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True North Archives - January 08, 2008
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A New Dark Age?
By Robert Maynard

If we are to insist that Vermont interject itself into national and international issues as a priority, why not take on a real issue? I have previously written about how the so-called man-made "Global Warming"/"Climate Change" claim is being pumped up with a lot of hot air. For that matter, so has John McClaughry and the Ethan Allen Institute. Instead of invoking a weakly supported theory as an excuse to control and regulate the entire global economy, perhaps we should examine the long term threat of fanatical Islam to our civilization.

In a book entitled "America Alone: The End Of The World As We Know It", Mark Steyn points how just how big a threat to our civilization Radical Islam could become. At first glance this notion seems preposterous. We represent the most advanced civilization that the world has ever known, while radical Islam is stuck in primitive squalor. In the short run, this may seem so, but it is the long term trend which has already begun that Mr. Steyn is warning us of. The first part of the problem is one of demographics. The developed world is aging rapidly and not reproducing at a rate needed for continued growth. At the same time, the Islamic world is reproducing at a rate far above replacement level. America is about in the middle with a birth rate barely above replacement level. The result of this phenomenon is a rapidly changing demographic balance. In 1970 the developed nations made up 30 percent of the global population and the Muslim world made up 15 percent. That was a 2 to 1 difference. By 2000, a mere 30 years later, there was parity at about 20 percent each. If anything this trend seems to be accelerating.

The second issue is the level of confidence in one’s civilization. While we in the west are mired in nihilism, multicultural relativism and self doubt, radical Muslims have a fanatical devotion to spreading their cause. This gives them a psychological strength that the welfare state societies of much of the developed world can not hope to match. 

Whistling Past the Graveyard
By Bruce P. Shields

Democrats took control of the Vermont legislature some years ago promising to improve the State’s employment prospects -- virtually the same program that Republican Gov. Douglas ran on at the same time -- and at the same time promising to relieve taxes on "The Middle Class."  The coalition which supports Democrats (especially government employees organized into unions) is sharply opposed to any reduction in tax collections, for obvious reasons of self interest.  A second segment of the Democratic coalition (the membership environmental organizations) opposes any reduction of regulation or of the employee base interpreting regulations.  Consequently, any Democratic response to the economic criticisms must emphasize things that are going right in Vermont, in order to reduce pressure to cut taxes or regulations.

Clearly, some features of Vermont are attractive.  Retired people are moving to Vermont, not to start businesses but to retire from business.  A number of non-profit organizations which fundraise throughout the country have established offices in Vermont because their employees enjoy living here.  Many existing businesses choose to remain for these same reasons. 

The Trust-Funder Economy II
By Martin Harris

With the arrival of yet another in a long series of demographic studies documenting the departure of one socio-economic group or another from Vermont, it seems appropriate yet again to quote FDR --"nothing in politics happens by accident"—and to ask yet one more time the rhetorical question: is the present pattern of out-migration, primarily of young families with school—age children, which explains why public-education enrollments are plummeting, a desired Montpelier objective or not? 

My opinion is that the unquestionably bright and gifted people whom Vermonters have elected to govern them, for the last few decades, are far too perceptive, intelligent, and skillful to allow such fundamental patterns as demographic change to proceed against their wishes, and therefore I conclude that the economic and population shifts now well under way are what Montpelier wants: if not overtly, then at least covertly. If they didn’t want these trends, as they have grown into 800-pound-gorilla-in-the-room size over the last generation, surely they would have taken steps to stop and reverse them. They didn’t.

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I predict future happiness for Americans if they can prevent the government from wasting the labors of the people under the pretense of taking care of them." -- Thomas Jefferson

"Huckabee opposes school choice, earning him the coveted endorsement of the National Education Association of New Hampshire, which is like the sheriff being endorsed by the local whorehouse."  ---Ann Coulter 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

A Dr. No For Vermonters
Caledonian Record Editorial, December 31, 2007

A recent news article reports that the fortunate folks of Oklahoma have a Republican U.S. Senator named Tom Coburn who is described as a "one man gridlock machine." If only...

Coburn, nicknamed "Dr. No" (a nickname shared with Rep. Ron Paul, an independent candidate for president), is credited with single-handedly blocking or slowing 90 bills this year. ...

Vermont needs a Dr. No. Vermont actually needs three Dr. No's in Congress to replace the three disciples of tax and spend currently representing Vermont. Vermont could use another 50 Tom Coburns in the Vermont Legislature. Unfortunately, voters will not elect a Dr. No until they make a conscious decision to avoid the seductive claims of politicians like Leahy, Sanders and Welch who claim that thanks to them, Vermonters are getting the benefits of government without having to pay for the benefits. Vermonters will have to decide to support a candidate who will tell Vermonters the truth and offer to stand up for them and fight to help Vermonters keep their money and their liberty.

