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True North Archives - March 30, 2010
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Featured Articles

Jihadism and the Destruction of Western Civilization
By Robert Maynard

If we are serious about defending our heritage of liberty from this latest attack, we had better gain an understanding about the nature of the attacker. A good place to start with is by looking into the life and thought of Sayyid Qutb. Sayyid Qutb was one of the most important figures in the development of jihadi Salafi ideology. As pointed out on the Global Security website:

"Salafi is a term often used to describe fundamentalist Islamic thought. The teachings of the reformer Abd Al-Wahhab are more often referred to by adherents as Salafi, that is, "following the forefathers of Islam." This branch of Islam is often referred to as "Wahhabi," a term that many adherents to this tradition do not use. … Wahhabism is a particular orientation within Salafism. Most puritanical groups in the Muslim world are Salafi in orientation, but not necessarily Wahhabi."

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

Well, it appears that they’ve fixed the leak at Vermont Yankee.  Of course, once people learned something about tritium, we realized that the problem wasn’t tritium; it was either that Entergy officials couldn’t read their own blueprints and didn’t know that there were underground pipes at the plant, or that they knew and lied, or that they found out later and neglected to report that information as they had promised to do.  We’re not used to such incompetence or deceit in Vermont.

When this particular shoe dropped, Sen. Peter Shumlin, who as president pro-tem runs the Senate calendar, saw his opportunity.  He scheduled a vote on a bill that would allow the Public Service Board to rule on Entergy’s petition to keep Vermont Yankee up and running for another 20 years.  Everyone knew that the vote would be a lopsided rejection of the bill, and everyone knew that the vote was politically motivated—an effort by Sen. Shumlin to distinguish himself from the other four Democratic candidates for governor in a five-way race that appears to be a toss-up.  And nobody believes that this is the final answer.  Lobbyists on both sides are still working the halls as hard as ever, and everyone expects the real decision to be made next year.

Glasnost, Nyet; Neyacnost, Da
By Martin Harris

The longer answer is that official State Ed Dept and local district or SU data for individual schools showing actual square footage and official building capacity rating are no longer considered publicly-available information. They were, once: anyone could call the Superintendent’s office, or the SED,  to get such numbers, which were maintained there in a (somewhat) famous three-ring binder- a data page for each schoolhouse building in the State, and well-known locally as well. All that past transparency ended in the mid-90’s, when at a hearing on school costs in Montpelier when I referred to it, the then-SED legal counsel said "Don’t call us for such data. The Legislature has deprived us of funds to maintain the notebook any longer." Since then, my "agents" in Bristol, Middlebury, Brandon, and Rutland have reported back to me on the refusal of local edu-crats to provide current numbers, one inquiry being answered in terms of building septic capacity. I conclude that, just like the Federal NAEP student test scores, which have been deemed best left unpublicized by the SED, similarly the data from which anyone could read SF/P indicators have now been deemed best hidden by official opacity. In the former Soviet Union, "perestroika" (reconstruction) brought about "glasnost" (transparency); in modern Vermont education, a different sort of management-policy "perestroika" has brought about "neyactnost" (opacity). A parallel result of the same shift-to-opacity at the SED shows up on the web-site of the UVM Center for Rural Studies, on which the School Report no longer (as of June 09) receives school-by-school data from the SED, as I reported in this space recently with respect to budget conflict –enrollment down, staffing and budget up-- in the Norwich district. There comes a point when the numbers are just too uncomfortable to publicize.

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This Week’s Mailbag

Governor Dean, you want a more robust Public Option?

"I think the bill still has some fairly significant flaws but you know we can work with this.  This is what Mitt Romney did essentially in Massachusetts, but it’s going to take a long time but it’s going to lead to reforms ultimately.  I wouldn’t call this bill reform but I do think it can lead to reform…it’s going to take a lot more work" 

"Governor Dean, Philosophically… do you think your party knows…we’ve chosen a different type of society, more akin to Europe?" 

