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True North Archives - January 13, 2009
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North Radio airs daily on WDEV AM & WDEV FM from 11 am to noon.


Featured Articles

Change We Can Believe In
By Tom Wilson

It's great fun to play Robin Hood (who actually stole from the ruling elite), especially with other people's money, heady O.P.M. But most revolutions begin with contrivance, and end, kind of like pulling the trigger on an atom bomb, with far more mess than they bargained for. However nobly Lenin, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, Castro, and Uncle Ho may have started as model "agrarians," they became butchers of their own countrymen, managing to murder their own citizenry in greater numbers than all the soldiers killed in the 20th century. That great champion of social justice, Pol Pot, Cleanser of the Cambodians, killed anyone who wore glasses or carried a ballpoint. What these execrables had in common was this: they were all messianic visionaries, self appointed social engineers: they could spend our money and our life better than we can. 

Mottos inspire: Equality, Liberty, Fraternity!, Workers of the World, Unite!, Power to the People! But "Utopia," quite literally, means: "not a place." No Kidding. It never happens. 

The Incredible HOLC
By Martin Harris

The answer goes back to –"root cause", in Left-speak— a 1933 creation of FDR’s New Deal, the Home Owners’ Loan Corporation (HOLC for short) intended to prevent home owner foreclosures during the Great Depression by re-financing at-risk residential  mortgages. It was HOLC, I learned for the first time in Douglas Rae’s book "City: The End of Urbanism", which invented red-lining through its A-B-C-D neighborhood-quality-evaluation system, whereby D (do-not-lend) neighborhoods were shown on maps as surrounded by a red line. That policy lasted for 44 years until reversed by the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act of the Carter Administration, which ordered lenders to reduce their loan-applicant standards and end red-lining. The rules were subsequently made more and more lend-to-the-most-risky, for example the 1995 regulations of the Clinton Administration, until the joke about mandatory lending to NINJA applicants became a mortgage reality. In more rarified financial circles, the phrase "sub-prime" was used to describe borrowers who were statistically likely to default. When they did so, the present economic downturn was triggered. You can argue about the red-lining practices of the incredible HOLC, but you can’t argue about the NINJA lending required by the CRA as a "cure" for the earlier government policy. If you can tolerate some more wry humor, you might wonder how a regulatory demand –the super-loose lending requirements of the Community Reinvestment Act—have not been acknowledged by its defenders as the "root cause" of the present sub-prime mortgage situation, who have preferred to blame it on "insufficient regulation", as if lenders had never been mandated to lend to NINJA borrowers, but had gone out to solicit such probable-default borrowers on their own suicidal initiative. Not to mention the role of community-action groups like ACORN in rounding up clients –actual NINJA’s and potential "borrowers"-- and using mobs of them to picket reluctant banks.

A Worthwhile Legislative Agenda for 2009
By John McClaughry

In the old days - the 1950s - a majority of the legislators (old male Republicans) were largely content to do the state's necessary business, and especially to avoid doing anything expensive or stupid. In recent decades, a liberal majority always comes back to the Capitol eagerly hoping to Do Something Big and Historic. ...

Now comes the 2009 legislature, and in the face of a deepening fiscal crisis the prospect of its doing Something Big and Historic probably comes down to only two issues: authorizing gay marriage and voting Vermont Yankee off the island. Neither one, significantly, will have any impact on the state budget, at least for the next three years.

So, leaving aside these two hot button issues, what could legislators usefully do while the money committees sweat over the FY2009 and 2010 budgets? Here are some suggestions that would make the Vermont of the future more economically attractive and productive.

"Scribblings" - An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch, Barre Town

Shapleigh "Shap" Smith, Jr. of Morristown was unanimously elected Speaker of the House at the opening of the legislature on Wednesday.  Forty-three years old, married and father of two young children, Shap is in his fourth term as a member of the House.  In his "real life," he is a lawyer with the prestigious Burlington firm of Dinse, Knapp & McAndrew. ...

First, the speaker proposed a $150 million economic stimulus program for Vermont, without waiting for whatever Congress decides to do on the federal level.  He provided no real details, but he promised that the details will be in the bill to be considered as a first order of business by the appropriate committees of the House.

