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True North Archives - March 20, 2007
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Featured Articles

Oregon Law Not a Model for Vermont
By Charles J. Bentz, MD

To the Physicians and health care workers in Vermont, is this where you want to go? Is this what you want to become? Please learn the real lesson from the Oregon experience of Doctor-assisted suicide. Despite all of the so-called "dittos" in our Suicide law, numerous instances of coercion, inappropriate selection, botched attempts, and active euthanasia have been documented in the Public Record. This, however, is not the worst of it. In my opinion, the tragedy of Oregon is that instead of doing the right thing, which is to provide excellent care, patients' lives are being cut short by Physicians who are not addressing the issues underlying patient suicidality at the end of Life. This change in the direction of our profession after 2,400 years of "Do no Harm" has me concerned. This should concern all Vermonters as well. --Charles J. Bentz, MD, FCAP, Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine, Division of General Medicine and Geriatrics, Oregon Health and Science University, Portland, Oregon

Property Rights and the Environment
By Bruce P. Shields

To many in the environmental movement, private property is a necessary evil to be endured, but not a desirable condition.  In recent polemical books on environmental themes such as global warming, species extinction, biological diversity, and wildlife habitat, one can find almost no positive affirmation of the ecological value of private property.  To the contrary, one hears that protected land is government owned land; a protected resource is government owned or government controlled.  The unstated corollary is that private land is vulnerable, exposed, and subject to abuse. Economists, especially several recent Nobel Prize winners, differ.  The economists suggest that private property may be a superior guarantor of ecological values.  Hernando DeSoto presents a satellite photo of the island of Hispaniola.  One side from space appears brown, the other side is green.  A sharply defined straight line divides the two colors.  The brown side is Haiti, the green side the Dominican Republic; Dominican Republic has strong enforcement of private property rights, and Haiti no enforcement of any private rights. --Bruce Shields has retired from three professions; college English teacher, sawmiller and executive of the Vermont Forest Products Association, and operator of a farm supply store.  In retirement, he works his woodlot and maple sugar place, sits on the boards of several statewide organizations related to natural resources, and serves as Lister in the town of Eden, VT.

Green-Gate, or Grass-Killers on the Left
By Martin Harris

The received wisdom then (and still is, except when circumstances dictate otherwise) is that smart growth planning demands no medium-density areas outside cities; like medieval European urban centers, the built-up area should be gated (well, maybe walls can be omitted) and the peasantsí barley fields should extend right up to city limits. An urban gateway should be green grass. Cities like Vergennes should be "green-gated". You can see the desired pattern in the western approaches to Middlebury: empty fields, a distinct urban-rural joint (a little plannersí lingo there), then the towers of the baron (oops, make that the college) on the hill. Smart-growth exemplified. And, in fact, the evil Vergennes developer was persuaded to go away; the field was preserved in grass, the "green-gate" concept was rescued, and a little corner of Vermont was saved from buildings and bituminous pavement. Until now. Ö Now, the formerly pro-grass anti-sprawl beautiful people of Vergennes want to urbanize the corn-field.

To Spend or Not to Spend
By Peter Behr

So dire, in fact, is the present situation, that no less a personage than Peter Shumlin, President Pro Tem of the Senate, told the Vermont Association of Chambers of Commerce there is no more tax capacity in our state, saying "We need to get spending under control because thereís nowhere to go for funding," as reported by Annette Compton. One would almost think Mr. Shumlin has been reading my column, as this statement represents a refreshing change of direction for him. Now, if he will follow up with proposals to reduce the cost of state government, I will take back all the criticism I have directed at him.

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This Weekís Mail Bag

Dear Editor:

House Speaker Gaye Symington recently said in a critical tone that the construction of the interstate highway 50 years ago brought rapid, uncontrolled development. Iíd be more than curious how she actually defines Ďuncontrolled growthí? But what the interstate highway system brought to this country, and Vermont, was economic expansion and prosperity. Thatís good news. Why is she so gloomy about it? If such negative attitudes, that seem to be held by the Speaker and her Democratic colleagues, existed 50 years ago, would Vermont, and the country, even have an interstate highway system? Their handling of the Circ highway goes a long way in answering that question. The continuing holdup of the Circís completion has led to clogged secondary highways thus thwarting the business of a major Vermont employer, IBM, who canít get materials and products in and out of itís facility in an efficient manner. Thatís because of a transportation infrastructure that is at least 2 decades behind the times and the Democrats are just fine with that. Is this the kind of leadership and vision that Vermont generations have to look forward to? 

