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True North Archives - February 19, 2008
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A State of Denial
By Robert Maynard

Our economic crisis is brought about by an excessive amount of spending, taxing and regulating. This iron triangle of big momma government strangles far too much of creative entrepreneurial activity which a growing and vibrant economy sorely needs. The real problem is a mentality that sees government as the solution to every possible social problem. Even so-called "conservative" politicians talk about growing our economy so that we can afford more of the social engineers’ pet programs. The question of whether government is really the best instrument to deal with highly complex social problems is never raised, much less debated. The only question is whether the current direction is affordable.

It is time to step back and re-frame the whole debate. Not only is our current direction unaffordable, but it is unlikely to solve complex social problems, in fact, it is more likely to make them worse. The over spending and fiscal train wreck we are headed toward is merely symptomatic of a more fundamental problem. We are squeezing out Civil Society by allowing government to usurp the social roles that are more properly a function of the voluntary institutions of the private sector. In pointing this out, I am not making an anti-government rant. It is a simple fact that government is a blunt instrument and is competent in addressing a limited number of areas. We have strayed FAR beyond those areas in which government is competent and are reaping the fruits of straying so far.

Romancing the Grass: 
How many Vermonters get to stay and enjoy the Simple Life?
By James Ehlers

Given the number of people interested in the quaint notion of agriculture, however, we should take a closer look at the futility of getting too carried away with the romanticism of the "simple life" of yesteryear. The agricultural or carbohydrate economy of the past needs land. At Vermont’s height of agricultural production, roughly 80 percent of the 5.9 million acres of the landscape was farmed. Today, it is about 20 percent, just the reverse.

The Vermont population in 2006 was 623,908, give-or-take, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Now, according to the experts in this field of energy, most notably Huber and Mills, the rural American family of four of the past needed 40 acres to subsist—forest to cut for fuel, fields to farm, fields for pasture, and fields to grow more fuel. Doing the math:

  • 4.72 million acres (80 percent of 5.9 million) divided by 40 acres equals 118,000 forty-acre plots available for average-size families (4 people).
  • 623,908 divided by 4 (the family value used above) equals 155,977 or the number of plots necessary.
A 37,977 plot deficit results, and that assumes planting and putting to pasture almost all of the state but mountain tops and swamp bottoms. So who leaves?

Would You Like a Fig Leaf with that Latte?
By Martin Harris

Recent official studies, documenting the breadth and depth of the anti-business climate in Vermont, are by now sitting on the desks of corporate-placement/site selection consultants everywhere, and may well be the cause of the new, shorter, "dwell-time" during which companies are willing to try to satisfy the participants in the now-typical Vermont planning and zoning process before abandoning the effort and diverting their capital-investment budgets elsewhere; we don’t know and they won’t say. Instead, Starbuck’s, for example, merely blames it all on a corporate retrenchment in long-term store-opening strategy and a new focus on customer "experience" instead. It would, indeed, be highly improbable for them to say, directly, of the Vermont P&Z process, "S**w this, we’re outta here".

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This Week’s Mail Bag

The Racial Policies of Obama’s Church

Media darling Barack Obama seems likely to get the Democratic nod for president this year. But what the major media isn’t telling us is that Obama’s church in Chicago, Trinity United Church of Christ, endorses the virulent racial policies of Nation of Islam leader Louis Farakhan. Farakhan has repeatedly made hate-filled statements attacking Jews, whites, America, and homosexuals.

Tucker Carlson of MSNBC described Trinity as having a "racially exclusive theology that contradicts the basic tenets of Christianity".

Americans may come to a different view of Obama when they consider what his ties to Trinity United Church tell us about his true beliefs and character.

Chuck Hurne

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"Based on strikingly irrational beliefs and emotions, modern liberals relentlessly undermine the most important principles on which our freedoms were founded, … Like spoiled, angry children, they rebel against the normal responsibilities of adulthood and demand that a parental government meet their needs from cradle to grave." 

