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True North Archives - February 24, 2009
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A Letter to the Vermont Legislature from VMAC (pdf)
By the VMAC Board

A must read letter from our friends at the "Vermont Marriage Advisory Council" to Vermont Legislators spelling out the well documented problems associated with weakening our definition of marriage.

The Curse of Diocletian
By John McClaughry

It's been around for 1700 years, and it afflicts us yet today. It's not a natural calamity, like herpes, but a man-made calamity. It's transmitted by ignorant or venal politicians eager to curry favor with certain constituencies. It's called the Curse of Diocletian....…

But the Curse of Diocletian endures. It erupted in Montpelier again last week in the form of a bill (S.89) to impose retail price controls on milk. This nitwit scheme, cosponsored by 16 Democrats, is the handiwork of Senate President Peter Shumlin and especially Sen. Bobby Starr (Essex-Orleans), surely the most determined advocate of dairy price fixing in modern Vermont history.

By Martin Harris

There are two definitions for "lulu" in the Webster’s Dictionary: one is the Civil-War-era meaning  of "any remarkable or outstanding person or thing" and the other is the Depression-era meaning of "a fixed allowance paid to a legislator in lieu of reimbursement for actual expenses". There should be a third: in the current planning and zoning context it means a Locally Unwanted Land Use. Recent LULU’s have been a Home Depot in Montpelier, a Staples in Middlebury, and a McDonald’s in Ferrisburgh. There are occasionally LALU’s and DULU’s for which the prime example is the Yankee nuclear plant in Vernon, welcomed at the time of construction by the locals, but more recently the object of get-it-outta-there efforts in the State Capitol. "Admired" and "Distantly" are the relevant verb and (somewhat contrived) adverb.

In Defense of America
By Tom Wilson

Not all cultures and religions value human life, dignity, and freedom, as highly as Americans do. We are identified by the high value we place on liberty for the individual, what our Founders called "liberty of conscience," every person's right freely to choose and act on what he believes.

The American colonies may have started each with its own particular religious chauvinism or sectarian turf, but by the time of the American Constitution, we fully realized that theocracy and democracy just don't mix. Our founders decided against establishing any official national religion, not because they were not religious (they were very religious), but because they knew that truth would excel only where men were not coerced to believe. In the free marketplace of ideas, with healthy and open dissent, un-oppressed by the de facto predominance of any mandated, establishment religion, truth would win.

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"Imagine you see a person at work taking buckets of water from the deep end of a swimming pool and dumping them into the shallow end in an attempt to make it deeper. You would deem him stupid. That scenario is equivalent to what Congress and the new President proposes for the economy." 

-- Walter Williams Professor of Economics, George Mason University

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

The Numbers: Crunched and Explained
An Analysis of Vermont's Education Spending
From Vermont Tiger, February 18, 2009

Between FY97 and FY05 (the most recent year of comparable spending data) Vermont’s per pupil spending grew at an annual rate of 7.4%, the highest growth rate in the US (which grew at a 4.9% annual rate).  The principal cost driver in Vermont was staff wages/benefits which comprise 80% of total current expenditures and reflect, in part, a 22.3% increase in staffing while enrollment declined 7.5%. Vermont’s FY05 Pupil/Teacher (P/T) ratio at 11.3 (vs. 15.8 for the US) and Pupil/Staff (P/S) ratio at 5.2 (vs. 8.1 for the US) were the lowest in the US. With continuing increases in staff and declines in enrollment the P/T and P/S ratios were 11.1 and 4.9 respectively in FY08.

A Clear Message at Agriculture Hearing in Statehouse: Just Let Us Farm
By Peter Hirschfeld, Times Argus, February 18, 2009

Diane Wyatt just wants to sell her yogurt. Proceeds from sales at a local market helped the West Newberry farmer support her family of seven, until a cease-and-desist letter from the Agency of Agriculture shuttered the income-generating venture.

"I would be faced with the penalty of law if I continued selling yogurts at farmers markets," Wyatt told legislators Tuesday night.

Wyatt was in violation of a law that prevents many local farmers from selling unpasteurized milk products to consumers.

