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True North Archives - March 18, 2008
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Featured Articles

Situational Standards
By Martin Harris

...[T]he gentry-left in the Capital District profess undying gratitude for the magnificent performance of their public schools: typical are quotes from locals Chuck Hoffert and Stephen Looke, speaking of how highly they value the education their kids are getting and how happy they are to pay for it. Read the glowing testimonials for yourself on the WCAX web site for 5 March 08. Earth to Hoffert and Looke: statistically, 2/3 of Vermont’s kids are scoring in the low 200’s out of 500 on math and reading: do you really insist on believing that your kids are so uniquely different from their peers that they’re the only ones at the 500 end?

Douglas addresses housing shortage
By John Hausner

For a couple of years now, politicians of all stripes have talked about the housing crisis in Vermont and their plans to address it. The governor proposed a New Neighborhoods bill to stimulate the development of housing by reducing the cost of permitting and passing the savings on to homebuyers. The Democratic majority in the Legislature disagreed without offering an alternative. Until now.

The bill passed by the House Committee on General, Housing, and Military Affairs, H.863, is a textbook example of legislation that purports to solve a problem while in fact doing nothing or even making the problem worse.

Clear and Present Danger
by Rob Skinner

Far too many Americans fail to see the dangers, to see the "hazardous days ahead" (JFK), in our war with Islamic fundamentalist who seek our demise. Our courageous soldiers are on the front lines doing all they can to defeat this new Islamic enemy with borders nowhere and everywhere. This "clear and present danger" is about us no matter how many times liberal Democrats try to redirect, for political purposes, our attention to our wavering economy and attempt to make it the campaign big deal of the day. The fact is that the military surge in Iraq, the so called "lost war" by the Democratic majority leader of the US Senate - Harry Reid - is successful and getting more so everyday.

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"Envy is the basis of Democracy." -- Bertrand Russell

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Angelo Dorta: Apologist For Greed And Irresponsibility
Caledonian Record Editorial Saturday, 3/15/08

Before anybody takes Angelo Dorta's passion for good education seriously, there are a few subsuming truths that his readers ought to realize. First, education unions have absolutely no interest in anything educational except where it threatens to hinder their irresponsibility and greed. They mask their unadulterated self-interest with seeming concern for schools and kids. In reality, all that these unions are interested in are the salaries and benefits of their members and the perpetuation of the life of their own well-paid bureaucracy. Second, education unions work directly against parents and kids in all of those issues that attempt to give parents and kids more effective schools through any and every kind of accountability requirement. Third, the most important issue behind forever demanding higher salaries and more benefits for their members, education unions are totally dedicated to protecting lousy teachers from losing their jobs. Ask any superintendent or school board how hard it is to get rid of a bad teacher, much less the army of mediocre and/or ineffective teachers.

Related: NECAP Scores Point to Issues Beyond Math

Catamount Expansion Curbed
By Daniel Barlow, Rutland Herald, March 16, 2008

Three months after the two Democratic leaders vowed to expand Catamount, this big-ticket item is one of many that have been pushed off the table this legislative session. With stormy financial forecasts and expected drops in state revenue, Vermont is now facing one of the toughest budget years in nearly two decades.

Vermont Sees Decline in New Business
From WCAX-TV, March 13, 2008

The boutique was one of more than 9,400 new businesses that started in Vermont in 2007. But the Secretary of State's office, which registers each new business, said that number is down for the first time in a decade, after years of steady growth. 2006 saw 9,971 business starts. In 2007, that number dropped by more than 500, to 9,452 new businesses.

Protecting the Status Quo
From, March 13, 2008

One of the basic tenets of antitrust law is that they are designed, and should be used, to protect competition, not competitors.  Unfortunately, all too often antitrust laws are passed, and used, to protect competitors for the obvious reason that competition benefits consumers but it hurts competitors. We don't have antitrust laws in Vermont, but our environmental regulation laws, on the state and local level, are frequently used to protect existing firms from new competition. For example, Costco wants to start selling gasoline at its store in Colchester.