-- Dr. Lyle H. Rossiter, Jr., a forensic psychiatrist, explains the madness of liberalism in his new book The Liberal Mind: The Psychological Causes of Political Madness

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Sign the Petition to Send ‘em Packing!
From the Vermont Republican Party

It costs $56,000 taxpayer dollars a day to keep the Vermont legislature in session. Yesterday, for one example, the Senate and House spent that $56,000 on decriminalizing pot and ramming through an incumbent protection measure masquerading as campaign finance "reform." Clearly, these people have too much time on their hands!

Please sign this petition in support H.R.22 & H.811, establishing a shorter, fixed, 90 day session for the Vermont legislature. This would save $1,000,000 in 2008 alone, and the money used to help low income Vermonters with their home heating bills.

Mr. Cate. You Are Right. Now Do Something About It!
Caledonian Record Editorial, 2/11/08

Education Commissioner Richard Cate, in reviewing New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) tests of 3rd- through 8th-grade Vermont students, stated bluntly that Vermont's public schools aren't meeting the needs of more than half of their students. His admission included the fact that NECAP results have remained flat for several years and that underperforming students aren't doing any better while above average students are bored.

Who You Calling A Tax Raiser?
From, February 15, 2008

With no money to spend (they blew it last payday), and a long wish-list of things they want to buy, the troops in Montpelier are getting surly.  Legislative leaders are accusing the administration of raising taxes by stealth:

Shumlin, Symington, and Janus
Caledonian Record Editorial, February 15, 2008

The Democratic leadership in Montpelier seems to have discovered and fallen in love with the term "déjà vu." It means "already seen," and it usually signifies the dawning realization that we have seen, or we have done, or we have visited something previously. That describes Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin's and House Speaker Gaye Symington's stubborn return to issues that were settled in the past. Right now, they are fixated on reversing the governor's vetoes, last year, of campaign financing and energy efficiency, and on repealing the two-tier vote on school budgets that remain within the mandated formula of the inflation rate plus one percent or face a revote on the amount in excess of it.

Tax Cut in Jeopardy due to Uncertainty about Lottery Lease
By Nancy Remsen, Free Press, February 13, 2008

Members of the House tax-writing committee said Tuesday they didn't see how they could support cuts to the statewide property tax rates next year without more concrete information about a proposal to lease the state lottery, which is the way the Douglas administration would pay for the tax cuts… The Douglas administration has never considered leasing the lottery without legislative approval, Reardon said later. "It was a significant enough transaction we felt we just should involve the Legislature."

Where Did The Money Go? We Spent It
From, February 12, 2008

Just about everyone in the Vermont legislature -- in the administration, too, for that matter -- is old enough to remember the last recession and even the one before that.  But perhaps they thought there would never be another; that the good times were here to stay.  On the other hand, they may have realized that we'd see hard times again but decided, "the hell with it, let's spend it now; we'll figure something out."

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Winning in Afghanistan
By Ray Robison, The American Thinker, February 11, 2008

Another top NATO general is going on the record about our success in Afghanistan, though you are unlikely to hear about such things from the mainstream media that prefer a narrative of failure.

Last week I reported that comments from Army Gen. Dan McNeill, the U.S. commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan went nearly unreported in the US media. The General claimed that the rise in violence in Afghanistan was not an indication of Taliban resurgence but of increasing NATO aggressiveness. In short, that we are winning, albeit there are challenges ahead. There is no need to detail the challenges here because the liberal media works overtime to do that anyway.