IBM Wins $11 Million Contract
From WCAX-TV, February 18, 2009

The IBM plant has landed a contract with Ramtron International, a Colorado-based semiconductor maker. The Essex Junction plant will install technology into its chips-- known as F-RAMs. The chips are used in everything from cars to hearing aids. Ramtron is investing $11 million in IBM to start and the contract will extend for more than five years.

Court: No Act 250 Permit for Gun Club
By Patrick McArdle, Rutland Herald, Feb 21, 2009

Hale Mountain Fish and Game Club won a significant victory recently when the Vermont Supreme Court denied its neighbors' request that Hale Mountain file for an Act 250 permit for changes to the property over the past 30 years.

A Proper Half-Step; Now Take The Other Half
Caledonia Record Editorial, February 19, 2009

Rep. Peter Welch has returned $19,000 in campaign contributions to Rep. Charles Rangel. Because Welch is on the House Ethics Committee, which is investigating several tax evasion charges against Rangel, he wants to remove any appearance of bias toward Rangel because of these contributions. He thinks that returning the donations will wash him clean of the appearance of entanglements with Rangel.

That's an admirable half-step. Welch is a Democrat and Rangel is, too. Rangel is in a special clique of non-taxpaying Democrats. Welch's distancing himself is prudent and proper.

But it is only a half-step. Welch should take the other half step, i.e. recuse himself from the whole process of investigating and sitting in judgment on Rangel.

Vt. Farmer's Grand Jury Appearance Canceled
From WCAX-TV February 18, 2009

A Vermont dairy farmer will not have to appear before a grand jury Thursday to answer questions about how illegal workers get here.

Last week Rob Hunt says federal authorities came to his farm and handed him a subpoena.

In November, Hunt was part of a special Channel 3 News report called Foreigners on the Farm. He talked candidly about Hispanics working on dairy farms illegally.

Hunt says federal authorities canceled his appearance Thursday before a grand jury and they have not rescheduled. Hunt is not sure why it was canceled.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Exclusive: Bizarre Love Triangle – U.S., Russia, and the Arctic’s Untapped Resources (Part One of Two)
By Dr. Robin McFee, Family Securtiy Matters, February 19, 2009

Energy is not merely a commodity; it is a weapon and a policy tool. Those who have an abundance of oil and/or gas not only reap economic and financial benefit, but they can use these resources towards geopolitical aspirations and influence nations who are largely dependent upon steady supplies of either. Consider how quickly the Ukraine capitulated to Moscow this winter, or how over the years the U.S. has had to play nice with OPEC and Saudi Arabia. Does anyone think Riyadh wouldn’t be one big parking lot after 9/11 if it wasn’t for oil? If the United States was energy independent – either through a great expansion of its own supplies or new technologies – we would be in an ideal position to throw off the energy extortion we currently pay, as well as enjoy a greater ability to influence global events. Europe receives precious little oil or gas from the U.S. or our allies compared to Russia. Like tentacles on an octopus, Russia has pipelines stretching from Northern Europe to Eastern Europe. And with it, a firm grasp of/on each country. You would be hard pressed to identify a European nation that was not dependent to some degree upon Gazprom or Putin, Inc.

From Pakistan, Taliban Threats Reach New York
By Kirk Semple, The New York Times, February 16, 2009

Last June, Bakht Bilind Khan, who was living in the Bronx and working at a fast-food restaurant, returned to his village in the volatile Swat Valley of northern Pakistan to visit his wife and seven children for the first time in three years.

But at a dinner celebration with his family, his homecoming suddenly turned dark: several heavily armed Taliban fighters wearing masks appeared at the door of their house, accused Mr. Khan of being an American spy and kidnapped him.

Bridges TV Had Ties to Both U.S. Muslim Brotherhood And U.S. Government
The Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Report, Family Security Matters, February 19, 2009

Further details are available on connections between the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. government, and an Islamic cable TV station whose founder has been charged in the beheading of his wife. As reported yesterday by the New York Times.

