North Archives - January 15, 2008
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By Robert Maynard
Last week in an article entitled
"A New Dark Age?", I explored the notion presented in Mark Steyn’s book
"America Alone: the End of The World As We Know It". According to Mr. Steyn,
the combination of a demographically prolific Islam, coupled with their
strong cultural confidence, presents a major long term threat to a western
civilization that is in demographic decline and is paralyzed by self doubt.
He considers the cause already lost in Europe and sees America as standing
alone in defending the values of a civilization that brought us the notion
of human rights, technological progress and unprecedented economic development.
This is a battle of demographic numbers and will, which could result in
a coming dark age if America is to lose it. As Steyn points out, while
the developed world used to have a 30% to 15% edge in demographic numbers
as a percentage of total world population, the numbers are now about equal
at 20% each. The trend is tilting even more in favor of radical Islam as
time goes by. This picture does tend to look a little bleak until one accounts
for other demographic trends not explored my Mr. Steyn.
and Unity": Enough of the Latter, More of the Former
By Tom Licata
Having just watched the Governor’s
"State of the State" address and the Democrats' response, the coming gridlock
in this legislative session will not have the deleterious effect that it
may appear to be bringing. This is because most of the damage has
already been done in prior sessions.
Over time, tax revenues are
determined by economic and productivity growth. Most of Vermont's
Legislators, while our Governor holds his finger in the dike to temper
their tantrums - are like children - in that they will continue to go on
kicking and screaming, refusing to accept this reality. Government
fiscal responsibility requires not only compassion and a sense of fairness,
but also an understanding of personal responsibility and an acceptance
of the human sprit's thirst for freedom. But, this is anathema to
the collectivists’ sprit. Without freedom’s thirst, this government will
continue to produce its demoralized dependents.
Trust-Funder Economy III
By Martin Harris
gentrification also showed its economic power in northern New England:
all three States, once solidly conservative, frugal, minimal-governance
places with a popular culture of little spending and less talking, are
now solidly "Blue" with soaring levels of taxation and regulation, a parallel
pattern in property values, and a resulting departure of the less-well-endowed
locals in response to the decline in both economic and social factors as
the gentrification pattern proceeds. Except for the fact that the houses
are a lot farther apart, what has happened in Maine, Vermont, and most
recently New Hampshire is indistinguishable from what happened in Georgetown.
There, it was at the time openly referred to as a socio-economic revolution:
using more recent international language, it might be called a ‘cleansing’.
Basic principle: if you have the wherewithal to buy in and raise the cost
of living, the locals won’t be able to stay.
# # #
"Attempts to prevent
global climate change from occurring are ultimately futile, and constitute
a tragic misallocation of resources that would be better spent on humanity’s
real and pressing problems."-- Key Quote from Scientists’ Letter
to UN – in The National Post, Dec. 13, 2007
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
The Silverware ... the Legislature is Back in Session
From VermontTiger.com, January
It is early and so we hear
"I am going to
work hard, as I have in the past, to find common ground," the governor
Sure. Meanwhile, back on planet
Montpelier, real life will again prevail. Water will not run uphill
and Chuck Norris will not become a pacifist. Still, to borrow some
ecclesiastical language: Things that should be done, will not be
done; and things that should not be done, will be done. Already, Senator
Peter Shumlin -- arguably the most powerful Democrat in a heavily Democratic
legislature -- is
saying that there is no hope for property tax relief or
reform of the way the state funds education.
"We agree on a lot of
major priorities," Shumlin said. "I think he is going to find a Legislature
willing to work with him to get the job done."
Stand For Open Government
Caledonian Record Editorial,
January 08, 2008
Advocates for secrecy cite
Secretary of State Deb Markowitz's argument that, "Decisions should be
made outside political influence." Her argument is not persuasive. Secret
sessions prevent citizens from judging whether the deliberations are free
of political influence. Without outside access to the deliberations, citizens
don't know if the deliberative process is free of prejudice.
flags fly concerning Campaign Finance bill
By Rob Roper, VT-GOP, January
If the campaign finance bill,
S.278, is passed by the Vermont Legislature as it is, a predicted result
is a Supreme Court battle that could end with the elimination of all campaign
finance regulation whatsoever.
Alan Gilbert of the ACLU
and Attorney James Bopp testified before the Senate Government Operations
Committee today. Gilbert cautioned, "You always have to consider your chance
of winning [another lawsuit]. If you bring a lawsuit and it goes against
you, you could actually make the situation worse."
Recent judgments by the Supreme
Court that further restrict government regulation in First Amendment cases
caused concern that S.278 could ultimately provide the platform for the
Court to eliminate governments’ ability to regulate political speech entirely.