Would IBM have located to Essex 50 years ago given the current business climate hampered by high utility rates, a restrictive regulatory and permit process, an outdated transportation infrastructure and the likelihood that the project would be held up in court for years by special interest groups? Of course, you know the answer. And I can picture the Conservation Law Foundation (CLF) 50 years ago opposing the current IBM location until the proverbial pig learns to fly. Is the CLF part of the "new direction" Gaye Symington plans on sending Vermonters? 

To date the current legislature in Montpelier is most inept and incompetent Iíve ever seen - and it seems a growing number of Vermonters feel the same. As a taxpayer and a voter, I feel I have an obligation to point out my frustrations with the substandard quality of work coming out of Montpelier. Itís apparent to anyone who follows state government that this session is distracted, lost its direction and focus on the purpose for which the voters of the state send them to Montpelier. National political agendas, which the Democrats have obviously adopted, have no place in Montpelier. Precious time was wasted discussing Global Warming, the justification of the Iraq War, the impeachment of the president, and planning visits of the likes of Cindy Sheehan. What on Earth has Cindy Sheehan got to do with lessening the burdens of Vermonters? 

If a private business shut down operations for even half a day to watch a performance by, let's say, Bozo the Clown, someoneís head would roll. How can Symington claim to be working for the welfare of future generations when sheís lost her way, her direction, to work for the best interest of this current generation? She has no solutions for us now so why should we have confidence she has the foresight to make Vermont better for the next generations? Given this "new direction" we are headed in, future generations will simply move in any direction out of this state because of diminished job opportunities, high taxes, and the ever rising cost of living.

And just as amazing, Symington and Peter Shumlin, leader of the Senate Democrats, appear to be proud of our educational system that produces students barely above the performance level of the average American student. And they think it does, but does academic success relate to how much money is spent on education and a low student to teacher ratio? I, and thousands of my fellow Vermonters, hate to bust Symingtonís bubble, but the education I and thousands of Vermonters received decades ago was superior to the education Vermont youth are now receiving - and - we had about a 25 to 1 teacher to student ratio. And I can tell you EXACTLY why Vermont cannot, will not, secure a high quality education system. This state has been politicized and influenced by special interests and the special interest Group in Chief is the VT-NEA with a massive lobbying effort and influence on Democrats in Montpelier. This VT-NEA helps Democrats get elected year after year after year and they donít do it "for the children." 

So what are the major issues facing Vermont? As I see it (1) a restrictive and outdated permit process that makes it just about impossible for new industries, green or not, to even consider locating to Vermont; (2) High utility rates; (3) out of control state government that continues to pile law on top of law, regulation on top regulation, bureaucracy on top of bureaucracy without giving any consideration how it all is going to be paid for nor how it is to be administered; (4) cruel property taxes have been a major headache for anyone who lives in Vermont. 

What has this session of the state legislature done to seriously, with focus, address all these important issues? Nothing - absolutely Nothing that I or anyone else can discern. Instead, we witness a state legislature that is more concerned about discussing national political war issues which we can do very little to affect, and working toward Global Warming solutions based on Goreís hysteria and paranoia. If this is Symingtonís and Shumlin's pushing us in their "new direction" then we need to push back next election and send them in a "new direction" back home where they belong. 

Glenn Thompson, Essex Center

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"Is it a civil war or isn't it? I think this is a problem. This characterization is a problem because it oversimplifies. The reality is that stoking sectarian violence is a very specific strategy of Al Qaeda ... and they make no bones about the fact that that's their strategy. Well you don't have thousands of Shia and Sunnis falling in on each other or attacking each other; you have hit squads going around the city." --Remarks made March 18, 2007 by Robert Gates, new Secretary of Defense. 