A Straightforward Yes To Both Parts Of This Question
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 11, 2008

Currently, the commissioner is appointed by the Board of Education which, in turn, is appointed by the governor. The trouble with this arrangement is that the commissioner is free to follow his own nose wherever it leads him, and if the governor, who has responsibility for every other department and agency in the government, doesn't like it, tough. He has to wait until he has appointed a majority of the Board of Education who will dismiss a recalcitrant commissioner, and that takes years. In every other department, the commissioner is appointed subject to the pleasure of the governor.

Similarly, the Board of Education and the Department of Education (DOE) should be disbanded and replaced by an agency responsible to the governor through the commissioner who should be a cabinet-level secretary. The way things are, the governor is frustrated by a zig-zag line of authority to get his will done in the DOE, and that should not be. He is the governor, elected by the people. If the people don't like his leadership they can vote him out, but they can't touch the commissioner.

If Vermont Were A Business, Montpelier Would Be Fired
From, March 13, 2008

Less than a year ago, at the end of the 2007 legislative session, the Tiger featured a posting entitled Getting It Wrong.  It was my hope then the Vermont Legislature would heed my efforts - and those of others - to express the total frustration of the Vermont citizenry with the Legislature’s and the Governor’s failed attempts to accomplish anything…anything… that matters to this state.  Now, halfway through the 2008 session, we are tracking, lamentably, toward a repeat performance (or lack thereof) punctuated by incompetence and apparent indifference to anything that might improve the lives of those of us who employ and compensate our "elected employees".

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Surprise! MSM Misses the mark on Saddam-al-Qaeda report
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, March 14, 2008

A new Pentagon report on Iraq and Terrorism has the news media buzzing. An item on the New York Times blog snarks, "Oh, By the Way, There Was No Al Qaeda Link." The ABC News story that previews the full report concludes, "Report Shows No Link Between Saddam and al Qaeda."

 How, then, to explain this sentence about Iraq and al Qaeda from the report's abstract: "At times, these organizations would work together in pursuit of shared goals but still maintain their autonomy and independence because of innate caution and mutual distrust"? And how to explain the "considerable overlap" between their activities which led not only to the appearances of ties but to a "de facto link between the organizations?"

The Iranian Cultural and Natural Heritage Year
By Amil Imani, American Thinker, March 15, 2008

Over its life span, the Islamic Republic zealots have tried innumerable times to cleanse the pre-Islamic Persian heritage in the name of Islam. First, they declared war against the Persian New Year or "Nowruz", and then, they attacked other Persian traditions and customs. In 1979, Khomeini's right-hand man, the Ayatollah Sadegh Khalkhali, tried to bulldoze Iran's greatest epical poet Ferdowsi's tomb and Persepolis palace. Fortunately, the total bulldozing of the relics of the palace was averted by Iranian patriots who wished to preserve their heritage; who literally stood in front of the bulldozers and did not allow the destruction of this heritage of humanity.

Jihad, Islamism, and the American Free Press
By Jeffrey Imm, Counter Terrorism Blog, March, 2008

In the war with global Jihad, words and definitions matter, and in fighting anti-freedom ideologies, the free press and media should be America's greatest ally. Yet the confused and inconsistent reporting on Islamism and Islamist terrorism is another key fault line in America's struggles with global Jihad.

Saddam Hussein’s horrific 1988 genocide of the Kurds is still having repercussions
By Carter Andress, National Review, March 14, 2008

Given the brutal fact that the Kurds — an ancient non-Arab people speaking a Persian-related language — have suffered cruel and prolonged persecution at the hands of the Arab majority, the Iraqi government owes them a resolution of the Kirkuk issue. That would go a long way toward consolidating and strengthening the still-fragile Iraqi nation. The question could be resolved through an internationally monitored referendum of area residents, but the government, fearful of increasing ethnic turmoil and reluctant to reduce its control of the nation’s oil, continues to move Kirkuk’s status to the back burner. Because of the horror and injustice that this weekend’s anniversary recalls, and to improve the prospects of our mission in Iraq, the United States must use its full influence to get this task accomplished.

