North Archives - April 06, 2010
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By John McClaughry
brings this obscure mystery to mind is the progress report received by
the legislature on March 30 on the vaunted "Challenge for Change" project
that is supposed to reduce the state's $154 million FY 2011 General Fund
shortfall by $38 million.
Like the Voynich Manuscript,
the CfC progress report appears to be written in a recognizable language
(English). But after plowing through its 45 pages, a critical reader comes
out wondering what problems the reports' authors think need to be solved....
After over forty years of
a political culture that has increasingly viewed state government as the
indispensable benefits bestower, wealth redistributor, tax collector, subsidizer
of all things nice, and Nanny State regulator of everyone's lives, it's
time to return state government to its essential core functions. Who says
so? A four-year budget shortfall of $848 million says so.
Not Their Ice Cream
By Deborah Bucknam
congressional delegation is spending our money to aggrandize themselves
and help their re-election efforts. It is no coincidence that Sen. Leahy
has been re-elected in Vermont for the last 35 years. He is a senator with
a trifling legislative record and a dangerous propensity to gossip. He
has been in two Batman movies and is on GQís best-dressed list. His political
philosophy is to follow the national Democratic Party and Moveon.org agendas
without deviating. But he brings in taxpayerís ice cream to Vermont, so
he wins elections.
Easy Even a Parent Can Do It
By Martin Harris
a phrase you donít hear much any more: "the third-grade slump". Like a
lot of other child-raising customs which didnít survive the 60ís, that
one was the result of then-typical parental pre-k preparation of their
kids for school, who then found they (we) could pretty much coast through
the first three of their (our) 13-year public ed odyssey. The slump came
when we found that, starting with Grade 3, we actually had to pay attention
and learn something, and the adjustment-lag showed up in poor report cards,
parental displeasure, and swift attitude adjustment. My generation of parents
was the last to do our pre-k job; when the slump showed, we were sternly
instructed at the parent-teacher conference that it was our fault because,
rather than presuming to teach (a professionally demanding task not executable
by mere amateurs) we should have presented the kid(s) at the schoolhouse
door as tabulae rasae, blank slates on which (or whom) pedagogical magic
could be skillfully worked to achieve high level literacy and numeracy.
Well, it ainít the 60ís any more, the low test scores arenít confined to
grade 3, and teachers are now complaining that parents arenít pre-k-ing
their kids as they used to, but thatís a whole Ďnother story. He real story
is that prepping kids for reading and math (indeed, we were taught, and
did ourselves actually teach, our kids to handle basic reading and math)
is so easy that even we parental troglodytes could and did do it.
# # #
Athens]: "In the end, more than freedom, they wanted security. They wanted
a comfortable life, and they lost it all Ė security, comfort, and freedom.
When the Athenians finally wanted not to give to society but for society
to give to them, when the freedom they wished for most was freedom from
responsibility, then Athens ceased to be free and was never free again."
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Their Speech Ye Shall Know Them
Caledonia Record Editorial,
April 3, 2010
The five Democrats running
for governor had a union-organized debate Thursday night. To hear them
is to fear a Green Mountain State with any one of them as chief executive.
So, without any further commentary of our own, we offer you some of the
things they said Thursday and trust that when you finish, you will know
Stop Us Before We Hire Again
By Hugh Kemper, Vermont
Tiger, April 1, 2010
Our education establishment
simply can't help itself. It is, perhaps, time for some serious intervention.
Consider that notwithstanding:
(a) the lowest staffing
ratios in the USA and
the VTDOE still reported
recently that during 2009 Vermont K-12ís payroll increased by a stupefying
218 staff or by a
further 1.1%. This means that since enrollment peaked
in 1997 at 106,341, K-12 staffing has increased by 3,808 or by 24.5% while
enrollment has declined (thru 2009) by 13,769 or by 12.9%. And, as
most Vermont Tiger readers know well, enrollment has continued to decline
and for FY11 is expected to fall below 90,000 students or be 15.4% below
1997 peak enrollment.
(b) the continuing decline
A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
Caledonia Record Editorial,
March 31, 2010
Is the Vermont Public Interest
Research Group (VPIRG) legally a tax exempt corporation or is it a thinly
disguised lobbying firm that is not eligible for tax exempt status which
it now has? When Democrat and gubernatorial candidate Sen. Peter Shumlin
jumped aboard VPIRG's real bandwagon in a Burlington parade and rode it
the length of the parade route, throwing handfuls of candy to the side
crowd and waving his hands in celebration, he certainly brought that question
to the fore. Tax-exempt organizations may not campaign for candidates or
parties. When they do, they become lobbyists and lose their tax-exempt
The attorney general should,
forthwith, start an investigation that leads to denial of VPIRG's tax free
status and its obligation to register as a lobby. So, too, the AG ought
to be forced to acknowledge Planned Parenthood's and the ACLU's political
activity and lobbying efforts, although done at night under the cover of
darkness. When that is done, the third investigation and trial should be
of the Conservation Law Foundation.