Gilbert’s testimony followed
that of James Bopp, the attorney who argued and won the landmark First
Amendment case, Randall v. Sorrell, striking down Vermont’s previous campaign
finance law (Act 64) with its spending and contribution limits. Subsequently,
Bopp won another Supreme Court Case, Wisconsin Right to Life v FEC, striking
down as unconstitutional limits on electioneering communications. In the
case of this latest bill, Bopp told the committee, "S.278 is not complying
with the Constitution, but defying the Constitution."
Rob Roper, Chairman of the
Vermont Republican Party said, "The Democrats and VPIRG are essentially
teeing up another softball for the Roberts Court to knock out of the park."
Big Brother: "No Hands!"
From VermontTiger.com, January
Let’s put Efficiency Vermont
in perspective. They are taking after-tax dollars from every Vermonter
paying a utility bill and even more from businesses. They then redistribute
these dollars in the form of advice, which for the majority of people contributing
to their budget consists of: "buy some energy efficient bulbs, clean your
furnace filter, and don’t complain about the sneaky way we’re funded."
Every once in a while someone with a golden ticket lands the chocolate
factory tour and is rewarded with a comprehensive energy audit and solutions
to increase efficiency. While I’m certainly an advocate of efficiency,
I’m a little chagrined to know that I’m paying for someone else’s energy
audit. If a business or individual suspects that their 40 year-old blast
freezer needs updating it should be their responsibility to make the necessary
changes. We are officially sponsoring energy efficiency welfare in Vermont,
the obvious effect of which will be to distort the effect rational consumers
have on the market place.
Moderate Success OK, Too Much Success Bad
Caledonian Record Editorial,
January 09, 2008
House Speaker Gaye Symington
has decided a little bit of tax revenue from a moderately successful lottery
is just fine, but a lot of tax revenue from the lottery would be a very
Prebate Paradox: Wendy Wilton on Who Really Pays
From VermontTiger.com, January
Property tax adjustments,
or prebates, represent more than 10% of the Ed Fund's $1.238 billion expenditure,
according to the Ed Fund Outlook from the Joint Fiscal Office. In 2007
this money was sent to Vermont’s municipalities, rather than directly to
recipient taxpayers as part of Act 185. This created a controversy
about the privacy of tax bill information as the amount of the subsidy
is now printed on the tax bill for those who receive prebates. In
addition to the privacy issue, cost and fairness issues effecting taxpayers
should be addressed by the legislature.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Qaeda on the Ropes in Pakistan
By Ray Robison, The American
Thinker, January 11, 2008
Open tribal warfare in remote
areas of Pakistan has the potential of scoring a major success in the War
on Terror. As pointed out here
at AT yesterday, indicators point to the beginning of the civil
war between Taliban tribes predicted here at the American Thinker. Two
prominent leaders, Taliban chiefs find themselves at bloody conflict instigated
by al Qaeda operators. The fault line between al Qaeda allied Taliban and
MMA/Musharraf allied Taliban has ruptured.
While the outward appearance
of a civil war may be gloomy on purely humanistic terms, it is a positive
development when viewed for what it is: our enemies killing each other
off. If we look a little bit down the road, we can see the pros and cons.
The end state I predict by
the end of the year is a serious reduction of the power of the jihad block
in Pakistan as it tears itself apart, a strong alliance among the democratic
reformers and the military block, the serious reduction of the Afghanistan
conflict (after an up tick possibly) and the capture of at least a few
core al Qaeda leaders.
By Walid Phares, Human Events,
January 11, 2008
A few weeks ago, articles
published around the world reported that Hezbollah is undergoing two major
changes. Both portend greater violence from the Iranian-sponsored global
The first change is a shift
in leadership responsibilities. A report published initially in the Saudi
owned Sharq al Awsat said the office of Ayatollah Khomenei appointed deputy
secretary general Sheikh Naim Qassim as the new supreme commander of Hezbollah
forces and the personal representative of the Ayatollah in Lebanon. Sheikh
Hassan Nasrallah, according to this report remains as secretary general
of the organization. Sources said this change in control and command is
because of "differences in opinions" between Narsrallah and Qassim...
The second major change according
to these reports Hezbollah is a huge increase in annual budget funded by
Tehran. Hezbollah’s funding was elevated from $400 million US to
$1 billion. This ballistic leap would enable the organization to crush
any opponent inside Lebanon and engage in worldwide operations against
Western Democracies and Arab moderates. According to experts in Lebanon,
the $400 millions figure was enough to pay for hundreds of social centers
and thousands of salaries enough to insure a full control over the Shia
community, its representatives in Parliament and buy significant influence
inside the Sunni, Druze and particularly Christian community. One hundred
million dollars alone, could pay for the activities of movements opposed
to the Cedars Revolution and the democratically elected Government of Seniora.
