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True North Archives - April 28, 2009
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By Tom Licata
The Big Picture and a dirty little secret: Political and human collectivism are not compatible with economic freedom and property rights. The latter two are necessary components of job creation and economic growth. It is the incompatibility of these tensions - between Vermont’s collectivist wants and its economic needs - that drives Vermont's current state-of-confusion. Meaningful progress as a State will require Vermont to bridge this gap of incongruence.
by Richard Pollak
With new talk of reviving the "Take Back Vermont" movement, it is time to examine what we mean by taking back Vermont. In essence, when something is taken from you, you take it back. So what is it that freedom loving Vermonters view as being "Taken" from them? To get a further understanding how freedom loving Vermonters see this issue it is worth another look at the infamous April 1972 Playboy article by Richard Pollak which details the left wing "blueprint" for a "take over" of Vermont.
By Martin Harris
People who think and write about such things have recognized the problem, from philosopher Plato in Classical Athens to politician Ari Fleischer in present-day Washington, who recently (13 April 09) had an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal entitled "Everyone Should Pay Income Taxes", his thesis focusing on the adverse effects on the overall economy (supported only by actual tax-payers) of the pro-spending voting tendencies of non-tax-payers. The best quote, in my opinion, comes from 18th century Scottish professor Alexander Tyler: "A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the voters discover that they vote themselves largesse from the public treasury..." or, to be more precise, the majority legally placing the monetary burden on the minority, who, of course, will eventually flee or resist. (Think California's past experience with the pattern of upper-income real-tax-payer flight, one which Vermont is about to repeat.) A similar quote comes from 19th century French commentator on all things American, Alexis de Tocqueville: "A democratic government is the only one in which those who vote for a tax increase can escape the obligation to pay for it", an eerily apt description of the design intent of Acts 60 and 68. It's probable, maybe not proveable, that Vermont wouldn't be #1 in the Nation for tax burden if it weren't for its highly "progressive" tax system, in which the majority votes for the minority to pay the costs of various free-to-them goodies.
"Scribblings": An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch, Barre Town
In the "what in the world were they ever thinking?" department, the Vermont Senate voted to legalize the practice of "sexting" between consenting teenagers!

The original intent of the bill was a good one - to expand the list of persons who would be listed on the internet sex offender registry, so that the public would have more information about sex offenders living in their community. Then some senators began to be concerned about branding teenagers as sex offenders for life, based on a relatively minor offense, and I have to acknowledge that concern to be valid.

But the Senate's solution is absolutely weird. As part of our criminal statutes, Vermont already has laws against using a child in a sexual performance (Sec. 2822), promoting a recording of sexual conduct by a child or lewd exhibition of a child's private parts (Sec. 2824), and possession of child pornography (Sec. 2827). The Senate's solution was to insert the following language into each of those sections:

"This section shall not apply if the person is less than 19 years old, the child is at least 13 years old, and the child knowingly and voluntarily and without threat or coercion, used an electronic communication device to transmit an image of himself or herself to the person."

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"Is there any reason why the American people should be taxed to guarantee the debts of banks, any more than they should be taxed to guarantee the debts of other institutions, including merchants, the industries, and the mills of the country?" 

-- Carter Glass (1858-1946) Newspaper publisher, US Senator (D-VA), author of the Banking Act of 1933, U.S. Secretary of the Treasury under President Woodrow Wilson.

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up
WCAX-TV - April 24, 2009
"What I'm calling this now is the great recession," Vt. Economist Jeff Carr said. The state's economists came to the Statehouse armed with nothing but bad news.
Caledonia Record, April 22, 2009
Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, D-Windham, recently warned members of the St. Johnsbury Rotary Club that Gov. James Douglas plans to shift the cost of the State Teachers' Retirement Fund from the general fund to the education fund, hence, onto the local property tax. That would inevitably transfer a portion of the state budget onto property taxpayers. Shumlin claims that Governor Douglas's proposal will subject property tax payers to an unfunded $700 million liability. Shumlin went on to say, "There might be merit in beginning with a date in the future and requiring pension fund contributions from new hires after that date to go to the education fund."

Shumlin is right, but he doesn't seem to know it. It makes eminent sense to get education expenses out of the general budget and its reciprocal, get education income out of the general budget. And while they are at it, the Legislature should do the same for highway funds and expenses. For too many years, education and highway funds and expenses have been commingled in transparent attempted financial legerdemain to cover up one or the other by paying bills from the wrong pots of money.

Vermont Tiger, April 24, 2009
This bad. And this bad. Actually, we will find out more today when the Emergency Board reports. Revenues are expected to be down ... again.

Layoffs, tax increases, revenue shortfalls. And still a 2010 budget that increases spending 6.7% over what was spent in 2009 which is still not quite in balance. Even while spending some $160 million in federal stimulus money, the legislature has not been able to come up with a balanced 2010 budget. There is nothing left to "cut." Which is what the legislators say they have been trying to do even as spending increases.