Second, in an unprecedented move, he proceeded to appoint committees on the first morning of the session!  Normally, committees are appointed at the beginning of the second week of the session—next Tuesday.  It was rumored that Shap wanted to get this essential task accomplished by this Friday; and I do recall when Speaker Mike Obuchowski surprised everyone in 1997 by making committee assignments on the afternoon of the first day.  But never before have I heard of a Speaker making committee assignments as part of his acceptance speech!  Undoubtedly, this move was intended to give the message that this legislature will get down to work immediately, take care of business, and get out of town.  As we say in church: "Amen!  Let it be so!"

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Quotable

"Nothing enrages me more than when people criticize my criticism of school by telling me that schools are not just places to learn math and spelling, they are places where children learn a vaguely defined thing called socialization. I know. I think schools generally do an effective and terribly damaging job of teaching children to be infantile, dependent, intellectually dishonest, passive, and disrespectful to their own developmental capacities."

-- Seymour Papert (1928- ) South African-born MIT mathematician, computer scientist, educator, pioneer in artificial intelligence, inventor of the Logo programming language

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Will It Be Curtains For The Golden Goose?
From The Caledonia Record, January 9, 2009

We thought that everybody over 10 years old would know the fable of the goose that laid a golden egg once a day. That's the story in which some bright button got the idea of cutting the goose in half and getting all the golden eggs at once, only to kill the goose and get no more golden eggs at all.

We were obviously wrong. There are those politicians and some utility companies who never heard of the fable and are in the process of sharpening their knives, now, preparatory to cutting the goose in half to get all its eggs at once. Vermont's utilities have always extorted a fat share of Vermont Yankee's profits just for the right to produce power. Despite what amounts to moral blackmail, Vermont Yankee still provides 40 percent of Vermont's power at rates that rank among the lowest in the nation. Now that Vermont Yankee is facing relicensing in 2012, Green Mountain Power and Central Vermont Public Service are demanding a new extortion from Entergy, Vermont Yankee's owner, to go along with the relicensing. They are in bed with Senate President Pro tem Peter Shumlin who is leading the charge for them.

Emerson Lynn On Politics
Governor Spends Political Capital on School Reform
From Vermont Tiger, January 9, 2009

The criticism that Gov. Jim Douglas will not spend any of his political capital lost its currency yesterday. He plopped down a good share of it in an inaugural address that called for the dismantling of the way Vermont pays for its $1.4 billion K-12 educational system.

Bernie Sanders Collides with Himself Going The Other Way
Caledonia Record Editorial, January 7, 2009

We had a moment of unease last week when, for the first time that we remember, we found ourselves agreeing with Bernie Sanders. U.S. Senator Sanders said Congress should reject Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's request to release the second half of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout fund. Sanders opposed the financial industry rescue. He objects to the secrecy surrounding the distribution of the first half, and that is his basis for his rejection of the distribution of the second half. 

We object, too, and for much the same reasons, and that had us talking to ourselves, because Sanders has never objected to a government distribution of large amounts of taxpayers money for anything before. How did we find ourselves on his side? Did he experience a conversion from his creed of tax and spend? Or, have we slipped our trolley?

Not to worry, though. Within a week, Senator Sanders spoke, with growing excitement, about the flood of money that will be coming out of Washington to rescue the states' bottom lines. We wish that we could have seen the original draft of his comments. Surely, it was speckled with drips of anticipatory drool.

Vermont Schools Looking at Budget Cuts
From WCAX-TV, January 4, 2009

Declining enrollments and state cost-control laws are prompting school districts around Vermont to contemplate what some are calling dramatic budget cuts, with staff reductions and program eliminations announced or under review.

Bennington County Layoffs Multiply
By Patrick McArdle, Rutland Herald, January 7, 2009

Three Bennington County manufacturers have laid off a significant percentage of their staffs, stretching back to October and as recently as Monday

Vermont Lawmakers Waste No Time
From WCAX-TV, January 7th 2009

Big changes in Montpelier-- as lawmakers unanimously elected a new speaker. Democrat Shap Smith from Morristown will lead the largest democratic majority in Vermont history. The 43-year-old was so eager for the new post, he went up too soon in the ceremony. And once sworn in-- did not waste any time.

"Now is the time for decisive action," he said.

Smith had a surprise proposal-- a $150 million economic stimulus program. The money would go toward improving Vermont's roads, bridges and state parks.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Strategic Reading in the Gaza Conflict: An Eight Point Assessment
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, January 7, 2009

Since Israel chose to commit ground forces inside the enclave, here is a working reading of the main strategic developments and indicators at this time...