Administration Unveils Gov't Restructuring Plan
From WCAX-TV, March 30,
Details of a government restructuring
plan in Vermont are beginning to emerge. The Legislature told several state
agencies to find $38 million worth of savings-- that's only one-quarter
of the budget gap-- for the next fiscal year....
here to see the Challenges for Change Progress Report (pdf).
Vermont, We Subsidize
Small Schools Support
Grants Ė A Homestead Tax Equity Issue
From Vermont Tiger, March
The debate over Small Schools
Support Grants (SSSG) is generally framed by the consolidation issue, i.e.,
is it cost-effective to subsidize small schools? Rarely, if ever, is the
issue of tax equity raised, i.e., is it equitable that the SSSG subsidizes
the homestead tax rates of small school town residents? Thatís what
the current methodology for calculating per pupil spending at the local
level effectively does and the resulting subsidy is clearly inequitable.
The current funding of K-12
education is characterized by four features: namely, (1) the grand lists
of all towns belong to the Education Fund for education property tax purposes,
(2) the vote at the local level on per pupil spending determines
the local homestead tax, (3) the Education Fund remits to each school district
whatever amount is approved by local voters, and (4) the homestead tax,
as adjusted by income sensitivity, is predicated on each homestead ownerís
perceived capacity to pay.
They Crazy? A Dangerous Tale Retold In St. J
Caledonia Record Editorial,
April 1, 2010
Once upon a time, there was
a school district in a town where the economic climate was dismal, where
the school system had been declared among the worst in the state, where
50 percent of the students continue to fail 50 percent of their courses,
where 50 percent of the students never graduate, but where teachers make
an average of $70,000 to $78,000, not counting their benefits while the
average towns person earns only $22,000 a year.
When the district superintendent
asked the teachers' union to change a few things, such as adding 25 minutes
to the school day, providing tutoring on a rotating schedule before and
after school, eating lunch with students once a week, submitting to more
rigorous evaluations, attending weekly after-school planning sessions,
and setting aside an additional one hour a week to meet with and help failing
students, the union balked and refused the terms. So, the superintendent
fired the high school's teachers, 93 people. At that point, the union changed
its collective mind and accepted her terms. But, it was too late. They
all remain fired.
Does that sound familiar?
It should. The story unfolded in Rhode Island recently.
Sadly, there are similarities
in St. Johnsbury. The school has been named among the worst in the state.
Teachers were asked to make a concession in the form of a pay freeze, given
that the school system budget was soundly defeated last month. They refused
the request, and by refusing, their vote shows how out of touch they are
with ordinary private sector citizens, or to understand how insulting they
are to the people in town who are taking pay cuts, suffering reduction
in hours, contributing more to health care, or are outright losing their
jobs. Other union groups, such as Vermont state troopers, are taking cuts.
Teachers in St. Johnsbury weren't asked to take a cut, just a one year
freeze. Still, they refused to join their community in its straitened circumstance.
This is yet another example of unions digging their own graves by refusing
to negotiate or accept reasonable terms.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
SEAL Passes Lie Detector Test, Another SEAL's Charges Dropped
By Chris Carter, Family
Security Matters, April 1, 2010
Recent developments have
further weakened the case against three Navy
SEALs charged with assaulting an al Qaeda detainee. One development
will impact the case for all three Ė the inadmissibility of a statement
given by Petty Officer Jonathan Keefe.
At a Scottsdale, Arizonz
rally on Saturday, Petty Officer Matthew McCabe Ė the only SEAL actually
accused of striking the detainee Ė announced that he passed an independently-administered
polygraph on March 16th.
Terrorism: ĎIt's Not Personal; It's Just Business (Part 2 of 10)
By Peter Huessy,Family Security
Matters, March 24, 2010
"Itís not personal; itís
just business." So said Michael Corleone in the 1972 film The Godfather.
It is also what numerous companies, countries, banks and individuals might
very well say if confronted with the evidence that they are selling technology
to Iran and Iran-front companies that contribute to Tehran's pursuit of
ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons. The only tool, which European and
American leaders now believe, will help them stall and perhaps reverse
Iran's pursuit of the nuclear bomb is what is often referred to as "crippling
sanctions." To be effective, a host of countries and companies will both
have to be either shamed or fined into stopping their deadly traffic. The
sanctions clock is thus in a race with the nuclear technology clock Ė the
former has never been seriously pursued while the latter, firmly in the
hands of the revolutionary elements in Iran, is proceeding with a seriousness
not matched by the will of the free nations of the world to bring it to
'Runs Naval Suicide Squads'
The Chosun Ilbo English.com,
March 30, 2010
Former North Korean soldiers
who defected to South Korea on Monday claimed "underwater suicide squads"
may have been responsible for the mysterious sinking of a South Korean
naval vessel on Friday.
