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True North Archives - March 27, 2007
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Global Warming Discussions in Schools: A Need for Balance
by Robert Maynard

The March 17th edition of the Burlington Free Press carried an article entitled "Global warming discussions in schools". A number of parents were quoted as being concerned that taxpayer supported public school classrooms were being used as indoctrination centers for politically correct fads. It was noted by some of those concerned individuals that there is significant scientific dissent from the notion that human generated CO2 emissions are a major cause of global warming. ... As far as there being a "consensus" within the scientific community that human generated CO2 emissions are a significant cause of global warming; that is clearly false and is debunked in the documentary "The Great Global Warming Swindle".  This video not only provides a popular summary for the non academic of the scientific case against the man made global warming theory, but points out the deceit that has been employed to con the public into accepting the notion that the worlds scientists have already reached a consensus on this issue. The document that is often cited to back this claim is the report generated by the IPCC, or Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This supposedly represents the consensus of some 2500 scientists from around the world. What we are not told, but the film points out, is that a good number of the so-called 2500 scientists are not scientists at all. Furthermore, the report was written by bureaucrats rather than scientists. Expert scientists were consulted and then listed as authors. What we are not told is that their names appeared as authors of the report whether they agreed with the conclusions or not. The dissenting views of some experts were censured out of the final report, but those experts names were still listed as authors. --Robert Maynard is an Editor of

The New Tax for "Thermal Efficiency"
By John McClaughry

Relief is in sight for those Vermonters who, inexplicably, have never been offered a government program to "meet fully the thermal efficiency needs of consumers who rely on heating oil, kerosene, propane, and coal upon which no efficiency charge has yet been assessed."  At last the government will assist these consumers by taxing their heating fuel purchases. ... This legislature's favored tax-raising technique is to hype the menace of "global warming", invent new spending and regulatory programs to combat this menace, authorize an unelected board to levy a new tax, label that tax a "charge", ignore the constitution in a rush to get it passed, all the while declaring to taxed-out Vermonters that our state is at the end of its tax capacity. This is a rush to more Big Government, premised on highly dubious science, and paid for by a tax deceitfully disguised as something else, all in violation of a plain provision of the Constitution. -- John McClaughry is President of the Ethan Allen Institute

Breakfast with Gaye Symington
By Peter Behr

Local businessman Cary Hollingsworth suggested adoption of the California system, which allows assessed values to increase upon sale of properties, but otherwise holds them to inflation percentage increases. His proposal was met with stony silence. I suggested she admit current legislation doesn’t work and take two years to come up with more rational legislation. The Speaker responded with the party line – that opponents of current legislation have not proposed an alternative, although Cary had just done so. When I reminded her that Act 60 was written in four months, she responded that it had been in the works for ten years! This was a revelation to me. Big Government advocates had been plotting for a decade to take over the property tax and the education system from the towns, and the Brigham decision let them pounce! And I thought coups were something that happened in South America. Silly me! ... She seems to believe that thinking green will, through some sort of magic Vermont photosynthesis, create jobs in the renewable power industry. It’s a nice thought, but where is the technical inventory and the venture capital – both vital to high tech investment? I’d bet on Stanford, MIT and other research institutions as more likely spots for development – in fact, they are already attracting hundreds of millions of dollars in their search for new energy sources. No such money is coming to Vermont in significant amounts. Per the New York Times, just under 1,000 people are employed in environmental work in 69 engineering firms statewide, with one company recently cutting 60 jobs. Clean air and no billboards do not equal large investment. I would love to be proven wrong, but Ms. Symington’s ideas are mostly wishful thinking. ... Now, the formerly pro-grass anti-sprawl beautiful people of Vergennes want to urbanize the corn-field.