Related Article: Getting Worse

Caledonia Record, April 21, 2009
A couple of years ago, when the early education initiative got pushed through the Democrat-controlled Legislature, we warned that it would be only a matter of time before the professional educators (read Vermont NEA) would mount an aggressive campaign to require that those who lead or teach early education be certified teachers.

Here they come. Early education advocates are pressuring for certified teachers only to teach publicly funded early ed programs. Is the reason better education for kids? No. Their attack is two edged. First, certified teachers almost immediately means new union members (and dues). Second, the union intends exclusion of private programs because VT-NEA cannot stand competition of any kind. If they are successful, they will have extended their public school education monopoly through the back door.

WCAX-TV, April 21, 2009
Supporters say the small projects will help create jobs, but opponents say Vermonters will have to pay more for power as they pay for someone else's project.

"So it's a long-term above-market arrangement that impacts our customers," said Brian Keefe of Central Vermont Public Service (CVPS).

CVPS says the renewable energy plan will increase electric bills by 2.5 percent. On a $100 bill, that's $2.50, but CVPS says in this tough economy Vermonters are already struggling to make ends meet.

"Anything that has the potential to increase the cost to our customers we are concerned about," Keefe said.

Some business groups are also opposed, saying for large power uses the money adds up. But supporters say power prices could come down as more projects come on line.

By Louis Porter Times Argus. Apr 21, 2009
The leader of the Vermont Senate recommended Monday that his colleagues increase "sin" taxes, including taxes on tobacco products and liquor, and boost the levy on satellite television service.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF The New York Ties April 22, 2009
Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it's inevitably the extremists who capture the world's attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.
By Walid Phares, April 23 2009
As the U.S. administration and its allies are devising a new strategy for the next steps in Afghanistan, the jihadists have already begun their next move — but this time it’s inside Pakistan. As I've written over the past few months, we need to look at Afghanistan, Pakistan and India as one regional battlefield where the "other side" is coordinating strategically, acting methodically and for sure beating the international coalition in speed. If Washington and its allies fail to see the big picture in the fight against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, which unfortunately may be the case now, the rapidly deteriorating situation will soon exceed the northwestern provinces of Pakistan to spill over to both Afghanistan and India, if not beyond. That's how I suggest "reading" the recent worrisome leaps achieved by the Taliban from the SWAT valley into the neighboring district of Buner. So what's the story and why should we consider it as a crossing of the red lines?
Douglas J. Hagmann Northeast Intelligence Network April 19, 2009
If you one of the estimated 750,000 Americans who attended one of about 600 TEA parties last week, you might have seen media cameras covering the event. Media cameras, however, were not the only cameras taking video at these events, something that has at least one current FBI agent concerned over the future of America. According to this agent - the same agent who provided the Northeast Intelligence Network (NEIN) exclusively the unreleased photographs of the 11 missing Egyptian students who were the subject of a FBI BOLO in August 2006 - placed his concerns for true patriots of the U.S. over his own career when he confided that covert surveillance was "planned and performed" at each of the TEA parties that took place last Tuesday. "Listen to what I am saying," stated the source during an interview with Doug Hagmann, founder (NEIN). "The Department of Homeland Security Intelligence Assessment that is receiving so much attention is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and the true patriotic citizens of this country are on the Titanic. This is what bothers me. But is goes far beyond that assessment. There have been very significant changes made over the last few years that redirect the focus and assets of the intelligence community internally. These changes have greatly accelerated under this administration, and the threats have been redefined to include those who used to be patriots. It's not only chilling but absolutely insulting to God-fearing Americans."
By Raymond Ibrahim, Pajamas Media, April 17, 2009
During the recent Somali pirate standoff with U.S. forces, when American sea captain Richard Phillips was being held hostage, Fox News analyst Charles Krauthammer confidently concluded that "the good news is that these [pirates] are not jihadists. If it's a jihadist holding a hostage, there is going to be a lot of death. These guys are interested not in martyrdom but in money."

In fact, the only good news is that Richard Phillips has been rescued. The bad news is that what appears to have been a bunch of lawless, plunder-seeking Somalis "yo-hoing" on the high seas may well in fact be related to the jihad — as attested to by both Islamic history and doctrine.

Indeed, the first jihad a newborn U.S. encountered was of a pirate nature: the Barbary Wars off the coast of North Africa (beginning 1801, exactly 200 years before September 11, 2001). Writing in the Middle East Quarterly a year before Somali piracy made headlines, U.S. sea captain Melvin E. Lee — who knows in theory what Captain Phillips may have learned in practice — writes:

What Americans and Europeans saw as piracy, Barbary leaders justified as legitimate jihad. [President Thomas] Jefferson related a conversation he had in Paris with Ambassador Abdrahaman of Tripoli, who told him that all Christians are sinners in the context of the Koran and that it was a Muslim's "right and duty to make war upon them wherever they could be found, and to enslave as many as they could take as prisoners.

by Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, April 22, 2009
With terror attacks having become a routine and nearly daily occurrence, especially in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, the conventional wisdom holds that terrorism works very well. For example, the late Ehud Sprinzak of the Hebrew University ascribed the prevalence of suicide terrorism to its "gruesome effectiveness." Robert Pape of the University of Chicago argues that suicide terrorism is growing "because terrorists have learned that it pays." Harvard law professor Alan M. Dershowitz titled one of his books Why Terrorism Works.

