4A - Thursday, September 30, 2010
The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com
4A - Thursday, September 30, 2010 The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom
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I think what the country is going
through right now is, in a way, what I
went through with my alcoholism."
- Television personality Glenn Beck commenting on the state of the
nation, as reported yesterday by The New York Times.
Obama is solid on Israel
EDITOR IN CHIEF
RACHEL VAN GILDER
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR
Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
Schooled on reform
Obama must back education changes with funds
The American public education system is in dire need of
fixing and President Barack Obama thinks he has the
solution. Earlier this week on the Today, Obama put
forth some suggestions. He advocated extending the school
year, getting rid of inefficient and underperforming teachers and
emphasizing a more active parental role in a children's education.
Schools all over the country are already under immense budget-
ary strains. Obama needs to ensure that any suggested plan care-
fully considers the effects of the reform and appropriates federal
funds to support it.
On Monday, in response to a question
on NBC's Today from Matt Lauer, Obama
stressed the need for a longer school year.
He reiterated that America is being sur-
passed globally in terms of educational
standards. Many studies show that in high-
er-achieving nations - Japan, South Korea,
Germany and New Zealand - students
attend school more days a year. Obama
also highlighted weeding out inefficient
teachers and holding parents accountable.
Obama acknowledged that lengthening the
school year would be expensive, but stated
that it would be "money well spent."
A longer school year is a viable solution.
For starters, the more time students spend
in school, the more they're immersed in an
academic environment. For underprivi-
leged students, this is especially impor-
tant, as they don't have the same access to
summer learning programs. Shortening
summer vacation will also help with reten-
tion, meaning teachers will spend less time
reviewing at the beginning of the year.
Additionally, a longer year gives teachers
more time to adequately cover all the neces-
sary material. Teachers have more space to
work in additional lessons and to stretch out
material over a period of time, as opposed to
cramming it in at the end of the term.
However, this reform, like any other, has
its drawbacks. Every year when the spring
months roll around, students start burning
out, eagerly awaiting vacation. Adding an
extra month may double the stress, lead-
ing to discouraged and frustrated students.
Moreover, summer is an important time for
family vacations, athletics and social devel-
opment. America prides itself on producing
well-rounded individuals with people skills
as well as intelligence and this shouldn't be
But perhaps the biggest issue with this
proposal is funding. Schools are already
cutting a day out of the week in order to cut
costs. With budgets already tight, asking
schools to remain open for an extra month
is a stretch. It is imperative that any pro-
posed reform be backed up by sufficient
federal funds. It is unfair to pass huge
education cuts, while at the same time ask
schools to pay for more.
In the words of Obama, simply "throw-
ing money at the problem won't work."
This is true as major reforms are needed
in the American public education system.
However; without money, there will be no
reforms. In order for American students to
be prepared to compete globally, America
needs to reinvest in education.
For whatever reason, I tend to
hang out with a lot of lefty,
politically conscious Jews.
Birds of a feather
flock to the same
I guess. But as
people whom I've
always known to
share my progres-
sive politics have
grown increasingly MATTHEW
disillusioned with GREEN
the Democrats. And
not for the same
reasons why every-
one else has. From what I've heard
in the Jewish media and seen in for-
warded chain-emails from my bubby,
it's clear that an increasing number
of Jews feel disheartened by what
they perceive to be President Barack
Obama's frosty approach to Israel.
I hear the same tropes repeated
over and over - Obama supports
Hamas; he's critical of Israeli settle-
ments; he snubbed Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu during a visit
to the White House. And 6,000 miles
to the east, in Israel, the anti-Obama
sentiment is even more impassioned.
During a ten-day visit to the Holy
Land in May, I tried to talk politics
with almost everyone I met. Though
the Israelis I came across seemed
to love the U.S. and Americans, the
vast majority were highly skepti-
cal of Obama. Many suggested that
he's weak on terrorism and a hand-
ful said they thought he was a prac-
ticing Muslim. If it weren't for their
accents, I might've mistaken them for
As I talked to these Israelis, Ilooked
forward to the rest of my summer in
Washington, D.C., where I hoped I
might learn concrete facts - in addi-
tion to hearing opinions - about the
current U.S. relationship with Israel.