"Scribblings": An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
Rep. Thomas F. Koch, Barre Town

The vote on the Death with Dignity bill, H.44, was 63 in favor, 82 opposed. The result of the vote, however, is not what I will remember about this debate. For other reasons, it was one of the finest and most memorable debates in my time in the House. Much of the debate was personal and emotional. Anne Donohue’s frank discussion of her own history of severe depression and less-than-optimistic prognoses stands out; she strongly opposed the bill and affirmed the ultimate value of each life, effectively quoting John Donne’s lines "Send not to ask for whom the bell tolls—it tolls for thee." ... Another controversial bill this week was H. 353, a bill to change the way unions organize a new shop. The proposed law, presently limited to UVM and the state colleges but widely thought to be a first step toward broader application, would allow a union to be organized simply by circulating a petition, securing 50% plus one of the signatures of the employees of the proposed bargaining unit, and then having the signatures verified. There would be no election, secret or otherwise.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

To the Editor:

The Vermont Senate will soon begin to consider bill S-94 (read it here), which would expand the so called "Electricity Efficiency Utility", known as Efficiency Vermont and paid for by a tax we all pay on our electric bills. This bill will put Efficiency Vermont into the business of trying to improve how we heat and insulate our homes, and would add a tax to heating fuels to pay for this new government initiative.

A few years ago I built a house in Grand Isle, and my contractor and I agreed that it should be as energy efficient as possible. We were visited by an employee of Efficiency Vermont who gave me about a dozen 13-watt compact fluorescent light bulbs and did a short inspection which entitled me to a four-inch square bronze plaque designating my house as "An Energy Star Labeled Home." A quick look at the tax on my electric bill shows that I have paid for these minor freebees at least five times over - and still counting.

If the legislature wants to expand this pork-barrel agency, it should find the guts to pay for it out of the general fund rather than putting an additional tax on heating fuel. I doubt if they will, though. They don't even dare call it a tax. In the bill it is referred to as a "nega-rate". A tax by any other name is a tax. 

We need to tell our Senators and Representatives, "Read my lips - no new taxes." 

Jim Burbo, Grand Isle

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"I was asked to resign . . . I asked why and wasn’t given any answers. I am ultimately okay with that. We all take these jobs knowing we serve at the pleasure of the President." --In a letter written by Arizona’s US Attorney, David Iglesias, who was fired by the Justice Department in early January 2007. The letter was sent to US Attorney Alberto Gonzales’s chief of staff. The letter appeared in its entirety in the San Diego Tribune. 

"Democrats are frustrated that Rove wasn’t indicted in the CIA leak case but now that he’s been implicated in the firing of those US attorney’s and it looks to some people that Democrats are smelling blood. Gloria - [Borgia] are they after Rove?" --Chris Mathews on his Sunday political talk show on March 25, 2007. 

Gloria Boger, political analyst for US News and World Report answers with, "Sure - Honestly - they would love nothing more to get him [Rove] up before a congressional committee. But they want to change the subject, Chris [Mathews]. They don’t want to talk about how they are doing on the War in Iraq and where’s their [plan]. . .They want the American public to see their public enemy number 1. For some reason they think it would help the Democrats to get him out there. I’m not so sure." 

"I am so uninterested in the Democrats wanting Karl Rove because it is so bad for them. It shows business as usual - tit for tat - It’s not what the American people want to see."  --Spoken on March 24, 2007 by Richard Stenzel, a political commentator for Time Magazine. 

"I want to hear him under oath. I don’t want to hear him in private meetings where nobody knows what he’s taling about and where the American people doesn’t [he pauses] - This is not - This is nothing I want to know. I want to make sure the public know what happens. They can’t play politics with prosecutors." --Senator Patrick Leahy while interviewed on Vermont This Week, March 23, 2007. 