"The Iraqi government cannot now govern, sustain, and defend itself without the support of the United States . . The ability of the United States to shape outcomes is diminishing. Time is running out . . . Left unchecked al Qaeda in Iraq could continue to incite violence between Sunnis and Shia. Al Qaeda will portray any failure by the United States in Iraq as a significant victory that will be featured prominently as they recruit for their cause in the region and around the world." --From the final report of the bipartisan Iraq Study Group co-chaired by Democrat Lee Hamilton and James Baker

"We know that Saddam has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout the country. Iraq's search for [developing] weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power." --Al Gore while Vice President. 

"The war against terrorism will not be finished as long as Saddam Hussein is in power." --Senator Carl Levin before the invasion of Iraq. 

"The strength of the resistance lies in its maintaining secrecy regarding its weapons, its ammunition, its caches, its cadres, its bases, its plans, its intentions, and so on. So why do you expect us to transport the weapons openly? Even when we felt secure on the domestic level... we did not transport weapons in broad daylight." --A recent speech by the new Hizbullah secretary-general, Abbas Musaw. It is near certain that Iran provides such weapons to Hizbullah and many other terrorist groups including Al Qaeda. 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Global Warming Discussions in Schools
By Sky Barsch, Burlington Free Press, March 17, 2007

As global warming has shifted from the subject of scientific trade journals and alternative media to the center of the public and political arenas, it also has become a hot topic in public schools. That has some parents questioning what their children are hearing. Parents who disagree with the global warming theory, or who chalk it up to environmental alarmists or political hyperbole, are finding that their points of view aren't given the attention afforded the "other side."

Public Weighs in Education Funding Reform
WCAX, March 15, 2007

School board members, teachers and others offered suggestions for controlling costs, many saying they opposed the concept of consolidating school districts, which they said would weaken local control.

Food Police Poised To Strike Again
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 13, 2007

Here come the food police. They of the Church of Eat Right or Die are ready to strike again, and this time from a quite unexpected source. Full of admiration of their followers effecting a ban on trans fats in restaurants in New York City, they are attempting to do the same thing in Vermont. That's not surprising, but their champion is.

Leading the charge in Vermont is Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland. Until this aberration, Sen. Mullin has been the most reliably arch-conservative in the Senate.

'The Hammer is There'
By Terri Hallenbeck, Burlington Free Press, March 12, 2007

When legislators return to Montpelier on Tuesday from their weeklong town meeting break they'll have deadlines hanging over their heads. Friday is "crossover," the point in the legislative session when most bills are supposed to be out of committees, onto the floor and ready to cross to the other chamber, where they face the same process. While crossover is not a drop-dead, hard-and-fast deadline, it is the due date for most committees -- not including the money committees that handle budgets or tax policy -- to finish up bills.

Car Searches Require Warrant, Vermont Supreme Court Rules
By Adam Silverman, Burlington Free Press, March 17, 2007

Police need a warrant to search a vehicle even after they arrest an occupant except under extraordinary circumstances, the Vermont Supreme Court ruled Friday in a 3-2 decision notable for its acerbic language and its break with federal precedent.

The ruling, which represented a rare departure from frequent unanimity, said the state constitution provides Vermonters with greater protections from unreasonable searches and seizures than does the federal Bill of Rights.

Vermont's China Connection
Eagle Times, March 16, 2007

Officials have a target in mind to leverage enough business out of one particular country not known for its environmental approach, a country so huge even the smallest sliver of business can result in millions. That country, of course, is China, a place looking for a cleaner image with the 2008 Olympics and other international events coming in the near future. It could use one, especially since 75 percent of its growing appetite for power currently fed by coal.

"Scribblings" - An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
by Rep. Thomas F. Koch, March 17, 2007

I have been inundated with telephone calls, letters, e-mails and messages left with the Sergeant at Arms concerning the so-called Death with Dignity bill, most of them urging me to vote against the bill. ...The other major issue of the year, of course, is property tax reform. Two House committees are working on it, without a whole lot to show for their efforts.

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From Elsewhere

Global-Warming Swindle
by Thomas Sowell, National Review Online, March 15, 2007

The British Broadcasting Corporation has produced a devastating documentary titled The Great Global Warming Swindle. It has apparently not been broadcast by any of the networks in the United States. But, fortunately, it is available on the Internet. Distinguished scientists specializing in climate and climate-related fields talk in plain English and present readily understood graphs showing what a crock the current global-warming hysteria is. ... While the public has been led to believe that "all" the leading scientists buy the global-warming hysteria and the political agenda that goes with it, in fact the official reports from the United Nations or the National Academy of Sciences are written by bureaucrats ó and then garnished with the names of leading scientists who were "consulted," but whose contrary conclusions have been ignored.