Fortunately, as an intern for an orga-
nization with a strong hand in Israel-
advocacy, I had the opportunity to
attend a number of seminars and lec-
tures focused on Middle East policy.
I made a point of continuing seri-
ous dialogue with interns from both
AIPAC and J Street, two separate
voices in the world of Israel advocacy.
And I supplemented my experience
by reading scores of articles debating
the pros and cons of Obama's policies
So what did I discover? For start-
ers, I learned some objective num-
bers. As pointed out by Assistant
Secretary of State Andrew Shapiro,
the Obama administration requested
the largest sum for Israeli security
assistance in history - $2.775 billion
for fiscal year 2010. And for FY2011,
the administration bumped up their
request to $3 billion. That number
doesn't even include the $205 million
that Obama requested from Congress
earlier this year to support a new
Israeli missile defense project known
as the Iron Dome.
And in addition to sheer numbers,
the aid that Obama has overseen is
being used in unparalleled ways to
advance what's known as Israel's
Qualitative Military Edge - its capac-
ity to counteract state and non-state
actors while keeping losses minimal.
Particularly in the face of President
George W. Bush's sale of arms to Per-
sian Gulf states in the effort against
Iraq, Israel's QME diminished dur-
ing the Bush administration. But
under the auspices of Obama, through
increased efforts to share military
intelligence and technology, Israel's
QME has grown by leaps and bounds.
Just this Monday, the Pentagon
announced yet another collaboration
with Israel to advance an additional
weapons system to defend against
short-range ballistic missiles.
But military aid is only part of the
picture. While it's true that President
Obama has criticized Israeli settle-
ments in the West Bank, it's crucial
to note that some of his most conser-
vative predecessors - George H. W.
Bush and Ronald Reagan, in particu-
lar - were equally critical of settle-
ments. Far from being anti-Israel,
the president's recent call on Netan-
yahu to continue a settlement freeze
for the duration of the current peace
talks exhibits his dedication to peace.
It's also worth mentioning that
Prime Minister Netanyahu, who was
supposedly snubbed at the White
House earlier this year, expressed
his gratitude for Obama before an
American crowd last week. He assert-
ed that Obama's commitment to the
peace talks "made a great impres-
sion on me." In July, in an interview
with Fox news, Netanyahu also said,
"all U.S. presidents...including Presi-
dent Obama, share what the presi-
dent called the basic bedrock of this
unbreakable bond between Israel
and the United States." If Obama ever
offended Bibi Netanyahu in the past -
and it's not clear that he ever did - it
has actually done a
lot for Israel.
appears that the two leaders currently
have a perfectly healthy relationship.
That isn't all that's surprising
when one considers that the two men
share one very important policy goal:
preventing a nuclear-armed Iran. In
July, Obama told an Israeli television
network that thwarting Iran's nucle-
ar ambitions "has been my number *
one foreign policy priority over the
course of the last 18 months." And the
Obama administration has strongly
supported sanctions against Iran,
particularly targeting its influential
Nearly halfway into his first term,
Obama has surely left a lot to be
desired on a variety of issues. Though
I'm still optimistic about him, I've
been less than thrilled with much of
his leadership. But when it comes to
supporting Israel, Obama has been
exactly the president I'd hoped he'd
be. And as the peace talks go forward,
the Obama administration'is ,rock
solid in its support of both Israel and
lasting peace in the region.
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MSA has a DREAM fdeny so many talented young people access to
h higher education. For our society to thrive, we
equal access to education must have an educated population, in which all
its members have the right to participate in the
political process. The pathway to citizenship
TO THE DAILY: provided in the Federal DREAM Act would
The Michigan Student Assembly supports give undocumented students who are now in
the passage of the Federal DREAM Act and the college the opportunity to become teachers,
California DREAM Act. The Federal DREAM doctors, engineers, lawyers or whatever they
Act would provide hundreds of thousands of choose to be upon graduation. It would also
undocumented U.S. residents a pathway to provide undocumented youth serving in the
citizenship and access to financial aid through military with much needed rights and ben-
two years of college or two years of military efits. As representatives of our student body,
service. The California DREAM Act would we proudly uphold the principles of diversity,
allow undocumented students in California to democracy and universal public education.
receive state and university financial aid and, if We support the passage of these two bills that
passed, would make it easier for other states to could make the American Dream a reality for
pass similar legislation. These two bills would undocumented students across California and
make what is now the formal legal right to a the nation.
