Friday, November 6, 2009

Obama and the Nobel Peace Prize

When I heard President Obama was receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, my first reaction was, well, shocked. I wasn't sure if that honor was typically given to presidents - especially one so new to the office. I associated that award with people whose names I typically can't pronounce who I haven't ever heard of (with the exception of them winning the Nobel Prize) who do something truly miraculous.
As I thought more about it, I came to the conclusion that as much as it caught me, and many other citizens, off guard, I felt he deserved it. People talk and talk about all the wonderful things he's done and planned and is putting into motion, but this really put a name or a face on his achievements to me. That being said, I can understand where those who felt he did not deserve the award were coming from. At least those who had legitimate reasons - not those who opposed him receiving the award just to oppose him.
I might not agree with them, but I don't think many were expecting this.
President Obama came into office with an enormous disaster of a mess to be sorted out and cleaned up. Through all the unemployment, health care, and recession problems, he has still managed to smooth the rough edges of many of our foreign relations and inspired others to do the same. And that is exactly what won Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize; "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

In Simon Maloy's post, "The tea party teapot tempest rages on," the author talks about the ridiculous accusations made by conservatives in politics and the media regarding President Obama's back-to-school address. Though, the accusing parties were really just attempting to build controversy from nothing. The author effectively speaks to his audience of liberal-oriented, politically knowledgeable citizens. Maloy's credibility is evident and shown in his knowledge of the conservative party and conservative media's various controversial attempts to essentially make problems out of thin air.

He accurately calls the conservative media out on their attempts to make
Rep. Joe Wilson a political hero after his incredibly disrespectful outburst during the president's address to restate the case for health care reform. Maloy brings needed attention to the fact that the reporting surrounding Wilson's childish outburst strayed from the fact that the incident was utterly disrespectful and very, truly wrong. I think Simon Maloy's main point in the whole article was that the media outlet is broken. "It's a symptom of a broken media culture that a small group of fringe conservatives can scream insults and falsehoods at the president or their representatives in Congress, bring no facts to bear in support of their allegations, and still be treated as major players in a policy debate."

Friday, October 2, 2009

If they don't believe in the Tooth Fairy, why do they believe this?

In the editorial article, "It's just addition by subtraction," the author makes a clear, vivid argument directed at parents with children in Texas schools, teachers, the State Board of Education; taxpayers. The article speaks to both those who are for abstinence only sex education and those who are for a broader sex education curriculum. The author seems to believe that abstinence is a vastly important topic in sex education, but that it "should be part of a more comprehensive sexuality curriculum." The argument essentially shouts a great big wake up call to those who support abstinence-only sex education, despite astounding evidence that it is counter productive. The author proves his credibility with statistics and is obviously passionate and knowledgeable on the topic. I completely agree with the author's argument in this article, and I find it incredible that State officials, voters, and taxpayers, most with children in the Texas school system, are continually in denial about what their children need. Even with statistics as undeniable proof staring them in the face, they continue to look the other way and throw more money at a counterproductive, black hole of a "solution" to the problem! I find it both ironic and appalling that Texas ranks third in the country for teenage birth rates, and sad that "in many cases, students were getting misleading and inaccurate information about the risks associated with sex." The author's main opinion is apparent and is supported by statistical evidence throughout the article. Given the statistics provided, it is almost safe to call the author's opinion fact, rather than an argument.

Food Stamp Fingerprinting: State vs. USDA

A potentially devastating time issue has become evident for those in Texas collecting food stamp benefits. The problem is laid out in the article, "A food stamp fingerprint feud," by Corrie Maclaggan. "Texas is failing to process more than a third of applications within the 30 days required by the federal government, and the state is improperly denying some eligible families," Maclaggan reports. The United States Department of Agriculture's Food and Nutrition Service places the blame on the current, time consuming protocol of fingerprinting each applicant, as well as each member of the applicant's household who is over the age of eighteen. The USDA is strongly encouraging that the state "speeds up its application processing," or else "its federal funds will be at risk." The state of Texas argues that fingerprinting is an effective way to prevent applicants from collecting benefits under more than one name. The process resulted in the state investigating an underwhelming four people last year, however. Still, Texas officials claim it is impossible to count the number of people fingerprinting scares away from committing fraud. Numerous supporters of ending the practice do not think it is cost effective or ethical. "Just because you're low-income, you should not be subject to the suspicion that you have fraudulent behavior," said state representative Eddie Rodriguez. The USDA says they will not force the state to end the practice of fingerprinting, but "will consider next steps" if the applicant processing time does not improve.
I think this article is important because it sheds light on a process that was previously unknown to me. It made me understand how lengthy and complicated the application process for Federal benefits can be. It's important because now I know that the USDA and state of Texas are both doing what they believe is right in order to get aid to those who need it, even though Texas is more about getting aid to the right people and the USDA is more about getting aid to those who need it as quickly and efficiently as possible. This topic drew me in and now I will be looking to see the compromise they reach.