North Archives - April 13, 2010
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"Best of Times" or the "Worst of Times"?
Mr. Steyn sees America as
heading down the same path toward welfare state dependency and the eventual
decline of civilization that comes with going down such a path. He is not
very hopeful that we will be able to reverse our current course towards
destruction. It is in this final assessment where Paul Rahe dissents. Mr.
Rahe agrees with just about everything that Mark Steyn is saying except
the conclusion that we will be unable to reverse course. In a piece entitled
"A New Birth of Freedom", which appeared on the Big Government website,
he lays out his counter argument. Mr. Rahe has argued in his books "Montesquieu
& the Logic of Liberty" and "Soft
Despotism, Democracy’s Drift" that the real danger for democracies
is not a surrender to socialism via a coup d’etat in the manner that Obama
and crew are trying to foist on us. ...
He believes that Obama has
unwittingly spared us from that fate by rushing the move toward welfare
Who Live In Glass Prep Schools...
Rep. Clarkson made her true
objectives pretty clear: Union controlled schools are losing students at
the rate of about 1 percent a year. In order to prop up the system and
the union that almost exclusively endorses and donates to democratic candidates,
the legislature's job should be to deliver to the unions by force the students
they have failed to attract by voluntary choice. If our public schools
are as "wonderful" as we say they are, said Clarkson, the legislature should
be "encouraging" (a serious euphemism for what she's proposing) Vermont
families to use them.
As offensive as this attitude
is on its own, it is made more so by the fact that Rep. Clarkson, who vehemently
opposes school choice for all Vermonters of all income levels, did not
choose Vermont's public schools for her own children. She chose to send
her kids to private prep school in Connecticut. As a parent, she no doubt
did what was best for her children. Sadly, the children of the parents
whom she represents don't get equal consideration.
in Doubt, Punt
By Martin Harris
history of public education's response to the 40-year-old NAEP tests with
quantitative scoring of achievement, and the 10-year-old NCLB requirement
that such scores be used to prove "proficiency" in basic subject matter,
has been first to ignore and then to punt; the adoption of easier tests
(to finesse the NCLB "proficiency" requirement) than the NAEP series by
49 States was intended (with plausible deniability, of course) to generate
seemingly better numbers without actually doing better instruction. In
VT, for example, the 2/3 or so of students who can't make "proficient"
on the Federal tests become the 2/3 or so who miraculously can, on the
alternative NECAP's. To use yet anther analogy, it's the Gresham's Law
principle -"bad money drives out good" - in education, where deliberately-designed
easier tests are purchased and deployed to supplant more rigorous ones,
with the same intent: to deceive the gullible and reward the issuers.
# # #
"Of all tyrannies,
a tyranny exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive.
It may be better to live under robber barons than under omnipotent moral
busybodies. The robber baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity
may at some point be satiated; but those who torment us for our own good
will torment us without end, for they do so with the approval of their
own conscience." –– C. S. Lewis
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Weekly News Round-Up
Ace of Base (Load) Power
By Chris Campion, Vermont
Tiger, April 5, 2010
Society also learned that
horses wouldn't go as fast as cars, or jets, or be able to ship millions
of tons of goods a day across vast oceans and continents. That's
another comparison completely absent from Stannard's analogy, which
doesn't actually speak to energy consumption or generation. Unmentioned
by Stannard are the microchips manufactured in wafer fabs that go into
those shiny calculators, and how much energy is required to power these
fabs - because then we're talking about generating energy for productive
use. If solar or wind were a truly a viable energy option, then you would
likely have seen large wind farms and solar collection facilities at IBM's
Essex Junction plant (if permitting would allow such monstrosities). The
fact is that baseload requirements cannot be fulfilled by sporadic generation.
Savings Plan Derails
By Peter Hirschfeld, Rutland
Herald, April 9, 2010
A House education committee
staged a Challenges-for-Change mutiny Thursday by refusing to endorse a
controversial proposal that would have mandated more than $23 million in
cuts to public education.
Educators; We Don't Do Change
Douglas Less Than Happy With Legislature
Caledonia Record Editorial,
April 12, 2010
As the legislative session
and his tenure as governor come down to the wire, Gov. Jim Douglas is not
very happy with the Legislature. Some of that unhappiness probably comes
from the essential incompatibility of the strong liberal convictions of
Democrats and the equally strong conservative tenets of Republicans, but
a good deal of it comes from the sticker shock for Democrats of having
to live within their means this year more than in any other year in memory.
Cutting expenses to Democrats is equivalent to mixing oil and water. They
never have embraced that stringency, they don't like it, and they are still
pretending that they don't have to.