"…when it gets [social inequality] out of whack…you need to do some redistribution.  This is a form of redistribution." 

This CNBC Squawk Box interview occurred on March 25th; two days after President Obama signed into law the most significant major legislation since
Medicare, in 1965. 

As Governor Dean stated, "This is a form of redistribution," and "I wouldn’t call this bill [health care] reform but I do think it can lead to reform."  If this major legislation doesn’t – yet – provide the kind of health care change sold to the American public, what "change" actually was sold? 

The U.S. Senate’s health-care legislation recently passed by the House does not "reform" America's health-care system.  Rather, it provides for transformative "change." Change to America’s social contract; change to America’s civil society; and predominately, change to America’s individual freedoms and its relationship with its government. 

18th century philosopher Edmund Burke writes of this difference between "change" and "reform": 

"There is…a marked distinction between change and [reform]. [Change] alters the substance of the objects themselves, and gets rid of all their essential good as well as of all accidental evil annexed to them…. Reform is not change in the substance or in the primary modification of the object, but a direct application of a remedy to the grievance complained of.  So far as that is removed, all is sure. It stops there; and if it fails, the substance which underwent the operation, at the very worst, is but where it was." 

This health-care legislation "changes" the substance of the object; that object being America's relationship between its citizenry and its government; a relationship emanated from our Founder’s Declaration of Independence, Constitution and Bill of Rights.  This, I believe, is what Governor Dean was speaking to; like the proverbial adage of boiling the frog in the pot of water by – ever so slowly – increasing its temperature, he knows goals are attained by – ever so slowly - redefining relationships. 

It is here - the substantive change between the relationship of an individual’s rights with that of government’s control over both these rights and property - that our nation’s battle lines are drawn. 

Tom Licata 

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"Liberty is not a means to a political end. It is itself the highest political end."  --Lord Acton 
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Montpelier Numbers
From Vermont Tiger, March 23, 2010

By now, those of us who care about this sort of thing have had our fun with Senator Peter Shumlin's appearance on Fox (also here) where he asserted with his customary sense of confidence that 30% of Germany's electrical power is solar generated.

As it turns out, the actual figure comes in at something less than 1%.

Report: Vermont Losing Jobs to China
From WCAX-TV, March 23, 2010

A new report says Vermont has lost over 6,000 jobs to China in the past decade. Burton Snowboards is the latest company to export jobs, moving its manufacturing operations from Vermont to China and Austria. Tubbs Snowshoes is another example of a company that found a cheaper labor market in China.

According to the Economic Policy Institute, the United States lost 2.4 million jobs to China between 2001 and 2008, and Vermont lost 6,200 jobs in that same period.

Election 2010: Vermont Governor
Vermont Governor: Dubie Leads Five Top Democrats.

From Rasmussen Reports, March 23, 2010

Republican Lieutenant Governor Brian Dubie leads all five of his potential Democratic opponents in the first Rasmussen Reports Election 2010 survey of this year’s race for governor in Vermont.

Related Article: Election 2010: Vermont Senate

Empowered By Douglas, Dubie
Caledonia Record Editorial, March 24, 2010

Kudos to Gov. Jim Douglas and Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie on securing a highly desirable and advantageous power contract with Hydro-Quebec at this critical time in Vermont's power history.

They joined Quebec Premier Jean Charest in applauding a new preliminary agreement, announced in Quebec City recently, establishing the framework for a new 26-year power contract between Vermont's two largest electric utilities, CVPS and GMC, and Hydro Quebec.

Tax Package Sparks Contention
By Peter Hirschfeld, Times Argus, March 26, 2010

Republican lawmakers say a tax bill approved by the Democratically controlled House on Thursday will stunt commerce and worsen the effects of a bad economy.