Measure passes Iraqi Parliament
By Rick Moran, The American
Thinker, January 12, 2008
A measure designed to allow
thousands of Sunni Muslims who served under Saddam Hussein to regain their
employment in the Iraqi government has passed the parliament
today: ... Without a doubt, this is the most significant political
development in Iraq since the invasion. It was always first on the list
of demands made by Sunnis before any kind of reconciliation would be talked
about. And the American government had been pushing the measure for years.
The holdup had always been a lack of trust by Shias that Sunnis wouldn't
try to take over the government as well as a belief that those Baathists
guilty of war crimes or crimes against Iraqis should not be rewarded.
of Islamic Charity Are Convicted
By Dan Eggen, Washington
Post, January 12, 2008
Three former leaders of an
Islamic charity were convicted on federal tax and fraud charges in Boston
yesterday for using tax exemptions to hide support for religious militants
and alleged terrorists overseas.
We've Penetrated AQI -- But Apparently Not The American Media
From Captain’s Quarters,
January 12, 2008
At the same time that the
Iraqi National Assembly passed its long-awaited de-Ba'athification reform,
the security services have apparently cracked
al-Qaeda's organization in the country. Muslim World News, a Muslim
news agency in India, reports that the Iraqi Interior Ministry formed a
unit recently dedicated to attacking AQI and will shortly take out the
entire structure (via AJ
This certainly matches the
latest developments in Iraq. The US launched a major offensive this week
against AQI with an unprecedented use of airpower. That indicates a confidence
in intelligence that had mostly gone unnoticed in most media reports. The
US would have relied on infantry had it been less confident of the targeting
on AQI assets around Baghdad.
It's interesting that this
news got reported by an outfit called Muslim World News. So far,
I have not seen this in media outlets named Washington Post or the
York Times. The statement itself seems provocative enough to at least
have reported it here in the US, as it seems a lot more relevant here than
Appease Muslims, Attack Christians in West Bengal (India)
From News Post India, January
The BJP today alleged that
the CPI(M) in Kerala was "appeasing" the muslim community while it was
"attacking" the Christians. Party National Secretary Balbir Punj lashed
out at the CPI(M) state secretary Pinarayi Vijayan for lauding various
muslim organisations while flaying the church for not coming to the negotiating
table to discuss fears over reglious freedom for muslim students and other
provision of Kerala Education Rules (KER) norms.
# # #
I Am Not Using the R-word This Time
By Alan Reynolds, The Cato
Oil prices were rising before
each of those recessions, as Prof Hamilton rightly noted. That, in turn,
leads us back to that controversy with Mr Bernanke about whether it was
rising oil prices per se that caused recessions, or whether focusing too
much on energy prices rather than core inflation may have misled the Fed
into keeping interest rates too high for too long in, say, 1991 and 2000.
In 2007, by contrast, the Fed stopped chasing higher oil prices with higher
interest rates. As a result, the US embarked on a fascinating new experiment
in which oil prices and interest rates were moving in different directions
for a change.
If the emphasis on oil prices
in Prof Hamilton's 1983 study is correct, the US economy is likely to slip
into recession because of higher energy costs alone, regardless of what
the Fed does. If Mr Bernanke's 1997 study is right, timely reductions in
the Fed funds rate should avert such a recession. The bad news is that
if oil prices fall sharply this year, as I expect, we may not get a clear
answer to that old debate. The good news is that if both oil prices and
central bank interest rates are heading down, neither of the academic economists'
most reliable predictors will be signalling recession.
Real McCain Record
Obstacles in the Way
of Conservative Support
By Mark R. Levin, National
Review, January 11, 2008
There’s a reason some of
John McCain's conservative supporters avoid discussing his record. They
want to talk about his personal story, his position on the surge, his supposed
electability. But whenever the rest of his career comes up, the knee-jerk
reply is to characterize the inquiries as attacks.
The McCain domestic record
is a disaster. To say he fought spending, most particularly earmarks, is
to nibble around the edges and miss the heart of the matter.
Anticivilizing Influence on the West
By Reginald Firehammer,
Society and culture are influenced
by the dominant philosophy of any age, but the influence is indirect, and
there is always some lag between a dominant philosophical view of the intellectuals
and that same philosophical view permeating popular society, and as that
philosophy moves from the halls of academia to the popular press and media
and into the realm of the public schools and popular entertainment, it
is modified in ways that often make its origins difficult to see, which
is one reason for this series of articles.
It is my intention to show
how the philosophical ideas originating with Hume made their way into popular
society through each of these threads and also to show how each of these
threads reinforces these ideas in the others. While each of these threads
were related in their origin, they have come down to us as separate influences,
but have today largely merged. Psychology is used to determine teaching
methods, and the subjects being emphasized are mostly sociology and humanism,
and humanism uses the language of both sociology and psychology. Postmodernism
is taught in every school, only its called critical thinking and deconstruction.