The Permitting Wars - Part I
From, January 02, 2008

The State of Vermont’s own Brand Study found Vermont businesses feel "Vermonters view business growth as a threat to their quality of life" and, "this mindset underlies the obstructionism and capriciousness associated with the permitting process and regulatory establishment." Despite this clear and unequivocal statement, Vermonters still debate, on this site and elsewhere, its truthfulness.  Pretending for a moment that it even matters if the perception is true or not, I’m going to analyze actual cases to shed some light on why businesses might believe our regulatory system is capriciously implemented and administered. 

Climate Change Tops Agenda
From WCAX-TV, January 2, 2008

Democratic Speaker Gaye Symington is coming back to the statehouse, renewing her efforts to pass a climate change bill. 

"The pace at which fuel costs are increasing and the lost opportunity of not passing that bill definitely weighs heavily on me."

Last year it was Democrats' number one priority, they spent weeks learning about the issue. But all that work produced no new laws, because after attaching a funding source that taxed Vermont Yankee, Gov. Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, vetoed the bill. The tax was controversial even among Democrats, and despite their strong numbers, they could not override the veto.

Legislators, Hear the Drumbeat, Please!
Caledonian Record Editorial, January 03, 2008

The fiscal collective tin ear of the Democratic leadership makes it necessary for us to point up the obvious. Vermonters are drowning in too high taxes, too many taxes, too many free services to people who can afford to pay for them, too many expensive nanny-state programs, a bloated incoming tide of public employees, and the liberal delusion that we can afford them all. We urge our legislators to listen to the drumbeat and resist new or expanded programs that require new or expanded taxes... 

Translating from Political Lingo to English
From, January 03, 2008

I received a piece of constituent mailing from Representative Peter Welch this week, touting his concern for the middle class and his achievements over the past year.  But what really interested me was the tear off (my stamp required) where I am supposed to tell Rep. Welch my priorities. It says:

Rank the top three issues that would help you make ends meet:

My view of the list is probably not the same as Rep. Welch.  Here is how I translate them from political-speak to English:

Too-Few Workers Can Mean Loss of Jobs
From The Burlington Free Press, January 4, 2008

For those who have trouble grasping how the coming shortage of workers in Vermont predicted by some economists could hurt even those who have jobs, here's a handy illustration. People who work for the telephone survey company Macro International's call center in St. Albans find themselves facing what seems like a Catch-22: They will lose their jobs because their employer was unable to fill jobs. Macro decided to close its St. Albans operations after choosing to forgo an upgrade to the call center given the trouble the company has had in filling jobs there. When the center closes at the end of the month, Franklin County will lose six full-time and 35 part-time jobs paying $8.30 an hour. The worker shortage affects more than the high-skilled, high-tech fields. The shortage can affect Vermont's ability to hang on to even jobs that pay little better than the minimum wage.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The Pacific Arms Race
By Robert Maginnis,Human Events, January 04, 2008

On December 17, the Japanese Self-Defense Force’s JS Kongo (DDG-173), a guided missile destroyer, fired a US Standard SM-3 interceptor which quickly destroyed its ballistic missile target about 100 miles above the Hawaiian Islands.  The US Missile Defense Agency called the intercept a "major milestone" and Japan’s defense minister called the test "extremely significant." ...

More daunting for Japan’s neighbors is the fact that Tokyo’s BMD investments are linked to the US missile defense system.  In the Pacific the US boasts more than 20 ground-based interceptors, 18 sea-based missiles, hundreds of PAC-3 Patriots and intends to create a multilayered system with hundreds of interceptors to include other programs like the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) and the Airborne Laser (ABL).  These systems are guided by early warning satellites, radar complexes and more than a dozen Aegis-equipped cruisers and destroyers. 

The growing US-Japanese missile shield seriously diminishes North Korea’s fledgling missile threat and the second order effect is to marginalize China’s strategic balance and perhaps even Russia’s. 

Fraud And The Anti-U.S. Iraq Narrative
From Investor's Business Daily, January 04, 2008

Media: A 2006 study claiming that more than 600,000 Iraqis had been killed in the war was eagerly embraced by the press. Yet again, journalists' hatred for President Bush allowed them to be taken in by a fraud.

Cleric’s chilling warning to UK
By Oliver Harvey, Chief Feature Writer in Kahuta, Pakistan, The Sun, December 31, 2007

A FANATICAL Pakistani cleric told The Sun yesterday of his chilling dream to turn the world Muslim – by force if necessary. Qari Hifzur Rehamn, 60, spoke openly of imposing Islamic law’s stoning and beheading on Britain – as Pakistan was rocked by unrest over the assassination of Benazir Bhutto. He warned: "We want Islamic law for all Pakistan and then the world.

