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True North Archives - April 29, 2008
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Vermontís Cultural Conundrum
By Tom Licata

I founded Vermonters for Economic Health (VEH), a grassroots, citizen-led organization in 2007. More than 800 Vermonters have signed our on-line petition. To educate Vermonters on our deteriorating economic condition, beginning in the fall of last year we've conducted nine "Town Meeting Forums" throughout the state. Several Senators, Representatives (including Speaker Symington) and the Governor's emissaries have attended.

Among our observations has been a disturbing lack of understanding and "sense of urgency" from Montpelier to confront squarely what Vermonterís face: (1) 0% private-sector job growth over this past decade (2) $3.5 billion of looming costs with no plan to pay for them (3) Vermont's demographic free fall: losing our youth at four times the national average (4) Vermont's housing shortfall: expected to grow to over 30% of need over the next four years (5) A federal government whose financial assistance will only decrease over time. With an entitlement deficit of some $50 trillion and our depreciating dollar, we can no longer rely on Federal bailouts.

An Example of Frugality in Government
By Martin Harris

A more recent example came about a decade ago, when a friend in Sharon asked about what was then a new regional planning commission practice when drawing up land use plans for member towns: the RPCís were urging their clients to let them show such informal uses as hiker paths, snowmobile trails, deeryards, and the like on the maps, and the locals were protesting, on the logical grounds that they didnít want their informal accommodations of the recreational wishes of their neighbors to become permanent legal encumbrances on their properties, and they were foresighted enough to anticipate just that happening.

Itís perfectly legal under 24VSA 4421, which authorizes the creation of an official Town Map, on which everything from present hiker trails to future school sites may be shown, given the force of law to prevent development by owner ("any such land development shall be removed at the expense of the owner") and of course, to reduce the value of the designated and adjacent lands because of the "no zoning permit may be issuedÖ for lands [so shown] in the official map" requirement. So far, the Underhill Center-based Citizens for Property Rights group reports, only three towns have adopted an "official map". I guess the other 248 are a bit more skeptical about this particular effort at frugality by the GD folks in government.

Vermont's Economic Health - A Taxing Problem
By James Ehlers

Vermont is ailing. And I am not certain most of us are recognizing the symptoms. A few are, however. The Public Assets Institute (PAI), Ethan Allen Institute (EAI) and Vermonters For Economic Health are among them.

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"In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth becomes a revolutionary act."--George Orwell

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

VPIRG Hypocrisy is Shameless

The Vermont Public Interest Research Groupís answer to getting big money out of politics is to, well, give big money to VPIRG!

After failing for a second year in a row to pass a self-serving campaign finance bill masquerading as reform, VPIRG didnít miss a beat before using the issue as a fundraising opportunity.

Paul Burns, Executive Director for the special interest 501c4 group wrote, "Now more than ever, special interest dollars are competing for our legislators votes. Click here to donate to support the public interest." (Rep. Pillsbury Chooses Special Interests Over His Constituents, 4/25)

Clearly, the special interest stuffing big money into its pockets is VPIRG, and they will use that money to fund their team of lobbyists who by definition compete for legislatorsí votes. Consolidating money and power in VPIRG's own hands is what S.278 has been all about.

This rank hypocrisy and crass opportunism only goes to show what a farce S.278 was, that Governor Douglas was right to veto it, and fifty-one House Members did the honorable thing by sustaining that veto.

Related: VPIRG Soliciting 'Big Money' for 'Reform'

Related: VPIRGís Hypocrisy on Campaign Finance

Democrats Face a Daunting Task
By David S. Broder, The Burlington Free Press, April 25, 2008

For battle-weary Democrats, the big news out of Pennsylvania is pretty simple: Their nightmare continues.

A Bill With No Upside
From, April 23 2008

Vermonters have the lowest energy costs in New England, an advantage that could come to a screeching halt if Vermont legislators this week approve legislation forcing Vermont Yankee to pledge $300 to $400 million into a decommissioning fund.