All of these are couched in the language of PC Multiculturalism which is
just popularized cultural Marxism, and it was the cultural Marxists who
planned and foresaw all of this.
First Broken Promise
New York PostEditorial,
January 12, 2008
How about that Hillary Clinton:
She's already breaking her campaign promises - and she doesn't even have
her party's presidential nomination yet. Clinton yesterday reneged on her
vow to explain how she'll "pay for everything" she proposes when she pushed
a whopping $110 billion "economic stimulus" package - and offered no fund
source to underwrite its cost. ...
"I happen to think in running
a disciplined campaign - especially when it comes to fiscal responsibility,
which is what I'm trying to do - everything I propose, I have to pay for,"
she vowed. ...
Well, not every single proposal,
it turns out. ... There's a four-letter word for that kind of invisible-money
financing: D-E-B-T. (That, or hiking taxes - which she has promised to
do in other contexts, but is silent about on this one.) ... Clearly, Hillary's
plan is meant as one big pander, a way for her to buy votes, as key primaries
- e.g., South Carolina and Nevada - draw near. ... For now, however, consider
Clinton a real leader. When it comes to speedy backtracking on campaign
vows - even in such critical areas as fiscal responsibility - Hillary now
leads the pack.
By Neal McCluskey, The Cato
Today the No Child Left Behind
Act turns six, and even as President Bush and other supporters sing "Happy
Birthday," the time has come to blow out the candles on it for good. Since
NCLB's enactment in 2002, its supporters have been quick to credit it for
anything even resembling improvement in American education, whether upticks
in history knowledge (with which the law doesn't deal), or improved math
and reading scores. President Bush typified the whole always-declare-success
strategy at an NCLB birthday bash Monday in Chicago when, at the outset
of his speech, he declared simply, "I know No Child Left Behind has worked."
Like the president, supporters
ultimately point to modest overall increases in the mathematics and reading
scores of the National Assessment of Educational Progress, as well as decreasing
black-white "achievement gap" numbers, to support claims of NCLB's effectiveness.
And overall scores on NAEP — the so-called "Nation's Report Card" — have
indeed generally inched up under NCLB while achievement gaps have decreased.
However, these superficial
statistics in no way prove that NCLB has worked.
For one thing, so many reforms
have been implemented at the same time as NCLB — school-choice programs,
merit pay, smaller schools — that it's impossible to know how much NCLB
has been responsible for anything. But suppose NCLB could get credit. An
objective analysis suggests that the law is probably worse than the unimpressive
status quo it replaced. NAEP reading and mathematics scores were generally
inching up faster in the years immediately prior to NCLB than they have
since, and achievement gaps were closing more quickly. In addition,
recent results from two international exams — the Program for International
Student Assessment and the Program on International Reading Literacy Survey
— showed U.S. scores either stagnating or declining. Oh, and spending on
NCLB programs has increased by over 40 percent since 2001, rising from
$17 billion to over $24 billion.
Candidates Go Supply-Side
Big-bang tax cuts are
finally getting their due on the campaign trail
By Larry Kudlow, National
Review, January 11, 2008
The New Hampshire primary
may not have confirmed who’s going to win the GOP nomination (or the Democratic
nomination for that matter). But it just may have told us where voting
Republicans stand on the economy and supply-side policy. Exit polls in
New Hampshire reveal that the most important issue for Republican voters
is the economy at 31 percent, trailed by the war in Iraq at 24 percent,
illegal immigration at 23 percent, and terrorism at 18 percent.
Overall, 54 percent of New
Hampshire voters said that reducing the budget deficit is the highest priority
for the next president, while 44 percent believe in cutting taxes. And
it’s from here that an interesting split develops between Sen. John McCain
and Gov. Mitt Romney. While McCain leads Romney 41 percent to 21 percent
on the economy, McCain is the voters’ deficit-cutter of choice while Romney
is the voters’ tax-cutter of choice.
Democrats' Fairy Tale
By William Kristol, The
New York Times, January 14, 2008
When President Bush announced
the surge of troops ... Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Democratic Congressional
leaders predicted failure. Obama ... told Larry King that he didn't believe
additional U.S. troops would "make a significant dent in the sectarian
violence that's taking place there." Then in April, the Senate majority
leader, Harry Reid, asserted that "this war is lost, and this surge is
not accomplishing anything." In September, Clinton told Gen. David Petraeus
that his claims of progress in Iraq required a "willing suspension of disbelief."
Yesterday, on "Meet the Press,"
Hillary Clinton claimed that the Iraqis are changing their ways in part
because of the Democratic candidates' "commitment to begin withdrawing
our troops in January of 2009." So the Democratic Party, having proclaimed
that the war is lost and having sought to withdraw U.S. troops, deserves
credit for any progress that may have been achieved in Iraq.
That is truly a fairy tale.
# # #