North Archives - April 03, 2007
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Test (Part I)
By Martin Harris
There is a quite limited
range of nation-wide tests –one of the few is 4th grade reading -- which,
under Federal regulations, a sampling of students in every state is required
to take. It's called the National Assessment of Educational Progress, and
in its annually-published results, you can actually compare, say, teaching
results in Vermont and Utah and every other States. Results are uniformly
dismal: there's not a single State in which the public schools get their
4th graders to score better than the low 200's out of a possible 500, meaning
that about 2/3 of 4th graders can't make "proficient" in reading at grade
level, even in the so-called "best" States. Understandably, educators don't
like publicizing these results, so they don't. What they prefer to publicize,
in lieu of the Federal test scores, are the far-better results of locally
By Bruce P. Shields
As an agrarian movement,
the Blut und Boden people were also very suspicious of city people,
and were especially aggrieved by the intrusion of capitalist modes of organization
into the traditionally communitarian institutions of the ancient rural
economy. In many rural areas, a kind of code word for capitalism
was Jewish, in some small part inflamed by the very spectacular success
of the French Jewish family of Rothschild in investment banking.
So the core Nazi group coalesced around the idea of purity: racial purity,
purity of language, purity of communitarian customs. With its agrarian
base, the Nazi propaganda (excluding the extreme racism normally present)
would read today like the program of the Green Party.
By Peter Behr
Recent editorials in the
News and the Rutland Herald, bleating the prevailing political
line from Montpelier, pointed to the approval of most school budgets at
town meetings as evidence that the "property tax revolt" is over. This
must come as quite a shock to Revolt and Repeal and the 60 plus
towns and hundreds of taxpayers that have called for the repeal of Acts
60 and 68, and as a relief to the legislators, such as Harry Chen, who
were pilloried at Town Meetings.
Education Cost Containment and Property Tax Relief
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch,
We are faced with a basic
problem. Act 60/68 is a cash cow, generating millions of dollars
more each year than we ever dreamed... And as long as the revenue
system continues to produce money, the educational system will continue
to absorb it. Act 60/68 is also a system that local voters have little
control over, and it is a system that is so little understood that even
the “experts” who attempt to explain it to others find themselves getting
confused and making errors. It is a system that needs to be replaced
by one designed to raise money and pay bills to support a specific budget,
after that has been adopted, a system that is understood by most taxpayers,
and that can be controlled by casting one’s vote in an informed manner.
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
Dear True North Editor:
I am outraged at the poor
performance of our current state legislature under Democratic leadership.
Are the leaders of the House and Senate in competition, a contest, to see
who can be the most inept and ineffectual legislative leader --ever? In
the latest show of incompetence, House Speaker Gaye Symington blames the
governor for not advocating a totally ineffective bill to address education
funding that would bring relief to the crushing property taxes. Pointing
the finger has been Symington’s calling card since she was elected by Democrats
(I guess we can blame them) for her new job. She looks to blame others
for her failed leadership - anybody near by, it seems. Look, the good governor
will not support a bill which puts a band aid on a broken leg?
Not to be outdone, Senate
President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin has been trying to win the "booby prize"
contest by advocating a Senate bill that supposedly will cure global warming!
And he thinks our effort will bring high tech workers knocking on Vermont's
door and that will solve our sagging economy. Senate bill S.94 is a pitiful
piece of legislation. It’s so vague and there is no way to begin to understand
how it is supposed to work. And this is the way of the Democrats - they
will pass a bill on supposed higher moral ground without providing the
justification nor where the funding for the bill will come from. And in
typical Shumlin fashion, he said, “We’ll come up with a funding source."
When Peter? At this point I think he leads, slightly, in this sad contest.
Oh, and Peter, we the people are the source - always - and its hurting!!
To be fair in this contest,
Symington and Shumlin can’t be completely blamed for their incompetence
to get something of real importance accomplished. This current crowd, aforementioned,
that makes up the majority portion of the legislative body, Democrats,
is proving to be the most inept I’ve seen in my many years living in this
state. I have to wonder if Vermont would be better served by randomly picking
a class of 5th graders to lead the way. Follow the children. That reminds
me. Have you heard of that new TV show on Fox - "Are You Smarter Than a
Fifth Grader"? I really think any one of those TV fifth graders pitted
against adults, who beat the adults, could lead this legislature far better
than those leading us in that "new direction." To the poor house.
I would strongly encourage
the legislature to spend 100% of its time for the remainder of the session,
and all of next year’s session, to stay on task - forget impeachment -
forget Pre-K education expansion, forget the prohibition of wood stoves
(that helps us stay energy independent from Iran) and serve at the pleasure
of the citizens of this state. If not - if you continue to ignore their
best interests, financial and otherwise, then their growing displeasure
will hopefully send you packing.