New Iraq Emerges from Tyranny and War
By Omar and Mohammed Fadhil, Pajamas Media, January 9, 2009

Iraq has started to reap the benefits of the status of forces agreement with the United States. The United Nations Security Council voted to set the ground for relieving Iraq from the restrictions of Chapter Seven of the UN Charter. In fact, the remaining effects of previous resolutions will from now on serve only to protect Iraq’s assets from claims by other parties, not to impose anything on the people of Iraq. Sovereignty, which was lost two decades ago under Saddam Hussein’s capricious and belligerent reign, is being restored to the nation.

Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law
Editorial, Family Security Matters, January 8, 2009

In her latest book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, author Nonie Darwish paints a chilling description of what lies ahead for Western civilizations that continue down the road of political correctness and appeasement as Islamic (Shariah) law creeps its way into free societies across the globe. Darwish, who was born in Cairo, and moved as a child to Gaza with her family, was raised Muslim – her father founding Palestinian fedayeen units which launched terrorist raids across Israel’s southern border. When Nonie was only eight, her father was assassinated by the IDF, after which he was recognized as a shahid, or martyr for Islam. Darwish immigrated to the United States in 1978.

Islamic Law and the ensuing threats to Western civilization are subjects Darwish discusses with a passion and knowledge borne only of one who grew up within it can have. Having left Islam as an adult and having converted to Christianity, she has shared her experiences in Islam with her first book, Now They Call Me Infidel. Now with her second book, Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law, she explains in layman’s terms the meaning of Shariah law and the implications that face those who embrace it. Nonie Darwish visited with FamilySecurityMatters.org to discuss the book:

Editorial: Al Qaeda's demise?
Washington Times, January 5, 2009

Dare we dream of a world in which al Qaeda no longer exists? The terrorist network responsible for September 11 may be headed for the dustbin of history, according to "Global Trends 2025," the latest report by the National Intelligence Council. But the report isn't all good news. The NIC, a center of strategic thinking within the American government, says the ultimate demise of al Qaeda will coincide with a different set of terrorist challenges. The Obama administration would be wise to take stock of these findings and heed the warnings.

Iraq and Its Lessons, Part 2
By Randall Hoven, American Thinker

Let me put the question another way.  Given that Iraqi forces could not be built up to a level capable of handling a strong insurgency until about 2007, and that we were loath to lose US troops just to bring law and order to a minority of the Iraqi provinces, was there some way we could have nipped the insurgency in the bud, or at least kept it to a "tolerable" level (one that would not threaten our whole mission of rendering Iraq a non-threat to the US)?

I dare say, turning things over to the Iraqis even sooner might have done just that.  Ironically, it was the Defense Department, especially the "neocons", who wanted to do that, and the State Department that wanted a true occupation with a US-led occupational government lasting for years.

As it was, President Bush sort of split the difference.  He let Jerry Bremer lead Iraq for one year, then we turned it over to the Iraqis.  The trouble is, that one year was the critical one.  That was the year many of the players formed their opinions of the new Iraq, and decided how much to cooperate with the US.

Yes, Israel Can Win in Gaza
Israel is significantly weakening Hamas – with Palestinian help.
By Edward N. Luttwak,Wall Street Journal, January 9, 2009

Another familiar Palestinian experience is that the extremists can always prevail politically over the moderates, but in so doing they split Palestinian society. A key metric of this disunity is, in fact, the success of Israel's current war against Hamas.

Consider: According to Gaza sources, until the ground fighting started some 25% of the 500 dead were innocent civilians. The Israelis claimed that 20% of the casualties from the aerial attack were civilians. Either way, this was an extremely accurate bombing campaign. (Even in the 1991 and 2003 U.S. air campaigns against Iraq, when most of the bombs were already precision-guided, gross targeting errors killed many civilians.)

A targeting accuracy of 75% -- by the lowest estimate -- cannot have been merely obtained by overhead photography from satellites or reconnaissance aircraft, because few Hamas objectives were classic "high-contrast" targets such as bunkers or headquarters. Most targets were small groups of people in nondescript civilian vehicles that blend in with traffic, or inside unremarkable buildings. Nor could telephone intercepts have yielded much intelligence, because all Palestinians know that the Israelis have long combined voice recognition with cellular-grid location in order to aim missiles very accurately at single vehicles in traffic, or even at individuals standing about with their cellphones switched off.