They are similar to the underwater
demolition teams operated by the South Korean Navy, the defectors claimed.
Recruited from the cream among North Korea's naval commandos, members of
the teams are treated well but undergo brutal training.
According to one high-ranking
North Korean defector, the North formed suicide attack squads in each branch
of the military after the country's leader Kim Jong-il said during the
U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in 2003 that no military in the world can defeat
an army that can carry out suicide bombings.
The suicide attack squads
are known as the "invincibles" in the Air Force, "bombs" in the Army and
"human torpedoes" in the Navy. North Korea is said to place special emphasis
on the naval squads. It operates a brigade of suicide attack squads in
its East Sea and West Sea fleets and they are considered key to overcoming
North Korea's inferior conventional military power.
Report: GIs Outgunned in Afghanistan
By David Wood, Politics
Daily, April 2, 2010
American troops are often
outgunned by Afghan insurgents because they lack the precision weapons,
deadly rounds, and training needed to kill the enemy in the long-distance
firefights common in Afghanistan's rugged terrain, according to an internal
Unlike in Iraq, where most
shooting took place at relatively short range in urban neighborhoods, U.S.
troops in Afghanistan are more often attacked from high ground with light
machine guns and mortars from well beyond 300 meters (327 yards, or just
over three football field lengths). The average range for a small-arms
firefight in Afghanistan is about 500 meters, according to the study.
ID Commanders Say They See Hope, Iraqi Patriotism Abounding
By Pamela E. Walck, Savannah
Morning News, March 29, 2010
There is a new surge making
ripples across Iraq, say 3rd Infantry Division commanders with a close
view of life on the ground in cities stretching from Mosul to Baghdad.
And it is a movement that's
anything but sinister. "My hat goes off to them," said Col. Charles Sexton,
commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd ID, based in northern Iraq.
"Because the Iraqi Security Forces are in the streets every day, fighting
the terrorists with less equipment than the Army has, doing the same job.
"It takes a heck of a brave
person to do this. ... They put their families at risk, and it is pretty
patriotic. The money is there, but it's not all that much."
Related Article: White
Elephant in Baghdad
It wasnít the "reset"
button President Obama hit; it was the ejector-seat button.
By Mark Steyn, National
Review, April 3, 2010
administration came into office promising to press the "reset" button with
the rest of the world after eight years of the so-called arrogant, swaggering
Texan cowboy blundering his way around the planet offending peoples from
many lands. Instead, Obama pressed the ejector-seat button: Brits, Czechs,
Israelis, Indians found themselves given the brush. I gather the Queen
was "amused" by the presidentís thoughtful gift of an iPod preloaded with
Obama speeches ó and, fortunately for Her Majesty, the 160GB model only
has storage capacity for two of them, or three if you include one of his
shorter perorations. But Gordon Brown would like to be liked by Barack
Obama, and canít understand why he isnít.
There is much speculation
on the "root cause" of presidential antipathy to Americaís formerly closest
ally. It is said his grandfather was ill treated by the authorities in
colonial Kenya in the 1940s, which seems as good a basis as any on which
to reorder 21st century bilateral relations, or at any rate as good as
the proportion of the Canadian overseas-aid budget devoted to abortion
promotion. But I doubt insensitive British policing two-thirds of a century
ago weighs that heavy on the president. After all, his brother back in
Kenya lives on twelve bucks a year, and that doesnít seem to bother him,
so itís hard to see why ancient slights to his grandfather would ó except
insofar as they confirm the general biases of his collegiate-Left worldview.
# # #
Ratzinger An Evil Monster?
By Jimmy Akin, National
Catholic Register, March 30, 2010
The level of vitriol being
directed at Pope Benedict by the mainstream media right now is truly extraordinary.
Itís primarily drive by desire for cash (scandal sells), followed closely
by hatred, along with a hefty dose of ignorance....
The New York Times has done
a great service to those wanting to look into this story by putting online
number of primary source documents pertaining to the case. No
doubt they mean these to incriminate Pope Benedict, but if you read them
carefullyóand if you know the relevant backgroundóthey donít. (The documents
are also posted here
in .pdf format.) ...
One can fault any number
of things about process or policy in this case, but we donít have evidence
that Ratzinger did anything in bad conscience. He didnít stop the trial
against Murphy from proceeding. At most (attributing everything to him
that Bertone did) he recommended waiving the judicial proceeding due to
the manís advanced age and ill health while simultaneously taking steps
to ensure that the man would not be a threat to anyone as he lived out
his final months in seclusion.