Glenn Thompson, Essex
"Al Qaeda leadership is not
hurt as badly as intelligence officials once thought." --New
York Times, April 2, 2007
"London became such a safe
haven for Muslim militants that it came to be known as Londonistan ...
What I've come to realize is that killing for the sake of killing, and
killing in the name of Islam for the sake of killing, is completely and
utterly prohibited. And there's a big disease, a big problem and a cancer
in the Muslim world. And it's a very dangerous cancer, and it needs to
be dealt with." --Former terrorist recruiter and British citizen, Hassan
Butt - age 26, now advocating an end to jihad. His life
has been threatened by jihadist and been called a traitor by his family.
His full interview with Bob Simon on 60 Minutes, March 25, can
be accssessed here.
"I decapitated with my blessed
hand the head of the American Jew Daniel Pearl" --Khalid
Sheikh Mohammed, March 10, 2007, a detainee at Guantanamo. The
9-11 Commission said Khalid was "the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks."
"Isn't that [Democrat's legislation
setting a date certain to withdraw from Iraq and withhold funding for the
war] handing a victory to Al Qaeda? They must be laughing at us right now."
--Andy Potter to Peter Welch on the
WCAX's TV show, Your Can Quote Me (YCQM)
"But can you imagine Congress
setting a deadline in WW II? I mean Hitler and Hirohito would have laughed
at us as Andy said." --A question and comment by host of YCQM's, Marselis
Parsons to Peter Welch - Sunday, April 1, 2007.
Some of Peter
Welch's long commentary to the questions: "...The Iraq Study
Commission ... acknowledged that the war is making us less secure - not
more .... Should we be in the war? Is it in the interest of American national
security that we have an opened ended involvement in a civil war in Iraq?
If you think the answer is 'yes' then you should not set a deadline ....
In the first Persian Gulf War, President Bush 41, assembled a worldwide
coalition. He got UN Support and 96 countries to participate and it worked."
96 foreign countries, and the UN, united to confront the terrorist Saddam
Hussein on this first Iraq War, but not Senator Leahy, Jeffords and Sanders]
"If the situation in Iraq
continues to deteriorate, the consequences could be severe for Iraq, the
United States, the region, and the world ... The regional influence of
Iran could rise at a time when that country is on a path to producing nuclear
weapons ... Because of the importance of Iraq, the potential for catastrophe
... we believe it would be wrong for the United States to abandon the country
through a precipitate withdrawal of troops and support." --From the final
report of the Iraqi Study Group co-chaired
by Democrat Lee Hamilton and Republican James Baker.
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Orthodoxy Serves Science Well
Burlington Free Press Editorial,
March 30, 2007
S. Fred Singer brought his
skepticism about what is rapidly becoming the common wisdom, that human
activity is driving climate change, to the University of Vermont campus
Wednesday in a talk sponsored by Lake Champlain International, a group
best known for its fishing derbies. Singer probably changed few minds,
if any, but he did stir debate in public and in person. That in itself
is a critical service. When an orthodoxy threatens to overwhelm any subject
-- especially in the sciences -- there's nothing like an opposing view
to spur the search for knowledge.
bill would fund carbon 'offsets' with taxpayer money
By Dan McLean, Burlington
Free Press, March 29, 2007
Federal tax dollars could
be used to buy carbon "offsets" if legislation introduced by Rep. Peter
Welch, D-Vt., becomes law -- creating a potential windfall for the blossoming
offset industry. Legislative branch offices and all federal agencies --
including massive institutions such as the State, Defense and Transportation
departments -- would be authorized to use portions of their budgets to
buy greenhouse-gas offsets and renewable-energy credits, should the Carbon
Neutrality Act of 2007 become law.
Caledonian Record Editorial,
March 27, 2007
Right now, a high spending
district can spend up to $12,500 before triggering a penalty. Had House
Ed gone with a 120 percent trigger, taxpayers could have seen a minuscule
savings. If the average cost per student were $10,000 (it's a lot more
than that), a high spending district would be penalized for every dollar
it spent over $12,000. That, they deemed too stringent a penalty. Under
their compromise with Ways and Means, a high spending district will be
able to spend $12,300 without triggering the penalty. Man, what a Draconian
penalty! What taxpayer savings! What courage on the part of our legislative
committees! Who knows? Maybe next time they will sting the high spenders
with a trigger that is a full $100 lower than it is now.
back-and-forth shows little leadership
Burlington Free Press Editorial,
March 27, 2007
The back-and-forth of blame
and posturing might be business as usual when it comes to the budget process
in Montpelier, but Vermonters shouldn't have to put up with this type of
partisan politics over their money when they face some of the highest tax
burdens of any state in the nation. Recent articles published by the financial
Web site MSN Money puts Vermont's overall state and local tax burden at
10th highest in the nation, based on 2005 data. Looking at just property
taxes, Vermonters paid at the fourth highest rate in the nation -- the
median tax was 1.63 percent of the median home value. Residents of only
two other states, -- New Jersey and New Hampshire -- paid a larger percentage
of their income in property taxes than Vermonters, who paid 5.07 percent.