The so-called Miscellaneous Tax Bill captures a total of about $11.3 million in revenue in fiscal year 2011, and Democrats insist the legislation does not raise taxes. The bulk of that revenue, according to Rep. Michael Obuchowski, chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means, will funnel into the state's Education Fund and be used to lower the statewide education property tax by 2 cents.

Related: Advocating for Equality: What's Yours Is Mine

Health Reform Raises Concerns with Ski Areas/Seasonal Businesses
Provision Could Fine Seasonal Businesses for Not Providing Health Plan.
From WMUR-TV, March 25, 2010

New Hampshire's ski industry is sounding the alarm about possible costs incurred by health care reform.

The new law has a provision that takes effect in 2014 to fine businesses that don't offer medical insurance to employees who work more than 120 days per year. Some local ski areas said that time constraint could put them in a bind.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Superpower China
By Alan Caruba, Right Side News, March 28, 2010

As the sun begins to set on an America whose dollar set the standard and whose capacity for manufacturing was unchallenged, a new superpower is emerging and it is China.

Many of the economists and China-watchers have been quick to seize on any bad news coming out of the Asian giant, but for the most part they have marveled how, since the new century began, China has proven adept at maintaining a fast growing economy. Indeed, so fast, it is beginning to show signs of protectionism.

In July 2007, an article in The Washington Times noted that "China, this year for the first time, has dislodged the United States from its long reign as the main engine of global economic growth, with its more than 11 percent growth eclipsing sputtering U.S. growth of about 2 percent, according to the International Monetary Fund's 2007 projections..."

Related Article: North Korea Wants to Nuke Us, So Why Is China Lending a Hand?

Nuclear Terrorism: How Did We Get Here? Where Are We? And Where Can We Go?(Part 1 of 10)
By Peter Huessy,Family Security Matters, March 21, 2010

China, Russia and North Korea, as well as Venezuela, are the most important accomplices to the Iranian regimes quest for nuclear weapons. Threats to the U.S. include nuclear coercion as well as the a) detonation of a nuclear device in an American city by a terrorist group provided nuclear weapons by a terror master state/nuclear armed state, such as Iran, Pakistan or North Korea or a nuclear device used in an EMP-type attack from a ballistic missile.

Current analysis of these threats is relatively weak, as it is shaped by the following factors: (1) a false distinction between terror master states and their terror group allies; (2) a too great reliance upon traditional means of deterrence and arms control to deal with nuclear threats; (3) an assumption that the Iranian regime and other "terror masters" are amenable to traditional international norms and public diplomacy; (4) an apparent unwillingness to acknowledge the widespread economic trade/investment with Iran that supports its terrorism and nuclear enterprises from major nation states such as Russia and China and numerous multinational corporations; (5) an affection for the belief that American military power, including its nuclear deterrent, is primarily responsible for the nuclear ambitions of rogue states; (6) an unwillingness to believe the duplicity of Iranian negotiators has been part of a deliberate long-running state policy; and (7) a failure to understand that the U.S. and its European allies have a greater capability/leverage to eliminate this threat, especially through the use of economic, energy and banking sanctions to effect regime change, than we assume.

USFK Chief Warns of Instability in N.Korea
From the Chosun Ilbo, March 17, 2010

U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp has warned of sudden regime collapse in North Korea and called for urgent preparation for such an eventuality. Sharp was speaking at a subcommittee hearing of the U.S. House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday.

"We would also be mindful of the potential for instability in North Korea," he said. "Combined with the country's disastrous centralized economy, dilapidated industrial sector, insufficient agricultural base, malnourished military and populace, and developing nuclear programs, the possibility of a sudden leadership change in the North could be destabilizing and unpredictable."

Islamist Gülen Movement Runs U.S. Charter Schools
By Stephen Schwartz, Islamist Watch, March 29, 2010

A secretive foreign network of Islamic radicals now operates dozens of charter schools — which receive government money but are not required to adopt a state-approved curriculum — on U.S. soil. The inspirer of this conspiratorial effort is Fethullah Gülen, who directs a major Islamist movement in Turkey and the Turkish diaspora, but lives in the United States. He is number 13 among the world's "50 most influential Muslims" according to one prominent listing.