Idiocy in D.C., Progress in Baghdad
by William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, March 26, 2007

It may well be that Gen. David Petraeus is going to lead us to victory in Iraq. He is certainly off to a good start. If the karmic price of success in Iraq is utter embarrassment for senior Bush officials in Washington, D.C.--well, in our judgment, the trade-off is worth it. The world will surely note our success or failure in Iraq. It will not long remember the gang that couldn't shoot straight at the Justice Department--or, for that matter, the antics of congressional Democrats--unless either so weakens the administration as to undercut our mission in Iraq. Obviously, it's too early to say anything more definitive than that there are real signs of progress in Baghdad. The cocksure defeatism of war critics of two months ago, when the surge was announced, does seem to have been misplaced.

The Fraud Behind Carbon Credits
Thomas Lifson, American Thinker, March 17, 2007

The sale of indulgences for those who emit so-called greenhouse gases is built on widespread fraud. The illusion of "carbon neutrality" is very often nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Business Week, hardly a conservative source, has investigated a number of these schemes and found widespread questionable practices. ... Common sense tells anyone that if you think it is a bad thing to generate carbon dioxide, you should curtail your activities that do so. Anything else is morally fraudulent.

Related: Whose Ox Is Gored? The media discover the former VP's environmental exaggerations and hypocrisy

The CIA: Clueless or Conniving?
Douglas Hanson, American Thinker, March 16, 2007

Private correspondence and discussions with people involved with organizations attempting to track down Iraq's weapons, such as UNSCOM, remain convinced that Saddam had post-Gulf War I WMDs in violation of UN resolutions.  Even our Soldiers and Marines in the field found CW which squashes any notion of a massive right wing conspiracy.  Therefore, the question remains as to why the CIA would not thoroughly investigate these matters if they had a chance of proving their "slam dunk" case.  As Richards says, if the CIA was burned by failure to predict critical events such as Saddam's progress in building an A-bomb in 1991, wouldn't they want some sort of coup to regain a semblance of credibility? This affair isn't only about Wilson's trip.  It's about fighting release of unclassified documents, it's about abuse of classification authority in the case of WMD findings reported in the open media, and it's about bargaining with our enemies in Iraq instead of killing or capturing them.  And because of their private war against the President, we are at risk of being overwhelmed by our enemies.

Background Article: Battling the Beltway
A Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online

A terrible blunder occurred on 9/11 that cost the lives of 3,000 Americans. We were vulnerable and the CIA bears substantial responsibility. It accepted and endorsed the false notion promoted by the Clinton White House that a new kind of terrorism had come into existence that did not involve states.

The Hubbell Standard: Hillary Clinton knows all about sacking U.S. Attorneys
Opinion Journal Editorial, Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Congressional Democrats are in full cry over the news this week that the Administration's decision to fire eight U.S. Attorneys originated from --gasp-- the White House. Senator Hillary Clinton joined the fun yesterday, blaming President Bush for "the politicization of our prosecutorial system." Oh, my. As it happens, Mrs. Clinton is just the Senator to walk point on this issue of dismissing U.S. attorneys because she has direct personal experience. In any Congressional probe of the matter, we'd suggest she call herself as the first witness--and bring along Webster Hubbell as her chief counsel. As everyone once knew but has tried to forget, Mr. Hubbell was a former partner of Mrs. Clinton at the Rose Law Firm in Little Rock who later went to jail for mail fraud and tax evasion. He was also Bill and Hillary Clinton's choice as Associate Attorney General in the Justice Department when Janet Reno, his nominal superior, simultaneously fired all 93 U.S. Attorneys in March 1993. Ms. Reno--or Mr. Hubbell--gave them 10 days to move out of their offices....

Related: Coverage of U.S. Attorneys' Firings Proves Hypocritical Double Standard of the Media: Bush Fired 8, Clinton Fired 93, But Only Bush is News.

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