitlement Programs

It is quite a shame, as pointed out by an under secretary of agriculture, that in a country as wealthy and productive as ours, that many people still go hungry.  A recent analysis of food stamp usage, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, showed skyrocketing rates across the country, with as many as 36 million people using this program, and swelling by roughly 20,000 people a day.  There has also been a significant rise in the number of children receiving this federal aid.  Food stamp usage in many counties across the country has more than doubled in the last two years.  This drastic rise in food stamp usage throughout the country further illustrates the country’s dire need for more entitlement programs in these hard economic times.

While I myself am not a full-fledged taxpayer, I will definitely support much need rise in public assistance, to the nation’s poorest, provided of course, there are regulations on those who benefit.  As a product of an upper middle class family, I have never had to deal with a lack of any of life’s necessities.  In light of the recent health care debate there has been a spotlight on health related entitlement programs such as medicare and medicade, but other important programs such as the Aid to Families with Dependent Children Program, have been eliminated, even the funding food the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) has been slashed drastically, despite rising need in this recession.  Now, the SNAP program is one of the few remaining entitlement programs remaining to help feed a population with an unemployment rate reaching 10 percent.  With the number of people receiving this aid increasing by 20,000 a day, the program will be hard pressed to find the resources to support such an ambitious program

I propose a rise in entitlement programs aimed at temporary relief, a New Deal-esque type of approach.  These programs should target those who really need the assistance to make ends meet and supplement dwindling savings.  Even staunch conservative  counties have begun to reexamine the stigma attached to food stamp usage, I think it is time for the legislatures to do the same.  There is a need that needs to be met, and it is about time a politician approached the subject. 

Monday, November 9, 2009

Blog 10

Now That Health Cares Moving…

With the passing of the House of Representatives version of the expansive health care overhaul bill, the focus of many members of Congress will now turn to President Obama’s next item of agenda, energy bills.  This piece of legislation has already passed through the House and is now aimed for the Senate. As I blogged about in an earlier rant, the “cap and trade” emissions policy allows all businesses are given a cap on their greenhouse gas emissions.   Then can then trade their allotted emission consumption with other companies if they reduce their own. 

With the Copenhagen climate change summit fast approaching, Obama still has relatively little to show for his commitment to reducing greenhouse gases.  As John Kerry of Massachusetts points out, the cap and trade system, by cutting out inefficiencies in energy production, transportation, and consumption will actually be more cost effective for the consumer.  That fact that Mr. Kerry is working on this piece of legislation with Lindsey Graham, a republican, and Joseph Lieberman, an independent, point to the possibility of a bipartisan bill.

While Mr. Obama ventures to China in a few days, specifically to reconnoiter the two countries’ energy consumptions levels, he will not be proposing a tangible climate change policy, but will instead be focusing on another important aspect controlling carbon emissions, alternative energy.  Obama plans to talk about electric cars.  In additions to alternative energy abroad, Obama recently announces a $3.4 billion investment in modernizing the nation’s power grid, an effective way of saving money and developing alternative energy solutions.