Gülen has been criticized as the puppet master for the current Turkish government headed by the "soft Islamist" Justice and Development Party, known by its Turkish initials as the AKP, in its slow-motion showdown with the secularist Turkish military. But Gülen is also known in Muslim countries for his network of 500-700 Islamic schools around the world, according to differing sources favorable to his movement. A more critical view of Gülen's emphasis on education asserts that his international network of thousands of primary and secondary schools, universities, and student residences is a key element in solidifying an Islamist political agenda in Turkey.

Organizing the U.S. Government to Counter Hostile Ideologies (pdf)
From the Hudson Institute, March, 2010

The Unites States confronts an Islamist extremism problem. The ideological component is a key, if not the key, dimension. The U.S. should afford the same priority to a strategic ideas campaign as it does to  capturing or killing violent Islamist extremists.

A successful campaign requires the coordination of public and private effort at both the Domestic and international levels. This type of coordination occurred in a number of historical examples of effective strategic ideas campaigns – such as movements against slavery, against dueling, for feminism and for environmental causes. Individual and group advocacy created overlapping  networks and a more or less ubiquitous presence in key societies.

Members of the Obama administration have spoken frequently of their interest in "smart" power,  giving greater emphasis to the softer instruments of  national power. A strategic ideas campaign to combat Islamic extremism and the related terrorism problem would be an application of the smart power concept. But even if the President was determined to launch such a campaign, and thereby correct a deficiency in President Bush’s war on terrorism, he would find that the U.S. government lacks the necessary tools.

Electromagnetic Pulse Weapons: Congress Must Understand the Risk
By Baker Spring, The Heritage Foundation, March, 2010

In 2004, the congressionally mandated Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack released an unclassified executive report on its broader study of the U.S.’s vulnerability to EMP weapons strikes.[1] In 2008, the commission released a follow-up report that detailed the vulnerabilities of the critical infrastructures of the U.S. to EMP strikes.[2] Taken together, these two reports make it clear that an EMP attack could inflict severe damage on the U.S. As the initial report stated, "EMP is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences."

Congress should not let the Obama Administration ignore the commission’s findings. Instead, it should mandate an updated assessment of which countries may be pursuing EMP weapons and associated delivery systems and platforms. Further, Congress should demand that the Administration develop, test, and ultimately field defenses against EMP attacks, including improved ballistic missile defenses capable of countering short-range ballistic missiles that can carry EMP warheads.

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From Elsewhere

Health Care Rights, and Wrongs
By Dr. Donald P. Condit, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, March 23, 2010

What's driving passions right now," President Obama said last fall on CBS' "Face the Nation," "is that health care has become a proxy for a broader set of issues about how much government should be involved in the economy."

The president was indeed accurate in his description of the debate. It is a proxy fight between statists and a government-weary public.

CBO report: Debt Will Rise to 90% of GDP
By David M. Dickson, The Washington Times, March 26, 2010

President Obama's fiscal 2011 budget will generate nearly $10 trillion in cumulative budget deficits over the next 10 years, $1.2 trillion more than the administration projected, and raise the federal debt to 90 percent of the nation's economic output by 2020, the Congressional Budget Office reported Thursday.

In its 2011 budget, which the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) released Feb. 1, the administration projected a 10-year deficit total of $8.53 trillion. After looking it over, CBO said in its final analysis, released Thursday, that the president's budget would generate a combined $9.75 trillion in deficits over the next decade.

Now They Tell Us: NYT says Health Care Bill "attacks wealth inequality" to end "age of Reagan"
By Mark Hemingway, The Washington Examiner, March 24, 2010

If you thought the health care bill was just about, well, health care, guess again! It's about income redistribution as much as anything:

"For all the political and economic uncertainties about health reform, at least one thing seems clear: The bill that President Obama signed on Tuesday is the federal government’s biggest attack on economic inequality since inequality began rising more than three decades ago.