By Brian S. Wesbury &
Robert Stein, Forbes Magazine, March 30, 2010
Becker said the financial
crisis did not undermine his belief in free markets. When asked if he agreed
with arguments about the inevitability of U.S. economic decline--as Lilliputian
government activity ties the economy down with protectionism and redistribution--Becker
remained hopeful. "If you have competing interest groups you don't end
up with a systematic bias toward bad policy."
As an example, he talked
about the outrage Americans felt toward the Wall Street bailout. He believes
the outrage stemmed from a "belief in individual responsibility--the belief
that people ought to be free to make their own decisions, but should then
bear the consequences." He said this underlying philosophy "remains very
powerful," and added, "The American people don't want an expansion of government.
... They want limited government. ... I expect them to say so in the elections
Debt Woes Grow Too Big to Camouflage
By Mary Williams Walsh, The
New York Times, March 30, 2010
California, New York and
other states are showing many of the same signs of debt overload that recently
took Greece to the brink ó budgets that will not balance, accounting that
masks debt, the use of derivatives
to plug holes, and armies of retired public workers who are counting on
benefits that are proving harder and harder to pay.
And states are responding
in sometimes desperate ways, raising concerns that they, too, could face
a debt crisis.
an Intolerable Act
By Ed Feulner, March 30,
The history of the United
States begins with a rebellion against unfair taxation. In 1767, a distant
and unresponsive government in London, led by an out-of-touch leader in
King George III, implemented the Townshend Act. That measure slapped taxes
on many popular items, including tea. The law didn't, however, provide
representation in Parliament for the taxed colonists.
Unable to make their voices
heard in the halls of government, a group of American patriots dumped tea
in Boston Harbor. The punishment for that first Tea Party was a series
of intrusive laws so oppressive that they were described as the "Intolerable
History, as they say, tends
to repeat itself. On March 21, the House of Representatives passed an unpopular
health care measure, which the president swiftly signed into law.
Obamacare is today's "Intolerable
Act." It too should be opposed and repealed. Fortunately, this time Americans
are represented, so we can overturn this misguided law without resorting
- Arctic Sea Ice About to Hit Normal
What will the news
By Steven Goddard and Anthony
Watts, The Alaska Standard, March 31, 2010
Barring an about face by
nature or adjustments, it appears that for the first time since 2001, Arctic
Sea ice will hit the "normal" line as defined by the National Snow and
Ice Data Center (NSIDC) for this time of year.
NSIDC puts out an article
about once a month called the Sea
Ice News. It generally highlights any bad news they can
find about the disappearance of Arctic ice. Last
monthís news led with this sentence.
"In February, Arctic sea
ice extent continued to track below the average, and near the levels observed
for February 2007."
But March brought good news
for the Polar Bears, and bad news for the Catlin Expedition and any others
looking for bad news. Instead of ice extent declining through March
like it usually does, it continued to increase through the month and is
now at the high (so far) for the year.
Same Old Drill
No country in the
world with significant oil or gas resources is abstaining from exploiting
By L. Jonah Goldberg, National
Review, April 2, 2010
Obama justified his decision
to allow drilling in the eastern Gulf of Mexico, the southern Atlantic,
and some coastal regions of northern Alaska on the grounds that it would
create jobs and serve as a "bridge" to the carbon-free Brigadoon weíve
long been promised. The reality is that his decision was entirely political.
Aiming to win vital Republican support in the Senate for some kind of bipartisan
cap-and-trade legislation, he lifted the ban where the polling was in favor
of doing so. Sound science, energy policy,
and economics were the last things on his mind. On that, there is widespread
Back when oil cost $140 per
barrel, Pres. George W. Bush lifted the executive ban on offshore oil drilling.
Once elected, Obama quietly reinstated it. Since then, Obamaís Interior
Department has been doing just about everything it can to slow, hamper,
and prevent oil and gas exploration in the U.S. and offshore. Thereís no
reason to believe the administration wonít keep doing that. Besides, Obamaís
announcement actually bans more oil and gas reserves from exploration than
it opens up: nothing in the Pacific, nothing in the western Gulf of Mexico,
nothing in southern Alaska ó all promising areas.
False Promise on Offshore Drilling
Steve Everley, American Solutions, March 31, 2010
new plan includes: No drilling in the Pacific Ocean. No drilling in a large
portion of the Atlantic Ocean. No drilling in some of the most promising
areas of the Gulf of Mexico. No drilling in much of Alaska. While opening
up any portion of the OCS for responsible energy development appears to
be a great step forward, the truth is that none of this has been finalized,
and most new drilling will not occur until after 2012 at the earliest.
The offering also comes with a hefty price: President Obama wants to force
Americans to swallow a massive new energy tax before any state will reap
the benefits from this new offshore drilling.
# # #