To Vermont Where We Subsidize (Almost) Everyone
By Hugh Kemper Vermont
Tiger, April 7, 2010
Vermont’s program for property
tax relief (a.k.a. income sensitivity) has left the reservation of fiscally
responsible, government sponsored safety nets and it is time to bring it
home. Empirical evidence demonstrably shows that the program is both unprecedented
and extravagant – not only as a self-standing program (i.e., 12% - 16%
of total property taxes collected) but also as a "desensitizing shield."
One that has, undoubtedly, contributed to the significant increase in education
spending since enactment of Act 60/68.
The Legislature made an already
overly generous program extraordinarily generous by increasing the
eligible income limit from $75,000 to $90,000. This suggests not
only fiscal irresponsibility but also self-aggrandizement. Immediate reform
impacting current recipients earning over $60,000 has been proposed and
is warranted as these recipients have the capacity-to-pay for their homes.
More comprehensive reform that targets only low- and moderate-income earners
is also warranted with the ultimate objective being to reduce subsidies
as a percent of total property taxes collected to well within the range
Related Story: Sensitive
Subject School Taxes in Vermont
Very Wrong Action at the Absolute Wrong Time
Caledonia Record Editorial,
April 6, 2010
Again, as reported by Jim
Jardine, "Rep. Janet Ancel told the full House on Thursday the decision
to renege on a promise to roll back taxes on Vermont companies is 'not
a new tax.'" Besides, Ancel argued, the full legislature "never voted on
the rollback" passed by Congress, but merely piggybacked Vermont tax policy
onto the federal changes. Rep. Ancel continued with her bright and cheery
portrayal of the House bill by assuring any Doubting Thomases that the
rollback was "not used to recruit or maintain Rep. Ancel's irrational exuberance
... makes the legislature fun, and might even ease the pain of those companies
with long-planned forecasts and budgets over the long-scheduled 9 percent
rollback." Rep. Gregory Clark from Vergennes told the House the canceled
rollback would cost the B.F. Goodrich plant in Vergennes $50,000.
By Emerson Lynn, Vermont
Tiger, April 9, 2010
If hindsight is 20-20, the
Vermont Senate’s 26-4 vote in opposition to Vermont Yankee’s relicensing
efforts looks glaringly like what it was: all politics, little substance,
and dangerously premature.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Win Round Against United Nations
But officials warn
crackdown on family rights expected to continue
By Bob Unruh, WorldNet Daily,
April 11, 2010
Homeschoolers have won a
round in the long fight against the crackdown on family rights contained
to the United Nation's Convention on the Rights of the Child, but experts
say they need to keep up their guard.
The convention, which is
not yet ratified in the United States but has been adopted by numerous
other nations, orders that children can choose their own religion with
parents only having the authority to advise them, the government can override
a parent's decision regarding a child if a social worker disagrees, a child
has a right to a government review of every parental decision and Christian
schools would violate the law if they refused to teach children "alternative
Terrorism: ‘The Arrows of Allah’ (Part 3 of 10)
Peter Huessy,Family Security
Matters, March 25, 2010
The Iranians are seeking
both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles to deliver them. They have
now succeeded in deploying missiles with ranges in excess of 2,000-2,400
kilometers, bringing the entire Middle East and eastern and central Europe
under such threats. While current sanctions have obviously not stopped
Tehran’s missile programs, there is still a belief that sanctions can stop
their nuclear weapons enterprise.
For this to happen, Russia,
China and North
Korea, among others, would have to stop facilitating the arming
of Iran with such weapons, let alone actively assist in enforcing whatever
new sanctions resolutions emerge from the United
Nations Security Council. The role of this "cartel" of Iranian
allies is not well understood. Much media attention focuses on China’s
dependence upon Iran for oil imports, and Russia’s assistance to Iran for
nuclear energy, but far less attention on how both nations are actively
involved in the business of cooperating with Iran across the spectrum of
weapons purchases and economic investments – in short, accomplices and
partners with the premier terror master on the global stage today.
From Investor’s Business
Daily, April 5, 2010
If anything should raise
alarm bells in Washington, it's Vladimir Putin's visit to Caracas to make
oil deals and sell weapons. This signals not only the failure of the U.S.
"reset" policy, but a new threat.
Friday, Russia's prime minister
made his first trip to Caracas, jetting in with little fanfare to sign
deals. The urgency baffled many, but Putin got right down to business,
announcing that Russia had gotten the right to develop Venezuela's Hunin-6
field, the world's largest oil deposit.
‘Most Dangerous Islamist’ Alive, Well, and Living in Pennsylvania
By Paul Williams, PhD, Family
Security Matters, April 6, 2010
The most dangerous Islamist
in the world is neither Afghani nor Arab. He comes from neither Sudan nor
Somalia. And he resides in neither the mountains of Pakistan nor the deserts
of the Palestinian territories.