So how did Israel do it? The only possible explanation is that people in Gaza have been informing the Israelis exactly where Hamas fighters and leaders are hiding, and where weapons are stored. No doubt some informers are merely corrupt, paid agents earning a living. But others must choose to provide intelligence because they oppose Hamas, whose extremism inflicts poverty, suffering and now death on the civilian population for the sake of launching mostly ineffectual rockets into Israel. Hamas completely disregards the day-to-day welfare of all Gazans in order to pursue its millenarian vision of an Islamic Palestine.

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From Elsewhere

The Great Credit-Crunch Hoax of 2008
By Robert Higgs, Ludwig Von Mises Institute, January 09, 2009

Remember the credit crunch? Of course you do. We'd never seen anything like it, or so the highest financial authorities and their lapdogs in the news media told us — not in a cool, calm, and collected way, either, but in a breathless delivery that suggested imminent economic doom unless the government immediately undertook to "do something." Which it did, of course, on a scale never before witnessed in US history. ...

But, wait, something is terribly wrong in the statistical record! The devastating credit crunch, the greatest threat to this country since the Russians exploded an H-bomb, the most menacing economic event since the stock-market crash of 1929, the … (sputter) … (sputter) … (words fail me in the face of such terrors as it evoked in the minds of government ministers and financial titans of all stripes). Well, I am rather embarrassed, on behalf of all these giants of the ruling elite, to inform you that in retrospect the Monster from Lack-of-Liquidity Lagoon doesn't really show up as such in the most relevant statistical series.

The NIPCC Report
Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate
By Kenneth A. Haapala, Investment Economist, January 09, 2009

Formed under the guidance of the late Frederick Seitz, President Emeritus of Rockefeller University, the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC) includes contributors to the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and other scientists who contest the methods used by the IPCC and claims of a consensus for its "Summary for Policymakers." Edited by S. Fred Singer, the NIPCC report reviews the same scientific research the IPCC reviews. More importantly, it reviews scientific research the IPCC ignores as well as recent research.

The NIPCC report directly challenges the conclusions of the IPCC Summary that human emissions of carbon dioxide are causing dangerous and unprecedented warming. In brief, the NIPCC report finds the recent warming is neither unusual nor unprecedented and most likely predominately caused by natural forces. The NIPCC report asserts that the quantitative models used by the IPCC to make predictions are unreliable and biased in greatly overestimating the influence of carbon dioxide emissions on warming. The NIPCC report demonstrates that the IPCC report obscures how little we know of the natural forces that cause climate change.

Blue Dog Democrats Barter for Tighter Spending Limits
By John Fritze, USA TODAY, January 8, 2009

As Congress prepares to borrow and spend billions of dollars to revive the economy, a growing group of conservative House Democrats is angling for long-term changes to reduce the federal government's soaring budget deficit.

Obama's Old New Deal?
By Mark Rhoads, American Conservative Union, January 7, 2009

President-elect Obama wants to do something dramatic such as FDR's New Deal or Ike's Interstate Highway system.  We have known for 30 years that America's infrastructure of roads and bridges urgently needs repair.  But how will that problem be solved by make-work jobs when the skills required are mostly found among highly skilled engineers and iron workers in trade unions that will not be wild about the idea of competition from unskilled public works employees?

Mr. Obama's training in life has left him ill-suited and yes, unprepared, to offer leadership to a country that has been so long based on a free-market driven economy.  So far, he has nothing new to offer except for nostalgic travels back in time to the failed policies of previous Democratic administrations.  So far, this is not only change that is hard to believe in but it is not really change at all from ancient Democratic schemes of our fathers.

Are They All Democrats Now?
By David Limbaugh, GOPUSA, January 6, 2009

Barack Obama, itching to implement his gigantic stimulus package as soon as possible, is dangling the idea of combining his spending package with a tax cut in hopes of securing another kind of stimulus: Republican support for his package. Republicans should remember that when you polish manure, you still have manure.

Newspaper Death Spiral
By S.T. Karnick, American Conservative Union, January 7, 2009

With the Federal Communications Commission's forcible transition to all-digital TV coming in February, the networks will receive a bit of a boost as their over-the-air signals will be better, but the march to digital TV over cable, satellite, and now the internet will undoubtedly continue and probably accelerate.

In the print media the situation is even more dire—from the perspective of the sclerotic, arrogant elites who currently run things. Newspapers and magazines are sustained by advertising dollars (as opposed to subscription revenues), and ad money has been rushing away from the print media to television, radio, and the Web. The latter has yet to see a great boost in ad money, but as website audience rating becomes more sophisticated in the next couple of years, the shift will become much more pronounced.

Related: Coulter vs. The Counter-Coulters

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