The Commonwealth Comment

Friday, December 18, 2009

AHS student newspaper moves online |

AHS student newspaper moves online |

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Thursday, December 03, 2009

Afghanistan, Time to Finish the Job

On Tuesday evening, President Obama set out on keeping one of his main promises, refocusing the United States' attention on Afghanistan.

In the face of vicious conservative critics who relentlessly screamed about the president taking his time on making a decision on the next move in Afghanistan, Mr. Obama kept his cool. At West Point, he laid out a plan for an additional 30,000 U.S. soldiers on the group in Afghanistan, in addition to several thousand more NATO ally troops. He also noted that depending on the situation like to handover control of the war torn country's security to Afghan forces, and begin withdrawal of troops in July 2011.

Here's my take:

The president has angered folks on either side of the aisle. Conservatives who have been praying for the president to fail, are actually willing to support him. But, they're shouting that he should not have set a date for a troop other words don't have an exit another country the U.S. is currently occupying. Scare tactics at their worst.

Liberals are upset with sending thousands of soldiers to Afghanistan to fight terrorist cells and the oppressive Taliban, both of which have reemerged in the country since the invasion of Iraq in 2003. They would rather focus on the domestic agenda.

In my mind, President Obama has made the right call. For the last six years, Afghanistan has been virtually ignored in the shadow of Iraq. Al-Qaeda and the Taliban have come back along the boarder or Pakistan, and pose a greater threat. The addition of 30,000 troops will help dismantle and destroy the terrorist group's operations and force the Taliban out again. In 2001, U.S. forces accomplished these goals in a matter of months, and practically had Osama bin Laden in their grasps. But, the Bush administration took their eye off the ball.

Setting a timetable for the transfer of power and the withdrawal of troops is necessary. It signals to the people of the United States that the government is committed to ending the conflict. But more importantly, it sends a strong message to the people of Afghanistan that the United States is not an occupying power, and to the Afghan government that the country and its security will soon be its own responsibility.

It may be hard to realize it in the midst of an economic recovery, becommitting the country to Afghanistan is extremely important if we as a nation are truly determined to defeat Al-Qaeda. In the 1980s, when the United States helped the Afghans defeat the occupying Soviet Union, we made a major mistake. We did not follow through and help the Afghan people establish infrastructure and build their country. It left Afghanistan's government, but more importantly, its people vulnerable to Islamic extremism and anti-American sentiment.

After 8 long years of this war, and 6 years of little or no progress, it is time to finish the job.

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Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Nobel Shocker

This morning, the president and the rest of the world woke up to some pretty surprising news. He had been selected as the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.

President Obama joins only a select few U.S. Presidents in the category of Nobel Peace Prize winners. Only three other presidents have received the honor. The first was Theodore Roosevelt for the Portsmouth Treaty, which ended the Russo-Japanese War. Woodrow Wilson earned his prize for the Treaty of Versailles, ending World War I. In 2002, former President Jimmy Carter was awarded the Nobel Prize for his work through The Carter Center.

President Obama has been selected for creating, “a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play. Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts.” The Nobel Committee went on to say, “Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future."

Already the question is being asked, “Does President Obama deserve this award?” After all, he’s been in office for less than a year and has accomplished very little thus far. Additionally, he’s in the middle of deciding a new strategy for the war in Afghanistan, which may involve a surge in troops to the region.

The president himself said this morning, “To be honest, I do not feel that I deserve to be in the company of so many of the transformative figures who've been honored by this prize — men and women who've inspired me and inspired the entire world through their courageous pursuit of peace.”

I’ve taken some time to think about the arguments for and against the president winning this award, and after thinking about it for the last several hours; I have to agree with the Nobel committee.

He has completely changed course in terms of international politics from his predecessor. There appears to no longer be a mentality of “you’re either with us or against us” when we think of our allies in the world. President Obama has reached out to people of all nations, creeds, and religions in hope of a more peaceful world. At home, he has inspired a new generation of young Americans to be involved in the political process.

So, while it may be true that the president has little accomplishments to hang his hat on just yet, he is absolutely correct when he says this award should be viewed as a call to action. The international community is behind the United States’ peace efforts and this honor to our president is one big “Yes We Can”.

Friday, August 28, 2009

And the dream shall never die

My alarm clock buzzed at 6:00 this morning. I wanted to get to the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library early. The line waiting to pay respects to the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy stretched across the UMass Boston campus the night before and thousands of people waited long hours for only a few moments to say goodbye. I pinned a Kennedy campaign button to my shirt and headed out the door.

I met my friend, Nicolette, at the Park Street T station at 7:30 and we were on the red line to JFK/UMass in no time. Once we arrived in Dorchester, we were squished onto a shuttle with other Kennedy admirers to bring us to the JFK Library.

Our stint in the long line started at 8:00. It was a tremendous group of diverse people. Young, old, black, white, Asian, and even more. There was even a large Native American man dressed in full Pequot robes present to pay tribute to the senator. The Reverend Jesse Jackson even made his way along the line shaking hands before making his way into the library.

