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True North Archives - - April 01, 2008
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Featured Articles

A Confusion of Words in America Today
By Karen Kerin

Words do matter and sometimes it is wise to take stock of what they mean. The commonly confused words are freedom, justice, liberty, republic, democracy and the law. So let us take those words for what they mean.

Abortion and Presidential Politics
By Mary Hahn Beerworth

The Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion throughout pregnancy in every state was originally touted as the "final word on the subject." The pundits could not have been more wrong. Instead pro-lifers have relentlessly pursued accurate information about a candidate’s position on abortion and today abortion continues to be a significant factor in political contests from local government to the highest elected official in the land – the president of the United States.

No Occam’s Razor on the Fifth Floor of the SOB
By Martin Harris

There must be a few such simple-minded folks wandering the halls of the US Department of Education in Washington, because a group of them, the National Mathematics Advisory Panel, has looked at the dismal test scores (in 8th grade math, for example, the national average student score is 278 out of a possible 500, while Vermont comes in at 287 or 38 percent proficient, able to function at grade level) and has come to the simple answer: that curriculum needs a re-work. Their report doesn’t mention the history of "New Math", whereby public education chose to abandon the traditional math curriculum basics back in the ‘70’s, but does explicitly call for what a Wall Street Journal story calls " a laserlike focus on the essentials". No more forays into set theory or other-than-base-10 counting systems, but instead an old-fashioned triad of objectives: "quick and effortless recall of arithmetic facts in early grades; mastery of fractions in middle school; and rigorous algebra courses in high school". But there’s no such simplistic thinking in Montpelier, no evidence of any Occam’s Razor on the top floors of the State Office Building opposite the State House, from which educational-bureaucracy venue the rules for spending Vermont’s annual $1.5 or so billion, on a shrinking enrollment now down to some 95,000, now extend to control the State’s public education enterprise.

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"...regrettable as it may seem to the idealist, the experience of history provides little warrant for the belief that real progress, and the freedom that makes progress possible, lies in unification. For where unification has been able to establish unity of ideas it has usually ended in uniformity, paralysing the growth of new ideas. And where the unification has merely brought about an artificial or imposed unity, its irksomeness has led through discord to disruption." -- B. H. Liddell Hart (1895-1970) British military historian and strategist

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

The Source of Our Pain
From March 27, 2008

When we talk about instances where state officials use environmental, anti-development, sustainability, etc. exuberance to justify unpopular and often indefensible decisions we usually account for it as a 'political' action, 'judicial activism', or even 'identity politics' at work. We rarely consider these actions as a form of corruption. It's surprising to find that despite our own apparent forgiveness for these transgressions the World Bank considers the unchecked discretionary power of bureaucrats a form of corruption.

A New Assault On Vermont Yankee
Caledonian Record Editorial, March 28, 2008

Here we go again, and again, and again ... After last year's humiliating defeat when he tried to double cross Vermont Yankee into paying for one of his schemes to save the earth from global warming and its ensuing apocalypse, Sen. Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, is back with another attempt to blackmail Vermont Yankee.

Housing Cost, Wage Disparity Grows Wider
By Tim Johnson, The Burlington Free Press, March 26, 2008

Those accustomed to wringing their hands over the unaffordability of housing in Vermont have reason to squeeze harder, thanks to the release Tuesday of an annual report that details the gap between housing costs and household incomes.

Nearly two-thirds of Vermont's households can't afford to buy a house at the state's median price. Roughly two-thirds of Vermont's nonfarm employees receive wages lower than needed to afford the average "fair market" rent for a two-bedroom apartment.

Meanwhile, Vermont's income disparities are increasing, and so is homelessness, the report says. The number of million-dollar homes increased 46-fold from 2000 to 2006. The average length of stay in a Vermont homeless shelter in 2007 was 33 days, more than twice as long as in 2000.