"Well you know I think we have issued subpoenas and I agree [they’re appropriate] for the Department of Justice officials. Let’s get the information from them. You know they [Leahy and Schumer] want to cut to the chase and get Karl Rove there and have a political circus. I don’t think that helps." --ArizonaSenator John Cornyn while sitting next to Senator Leahy while being interviewed by George Stepanopolous on March 18, 2007. 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

We Must Destroy This Village To Save It
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 21, 2007

Sens. Ann Cummings, Virginia Lyons and Peter Shumlin, all Democratic leaders, are the prime sponsors of a bill that would tax every gallon or pound of heating fuel in Vermont to pay for energy efficiency weatherization of energy-inefficient, low-income homes. Now, let's get this straight. They are going to tax everybody, including the "beneficiaries" of their largesse, the low-income people. That's classic socialism - tax the poor to benefit the poor because, finally, everybody is and ought to be poor.

These three are philosophical and political lightweights. Their drive to make the government the arbiter of how things can be made right just by taxing everybody, including the people who can't afford to pay the current cost, is the Vermont equivalent of "We had to destroy this village to save it." Listen to Cummings, "[This new tax] will generate many new jobs for people." Translated: Government employment is wonderful. It uses taxes on working people to create jobs for working people. Does it sound like Democratic Depression rhetoric?

Catamount Health rates higher than expected
By Shay Totten, Vermont Guardian, March 23, 2007

Two of Vermont’s top health insurance providers say Catamount Health Plan insurance rates may end up being 10 percent higher than the Legislature had anticipated. ... For people earning less than 300 percent of poverty, they would pay a fixed amount ranging from a low of $60 for someone at 200 percent of the federal poverty level to $135 for those earning just less than the 300 percent level. Those rates — filed with the Department of Banking, Insurance, Securities, and Health Care Administration (BISHCA)— are 8.5 and 12.6 percent more than the Legislature had anticipated, which is raising concerns that the program could cost more than anticipated if everyone who is projected to be eligible for the plan actually enrolls.

'Property taxes are killing me.' Douglas hears Vermonters' worries at Barre forum
By Peter Hirschfeld Times Argus Staff, March 22, 2007

A mostly gray-haired crowd turned out at Aldrich Public Library to lament property tax increases that one man said put him out of a home. "The rates went up enough that on May 3 I have to be out of my house because I have to sell it," said Barre City property owner Bill Day, who is a resident of Barre Town, one of about 60 central Vermonters in the basement of the library. "Property taxes are killing me."

VT House votes down death with dignity initiative
WCAX, Mar 21, 2007

In my view, (the bill) goes too far in enforcing one group's preferences on the traditional values of others," said Rep. Harvey "Bud" Otterman, R-Topsham.

Courts That Cripple Public Schools
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 22, 2007

However these suits come out, and we bet that they will become speech-protected activities, the public schools will have their hands tied once again in their efforts to keep the schools places of instruction, not politics. And, little instruction can take place when the students effectively are a zoo of acting-out immature kids in front of teachers who can't enforce simple rules of serious discipline for fear of trampling on the kids' rights and being sued.

The public schools receive a babble of criticism for non-performance. That criticism almost totally distracts from a fundamental problem that the courts exacerbate with ACLU-type judgments. Teachers can't teach with their hands tied behind them. When the kids in front of you are openly defiant of reasonable rules of behavior and civility, it is like speaking into the wrong end of a megaphone. They are acting out, as kids have done since Adam and Eve had Cain and Abel, in order to resist the very discipline and structure that they most need at this stage of their lives.

Researchers explore sides of VT's Buy Local movement
By Gordon Dritschilo, Rutland Herald, March 23, 2007

The conventional wisdom, Ackerman-Leist said, is that industrial agriculture tends to leave residual pesticides on food, making it less healthy than organically grown food, that the vitamin content of food degrades over time and that food shipped long distances is more highly processed, again reducing nutritive value. These notions are repeatedly touted at farmers markets and seminars, but how much of a basis do they have in fact? Ackerman-Leist said he knows at least some research has been done on the subject, and has not seen a lot of convincing evidence.