Shumlin Is An Embarrassment
Caledonia Record Editorial April 24, 2008

Once again, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin has opened his mouth and inserted his foot. At a hearing on the Shumlin-engineered Senate demand that Entergy put up double, again, the $400 million that they already have escrowed to decommission Vermont Yankee at some point in the future, Shumlin called IBM lobbyist John O'Kane a liar. Shumlin claimed that O'Kane lied when he said that Vermont Yankee would have to come up with significant cash, now, to meet the requirements of the bill. O'Kane was insulted and left the hearing as Shumlin began to realize what a gaffe he had just pulled and started furiously backpedaling.

Feeling Good or Feeling Pain: Fighting Global Warming
From, April 27 2008

On the first page of the Freep's Living section, an article tries to show how you can reduce your "carbon diet" in your neighborhood.  The boxed insert, titled What You Can Do, makes almost no sense to me (unfortunately, they are not available on line).

Related: The Real Cost of Tackling Climate Change

It Was Too Good To Be True
Caledonia Record Editorial, April 23, 2008

Last week, in what appeared to be a spirit of cooperation, the administration and the Democratic leadership in Montpelier stood shoulder to shoulder and pledged to work together on cuts, difficult or not, to bring the state's new budget expenses into line with anticipated revenues. We applauded their spirit of cooperation.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The Iraq They Won't Talk About
By Amir, New York Post, April 23, 2008

THE only useful debate about Iraq would focus on what is happening now - not what happened five years ago or what might happen five years from now. It is what is happening now that makes new Iraq worth fighting for - not only for the Americans but also for all who dream of a free, pluralist, prosperous Middle East. Iraq has bled, but remained unbowed. Iraq has resisted al Qaeda and the Iranian terror machine. Iraqis are learning to build a new society based on pluralism and are discovering the values that, in time, helped develop the Western democracies.

Gen. Petraeus Picked to Lead Iraq and Afghan Wars
By Kristin Roberts and Andrew Gray, Reuters, April 23, 2008

The Bush administration picked Gen. David Petraeus, its top commander in Iraq, on Wednesday to take charge of operations across the Middle East and chose his former No. 2 to take over in Baghdad.

Nukes, Lies, and Videotape
From the National Review, April 25, 2008

ĎWhen exactly did Kim Jong Il become trustworthy?" That was our question following the deal, announced last February, by which the aid spigot to North Korea would be turned back on in exchange for Kimís renouncing the pursuit of nuclear weapons. Trouble was, the spigot started turning before we had any reason to think Kim Jong Il was telling the truth. Sanctions were lifted and the anti-Kim consensus that had begun to form on the U.N. Security Council fell apart, all without the slightest evidence that anything was changing inside the Hermit Kingdom. And now we have one more reason to call Kim a liar.

Iraq's Lawful Unity
From Investor's Business Daily, April 24, 2008

"Iraq has passed its crises and divisions," said the Shiite leader elected to head the Baghdad government. ... Al-Maliki has bet on military force being the only thing terrorists like al-Sadr understand. Iraq's Sunnis seem now to realize that al-Maliki bet right, and they have cast their lot in favor of freedom and reconciliation, governed by the rule of law.

Jihadistí booted from U.S. Government Lexicon
From the Associated Press, April 24, 2008

Federal agencies, including the State Department, the Department of Homeland Security and the National Counter Terrorism Center, are telling their people not to describe Islamic extremists as "jihadists" or "mujahedeen," according to documents obtained by The Associated Press. Lingo like "Islamo-fascism" is out, too. The reason: Such words may actually boost support for radicals among Arab and Muslim audiences by giving them a veneer of religious credibility or by causing offense to moderates.

Michelle Obama's Name Removed from Terrorist Fundraiser's Web Page
By Little Green Footballs, April 25, 2008

As we noted a few days ago, Hatem El-Hady, former chairman of the Toledo-based Islamic charity Kindhearts (closed by the US government in 2006 for terrorist fundraising), has now devoted himself to raising money for the Barack Obama campaign. He has a web page at the official Obama campaign site. On Wednesday when we posted about El-Hady, there were three "friends" listed on his page, and one of them was none other than Barack Obamaís wife, Michelle Obama.

