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True North Archives - May 01, 2007
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Featured Articles

Book Review: Two Vermonts -- Geography and Identity, 1865 -1910
By Bruce Shields

Searls, a teacher in the History Department at University of Vermont, documents how the present division between town and country took shape in Vermont in the half century following the Civil War. He uses a terminology found in writings of the time to distinguish two viewpoints: uphill and downhill.  Downhill encompasses many of the characteristics carried in the current term flatlander.  Uphill -- not precisely a geographical reference, but bearing some  sense of that -- refers to both the inhabitants of the primarily agricultural hill towns and to the world view borne by those folk. He very briefly sets that division as reflecting the antebellum division of Vermont politics into Federalist and Jeffersonian parties.  Briefly united by the Civil War, the division resurfaced almost as soon as the troops returned home.

Advancing Beliefs - State-sponsored religion is very taxing
By Mark Shepard

The pursuit of happiness requires the freedom to dream, express and work out ideas, without government interference, positive or negative. It also requires that citizens have the right to invest their creativity, time and resources as desired and to reap the fruits of that investment, positive or negative.

"Scribblings" - An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch, Barre Town

Talk about changing minds. All this year, Senate President Pro-Tem Peter Shumlin and Speaker Gaye Symington have resisted the effort to bring before their respective houses a resolution advocating the impeachment of President Bush. This week, about 150 supporters of impeachment descended on the statehouse to demand that the legislature pass a resolution asking Congress to institute impeachment proceedings against the President. Of course, we don’t like the Vice President either, so let’s impeach him at the same time. If all that is successful, we could have President Pelosi! (Now there’s a thought to make one wake up and pay attention!)

Stop-Us-Before-We-Win-Again (II)
By Martin Harris

The major premise of my argument in these columns is that several recent legislative actions were carefully designed so that part of the public will be satisfied by apparent effort while the other, more important bloc of voters is pleased by a deliberate avoidance of actual results. For example, if you think of it as a step forward, then a step back, you’ll see that the recent school-tax two-step – a pretense at addressing costs, followed by –guess what—nothing actually accomplished-- is a prime illustration. Some observers ascribe such sequence-of-events to legislative ineptitude, but I would respectfully disagree. My minor (supporting) premise is that "nothing in politics happens by accident", a quote which originated with 4-term President and ultimate politician Franklin Roosevelt.

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"So, first of all, let me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is fear itself - nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance. In every dark hour of our national life a leadership of frankness and vigor has met with the understanding and support of the people themselves which is essential to victory. I am convinced that you will again give that support to leadership in these critical days . . In this dedication of a nation we humbly ask the blessing of God. May He protect each and every one of us. May He guide me in the days to come." --Franklin Roosevelt, arousing national unity.

"I have, myself, full confidence that if all do their duty, if nothing is neglected . . we shall prove ourselves once again able to defend our island home, to ride out the storm of war, and to out live the menace of tyranny, if necessary for years, if necessary alone . . We shall go on to the end . . whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; WE SHALL NEVER SURRENDER." --Winston Churchill before Parliament, June 1940, arousing national unity.

"Our task is not merely one of itemizing Republican failures . . I think the American people expect more from us than cries of indignation and attack. The times are too grave, The challenge too urgent, and the stakes too high, to permit the customary passions of political debate. We are not here to curse the darkness but to light the candle that can guide us through that darkness to a safe and sane future. As Winston Churchill said on taking office some twenty years ago: "If we open a quarrel between the present and the past, we shall be in danger of losing the future." --John Kennedy in his Acceptance Speech at the Democratic National Convention on July 15, 1960 as he appealed for national unity.

 "Let us at all times remember that all American citizens are brothers of a common country, and should dwell together in bonds of fraternal feeling." --Abraham Lincoln

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To the editor:

It comes as no surprise to anyone, really, that Senate President Pro Tempore Peter Shumlin would flip-flop like a fish out of water on the impeachment issue. First, he states that impeachment of president Bush was off the table so the legislature could focus more time and thought on issues confronting Vermonters, and then a short time later he does a complete reversal. Anyone who has followed Shumlin’s much less than distinguished political career now understands he's a political opportunists and this  his modus operandi.  It’s obvious Shumlin is a puppet being controlled by the loony far-left and special interests. The puppeteers have yanked his strings to the point where Shumlin, and his liberal ilk, have  forgotten, or never knew,  for whom they took an oath to represent and what they're supposed to do once they are under the golden dome. 