House votes for bill to eliminate vote for union representation
By Ross Sneyd, The Associated Press, March 23, 2007

Republicans put up a big fight in the House but ultimately lost Friday in their bid to derail a bill that would have waived the need for a union recognition vote if a majority of a work force signed representation cards. ... Proponents argued that in such an instance it would be obvious that a majority of workers wanted to join the union and an election would be redundant. Opponents said that was an odd justification. "When is the last time that this House tried to solve a problem by depriving a Vermonter of his right to vote?" said Rep. Thomas Koch, R-Barre.

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From Elsewhere

How Big-Government Conservatism Brought Down the Republican Revolution
From "Leviathan on the Right" by Michael D. Tanner, March 2, 2007

Consider the following policy proposals that have been floating around Washington in the months leading up to the 2006 election: (a) creating a new cabinet-level federal Department of Families; (b) giving every child $2,000 at birth; (c) having the federal government fund 70,000 new math and science teachers; and (d) requiring every American to purchase health insurance. One might expect that those proposals were made by liberal Democrats, perhaps Ted Kennedy or Hillary Clinton preparing for their Senate majority. In fact, every one of them was made by conservative Republicans. ...

Of course the Republican Party has always had its moderates or "wets." And many conservatives have honored their commitment to limited government more in rhetoric than in action. Unified government power, with the House, Senate, and presidency all controlled by the same party, nearly always yields more spending and bigger government than divided government. But this rejection of the traditional conservative small-government agenda represents something different. The recent drift by Republicans and other conservatives toward big government is not just a result of political pragmatism, addiction to pork-barrel politics, or the desire to curry favor with constituents who appear to demand government solutions to the problems that affect them. Rather it represents a slow but steady change in conservative philosophy, one that rejects a Reaganite skepticism about government in favor of a belief that big government may not be such a bad thing after all, if it can be harnessed to conservative ends. ...

Those of us who believe in limited government and individual liberty have long become accustomed to threats from the Democratic left. But, today, an equal threat may come from the Republican right. Should big-government conservatives win the debate over the direction of conservatism, it will represent a fundamental change in the balance of political forces. Are we destined for a future of debates only between liberals who want to increase the size and power of government and conservatives who want to increase the size and power of government? If conservatives abandon the ideal of limited constitutional government, who then will speak for liberty?

Al Qaeda's Agenda for Iraq
by Amir Taheri, New York Post

'IT is not the American war machine that should be of the utmost concern to Muslims. What threatens the future of Islam, in fact its very survival, is American democracy." This is the message of a new book, just published by al Qaeda in several Arab countries. ... What Al-Ayyeri sees now is a "clean battlefield" in which Islam faces a new form of unbelief. This, he labels "secularist democracy. "This threat is "far more dangerous to Islam" than all its predecessors combined. The reasons, he explains in a whole chapter, must be sought in democracy's "seductive capacities." This form of "unbelief" persuades the people that they are in charge of their destiny and that, using their collective reasoning, they can shape policies and pass laws as they see fit. That leads them into ignoring the "unalterable laws" promulgated by God for the whole of mankind, and codified in the Islamic shariah (jurisprudence) until the end of time. The goal of democracy, according to Al-Ayyeri, is to "make Muslims love this world, forget the next world and abandon jihad. " If established in any Muslim country for a reasonably long time, democracy could lead to economic prosperity, which, in turn, would make Muslims "reluctant to die in martyrdom" in defense of their faith.

Wrong on Timetables: The Democratic Congress doesn't understand what is going on in Iraq
by William Kristol & Frederick W. Kagan, The Weekly Standard, 04/02/2007

Democrats in Congress have made three superficially plausible claims....But the situation in Iraq is moving rapidly away from the assumptions underlying these propositions, and their falseness is easier to show with each passing day.