Russia on the March: The Return of the Red Square Parades
By Ariel Cohen, Ph.D., The Heritage Foundation, February 11, 2008

As Yogi Berra once said, "This is déjà vu all over again." On May 9, heavy military equipment will once again roll down Moscow's Red Square for the Victory Day military parade. Tanks, missiles, and 6,000 troops will be joined overhead by Su-27 and MiG-29 fighter aircraft and military helicopters. The last time Moscow saw such a display of military hardware on Red Square was in November 1990, before the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Iran's Real Threat
By Rt. Hon. Lord Waddington, Human Events, February 13, 2008

Since the 1979 Islamic Revolution, the Iranian regime has been the principal state sponsor of terrorism across the globe, with innocent civilians in London, Berlin, and Paris, and even as far as Buenos Aires, Beirut, and the Horn of Africa the victims. Since the Coalition ousted the Taliban in Afghanistan and took control of Iraq, Iranian-make weapons have been responsible for a major part of British and U.S. armed forces’ deaths in Iraq, and Iranian-sponsored insurgents under orders from Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, have been instrumental in sowing sectarian discord and strife costing countless Iraqi lives.

Iran’s mullahs have also been the main obstacle to peace in the Middle East and Lebanon; and now in 2008 Khomeini’s legacy of terror sponsorship continues with radical Palestinian and Lebanese groups Hamas and Hizballah still receiving funds and ideological counsel from Tehran’s theocratic dictatorship.

Defense Spending Crisis
By W. Thomas Smith, Jr., Human Events, February 12, 2008

The first duty of government, as Adam Smith wrote in 1776, is defense which can only be accomplished by means of a military force. Our federal government is Constitutionally charged "to provide for the common defense." Yet that essential function is literally on the verge of collapse, descending into a proverbial black hole of debt, skyrocketing costs, poor planning, Beltway politics, and wartime wear-and-tear.

And millions -- many on the government dole and their political heroes who champion abstract "change" -- are ignoring the descent, mindless of what the end result will mean for us and our children's future.

Though our military personnel are presently dominating the battlefield in all corners, their ability to continue to do so is no longer a "given." In fact, the American military force-structure is so broken, our front-line air-superiority fighters are literally falling out of the sky. Pilots have been killed. Entire Air Force fighter fleets have been grounded. And airmen have been cut from the force just to pay some of the bills.

Analysis of Muslim Brotherhood's General Strategic Goals for North America Memorandum
By Pentagon Joint Staff analyst Stephen Coughlin

The following is a brief analysis of a Muslim Brotherhood document entered into evidence in the U.S. v Holy Land Foundation trial (Trial) that the U.S. Justice Department is currently prosecuting in Federal Court. Analysis is based on this document as well as other publicly available documents. ...

The Memorandum expressly recognizes the Muslim Brotherhood (Ikkwan) as the controlling element. For example, the first authority identified as the basis of the Memorandum is the Muslim Brotherhood:

  • The general strategic goal of the Group in America which was approved by the Shura Council and the Organizational Conference for the year 1987 in "Enablement of Islam in North America, meaning: establishing the effective and stable Islamic Movement led by the Muslim Brotherhood which adopts Muslims’ causes domestically and globally, and which works to expand the observant Muslim base, aims at unifying and directing Muslims’ efforts, presents Islam as a civilization alternative, and supports the global Islamic State wherever it is."

Michael Ledeen, Faster, Please!, February 13, 2008

Imad Mughniyah has reportedly gone to his virgins. I say "reportedly" because you never really know with him. He has changed his appearance in the past, even, I am told, his fingerprints, and is altogether capable of feigning his death. As Tom Jocelyn has tirelessly reported, he was in cahoots with al Qaeda, and moved between Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Iraq. I have long believed he was the key Iranian operative in Iraq, and his documented contacts with Zarqawi show that.

No surprise that he was in Damascus when destiny apparently claimed him. Hezbollah was a joint Iranian-Syrian operation in which the Iranians ran the organization and Syria provided the base, and logistical support. As I was the first to report, he flew with Iranian President Ahmadi-Nezhad to Damascus for high-level meetings with Bashar Assad and key Syrian military and intelligence officers a while back. So he had very high standing among the terror masters.

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From Elsewhere

1998 Redux
Ken Fisher, Forbes, February 25, 2008

The worrywarts seek a parallel to today's market and think they see it in 1930: credit crunch, rising unemployment, financial institutions in trouble. So we must be in for a ferocious bear market. I seek a parallel and find it only ten years ago. And that makes me bullish.