Bhutto’s Murder: Al Qaeda’s Security Blanket
By Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, January 2 2008

Former Pakistani Prime Minster Benazir Bhutto was murdered by the combined forces of Jihadism in Pakistan because of her potential actions in that country. In short, Jihadists executed her to preempt her future war of ideas. This is the bottom line, and here is why.

The long-term plan of the Taliban and al Qaeda in Afghanistan during the 1990s was to eventually spread to Pakistan and seize power and ultimately, after 1999, to seize Pakistan’s nukes, too. Miscalculating on September 11th, Osama bin Laden lost Kabul and the Jihadi war room crossed over to their eastern neighbor. Plan B was then to seize Waziristan and gradually Talibanize the country, grabbing the "doomsday" devices in the end.

Coughlin Sacked
By Bill Gertz, The Washington Times, January 4, 2008

Stephen Coughlin, the Pentagon specialist on Islamic law and Islamist extremism, has been fired from his position on the military's Joint Staff. The action followed a report in this space last week revealing opposition to his work for the military by pro-Muslim officials within the office of Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England.

Mr. Coughlin was notified this week that his contract with the Joint Staff will end in March, effectively halting the career of one of the U.S. government's most important figures in analyzing the nature of extremism and ultimately preparing to wage ideological war against it. He had run afoul of a key aide to Mr. England, Hasham Islam, who confronted Mr. Coughlin during a meeting several weeks ago when Mr. Islam sought to have Mr. Coughlin soften his views on Islamist extremism. 

Mr. Coughlin was accused directly by Mr. Islam of being a Christian zealot or extremist "with a pen," according to defense officials. Mr. Coughlin appears to have become one of the first casualties in the war of ideas with Islamism. 

Go Directly To Jihad, Do Not Pass Gitmo
By Randall Hoven, The American Thinker, January 02, 2008

Everyone, it seems, from Human Rights Watch  to Amnesty International  to Hollywood  and even to former Secretary of State Colin Powell, is upset with our treatment of Guantanamo detainees and thinks GTMO should be closed. Here are the facts: 

   (1) a large number, perhaps a majority, of GTMO detainees have already been released; and 

   (2) a good number of those have returned to their deadly jihadi ways, where by their own words "jihad" means "we will attack them in the US and Britain until they either accept Islam or agree to pay jizya." 

And now there is a connection to the Bhutto assassination. In mid-2005, NPR reported that, "at its height, Guantanamo Bay held about 750 prisoners."  By the spring of 2006, 538 Guantanamo detainees had been released. By the summer of 2007, the Pentagon reported that "at least 30 former GTMO detainees have taken part in anti-coalition militant activities after leaving U.S. detention."  Since "the US government does not generally track ex-GTMO detainees after repatriation or resettlement," one could surmise that those 30 were only a fraction of former detainees who have returned to militant activities or other anti-US activities.

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From Elsewhere

When Government Plans, It Usually Fails
By Randal O'Toole, The Cato Institute

After more than 30 years of reviewing government plans, including forest plans, park plans, watershed plans, wildlife plans, energy plans, urban plans and transportation plans, I've concluded that government planning almost always does more harm than good. 

Most government plans are so full of fabrications and unsupportable assumptions that they aren't worth the paper they are printed on, much less the millions of tax dollars spent to have them written. Federal, state and local governments should repeal planning laws and shut down planning offices. 

Everybody plans. But private plans are flexible, and we happily change them when new information arises. In contrast, special-interest groups ensure that the government plans benefiting them do not change -- no matter how costly. Like any other organization, government agencies need to plan their budgets and short-term projects. But they fail when they write comprehensive plans (which try to account for all side effects), long-range plans or plans that attempt to control other people's land and resources. Many plans try to do all three. 

Mike Huckabee's New Deal:
More God, More Government
By David J. Sanders, The Wall Street Journal, January 4, 2008

But one wonders whether his newfound supporters would really say that if they took a close look at his policies. With increasing frequency, Mr. Huckabee invokes his faith when advocating greater government involvement in just about every aspect of American life. In doing so, Mr. Huckabee has actually answered the prayers of the religious left.

Since John Kerry's defeat in 2004 at the hands of at least a few "values voters," the Democratic Party has been trying to take back God, even launching a Faith in Action initiative at the Democratic National Committee. Meanwhile, a small but organized group of liberal religious leaders and faith-based political activists has been trying to convey the message that, as one recent book had it, "Jesus rode a donkey." They argue that increasing the government's role in the fight against global warming, poverty and economic inequality is a biblical imperative. They usually de-emphasize the importance of abortion and gay marriage in their agendas, lest they offend the secularist wing of the party.