What this means for the budget is that neither the governor nor legislators
can turn to taxpayers to fill in those gaps.
House pulls education funding from bill for lack of votes
WCAX, March 29, 2006
House Democrats pulled an
education funding bill from the floor at the last minute Thursday because
it didn't have enough votes to pass, jeopardizing the Vermont Legislature's
chances of enacting property tax reduction legislation this year. House
Speaker Gaye Symington blamed Gov. Jim Douglas, who she said failed to
persuade Republicans to get behind it. Democrats were reluctant to back
an initiative they believed was too much of a compromise in favor of Douglas'
priorities, not theirs, she said. ... Douglas issued a statement late in
the day lambasting lawmakers for wasting time and warning that no income
tax increase would get by him. He said that would only shift taxes, not
60 for Preschool Bill Introduced in Vermont
Scratch My Back And I'll Scratch Yours
Caledonian Record Editorial,
March 29, 2007
Democrats certainly pay their
political bills. Union membership and successful organizing activities
have been in serious decline for the past two decades. The unions are desperate
to reverse the trend that has become a large-scale desertion by their former
members. Democratic and union politics are virtual synonyms. Democrats
across the nation, including here in Vermont, depend upon union support
to get elected. When is the last time that you heard that the union, any
union, supported a Republican or didn't support a Democrat. But union support
doesn't come free, it's payback time for the Democrats, and here they come.
Turn: Fightin' Bob and the secret ballot by John McClaughry, March
bill hurts workers and business Burlington
Free Press Editorial, March 29, 2007
State mulls wood furnace regulations
WCAX, March 29, 2007
A proposal to regulate emissions
from outdoor wood furnaces is drawing heat from both sides of the issue,
with supporters saying it's needed to combat air pollution but some contending
it would effectively deny Vermonters a home-heating option. ... The rule,
which went before a legislative rules committee Wednesday, would limit
new boilers to .44 pounds of particulate emissions per million BTUs of
heat input starting in March 2008. ..."If the standard can't be met, then
we view this as an outright ban," said Ed Larson, representing Central
Boiler of Greenbush, Minn.
of class warfare and taxes
By Rich Tarrant, Burlington
Free Press, March 30, 2007
The reality is that the rich
are now paying more taxes without realizing any wealth they had not already
accumulated. And if the measure of a tax is whether or not it is progressive,
consider this: The wealthiest 1 percent of Americans now pay 37 percent
of all income taxes, up from 33 percent in the pre-Bush tax-cut days. Furthermore,
the Treasury has seen record tax collections since the "cuts."
# # #
Behavior Is Linked to Time in Day Care
By Benedict Carey, The New
York Times, March 26, 2007
A much-anticipated report
from the largest and longest-running study of American child care has found
that keeping a preschooler in a day care center for a year or more increased
the likelihood that the child would become disruptive in class and that
the effect persisted through the sixth grade. The effect was slight, and
well within the normal range for healthy children, the researchers found.
And as expected, parents guidance and their genes had by far the strongest
influence on how children behaved. But the finding held up regardless of
the child's sex or family income, and regardless of the quality of the
day care center. With more than two million American preschoolers attending
day care, the increased disruptiveness very likely contributes to the load
on teachers who must manage large classrooms, the authors argue. ...
The debate reached a high
pitch in the late 1980s, during the so-called day care wars, when social
scientists questioned whether it was better for mothers to work or stay
home. Day care workers and their clients, mostly working parents, argued
that it was the quality of the care that mattered, not the setting. But
the new report affirms similar results from several smaller studies in
the past decade suggesting that setting does matter.
Study of Early Child Care
60 for Preschool Bill Introduced in Vermont
Global Warming Industrial Complex
by Joseph Loconte, The Weekly
Even people with impeccably
green credentials, if they question global warming dogma, are treated like
heretics fit for the fire. "If you're skeptical about the litany behind
climate change," says Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, "it's suddenly
as if you're a Holocaust denier." A development expert from Kenya sees
an ideology militantly opposed to modernization. "There is somebody keen
to kill the African dream, and the African dream is to develop," he says.
"We are being told don't touch your resources, don't touch your oil, don't
touch your coal; that is suicide."