Our Death Grip On Straws
From, March 28, 2008

But the cold fact is -- to compete, Vermont needs a lot more than a robust non-profit sector doing business in energy efficiency.  We are not going to become the Silicon Valley of anything ... Death Valley, maybe.   Silicon Valley, not a chance. We suspect the Governor understands this and we wish that he would say so.  Forcefully.

Jobless Rate Called Warning
From the Burlington Free Press, March 29, 2008

The Vermont Department of Labor announced Friday the unemployment rate for February was 4.3 percent, up one-tenth of a point from January. "We continue to be concerned that the slowly increasing unemployment rate in recent months is a warning sign that the nation's and region's economic slowdown is reaching Vermont," said Labor Commissioner Patricia Moulton Powden.

Rising Costs, Stagnant Wages Fueling Hunger in Vermont
By Mel Huff, Times Argus, March 27, 2008

Two hundred hunger advocates – twice the number that attended last year's statewide hunger conference – gathered at the Capitol Plaza Wednesday to hear and be heard. After attending a variety of morning workshops, more than a dozen participants told the Governor's Task Force on Hunger that hunger is growing, that it is affecting greater numbers of working people, that Vermonters are caught in a vise between rising costs and stagnant wages and that lack of public transportation prevents many of the hungry from getting to available food.

Two-vote School Plan No Insult to Taxpayers
By Jack Ewell, The Burlington Free Press, March 30, 2008

The Feb. 28 vote in the Vermont House to overturn important cost control legislation can only be described as indifference to the taxpaying citizens of Vermont. The Vermont NEA, with Speaker Symington's support, seeks to overthrow legitimate cost control measures enacted by the Legislature under Act 81. The governor, by contrast, has demonstrated a commitment to the needs of Vermonters, not the Vermont NEA. The Vermont Legislature appears much more conflicted about its relationship with the state's most powerful lobby. 

Related: Teachers Union Spent $9.2M Lobbying

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Obama Connection to Terrorists Revealed by Talk Show Host
By Jim Kouri, Hawaii Reporter, March 24, 2008

A top official at the Pentagon during former-President George H. W. Bush's Administration and a former CIA intelligence officer maintain that Barack Obama and former Weather Underground honcho William Ayers funneled money to Professor Rashid Khalidi, a known terrorist sympathizer. 

Khalidi serves on the faculty of Columbia University in New York and is best known as the professor who invited Iranian President Ahmedinejad to visit Columbia University after he finished his speech at the United Nations. According to confidential sources, Khalidi has direct ties to the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), a group on the US State Department's list of known terrorist groups.

Haditha Bombshell: Pentagon Had Secret Committee
By Philip V. Brennan,, March 26, 2008

A shadow legal body was set up by the Defense Department to manipulate the prosecutions of U.S. Marines accused of massacring Iraqi civilians in Haditha in 2005. That's the bombshell disclosure from the Thomas More Law Center, a national public interest law firm that is representing one of the accused Marines, Lt. Col. Jeffrey Chessani. And it could prove to be the most damning piece of evidence showing the political motivations behind the ongoing prosecutions of the Haditha Marines. 

Mahdi Army at War with Iraqi Military
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, March 26, 2008

Basra is the flashpoint for an effort by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to get control of the vital southern city and clean out the militias who have infested it. The fact that he appears to be targeting Moqtada al-Sadr's Mahdi Militia is significant. Maliki has finally decided to confront his political rival militarily which has caused Sadr to issue a call for negotiations and tell his fighters that the cease fire he renewed last month should be respected:

Editor’s Note: Mahdi leader al-Sadr has since called for a cease fire

ChiCom Leading Paper: 'Resolutely Crush' Tibet (updated)

By Rick Moran, American Thinker,March 22, 2008

Must be nice to have your very own newspaper if you're a government. You can use the organ to call on the government to commit all sorts of unspeakable acts and pretend it's the "will of the people." In the case of the Tibet crackdown, the official Chinese Communist newspaper has called on the government to "resolutely crush" the protestors in Tibet while trying to prove that the rest of the world thinks it's a dandy idea.

