North Archives - February 09, 2010
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Key to Real Reform
By Robert Maynard
We are putting an unheard
of amount of power in the hands of a small political class to affect just
about every aspect of our lives. Is it any wonder that the end result is
a political leadership that will do almost anything to stay in power? We
have all heard of the arrogance of political officials who make laws for
the rest of us but do not abide by those same laws. The political class
has come to see itself as above the common citizen. They wield a degree
of power that would have been the envy of ancient Roman Caesars. If we
are really serious about reforming this mess, we need to take a serious
look at our own role in enabling this behavior. In order to ensure that
we have an ethical government, we must start with ensuring ethical citizens.
On what criteria do we base our decision to support a candidate for political
office? Is it character and a commitment to support the fundamental principles
of government, or a promise to "bring home the bacon"? If it is the latter,
then we are contributing to the problem and will never see real reform
Through the Looming Deficit
By John McClaughry
point: the legislature can shave spending here and there, raise minor taxes
and fees here and there, and maybe - maybe - close this year's huge budget
deficit. That's called muddling through.
What Vermont really needs
is a bold strategy to shrink the size and cost of government to what our
overcharged taxpayers can afford, and stimulate our economy to wealth producing
growth. There won't be much of that this year.
of Alpha, Not Much Numeric
By Martin Harris
such (annual) class was presented (no real-time student questions allowed)
by Vermont Governor James Douglas early last month as his gubernatorial
swan song. His language was heavy on budget matters in alpha terms but,
for the single-largest budget item, light on the essential proof demonstrable
in numeric terms. That budget item is public education, whose own alpha-type
leaders have remarkably pursued a strategy of increasing staff numbers
in the context of decreasing student numbers, so that taxpayers in the
year MMXI will be paying some $14,000 per pupil in school taxes, direct
and indirect, to fund a pupil-teacher ratio of 11 to 1 and a pupil-staff
ratio of 5-to-1, both the lowest in the Nation. The alpha politician proposed
a modest increase in p/t ratio to 13-to1 and posited a cost saving of "as
much as $100 million", but without the numerics to make that thesis at
all convincing. Hereís the math. Itís better than he says.
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is) reaping the consequences of the destruction of traditional education
by the Dewey-Kilpatrick experimentalist philosophy."
-- from an extensive commentary
on public education, made in March, 1958, by Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover
(often called the "father of the atomic submarine")
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Just Good, But Great News
Caledonia Record Editorial,
February 2, 2010
Developer Bill Stenger's
announcement that a biotech firm will locate in Newport is good news that
couldn't come at a better time. The $50 million plant with 200 new, high-paying
jobs is an economic shot in the arm in an area that has traditionally had
the highest rate of unemployment in the state. ...
The state impetus has come
from Gov. Jim Douglas. He and Bill Stenger traveled to Seoul, Korea, in
October to seal the deal to bring AnC Bio VT to northern Vermont. Gov.
Douglas has continued Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie's international networking efforts,
a hallmark of Dubie's tenure that has borne fruit from Cuba and Canada.
Burlington Telecom Not Financially Viable
From WCAX, February 5, 2010
It's laid out through most
of the city and Burlington Telecom's fiber optic network now provides cable,
internet and telephone service to approximately 4,800 city residents and
Few would argue that Burlington
has built a world class state-of-the-art system, but there's one problem--
they can't afford it and the Blue Ribbon Committee says there aren't many
viable options available.
Fatal Crash Revives Fetus Debate
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington
Free Press, February 4, 2010
If her story sounds familiar,
it is eerily similar to that of Patricia Blair, a Bennington woman who
lost her six-month twin fetuses in a car crash in August. Blair was outraged
to learn that charges against the other driver in her crash would not relate
to the deaths of her fetuses. She is fighting for changes in state law
that would allow that.
Cardinal said she remembered
hearing Blairís story last summer and remembers thinking at the time that
the fetuses should count. Now, she is joining Blair in the call for change.
State Worker in $500,000 Rip-Off
By Thatcher Moats, Times
Argus, February 2, 2010
A former state employee is
suspected of taking nearly $500,000 of state money that was destined for
needy Vermonters and diverting it into private bank accounts controlled
by her and her family, according to papers filed in a Burlington federal
court on Friday.
Kathy Lantagne, a 19-year
veteran of the Agency of Human Services, is the subject of a federal investigation
into possible embezzlement, bank fraud, money laundering, mail and wire
fraud, and conspiracy, according to the court papers.
Taxes And Sob Stories
Caledonia Record Editorial,
February 2, 2010
The two certainties of time
immemorial are death and taxes, and since time immemorial, there has been
a debate over what the third certainty would be if there were one. Some
think that the third would be dirty politics, others prophecy of the imminent
approach of Doomsday, still others even more absurd campaigns than the
one to change the name of fish to "sea kittens" by People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals (PETA).