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From Elsewhere

The Pope's Challenge to Conservatives
By Christopher Chantrill, American Thinker, April 23, 2008

If relativity is here to stay, then so too is relativism.  And ideas have consequences.  The relativist narrative of creativity and godlessness and its enticing apology for political power are the chief components in the "belief system" of our modern educated progressive class.  Unless that belief system is engaged and challenged in its own terms its naive adepts will continue to believe that all opposition to its ideas and to its power is bitter-end bigotry.

The German pope answered this challenge.  He had to. Josef Ratzinger is a German who came to manhood exactly at the moment, in 1945, when the proud German ideology of creativity and state power had crumbled to dust and humiliation and the most advanced country in the world lay at the feet of four foreign armies.

Felicitous Future?
By Michael J. New, National Review, April 25 2008

Events during the past few years have caused many conservatives to be decidedly pessimistic about their future political prospects. Republicans fared poorly in the 2006 U.S. midterm election, losing control of both the House and Senate. Furthermore, many conservatives were uninspired by the field of candidates seeking the Republican nomination for president in 2008, and disappointed that John McCain emerged as the nominee. In the wake of these defeats, numerous pundits have argued that the conservative movement needs to fundamentally restructure itself. However, Americans for Tax Reform president Grover Norquist takes a far different view. In his recent book, Leave Us Alone: Getting the Government's Hands Off Our Money, Our Guns, and Our Lives, Norquist makes a compelling case that the future actually looks quite bright for limited-government conservatives.

Scientist: Earth Cooling, Not Warming
By Philip V. Brennan,, April 24, 2008

A San Francisco-based scientist says that current solar activity strongly indicates that the earth is on the verge of a new ice age. "Sorry to ruin the fun, but an ice age cometh," warns Phil Chapman writing in The Australian. Chapman is a geophysicist and astronautical engineer who was the first Australian to become a NASA astronaut.

Beware Blueprints
By Paul Weyrich, American Conservative Union, April 23, 2008

There is a tendency in times of financial crisis to look to government as the solution.  Yet government solutions often exacerbate the problem or permanently limit the free market.  What should occur in this housing crisis is a market correction.  In other words, the Federal Government should let home prices, which were inflated grossly, correct themselves to more realistic values.

Many First-Time Dems May Switch Back
By Bradley Vasoli, The Bulletin, April 23, 2008

Many residents of the traditionally Republican Philadelphia suburbs have saliently moved toward the Democrats, with more than a 9,000-voter advantage in Montgomery County and a 3,500-voter lead in Bucks County. But to state Rep. Jay Moyer (R-Montgomery), also a county committeeman from Lower Salford Township, some of the Democrats' gains appear transitory. Mr. Moyer said many new Democratic voters have temporarily flocked from the GOP or from independent registration to help nominate either the Democrat whom they mind the least or the one whom they believe would more likely lose to Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (Ariz.).

New Counter Culture
By L. Brent Bozell III, American Conservative Union, April 23, 2008

The Beatles sang "All You Need Is Love," but the counterculture thought love was overrated, especially if it meant long-term attachments, like marital fidelity. Love was a "groovy" feeling, but it had to be "free," which often meant it was best carried out in a long series of "random acts of kindness" with a string of strangers. The counter-culturalists professed to be apostles of love, but counseled self-absorption in narcotic highs. Timothy Leary advised "Tune out, turn on, drop out." He told his devotees to seek detachment from troublesome "involuntary" commitments and find happiness in "mobility, choice, and change." Sincerity in love doesnít happen without commitment, and it doesnít merge well with an ardent desire to seek mobility and change.

Time to crush the National Union of Teachers
By George Bridges, The Telegraph (UK), April 22, 2008

By blocking school reform, it [the National Union of Teachers] is denying many children the education they deserve and hobbling our economy for years to come. ... If we are to raise standards in education, we have to break the NUT's grip on schools.

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