But Max Abrahms, a fellow at Stanford University, disputes this conclusion, noting that they focus narrowly on the well-known but rare terrorist victories - while ignoring the much broader, if more obscure, pattern of terrorism's failures. To remedy this deficiency, Abrahms took a close look at each of the 28 terrorist groups so designated by the U.S. Department of State since 2001 and tallied how many of them achieved its objectives.

James Lewis American Thinker April 20, 2009
Congressional Quarterly just reported a highly secret National Security Agency wiretap report on Rep. Jane Harman. 


Before we get to the content of the wiretap, all you ACLU types should be hitting the ceiling in rage. Because NSA wiretaps are the most carefully protected, super-secret operations carried on by the Federal government. Even during the Bush Administration, when the CIA carried on an unconcealed war on the Bush policy in the War on Terror through selective and politically damaging leaks to the New York Times, no wiretap recordings were released. Wiretaps of Members of Congress are even more sensitive, especially prominent Democrats on the House Intelligence Committee.

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From Elsewhere

By Larrey Anderson, American Thinker, April 17, 2009
Most of the conservative remedies offered to date (including mine) have been specific policy recommendations: cutting taxes, imposing term limits, or reforming entitlement programs.

Something is missing in these propositions. Conservatives have some good suggestions for how to fix our runaway government -- but we have failed to convincingly address the issue of why the government needs to be fixed in the first place.

This article is all about the why. Understanding why America is America (and not some third world country) is crucial knowledge. The why of America is information that must be not only be understood by conservatives; the "why" must be promulgated and shared with all of our fellow citizens before conservatives can convince their fellow citizens the need for the "how" -- for adopting any specific conservative solutions.

Dianna Cotter, Washington Examiner, April 24, 2009
Wednesday April 22 saw a very interesting poll released by Rasmussen. This poll shows that 60% of Americans believe that the Government has too much power. 60% also say they believe that tax cuts help the economy. 51% have a favorable view on the Tax Day Tea Parties that were held last week. Clearly, more than half of Americans are at the very least concerned with what the government is doing, and how much power it has. This is now a civil rights issue, if only because more than half of Americans are not supportive of the governments' plans. On April 21 Rasmussen released an article titled "Most Americans Say Bailouts Were Bad Idea, Political Class Disagrees". It is becoming apparent we have a new class in America. The Political class, as Rasmussen calls it, are those who believe that the Government should be and indeed must be in control of America. You can call this class by another name: The Statists; those who believe that the State knows best.
By Jeff Poor, News Busters, April 23, 2009
"Now, most CEOs would have stopped NBC's corruption a long time ago, but Immelt may be looking for a major payoff," O'Reilly said. "According to reporting by the Washington Examiner, GE is heavily lobbying the Obama administration for bailout money. The company is also pushing for the proposed cap-and-trade program. Apparently GE has set up a joint venture it hopes would manage billions of dollars in cap-and-trade transactions should that corporate carbon tax pass Congress."

NBC has been actively promoting green issues and this revelation by O'Reilly happens to fall during the NBC Universal networks Green is Universal week.

"Now think about this ladies and gentlemen - a failing corporation, General Electric might reap billions of dollars if the Feds OK the carbon deal," O'Reilly said. "By the way, GE is already getting taxpayer bailout money for its financial unit. So it's not a stretch to assume Immelt would want to help President Obama as much as possible." According to O'Reilly, the level of corruption is so big, it stands to make Watergate look small.

By Patrick J. Michaels, National Review, April 22, 2009
What on Earth is going on in Washington? The public believes less and less that human beings are responsible for global warming, surface temperature shows no net change in over a decade, and there’s still a bill about to be debated in the House that will require the average American in 2050 to have a "carbon footprint" no larger than it was for the average American in 1867. The politics of global warming are becoming increasingly disconnected from the public. Day after day, hour after hour, telescreens shout, "Go Green! Go Green!" Fewer and fewer people care.
Joe Scarborough, Glenn Beck and others on Obama's short, error-prone time In office
April 27, 2009 New York Post
Due to an editing error, a portion of this piece originally was improperly credited to Sarah Palin, when it should have been attributed to Meghan Clyne.
CIA held dozens of briefings on techniques
By Kara Rowland, The Washington Times, April 23, 2009
The CIA briefed top Democrats and Republicans on the congressional intelligence committees more than 30 times about enhanced interrogation techniques, according to intelligence sources who said the lawmakers tacitly approved the techniques that some Democrats in Congress now say should land Bush administration officials in jail.

Between 2002 and 2006, the top Republicans and Democrats on the House and Senate intelligence committees "each got complete, benchmark briefings on the program," said one of the intelligence sources who is familiar with the briefings.

"If Congress wanted to kill this program, all it had to do was withhold funding," said the source, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the closed-door briefings.

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