Our suggestion is death,
taxes, and sob stories. Every time our legislators suggest cutting or trimming
entitlement programs, the sob job begins. Stories are told about hardships
and the suffering that will befall the grandmas, the orphans, the homeless,
the mentally uncertain, and 50 other victims of the newly hard-hearted
And Fairness: Vermont's School Finance System
Valley News Editorial, February
The main problem with Vermont's
system of school funding is that it is opaque. Taxpayers very often don't
understand it, and local school officials (let alone journalists) struggle
to explain it to them. The result is confusion that undermines the worthy
goals that underpin the system. Ironically, much of what makes it hard
to understand stems from an attempt to ensure fairness.
That attempt was mandated
by the Vermont Supreme Court in a 1996 decision. In that case, Brigham
v. State of Vermont, the court ruled that the then-existing system of school
funding was unconstitutional and concluded that the state must provide
"substantially equal access" to education for all Vermont students, regardless
of where they live. In other words, no one should suffer an educational
disadvantage because of an accident of geography. That seemed to us then,
and now, to be a legally, socially and morally justified precept, and one
that has been supported by rulings in other states.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
By James Kirchick, Commentary,
If 2001 was the year when
international terrorism hit American soil, then 2009 was the year when
Americans became the targets of domestic terrorism. In November, Army Major
Nidal Malik Hasan, born in Virginia to Palestinian Muslim parents, killed
13 and wounded 30 in his one-man attack on fellow soldiers at Fort Hood
in Texas. The massacre, which Senator Joseph Lieberman properly labeled
"the most destructive terrorist act to be committed on American soil since
9/11," capped a year of terrorist plots or conspiracies inside the United
States, most of which were stopped by law enforcement in their planning
stages. The notable fact about all these cases is that they are examples
of so-called homegrown terrorismómeaning that they were planned by individuals
either born or raised in the United States and executed without significant
assistance from overseas networks.
Rules Iran? Iranian Ambitions
By Reza Molavi & K.
Luisa Gandolfo, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2010
The tenth presidential elections
represented a new chapter in Iran's intense intra-elite dispute. No one
outside or inside Iran can predict the ultimate outcome. One thing has
become abundantly clear: Ahmadinejad's reliance on paramilitary forces
to support him in bringing about velayat- e ummat (guardianship
of the people) has given way to Khomeini's doctrine of velayat-e faqih
(guardianship of the clergy), the doctrinal principle on which the
current system rests. In this context, Khamenei is not obliged to uphold
international norms of human rights but to help erect a pure and authentic
Islamic government while conforming Shari'a to Iran's political and social
setting. The removal of Masha'i demonstrated, once more, that the real
decision-maker in Iran is the supreme leader and not the president. Blaming
Iran's problems on Ahmadinejad would lead us in a dangerous direction by
suggesting that those problems will go away when he is finally driven out
Intelligence Report: A Defensive Buildup in the Gulf
By George Friedman, Strategic
Forecasters, February 1, 2010
In the end, Obama has followed
the Bush strategy on Iran ó make vague threats, try to build a coalition,
hold Israel off with vague promises, protect the Arabian Peninsula, and
wait ó to the letter. But along with this announcement, we would expect
to begin to see a series of articles on the offensive deployment of U.S.
forces, as good defensive posture requires a strong offensive option.
Officials Warn Attempted Al Qaeda Attack Months Away
From Fox News, February
Al Qaeda can be expected
to attempt an attack on the United States in the next three to six months,
senior U.S. intelligence officials told Congress Tuesday.
The terrorist organization
is deploying operatives to the United States to carry out new attacks from
inside the country, including "clean" recruits with a negligible trail
of terrorist contacts, CIA Director Leon Panetta said. Al Qaeda is also
inspiring homegrown extremists to trigger violence on their own, Panetta
'Free' Falling Economy
From Investorís Business
Daily, February 01, 2010
The latest index of economic
freedom shows America falling fast, being ranked for the first time as
"mostly free." We've fallen behind Canada, and it's look out below. Our
accelerating descent into a command-and-control economy with government
pulling the strings is taking its toll.
The Heritage Foundation's
2010 index of leading economic indicators shows that the land of the free
is only mostly free, falling to eighth in the world from sixth last year,
now sandwiched between Canada and Denmark.
By Michael Rubin, Middle
East Forum, February 1, 2010
After the Iraqi parliament
banned 500 candidates from contesting the March 7 national elections, Vice
President Joseph Biden rushed to Baghdad to urge Iraqi political leaders
to reconsider. While the ban has fueled U.S. cynicism about Iraqi democracy,
such cynicism is unwarranted, especially now.