Chaos, Crisis & Terror Serves the Islamic Republic
By Amil Imani, February 16, 2009

As the Islamic Revolution completed its third decade, it would not be too difficult to realize the reality and the fruits of its mismanagement during its imperial and revolutionary eras. Throughout the three decades of its existence, the Islamic Republic has managed, notably, to produce more hunger, extreme frustration and anger, prostitution at a record pace, drug addiction beyond control, child execution without any regard to the international human rights bylaws. There are many reports regarding cases of child sexual abuse and molestation reaching epidemic proportions. Prosecution and imprisonment of the innocent people and systematic and illegal abuse of detainees and hundreds of gruesome acts have also been reported.

Venezuela's Elected Dictatorship
From Investor's Business Daily, February 18, 2009

Tyranny: Sunday's referendum in Venezuela was hailed as a "victory" for the Chavez regime and extolled as participatory democracy. In reality, it was a farce undermining a multiparty state. So why does the U.S. praise it?

Israel’s Farewell Dossier? If They’re Not Doing It, They Should Be
By Nicholas Guariglia, Family Security Matters, February 19, 2009

Reuters recently reported that Israel has been involved in a “covert war of sabotage inside Iran” to thwart the mullahs’ efforts to acquire a nuclear bomb.

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From Elsewhere

War Over The Climate Heats Up Even As Climate Itself Cools Down
By S. Fred Singer, Investor’s Business Daily, February 18, 2009

President Obama will be hard put to satisfy his several campaign promises: to restore prosperity and jobs, to conduct a foreign policy backed by a strong economy and to satisfy environmental demands to "save the planet." His job will be much easier if he listens to independent advice on climate science.

The Misdirection of Resources and the Current Recession
By Mario J. Rizzo, Mises Daily, February 19, 2009

His argument was that "society" does not naturally have a comprehensive hierarchy of values about how resources should be spent. Therefore, any large-scale plan — like the current stimulus package — will, if considered in detail and with the requisite amount of time, reveal deep disagreements among various political constituencies. The current "stimulus rush," as I have called it, is only partly about the perceived economic need to do something fast. After all, according to the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the House bill, most of the spending will not take effect in the current calendar year. Furthermore, there is no economic evidence that a program passed in the next few days will be noticeably more effective than one passed in mid-March or mid-April. I believe the real reason for the rush is the belief that if the bill is not rushed through, its support will crumble as the people find out what is in the bill and evaluate it according to their different values and opinions. This is indeed the case.

Who Are the Big Spenders?
By Randall Hove, American Thinker, February 19, 2009

How can any Republican complain of Obama's spending habits or complain about his stimulus, given the way Republicans spent "the last eight years"?  Well, I'm going to tell you exactly how.

Rahm's 'Rent' is Just the Tip of Ethics Iceberg
By Dick Morris & Eileen McGann, February 17 2009

NEWS broke last week that Rahm Emanuel, now White House chief of staff, lived rent- free for years in the home of Rep. Rosa De Lauro (D-Conn.) - and failed to disclose the gift, as congressional ethics rules mandate. But this is only the tip of Emanuel's previously undislosed ethics problems.

States’ Rights and the Growing Rebellion – A Status Report
By Paul Hollrah, Family Security Matters February 16, 2009

One of the inevitable consequences of the last 75 years of Democrat rule in Washington – augmented by a decade or more of gutless rule by Republican presidents and congressional majorities who thought they could win hearts and minds by imitating Democrats – is a quiet rebellion within that basic building block of our American republic: the state legislatures.

Related: Governors v. Congress

The Price Of Fear
From Investor’s Business Daily, February 17, 2009

In his first month, President Obama has talked down the economy and engineered a huge surge in federal spending. Now the bills will come due. The pain may be just beginning.

We're Not All Socialists
By L. Brent Bozell III, Media Research Center, February 18, 2009

As the Democrat-dominated House and Senate thoughtfully passed judgment on a 1,100-page "stimulus" bill that Sen. Frank Lautenberg admitted no one would read before the vote, the media elite were positively giddy. On the "NewsHour" on PBS, liberal analyst Mark Shields proclaimed "I think it's a monstrous success" for President Obama. That's correct, with an emphasis on the "monstrous."

Related: Like It or Not, “We Are All Socialists Now”

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