North Archives - January 13, 2009
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We Can Believe In
By Tom Wilson
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
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
By Martin Harris
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
Worthwhile Legislative Agenda for 2009
By John McClaughry
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.
- An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch,
"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!"
# # #
"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
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
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.
Lynn On Politics
Governor Spends Political
Capital on School Reform
From Vermont Tiger, January
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
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
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.
Schools Looking at Budget Cuts
From WCAX-TV, January 4,
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.
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
Lawmakers Waste No Time
From WCAX-TV, January 7th
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.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
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...
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
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
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:
Al Qaeda's demise?
Washington Times, January
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.
and Its Lessons, Part 2
By Randall Hoven, American
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.
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
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
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.
# # #
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
vs. The Counter-Coulters
# # #