The Iraqi parliament's decision
did not wipe out Sunni candidates. Even the majority Shia lists are multi-sectarian.
Iraqis say the controversy is really about rule-of-law and sovereignty
issues. Across the ethnic and sectarian spectrum ó and even in senior Iraqi
military circles ó Iraqis consider it likely that there will be a Baathist
coup attempt following U.S. withdrawal, even if they disagree about its
chances of success. Indeed, it is no coincidence the current defense minister
is among those banned by parliament.
# # #
Begins: Cash Strapped Cities Begin To Crumble
By John Carney, Business
Insider, February 4, 2010
Our nascent economic recovery
may come too late to save many American cities from bankruptcy, which in
turn will deal heavy losses to municipal bond investors and the companies
that insure munis.
The latest fright comes from
Harrisburg, the capital of Pennsylvania. The city is considering seeking
bankruptcy protectionóas well as tax hikes and asset salesóto address $68
million in debt service payments due this year.
Necessary to Cover Incorrect Climate Basics of IPCC
By Dr. Tim Ball, Canada
Free Press, February 2, 2010
Canada and the US announced
new targets for carbon reduction that are completely unnecessary. It is
madness and ultimately destructive to western society but what the perpetrators
want. Despite exposure of the complete corruption of the science they continue
to assume CO2 is a problem. UN Climate chief Yves
De Boer said, "whatís happened, itís unfortunate, itís
bad, itís wrong, but I donít think it has damaged the basic science."
British Climate Secretary
Miliband said, "Itís right that thereís rigour applied
to all the reports about climate change, but I think it would be wrong
that when a mistake is made itís somehow used to undermine the overwhelming
picture thatís there," Itís not one mistake but a complete fabrication
of every aspect of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)
Reports. In addition, science is only correct when accurate predictions
are made and the IPCC have been wrong in every single one. Milibandís thinking
helps explain why the UK is on the brink of economic disaster and needs
a diversion. It is said, despite the disclosures, because the objective
of eliminating fossil fuels and destroying industrial economies is still
Bailouts Created More Risk in System
From NewsMax, January 31,
The government's response
to the financial meltdown has made it more likely the United States will
face a deeper crisis in the future, an independent watchdog at the Treasury
The problems that led to
the last crisis have not yet been addressed, and in some cases have grown
worse, says Neil Barofsky, the special inspector general for the trouble
asset relief program, or TARP. The quarterly report to Congress was released
Obama's Phony Deficit Numbers
By Dick Morris, February
President Obama is being
disingenuous when he says that the budget deficit he faced "when I walked
in the door" of the White House was $1.3 trillion. He went on to say that
he only increased it to $1.4 trillion in 2009 and was raising it to $1.6
trillion in 2010.
Congressman Joe Wilson might
have said "you lie," but weíll settle for "you distort."
(As Mark Twain once said,
there are three kinds of lies: "lies, damn lies, and statistics.")
Here are the facts...
Submits Largest Budget in History, But is Portrayed as Fiscal Conservative
Defends Ruling on Finance
Liptak, New York Times, February 3, 2010
Justice Thomas said the First
Amendmentís protections applied regardless of how people chose to assemble
to participate in the political process.
"If 10 of you got together
and decided to speak, just as a group, youíd say you have First Amendment
rights to speak and the First Amendment right of association," he said.
"If you all then formed a partnership to speak, youíd say we still have
that First Amendment right to speak and of association."
"But what if you put yourself
in a corporate form?" Justice Thomas asked, suggesting that the answer
must be the same.
Majority of Dems View Socialism Positively
By David Paul Kuhn, Real
Clear Politics, February 4, 2010
The Gallup Poll reports that
a majority of Democrats, 53%, have a "positive" image of socialism, which
includes independents who lean toward the blue party.
Only 17 percent of Republican
and GOP-leaners hold socialism in a positive light. In total, more than
one-third of Americans, 36%, have a positive image of socialism.
Also viewing socialism positively:
61% of liberals, 39% of moderates and 20% of conservatives.
Note from TNR: At
the time of publication this article was missing from the RCP website.
For a preview of its contents, one can find part of the article reprinted
is Not Ungovernable
Jay Cost, Real Clear Politics, , February 8, 2010
the President won a decisive victory in 2008, his congressional majority
in both chambers depends entirely upon members whose constituents voted
for John McCain. In fact, the President's election 16 months ago was one
of the most polarizing in recent history. This remains a divided country,
which creates complications in a system such as ours. The President should
have recognized this, and governed with a view to building a broad coalition.
But he has not.
is not ungovernable. Barack Obama has so far failed to govern it.
# # #