As Nicolette and I made it through the doors (after about 45 minutes in line), we were immediately greeted by large photos of Ted Kennedy as a boy with his brothers Jack and Bobby, and as an older senator. The flag draped casket was sitting in the Smith Room overlooking the ocean, Boston's skyline was silhouetted beyond the water. There is no better place for the senator to lie in repose.

The room was in complete silence as we circled around the casket. I said a short, silent prayer for the senator and his family. The whole tone was extremely respectful. I got to the far side of the room and was greeted by the outstretched hand of Kara Kennedy, Ted's daughter. She thanked me for coming, and I in return thanked her for sharing her father with all of us. She then notice my button, which reads "If I were 21, I'd vote for Kennedy". With a smile she jokingly asked if I was 21 yet. I laughed and told her yes, and that I voted for her father in his last campaign.

Once I was back outside, I walked over and placed a small thank you note to the senator among the flowers sitting against the building.

The Kennedys have so much money and influence. They could keep it all to themselves and live down on Cape Cod without a care in the world. But instead, they use it to advance the cause of all people and that those in need. They live by the bible verse Luke 12:48, "Of those to whom much is given, much is expected." So, he has championed civil rights, women's rights, higher minimum wage, education reform, universal healthcare, among countless other issues.

If we all do our best to live our lives in the service of others, we can assure that Senator Ted Kennedy's dream will never die.

God Bless you, Senator Kennedy, and thank you for your service.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Weapons at Obama Rallies

Heathcare reform is a touchy subject in the United States these days. But outside of events where the President of the United States is speaking in favor of heathcare reform, some opponents are packing heat.

In Portsmouth, New Hampshire, an opponent of President Obama's proposal had a handgun strapped to his leg. Today outside of the president's speech at the VFW convention in Arizona, 2 protesters were carrying automatic assault rifles. One of them was in possession of an AR-15 assault rifle and shouted anti-Obama rhetoric.

Sounds illegal, right? Wrong. Arizona is called an open-carry state, which means people are allowed to carry firearms in public as long as they are visible. So, these folks are being defended as just exercising their Second Amendment rights...

The Second Amendment to the Constitution reads: "A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed."

Last time I checked, a couple of guys shouting about the president while holding assault rifles doesn't qualify as a militia, and it is far from being well regulated.

Guns and flaring tempers are a bad mix, especially when the first African-American president in the nation's history is the target of the outrage. NO ONE SHOULD BE ALLOWED NEAR THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES WITH A LOADED FIREARM!

How about instead of exercising Second Amendment rights, the people opposed to President Obama's healthcare reform proposal try exercising some common sense?

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Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Baker Joins the Race

Just days after Timothy Cahill announced he's leaving the Dems in the dust for a likely run at governor is 2010, another man has thrown his hat into the ring.  Harvard Pilgrim CEO, Charlie Baker says he is the Republican for the job.

Baker served as an aide to former Governor Bill Weld.  Baker says he will be stepping down from his position at Harvard Pilgrim.  "I am either the CEO of Harvard Pilgrim -- or I'm building a campaign organization. I cannot do both," he said.  His resignation is effective on July 17th.

He will be competing with former gubernatorial candidate, Christy Mihos, for the GOP's nomination.  In 2006, Mihos ran as an independent against now Governor Deval Patrick and then Lt. Governor Kerry Healy.  Mihos garnered only 7% of the vote.

Baker had originally planned to make his announcement after Labor Day, but Cahill's announcement pressured the health insurance CEO to move his announcement up.

Baker is not new to Beacon Hill, and may be the man to knock down a severely weakened Democratic governor and put a Republican back in the the executive office.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Independence Day

Following the weekend marking the anniversary of the U.S.'s independence, another man has declared his own, Massachusetts Treasurer Timothy Cahill.  He has announced he is leaving the Democratic party, and is currently un-enrolled. Many are considering this to be the first step toward a run for governor.

This is a strong move from the Commonwealth's treasurer.  Not only does this separate himself from the more fiscally liberal Democrats on Beacon Hill, but it also means he won't have to take Deval Patrick one on one in a Democratic primary.

Yet, this potential candidacy could also spell disaster for the Dems' hopes of holding on to the governorship.  Cahill would likely take Democratic voters away from Patrick, dividing the party and possibly allowing a Republican back into the corner office.

Governor Patrick certainly has his work cut out for him in his 2010 re-election campaign.  He has failed to pass several key pieces of legislation, most importantly casino gambling, which he has been advocating for years now.  He has also proposed an increase in the gas tax, taxes on soda, candy and alcohol, and has raised the state's sales tax from 5% to 6.25% (effectively 7 cents per dollar).  All of these issues have left Patrick's approval ratings in shambles.  Seems like a perfect moment for Cahill to strike.

It is a lot to swallow for Bay Staters, but they may forget all about their governor's short comings (much to Mr. Cahill's dismay) when he rolls out some of his close, popular friends from Washington.  You know, like President Barack Obama.

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