Over most of that period, government policy and market forces have been moving in the same direction, both increasing inequality. The pretax incomes of the wealthy have soared since the late 1970s, while their tax rates have fallen more than rates for the middle class and poor.

Nearly every major aspect of the health bill pushes in the other direction. This fact helps explain why Mr. Obama was willing to spend so much political capital on the issue, even though it did not appear to be his top priority as a presidential candidate. Beyond the health reform’s effect on the medical system, it is the centerpiece of his deliberate effort to end what historians have called the age of Reagan."

Obviously, there's quite a bit of cant in how the Times' economic reporter is framing the tax and inequality issue. I would bother pointing out the counterarguments, but I think the New York Times' liberalism on such matters is widely accepted. (Cafe Hayek takes apart the claims on inequality here.) But the broad point that the health care bill is really about income redistribution is revealing in and of itself.

Big Profits + Easy Money Trump Washington
By Larry Kudlow, CNBC, March 24, 2010

On another note, as a very special gift to Fed head Ben Bernanke, the euro continues its slump in the wake of the Greek debt problem that still hasn’t been solved. That means a strong U.S. dollar, despite all the Fed’s ultra-easy money. I think Mr. Bernanke ought to visit the Parthenon, the symbol of ancient Greece, and genuflect in thanksgiving for the modern-day Greek crackup that has helped support King Dollar in spite of his ultra-easy money....

So I bring good tidings to equity investors, despite the fact that I can’t for the life of me find a single free-market policy in our nation’s capital. Not one single policy. But sometimes the business cycle, and of course the Fed, can trump Washington.

Related Article: Hudson Institute Economic Report (pdf)

Reform Repeal Is Just Child's Play
From Investor’s Business Daily, March 17, 2010

Unlike Medicare and Social Security, this nationalization of one-sixth of the U.S. economy and placing of bureaucrats and IRS agents between you and your doctor was unpopular from the beginning.

As John R. Graham, director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute, reminds us, the 1965 Medicare and Medicaid amendments to the Social Security Act of 1935 enjoyed greater than 70% majorities in each congressional chamber. Social Security also passed with majorities of both parties in both chambers.

Related Articles:

ObamaCare is Politically Vulnerable

Obamacare: The New Battles Ahead

Beware the Emboldened Left

Now, Can We Have Health-Care Reform?

Dissent is Noble — Until Aimed At Democrats
By L. Brent Bozell III, Investor’s Business Daily, March 22, 2010

During the Bush years, the news media were the promoters of protest, the champions of dissent. Denouncing the president as a brain-damaged warmonger was the most patriotic thing you could do (just ask the Dixie Chicks), and it was guaranteed to please the press.

On MSNBC before the Iraq War in 2003, David Shuster elevated the "anti-war" movement to the equivalent of the U.S. military, only with a higher morality: "The size of the demonstrators, at least here, at least in Europe, seems to underscore that there are now perhaps two world superpowers," he told Chris Matthews. "There's the United States, and then there are those millions of people who took to the streets opposing U.S. policy."

My, how times, and standards, change.

On the weekend of the vote for a massive government intervention in the health insurance market, these same reporters had a different take. Tea Party protesters weren't going to be hailed for their courageous and patriotic use of their free time. They were going to be smeared for daring to be.

Related: CNN Convicts Palin and Tea Partiers of 'Inciting Violence' and Stoking Racism

Oh, Canada!
By Ann Coulter, Patriot Post, March 25, 2010

Since arriving in Canada I've been accused of thought crimes, threatened with criminal prosecution for speeches I hadn't yet given, and denounced on the floor of the Parliament. Posters advertising my speech have been officially banned, while posters denouncing me are plastered all over the University of Ottawa campus. Elected officials have been prohibited from attending my speeches. Also, the local clothing stores are fresh out of brown shirts.... 

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