Hume, Father of Postmodernism and Anti-rationalism—Part 4
The Roots of Collectivism
By Reginald Firehammer, The Automist

There is something else Gramsci and Hume had in common—they are both thoroughgoing collectivists. Gramsci's Marxism is obviously collectivist but it may not be as obvious that Hume was an unabashed collectivist, as well. 

[Note: By collectivism I mean that principle, which in any form, stands against its opposite, Individualism. Collectivism, in most people's minds, is usually associated with a government or political system, but collectivism is a fundamental concept, of which collectivists states are only one manifestation. Collectivism is anything that subordinates the individual to some collective, that is, any group, organization, movement, or cause; most frequently, one's community, society, country, or all mankind. It is not being a member of a group that makes one a collectivist; but, to the extent one subordinates their own desires, plans, purposes, resources, or any other aspect of their life to those of a group on the grounds the group's ends are more important than one's own, and to the extent an individual derives their sense of self-worth, purpose, or meanig from their association with a group rather than from their own merit, values, and understanding, they are collectivists.] In An Enquiry into the Principles of Morals "Section II, Of Benevolence, Part II," Hume wrote: 

"We may observe that, in displaying the praises of any humane, beneficent man, there is one circumstance which never fails to be amply insisted on, namely, the happiness and satisfaction, derived to society from his intercourse and good offices."

The Conservative Tide in Major Democracies
By Bruce Walker, The American Thinker, January 01, 2008

When things are going poorly for the Left, count on it to change the subject.  After the surge refused to fail, the surge ceased to be news.  Recall four years ago, when "all" the leaders of our major democratic friends were hostile to America, to our liberation of Iraq, and in particular to President Bush?  Remember how Senator Kerry said that leaders of Europe privately wanted him to win the presidency?  That news has ceased to become newsworthy. Why? Because, like the surge, the sentiment in major democracies has turned as well.

The most outstanding example, of course, is the change in France.  Sarkozy, a frankly pro-American French president, took office and completely transformed the policies of his nation (precisely as I had predicted he would in many articles over the period of years preceding his election.)  Next most vital was the selection, after a very odd Bundestag election, of Angela Merkel as chancellor of Germany.  Although much less flamboyant than Sarkozy, Merkel is quietly supportive of America and Israel, leading Palestinians during her visit to the Holy Lands to complain that she was "more pro-Israel than the Israelis."  Our neighbor to the north, Canada, also replaced the anti-American Grits with Conservative Stephen Harper.  Tony Blair left of his own accord in Britain, but his Labour Party remains to the Left of the Conservative Party, the logical and historical intra-national ally of America.

Earmarks Still A Problem
By Mike Franc, Human Events,January 04, 2008

That tension between national and parochial interests has manifested itself with a vengeance in a quiet, but potentially dramatic, internal debate now raging within the White House and on Capitol Hill over how best to handle the thousands of special-interest spending provisions -- known as "earmarks" -- which lawmakers stuffed into the gargantuan, end-of-the-year omnibus spending bill. President Bush recently signed this $554.7 billion monster into law, but expressed profound reservations over the rampant earmarking in it. Despite repeated promises by lawmakers to kick their habit, nothing much changed over the last year. Altogether, in 2007 Congress approved over 11,900 earmarks, many for indefensible purposes. The list is long and embarrassing  but, to choose one at random, how about Rep. David Hobson’s (R-Ohio) allocation of $800,000 for a new Speedway SuperAmerica gas station, convenience store and pizza parlor on U.S. Route 42 in Wilberforce, Ohio (population: 2,000)? ...

Lawmakers, of course, represent narrower constituencies -- Rep. Hobson, for example, was re-elected in 2006 with only 138,000 votes; legendary porker Sen. Ted Stevens won his statewide election with the support of a mere 179,000 Alaskans. Just how much so is jarringly evident in Hobson’s pathetic assessment of his 18-year congressional career. "I’m probably more proud of this earmark," he said of the SuperAmerica gas station largesse, "and what it will do in the future than anything I’ve ever done." When veteran lawmakers are reduced to uttering such inanities, it’s high time to stop the madness. 

Related: Hold the Pork!

What We Want in a President
By Lawrence B. Lindsey, The Texas Insider, January 04, 2008

In the next six weeks Americans are going to pick the two finalists in the long job search for the most important CEO position on the planet. As someone who has served in three White Houses and been a Federal Reserve governor during a fourth, I have become a firm believer that the character traits someone brings to the job are more important than the issue papers or debate sound bites that get so much attention in the primaries. 

Related: McCain's Promise

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