Debate in cyberspace. Asa Smith comments on the
intelligence (or lack thereof) of decreasing higher education funding
in Michigan. Go to michigandaily.com/blogs/The Podium.
ROGER SAUERHAFT I
Don't waste the recession
public education a reality for tens of thousands
of undocumented students who are now unable
to pay for college.
It isn't viable for a democratic society to
This letter was written by Kate Stenvig and
Deandre Watson on behalf of the Michigan
Rahm Emanuel, the president's chief of staff, is widely
derided for his now infamous quote: "Never let a good
crisis go to waste." But there may actually be some sage
wisdom locked away in this partisan sound bite when it
comes to curing our financial system.
Stocks and bonds surged, as well as the morale of many,
following last week's declaration of the end of the reces-
sion by the National Bureau of Economic Research. Yes,
the unemployment rate still continues to hover just below
double-digits, but there's no doubt the announcement
will return some long-lost confidence to the markets that
has yet to be captured in polls.
Obviously, this is a good thing. But on the other hand,
have we undergone enough reform in the past two years
to prevent the same problems from recurring, or are we
poised for another recession when the next bubble bursts?
One of the only positive aspects about an economic
downturn is that we can learn from it to make sure it
never repeats itself. Former Treasury secretary Andrew
Mellon once suggested that the Great Depression would
"purge the rottenness out of the system." This concept
- Emanuel and Mellon allude to - can be applied to all
walks of life. Different words, same idea.
What worries me here is that Congress could lose much
of its impetus for financial reform as a result of this crisis
supposedly being over. After all, is it still an urgent prior-
ity to reform if we aren't even in a recession? I'm worried
we may just let the recession go to waste and return to
business as usual. I'm concerned we may lose our urgency
here, just as we did with climate change and gas prices
when the economy suddenly stole the show in the fall of
However, simply being told the recession is over doesn't
suddenly place food on the table. Ten percent unemploy-
ment is still very real and many Americans worry of a
double-dip recession when stimulus money runs out. A
lack of long-term confidence isn't really a good thing, but
it does make us proceed with caution, which isn't always
The European economy was hit hard by both the global
credit crunch and sovereign debt crises, and as a result, the
EU became all about financial reform and austerity. Now,
the unexpected economic success of the past quarter is
widely interpreted to mean Europe has weathered the cri-
ses, and the momentum behind further reform is stalling.
But even EU leaders concede this success is pretty
much an accident and they don't expect it to continue.
This past quarter, exports led the German economy to
grow at its fastest rate since the fall of the Berlin Wall
and a few of Germany's neighbors posted similar results.
However, the countries in trouble remained in trouble
as economists continued their calls for reform, warning
about unsustainable growth.
This is the path we don't want to take, which could
lead to the dreaded double-dip recession. This is where
I worry we could forget Emanuel and Mellon's words and
let this crisis go to waste if we follow in Europe's foot-
steps. As of now, we don't appear to be doing so, but after
seeing the way the energy bill was scrapped this summer,
I have reason for concern.
As The Economist said when recently referencing the
massive growth of Latin America after its 1980s sovereign
debt issues, the idea of radical reform ended up paying off
and Europe should be taking note of this success. And
even though nobody is talking about an American sover-
eign debt crisis, we should be taking notes as well before
we talk about emerging from this mess for good.
Perhaps we won't let a good crisis go to waste; per-
haps we're doing our due diligence to purge the rotten-
ness from the system and perhaps the negative, skeptical
views seen in polls are exactly what we need. For that, we
may be the envy of Europe.
Roger Sauerhaft is an LSA senior.
CAMERON N EVEU j E-MAIL CAMERON AT CNEV.U@SEUMICH.EDU
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