This individual has toppled
the secular government of Turkey and established madrassahs throughout
the world. His schools indoctrinate children in the tenets of radical Islam
and prepare adolescents for the Islamization of the world.
Related Article: Obama
Administration Turns Blind Eye to Muslim Foreign Militia in Pennsylvania
and the Decline of American Power
By Fouad Ajami, The Wall
Street Journal, April 9, 2010
In word and deed, Mr. Obama
has given a sense of his priorities. The passion with which he pursued
health-care reform could be seen at home and abroad as the drive of a man
determined to remake the American social contract. He aims to tilt the
balance away from liberty toward equality. The very ambition of his domestic
agenda in health care and state intervention in the economy conveys the
causes that stir him.
Granted, Mullah Omar and
his men in the Quetta Shura may not be seasoned observers of Washington's
ways. But they (and Mr. Karzai) can discern if America is marking time,
giving it one last try before casting Afghanistan adrift. It is an inescapable
fact that Mr. Obama hasn't succeeded in selling this Afghan venture—or
even the bigger war on terror itself—to his supporters on the left. He
fights the war with Republican support, but his constituency remains isolationist
The president has in his
command a great fighting force and gifted commanders. He clearly hopes
they will succeed. But there is always the hint that this Afghan campaign
became the good, worthwhile war by default, a cause with which to bludgeon
his predecessor's foray into Iraq.
All this plays out under
the gaze of an Islamic world that is coming to a consensus that a discernible
American retreat in the region is in the works. America's enemies are increasingly
brazen, its friends unnerved. Witness the hapless Lebanese, once wards
of U.S. power, now making pilgrimages, one leader at a time, to Damascus.
They, too, can read the wind: If Washington is out to "engage" that terrible
lot in Syria, they better scurry there to secure reasonable terms of surrender.
The shadow of American power
is receding; the rogues are emboldened. The world has a way of calling
the bluff of leaders and nations summoned to difficult endeavors. Would
that our biggest source of worry in that arc of trouble was the intemperate
outburst of our ally in Kabul.
Nuke Policy Puts Every American in Danger
By Scott McKay, Family Security
Matters, April 7, 2010
In perhaps the most breathtaking
example of dangerous stupidity to date, the Obama administration announced
yesterday a change in American nuclear weapons-use policy which serves
as an advertisement to all of our enemies that we are no longer to be feared
– and begs the question whether those in the White House are so naïve
and unqualified as negotiators as to call into question any foreign policy
or security dealings they might have in their time left in residence, or
whether these bizarre foreign and national security
policies come as a result of an active agenda to destroy the
Though it is sincerely hoped
here that the former is the truth, indicating perhaps this incompetence
may be alleviated in part through time and experience, functionally it
is immaterial in the short run. Whether these individuals know what they
are doing or not, either way they are putting policies in place which threaten
the lives of millions of our countrymen.
# # #
"Social Justice" Fallacy? Wolves in Sheep’s Clothing
By Dr. Mark W. Hendrickson,
The Center for Vision and Values, April 7, 2010
Many Christians over many
years have been beguiled by the Religious Left’s use of the term "social
justice." This is because Christians rightly love justice and hate injustice.
But "social justice"—or, at least, how it’s often used by liberal Christians—isn’t
necessarily biblical justice.
The standard of biblical
justice is equal treatment by law: "Thou shalt not respect the person of
the poor, nor honour the person of the mighty" (Leviticus 19:15). Justice
not only means that nobody is to be picked on because he is poor or favored
because he is rich, but that (contrary to the doctrine of "social justice")
nobody is to be picked on because he is rich or favored because he is poor.
Everyone’s rights deserve the same protection. Thus, nobody should be taxed
at a higher rate than his neighbors, nor should anyone receive special
New Birth of Freedom
By Paul A. Rahe, Big Government,
April 3, 2010
This is, as Mark Steyn insists,
a very dangerous time. In my judgment, however, it is also a time of almost
unprecedented opportunity. We have options that have not been vouchsafed
to the friends of liberty for more than sixty years. For, if the Republicans
manage to articulate, on the basis of the Declaration of Independence and
the Constitution, the rationale for limited government as that rationale
is pertinent to the healthcare bill, they will at the same time have articulated
the grounds for doing away with the administrative state, and everyone
will recognize the consequences.
The larger danger – which
I analyzed in detail in Montesquieu
& the Logic of Liberty and in Soft
Despotism, Democracy’s Drift – has never been that we Americans
would succumb to socialism as a consequence of a coup d’état
the sort being attempted by Harry Reid, Nancy Pelosi, and their acolytes.