Related: Toronto Chinese Rally Turns Ugly

Fitna the Movie Defeating Islamic Censorship
By Andrew Walden, American Thinker, March 29, 2008

Nothing makes people want to see something more than banning it, or even better yet, telling them they may not be able to handle it (remember the Blair Witch Project?). On that basis, the new film Fitna, must be pulling in internet viewers by the tens of millions. Everyone who's anyone in the "world community", from the Dutch Prime Minister to the OIC to the EU  to the UN, is telling the world this is mighty hateful stuff.

Jihad USA: Confronting the Threat of Homegrown Terror
From Fox News, March 27, 2008

Law enforcement officials and security experts are warning against the threat of homegrown terrorism as several cases involving alleged American jihadists enter the courts. "The public is getting complacent," New York City Police Commissioner Ray Kelly tells FOX News. Kelly, who was the police commissioner during the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993, has developed a task force of counterterrorism officers trained to spot jihadists.

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From Elsewhere

The IPCC: On The Run At Last
By Bob Carter, Canada Free Press, March 25, 2008

UN climate body in panic mode as satellite temperatures turn down and a hard winter lashes both hemispheres

The Disgrace of Liberalism
By J.R. Dunn American Thinker March 19, 2008

2008 marks the end of liberalism as a governing force in the same way that 1968 marked the end of liberalism as a political doctrine.

$3,000 Tax Increase
By Brian M. Riedl, American Conservative Union, March 26, 2008

Despite healthy tax revenues and federal spending that tops $25,000 per household, the House Democratic majority has proposed a fiscal year (FY) 2009 federal budget that:

  • Raises taxes by $1.265 trillion over five years and $3.911 trillion over 10 years, or more than $3,135 per household annually;
  • Includes 17 reserve funds that could be used to raise taxes by hundreds of billions more;
  • Increases discretionary spending by 8 percent and does not terminate a single wasteful program; and
  • Completely ignores the impending explosion of Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid costs.
Related: Obama's Cap Gains Calamity

Ten Days That Changed Capitalism
By David Wessel, The Wall Street Journal, March 27, 2008

On the Richter scale of government activism, the government's recent actions don't (yet) register at FDR levels. They are shrouded in technicalities and buried in a pile of new acronyms. But something big just happened. It happened without an explicit vote by Congress. And, though the Treasury hasn't cut any checks for housing or Wall Street rescues, billions of dollars of taxpayer money were put at risk. A Republican administration, not eager to be viewed as the second coming of the Hoover administration, showed it no longer believes the market can sort out the mess. "The Government of Last Resort is working with the Lender of Last Resort to shore up the housing and credit markets to avoid Great Depression II," economist Ed Yardeni wrote to clients.

Now Bunko Hill is Under Fire: Insulted Military Blasts Her Serial 'Sniper' Lies
By Geoff Earle and Charles Hurt, New York Post, March 26, 2008

Hillary Rodham Clinton's lies about risking her life under sniper fire during a visit to Bosnia as first lady have infuriated the US military brass and troops. "She has no sense of what a statement like that does to soldiers," fumed retired Maj. Gen. Walter Stewart, the former head of the Pennsylvania National Guard. "She is insulting the command in its entirety," he said yesterday.

Is 'Magic Over' For Ailing U.S.? Facts Say 'No'
By Victor Davis Hanson, Investor’s Business Daily, March 24, 2008

So, is the "magic over"?

Not quite yet. The remedies for our current maladies require a moderate curbing of our extravagant lifestyle and voracious consumption. Given the vast size of the U.S. economy, we could easily restrain spending and begin paying off our debts at a rapid clip. Inflation and unemployment are still relatively low.

Obama had Greater Role on Liberal Survey
By Kenneth Vogel, Politico, March 31, 2008

The evidence comes from an amended version of an Illinois voter group’s detailed questionnaire, filed under his name during his 1996 bid for a state Senate seat.

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