Two Americas
One is fighting a global war; one has better things to do.
By Clifford D. May, National Review, March 13, 2008

Al-Qaeda and other militant Islamist groups live in a shadow world where they plot to kill you and me. If we expect our intelligence professionals to prevent them from succeeding, we must give them the tools required to get the job done. But in recent days, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have not been providing those tools. They’ve been taking them away. There are rank-and-file Democrats who think this is wrong — but in an election year few have been bold enough to dissent loudly or clearly.

At least 30 Dead in Tibetan Riots
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, March 15, 2008

Buddhist monks and Tibetan nationals battled police and burned cars and shops as the worst violence to break out in that occupied country since the late 1980's threatened to throw a monkey wrench into the Chinese government's Olympic plans...

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From Elsewhere

A President Obama's Neoliberal Theocracy
By Lee Cary, The American Thinker, March 17, 2008

Barack Obama's first vocational choice was to help people in a poor African-American community. Later, he joined a church founded on black liberation theology. This combination could result in an Obama presidency that embodies something new in American history -- a Neoliberal Theocracy. …

The social gospel of an Obama presidency could be traced back to the race-based class dialectic of the black liberation theology movement. That movement emerged as the theological wing of the broader Black Power movement of the late 1960's - early 1970's. Among a constellation of groups and personalities representing Black Power were: the 1968 Olympic Black Power salute; the Black Panthers; Malcolm X; Bobby Seale; the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee ("snick"), etc.

No Child Left Ahead
By Neal McCluskey, Cato Institute

The problem is that only on 8th grade mathematics did South Carolina peg proficiency as high as the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress, and NAEP proficiency supposedly signifies appropriate grade-level knowledge. So in all but 8th grade mathematics South Carolina is saying kids are at grade-level when they're not (at least according to NAEP), and this would only get worse under H.R. 4662.

Sadly, this is what you get when government controls the schools and parents have no power. The system protects the politicians, teachers, and administrators who run it -- everything is distorted, swept under the rug, or simply "made more fair" -- and the children suffer. Such trickery and political wagon-circling has been the nationwide response to NCLB, and academic assessments show that it's been the name of the game at state and local levels for decades.

38 Republicans Vote Against GOP Budget
From The Club for Growth, March 14, 2008

As a substitute amendment, the House GOP offered a budget yesterday that, if it had passed, would have replaced the tax-hiking, big-spending Democratic budget. However, 38 Republicans joined the Democrats in voting against it. It failed, 157-263.

This is a very enlightening vote. These 38 Republicans voted against their own party on the one bill that establishes all of the discretionary spending for a full fiscal year. In other words, it wouldn't be unfair to say that this budget defines what it means to be an economic conservative. And yet, these 38 Republicans voted against it. It speaks volumes about their misguided priorities.

Boxer Waves White Flag on Lieberman-Warner Climate Bill
From The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works

"Boxer made combating global warming her top priority after she became chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee" reported an October 19, 2007 article in the Sacramento Bee. Political reality now appears to be denying Boxer the achievement of her "top priority" during the current Congress.

Bonfire of the Democrats
By Rich Lowry, National Review, March 14, 2008

Why can’t the two sides tone down the victimological grudge match? Because charging bias has become a convenient political tool and an ingrained habit of mind. Nothing puts an adversary on the defensive like allegations of sexism or racism, so Obama and Clinton supporters naturally resort to them. And the left has cultivated a deeply paranoid worldview that sees everything through the prism of identity politics and assumes malign motives on the part of anyone not the "correct" gender or race.

Is Hillary McCain's Fifth Column?
By Jeffrey Schmidt, The American Thinker, March 12, 2008

Senator Clinton wants to be president like some people want to make it to the top of Mount Everest: in the worst possible of way.  If she can't succeed in 2008, she'll pursue a strategy to position herself for the next possible run.  2012 is  the next window and the best option for her - provided John McCain can defeat Barak Obama.

Salvaging Our North Korea Policy
By John Bolton, The Wall Street Journal, March 17, 2008

For starters, make public what we know about Pyongyang's nuclear project in Syria. ... The successful Israeli military strike against a Syrian-North Korean facility on the Euphrates River last September highlighted the gravity of the Pyongyang regime's unwillingness to do anything serious that might restrict its nuclear option. 

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