The larger danger has always been what Tocqueville feared: that the citizens
of liberal democratic republics would gradually and unobtrusively come
to depend on centralized administration for help in every aspect of their
lives. Our propensity to drift in the direction of obliviously surrendering
our liberties one by one in search of a security that no government can
really guarantee has always been where the greatest peril lay.
Like Mark Steyn, I view Barack
Obama as "one of the most consequential presidents in history," but not
for the same reasons. In my view, he and today’s Democratic Party represent
the last gasp of the Progressive impulse. The tyrannical ambition hidden
at the heart of Progressivism’s quest for what Franklin Delano Roosevelt
termed "rational administration" Barack Obama has made manifest; and to
all with eyes to see, the danger that we have temporized with for nearly
a century is now perfectly visible. As Obama himself has insisted in speech
after speech, the moment in which we now live is a "defining moment." What
is required in what he calls "this defining moment" is what Abraham Lincoln
once called "a new birth of freedom." The period we just entered could
be our finest hour.
Debt Seen Heading for Crisis Level
By Carolyn Lochhead, San
Francisco Chronicle, April 5, 2010
Health care may have been
the last big bang of the Obama presidency. With ferocious speed, the financial
crisis, recession and efforts to combat the recession have swung the U.S.
debt from worrisome to ruinous, promising to handcuff the administration.
Lost amid last month's passage
of the new health care law, the Congressional Budget Office issued a report
showing that within this decade, President Obama's own budget sends the
U.S. government to a potential tipping point where the debt reaches 90
percent of gross domestic product.
Green, Too Soon? Renewable Power May Destabilize Electrical Grid
By Alex Salkever, Daily
Finance, April 6, 2010
Boy, that was fast. Only
five years into the world's renewable energy push, many utility companies
are so concerned about grid instability that they're saying they can't
accept any more electricity from intermittent sources of power. Translation:
Solar power only runs in the day time and can't re relied on for so called
"baseload" capacity. Wind power primarily produces current at night and,
likewise, can't be relied upon for baseload capacity. Geothermal, meanwhile,
is perfect for providing baseload. But geothermal projects take an excruciatingly
long time to build out. And then there have been the recent spate of earthquake
scares around geothermal sites.
The upshot: Utilities such
as Hawaiian Electric in President Obama's home state are voicing
concerns about plans to integrate more solar and wind power
into the grid until they develop methods to more effectively absorb intermittent
sources of power without destabilizing the whole shebang. In Europe, Czech
utility companies are concerned
that "feed-in tariffs," which require power companies to repurchase all
home- and business-generated renewable power at elevated rates, might wreak
havoc on the Central European grid.
FCC Has No Power to Regulate Net Neutrality
By Declan McCullagh CNET
News April , 2010
The Federal Communications
Commission does not have the legal authority to slap Net neutrality regulations
on Internet providers, a federal appeals court ruled Tuesday. A three-judge
panel in Washington, D.C. unanimously tossed out the FCC's August 2008
and desist order against Comcast, which had taken measures
to slow BitTorrent transfers before voluntarily
ending them earlier that year.
Dems Face Two Worrisome Elections
From UPI, April 6, 2010
The prospect of losing two
U.S. House seats in special
elections spurred a Democratic effort to avoid a potential domino
effect in November, strategists said.
Projections for special elections
next month in Hawaii and Pennsylvania have caused alarm among Democratic
officials, who said they feared dual defeats would play into the thinking
that the Democratic Party is consigned to huge losses in the fall, Politico
Union Official 'Prays' for Death of N.J. Governor
By Mary Katharine Ham, The
Weekly Standard, April 12, 2010
New Jersey's new Republican
Gov. Chris Christie is not amused by an internal memo from a Bergen County
teachers' union official, which "prays" for his death.
Attack on CNN
Group Demands Network
Not Air 'I.O.U.S.A.: Solutions'
By Jeff Poor, Business &
Media Institute, April 10, 2010
Campaign for America's Future
concerned cable news channel is 'fanning the flames of deficit hysteria.'
... The left wing seems to know no bounds in its efforts to ideologically
cleanse CNN of any seeminly rational point-of-view when it comes to the
issues of the day.
Little Media Notice
for How Nearly Half Pay No Income Tax
By Brent Baker, Media Research
Center, April 10, 2010
A Wednesday night AP dispatch,
“Nearly half of US households escape fed income tax,” which predicted “47
percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009,” has drawn little
attention on television news... “no wonder” why so many “don't really care
how much a government program costs. It's not costing them anything, so
why should they?"
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