Early 1998 saw financial crises eerily similar to today's and a lot of hand-wringing about institutions collapsing and setting off a domino chain of other collapses. But guess what? The S&P 500 was up 28% that year.

McCain's Challenge to Obama

Hope, my friends, is a powerful thing. I can attest to that better than many, for I have seen men’s hopes tested in hard and cruel ways that few will ever experience. And I stood astonished at the resilience of their hope in the darkest of hours because it did not reside in an exaggerated belief in their individual strength, but in the support of their comrades, and their faith in their country.

My hope for our country resides in my faith in the American character, the character which proudly defends the right to think and do for ourselves, but perceives self-interest in accord with a kinship of ideals, which, when called upon, Americans will defend with their very lives.

To encourage a country with only rhetoric rather than sound and proven ideas that trust in the strength and courage of free people is not a promise of hope. It is a platitude.

Conservatism is Dead; Long Live Conservatism?
By Selwyn Duke, American Thinker, February, 4 2008

Perhaps one reason we're losing the culture war is that it's easier to convince people to try new liberal mistakes than retain old liberal mistakes that have been tried and found wanting.  Regardless, we will continue losing unless we change our thinking radically.

Wars are not won by being defensive.  Yet conservatives are seldom anything but, because they've been trained to mistake defense for offense.  When 13 states voted to ban faux marriage in 2004, some proclaimed it a great victory for conservatism.  But it only was so if the conservatism you subscribe to merely involves maintenance of a liberal status quo, for it was a successful defensive action, not an offensive one.  Who was proposing the societal change to which the vote was a response?  The left was.  What kind of change was it?  One that would move us in the liberal direction.

So it is always.  We play defense when, instead of striving to eliminate hate-crime laws, we merely fight proposals to make "transgendered" a protected category; when we accept the Federal Department of Education and simply use it to effect "conservative" education reform (read: No Child Left Behind Act); when we simply try to ensure that the separation of church and state ruling is applied in "conservative" ways; when we combat the tax-and-spend crowd by not taxing but then spending; and when we preach against illegal immigration while accepting a culture-rending legal immigration regime.

To Stimulate the Economy, Liberate It
Yaron Brook,, February, 14 2008

While some in Washington are quibbling about the details of the economic stimulus package, nearly everyone agrees with its basic idea: that our ailing economy needs Uncle Sam to play doctor and hand out some $150 billion in consumer spending money. But this sort of government intervention is not the cure for our economic troubles. It is the cause.

To understand why, we must first recognize that the key economic activity that causes growth is not consumer spending but production.

Related: Trading Down

Democrats' Health Plan Not So Harmless
By Benjamin Zycher, Investor's Business Daily, February 14, 2008

Ostensibly, the Democratic candidates recognize the importance of private insurance options, and the proposals add a Medicare-like government insurance option to provide enhanced competition driven by supposedly lower administrative costs.

The larger reality is very different: The government option would crush competition and render meaningless the Democratic promise to preserve choice. That is because the proposals would lead inexorably to a single-payer (government) system of health insurance in which private coverage would become extinct.

Related: The Cooper Concerns

Obama’s Global Tax Proposal Up for Senate Vote
By Cliff Kincaid Accuracy in Media February 12, 2008

Senator Joe Biden, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, has not endorsed either Senator Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton in the presidential race. But on Thursday, February 14, he is trying to rush Obama's "Global Poverty Act" (S.2433) through his committee. The legislation would commit the U.S. to spending 0.7 percent of gross national product on foreign aid, which amounts to a phenomenal 13-year total of $845 billion over and above what the U.S. already spends.  ...

The legislation itself requires the President "to develop and implement a comprehensive strategy to further the United States foreign policy objective of promoting the reduction of global poverty, the elimination of extreme global poverty, and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by one-half the proportion of people worldwide, between 1990 and 2015, who live on less than $1 per day."

The bill defines the term "Millennium Development Goals" as the goals set out in the United Nations Millennium Declaration, General Assembly Resolution 55/2 (2000).

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