The Greens? Or the White House?
Eric Weltman's article on energy ("A Wasted Crisis," December 9, 2010) seeks to blame environmentalists for the failure of the latest Senate energy bill. In fact, according to a recent article in the New Yorker by Ryan Lizza ("As the World Burns," the New Yorker, Oct. 11, 2010), the Senate bill was dead well before the BP disaster, killed mostly by White House indifference and solo grandstanding
Case in point: Weitman claims that Obama's announcement to extend offshore drilling was made in support of the Senate bill. Not true, according to Lizza. The bill's sponsors learned of the White House action from the news! It was the last straw in a series of White House announcements irreparably crippling the senators' negotiating position: "Obama had now given away what the senators were planning to trade." Kerry et al. had spent months carefully crafting a bill, only to have the White House wilfully destroy it.
Important distinction? You bet. The players at the White House have a pattern of flying solo and not very bright, giving away their bargaining chips ahead of time and calling it negotiation. Obama's tax bill is another example. Perhaps we see the tainted hand of arch-deregulationist and anti-green Larry Summers in both cases.
Springfield Needs Trash Fee
Springfield needs to start looking at its long-term financial prospects. Yes, we have a $44-million-dollar surplus. At the same time, we are looking at massive cuts to the state budget (aid to cities and towns) and who knows what else. The next fiscal year is looking very bleak on both the state and local level. Is it wise to have the trash fee ("Round One to Tosado?", December 16, 2010) expire at a time when the city will be scrambling for every penny to deal with those cuts?
I don't enjoy paying the fee, which is really a tax, at all. However, if you speak to people in other communities who have to pay for private trash removal, you find their fee/tax is much higher for much less service than we get from the city of Springfield. Our fiscal storm is not over; we may just be seeing the eye of the hurricane pass over us. The second half of it is coming.
Reduce Defense Budget Now?
The Obama administration is contemplating major reductions in the Defense Department budget to help cut into the huge deficits incurred by the president and his Washington cronies. They plan on reducing our conventional military forces and increasing special operations units to combat the terrorist threats around the world.
An increase in special operations forces is warranted to target terrorist organizations, including al Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas and other radical Islamic extremists in a number of countries. Additionally, large-scale conventional military operations are necessary to pacify areas in host countries that house the terrorists, and staging bases are needed to launch targeted operations against the terrorists.
Let's not forget about the threats posed by the large ground forces of Iran; the North Korean army poised against South Korea; and the massive Chinese Communist conventional forces available to threaten Taiwan, Japan and other Asian countries.
Due to its vibrant economy, which is growing by 10 percent annually, China has embarked on a significant upgrade of its land forces and strategic weapons systems, and has implemented a naval shipbuilding program that includes aircraft carriers and submarines. Russia is also upgrading its military.
We need to maintain robust military forces, both special operations and conventional forces, to combat terrorist organizations and deter countries from hosting terrorists, and to oppose the forces of totalitarian regimes in the world that threaten our national security and the security of our allies. History has taught us military weakness is the breeding ground for wars.
Donald A. Moskowitz
Let Them Eat Veg
This week, President Obama signed the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act—the first major bipartisan bill enacted since the election by a deeply polarized Congress. The act will replace junk food in school lunches and vending machines with more healthful options.
Several jurisdictions have taken similar action. The Hawaii, California, New York and Florida legislatures passed resolutions recommending vegan school options. Last year, the Baltimore City public school system became the first in the nation to offer its 80,000 students a weekly meat-free lunch. According to the School Nutrition Association, 65 percent of U.S. schools now offer vegetarian lunch options.
In the past, the U.S. Department of Agriculture has used the National School Lunch Program as a dumping ground for surplus meat and dairy commodities. Not surprisingly, 90 percent of American children consume excessive amounts of fat, and only 15 percent eat the recommended servings of fruits and vegetables. These early dietary flaws become lifelong addictions, raising the risk of diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
Those who care about our children's health should demand healthful plant-based school meals, snacks and vending machine items. Additional information is available at healthyschoollunches.org, choiceusa.net and schoolnutrition.org.
I feel sorry for the author and the readers [of "Beer: The Next Level," December 2, 2010], but most of all the Shelton Brothers. I hope the beer community can see through Will Shelton's variations on the argument "You disagree because you don't know enough." Will Shelton needs to take a long look in the mirror, and the author needs to take a long cold shower.