Scientific Smackdown: Skeptics Voted The Clear Winners Against Global Warming Believers in Heated NYC Debate
By Marc Morano, U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, March 16, 2007

Just days before former Vice President Al Gore’s scheduled visit to testify about global warming before the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works, a high profile climate debate between prominent scientists Wednesday evening ended with global warming skeptics being voted the clear winner by a tough New York City before an audience of hundreds of people. Before the start of the nearly two hour debate the audience polled 57.3% to 29.9% in favor of believing that Global Warming was a "crisis", but following the debate the numbers completely flipped to 46.2% to 42.2% in favor of the skeptical point of view. The audience also found humor at the expense of former Vice President Gore’s reportedly excessive home energy use.

Leaky Democrats bury real Plame case
By J.B. Williams Enter Stage Right

Meanwhile, the real Plame-Wilson scandal remains uninvestigated. The real questions have never been asked or answered and it appears that they never will be. In the post 9/11 America, foreign intelligence reports of the Hussein Regime attempting to purchase "yellow cake" would have been a high priority national security matter for reasons obvious to even the average onlooker.

The CIA, FBI, DOD and NSA are full of highly trained and very experienced covert agents who have spent a lifetime perfecting their counter-intelligence skills and developing networks of international snitches. Yet not one of them was sent on what would have been one of the most important investigations of the day. Instead, Wilson, with no counter-intelligence experience, no training and no investigative or CIA credentials at all, was sent on the most important covert mission of the day. He was not sent by the White House, or chosen by any counter-intelligence agency on the basis of his qualifications for the task at hand, but by his wife, Valerie Plame, who along with Wilson, were opposed to the Bush administration and their war on international terrorism.

Then, upon returning from Niger, Wilson did not report his findings back to CIA Director Tenet or the White House who asked for the investigation before first writing his Bush-bashing op-ed for the Wall Street Journal. After the op-ed, the Bush White House, the CIA and congress received Wilson's official report, which was at odds with his op-ed. While the Plame-Wilson circus was drawing national media attention, several congressional Democrats were busy engaged in real leaking of highly classified national security operations at Gitmo, Abu Ghraib, the NSA terror wiretaps, CIA terror interrogation efforts and covert DOD intelligence gathering programs aimed at preventing the next 9/11.

Sandy Berger was busy stuffing Top Secret national security files from the national archives in his shorts, a real crime for which he received a $10,000 slap on the wrist and a three year suspension of his security clearance, which he will have again in time for the '08 election.

Fact or Fiction? Movie "300" gets the big ideas right
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, March 22, 2007

A small contingent of Greeks at Thermopylae (which translates to “The Hot Gates”) really did block the enormous Persian army for three days before being betrayed. The defenders claimed their fight was for the survival of a free people against subjugation by the Persian Empire. Many of the film’s corniest lines — such as the Spartan dare, “Come and take them,” when ordered by the Persians to hand over their weapons, or the Spartans’ flippant reply, “Then we will fight in the shade,” when warned that Persian arrows will blot out the sun — actually come from ancient accounts by Herodotus and Plutarch. ...

Finally, some have suggested that 300 is juvenile in its black-and-white depiction — and glorification — of free Greeks versus imperious Persians. The film has actually been banned in Iran as hurtful American propaganda, as the theocracy suddenly is reclaiming its “infidel” ancient past. But that good/bad contrast comes not from the director or Frank Miller, but is based on accounts from the Greeks themselves, who saw their own society as antithetical to the monarchy of imperial Persia. True, 2,500 years ago, almost every society in the ancient Mediterranean world had slaves. And all relegated women to a relatively inferior position. Sparta turned the entire region of Messenia into a dependent serf state. But in the Greek polis alone, there were elected governments, ranging from the constitutional oligarchy at Sparta to much broader-based voting in states like Athens and Thespiae. Most importantly, only in Greece was there a constant tradition of unfettered expression and self-criticism. Aristophanes, Sophocles and Plato questioned the subordinate position of women. Alcidamas lamented the notion of slavery.

Such openness was found nowhere else in the ancient Mediterranean world. That freedom of expression explains why we rightly consider the ancient Greeks as the founders of our present Western civilization — and, as millions of moviegoers seem to sense, far more like us than the enemy who ultimately failed to conquer them.

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