Great Global Warming Swindle makes at least one incontestable charge:
A "discourse of catastrophe" has infected the scientific community's approach
to global climate change and is shaping the budget priorities of government.
In this, the issue has taken on a quasi-religious character, with devotees
on a quest for radical lifestyle alternatives to avert an apocalyptic future.
"Monks have got something enduring," gushed an editor for BBC's Radio 4,
"a sign post from them to us that could initiate a culture change shifting
our relationship with the environment."
Philip Stott, professor emeritus
of biogeography at the University of London and a program participant,
takes a dimmer view of the spiritual fervor inspiring much of the movement.
He worries about the way in which global warming provides meaning and mission--and
employment--to countless scientists, activists, and journalists. "At the
moment the greenhouse effect is like a puritanical religion," he says,
"and this is dangerous." Dangerous, perhaps, but also profitable and difficult
to dismantle: "If the global warming virago collapses," Stott predicts,
"there will be an awful lot of people out of jobs."
As Bad As Communism"
by Zoltan Dujisin, Inter
Press Service News Agency, Mar 29, 2007
Czech President Vaclav Klaus
has offered fresh warnings that environmentalism and measures to curb climate
change are a threat to human freedom. ...Vaclav Klaus was one of the leading
political figures of post-communist Czechoslovakia and was prime minister
of the Czech Republic between 1993 and 1997, leading the newly independent
country in its economic transformation. The old Czechoslovakia split into
the Czech Republic and Slovakia Jan. 1, 1993. ...Conversely, the Czech
President asked the congressmen not to yield to pressure from environmentalists
and abandon the principles of free society: "the biggest threat to freedom,
democracy, the market economy and prosperity at the beginning of the 21st
century is not communism or its various softer variants. Communism was
replaced by the threat of ambitious environmentalism." ..."This ideology,"
Klaus said, "wants to replace the free and spontaneous evolution of mankind
by a sort of central, now global, planning of the whole world."
The Czech President is strongly
opposed to environmentalism, which he calls a "religion based on political
ambitions rather than science," and accuses environmentalists of using
"sophisticated methods of media manipulation" to spread "fear and panic".
Klaus also reminded environmentalists, in a text charged with economic
jargon, that "policymakers should protect taxpayers' money and avoid wasting
it on doubtful projects," and that each measure "must be based on a cost-benefit
analysis.". Klaus fears environmentalist policies could set "artificial
limits" and have "devastating" effects on national economies, harming growth
rates and "the competitiveness of firms on international markets."
Sarbanes-Oxley: Sarbanes-Oxley Treats Businessmen as Guilty Until Proven
By Alex Epstein, March 30,
Imagine opening tomorrow's
newspaper and reading this: "Citing all-too-frequent child abuse and neglect,
Congress has proposed the Parenting Reform Act. Under the proposed law,
all parents must swear that they have not "caused unreasonable physical
harm or danger" to their children. To verify compliance, all parents will
be required to submit their children to a monthly full-body inspection
by the new Parental Oversight Board, and account for every cut, scrape,
and bruise that inspectors find. If a parent cannot prove the "reasonableness"
of any injuries to the Board's satisfaction, it could result in a loss
of custody and 20 years in prison."
Our reaction to this proposed
law would be outrage. It is unjust and destructive, we would say, for the
government to make arbitrary accusations of abuse and neglect, to conduct
baseless investigations, and then to force an innocent parent to try to
We should say the same about
an existing law that perpetrates such horrors, not against parents, but
against businessmen: Sarbanes-Oxley.
Libby Precedent: Why government officials prefer to take the Fifth
The Wall Street Journal, March 28, 2007
Congress has the right to
conduct oversight of the executive, and in a better world government officials
would be willing to testify and give as good as they get. Thus would the
public be educated about the facts and policy differences be aired. But
Ms. Goodling has been around, and she can see Democrats don't really want
to know the truth; they want to shout "liar, liar" and set the stage to
accuse Justice officials of criminal behavior. In a statement to the committee
explaining her decision, Ms. Goodling said, "I have read public remarks
by members of both the House and Senate Committees on the Judiciary in
which those members have drawn conclusions about the subject matter and
the testimony now under investigation by the Committee." We've read them,
too. Representative Linda Sanchez has already concluded that there have
been "attempts to mislead the public on this issue." In a joint press conference,
Senators Charles Schumer and Dianne Feinstein characterized Justice's testimony
as "misleading statement after misleading statement--deliberate misleading
statements." Mr. Schumer is also a lawyer, and we reckon he deliberately
chose that word "deliberate" as a prelude to charging criminal deception
and keeping the issue alive long enough to help elect more Senate Democrats
next year. (He runs the Senate Democratic campaign committee.)
Tale of Monica and Pat Leahy, By Jeffrey Lord, The American Spectator,