There are many serious issues facing this state. Unfortunately, a too large portion of the state legislature is made up of an assortment of liberals, progressives and other socialists who can't  deal nor solve the important issues if their lives depended on it. Instead,  they fall all over themselves coming up ways to add to the state’s already bloated bureaucracy and create more taxes for the over taxed middle class having greater and greater difficulty making ends meet.

As a lifetime traditional Vermonter, I am fed up with the Symingtons and Shumlins that are "working hard"  to ram their socialist, utopian lifestyle down our throats. Their utopia exists outside reality and firmly planted in La-La land.  Upon retirement I will be driven out of this state, not only because of the high cost of living and high taxes, but because this once great state has been taken over by self-centered special interest groups whose stings to their puppet politicians grow stronger and longer. 

Glenn W. Thompson
Essex Center, VT 

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Shumlin Strikes Again
Caledonian Record Editorial, April 27, 2007

After agreeing with Governor Douglas and House Speaker Gaye Symington that Vermonters can't afford any more new taxes, Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin is equivocating again. First, he proposed a tax on home heating fuels. He dodged the charge of a broken promise by insisting that his new tax was really just a surcharge, not a tax at all. Then he backed another "surcharge" on gas guzzlers. He is in a class with Pontius Pilate ("What is truth?") and former president Bill Clinton ("It depends on what you mean by is.'") Their sophistry was designed to excuse their crimes.

And We Are Supposed To Take These Things Seriously?
Caledonian Record Editorial, April 28, 2007

A school superintendent in Maine has suspended a middle school student for putting a ham sandwich in a bag on a table where some Somali Muslims sometimes sit. He labeled it a hate crime, and he intends to push it and the kid to the wall. He said to the kids, "You've got to understand that ham is not a toy." He and a civil rights group are assembling a Ham Response Team that will come up with a plan to handle ham emergencies in the future.

VT Rep. Hube On VT's Spiraling Education Costs
From Letters to the Editor, Eagle Times, April 17, 2007

The most significant issue on the minds of Vermonters is the ever-escalating cost of education. We cannot continue to support education budgets that go up six, seven or, in some cases, eight percent every year. This upward spiral is changing the very fabric of our state.

Symington fails leadership test on impeachment
By Rob Roper, VTGOP Chair, April 25, 2007 

While nobody at this point expects Senate Democrat leader Peter Shumlin to live up to his word, Symington’s caving in to an out-of-the-mainstream mob was a disappointing surprise. Not only had she consistently opposed this impeachment resolution as an issue that should be taken up by the Vermont legislature, she articulated solid reasons for her opposition. Symington knows the right thing to do in this case, but in the end, she just doesn’t have the leadership capabilities to follow through and do it. 

By allowing this resolution onto the floor of the House, Symington is, as she has stated over the past several weeks: Wasting the Legislature’s time and taxpayers’ money; Tossing a highly volatile and divisive issue into the legislature at a time when all sides need to come together and wrap up the session; Distracting lawmakers from the problems Vermonters actually want the Vermont Legislature to solve. Vermonters deserve better than this.

Citizen testimony and debate are necessary. Calling for the impeachment of both the President and the Vice President of the United States, while outlandish in this context, is still a serious undertaking. It should not be taken up at all by the Vermont legislature. But, if the Speaker does allow it, the resolution should be referred to committee where all citizens of Vermont – particularly those from the 213 towns that did not call for impeachment -- will have an opportunity to make their feelings known. Said Republican Party Chairman, Rob Roper, "Raising this issue, then cutting citizens out of the debate is arrogant, out of touch, and unacceptable." 

Flip A Coin In Montpelier
Caledonia Record Editorial April 25, 2007

Mephistopheles changed his shape again. Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin, who became the governor's pal last week by reversing himself on the budget limit/super majority proposal by sponsoring it and voting for it, reversed himself again. After months of protests that the Senate had no time to consider an impeachment of George Bush resolution, he put it on the floor without debate and engineered a vote to pass it.

Vietnam Vets Struggling With Memories As Iraq War Continues
By Robin Smith, Caledonia Record, April 21, 2007

The lack of welcome that Vietnam veterans felt - and continue to feel - has moved historian Scott Wheeler of Derby and his wife, Penny. They decided, with the help of the local Elks Club, to host a "welcome home" gathering May 26 for Vietnam and Korean War veterans.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Yeltsin dismantled the Soviet Union but Putin is building a new empire
The Business: London's First Global Business Magazine,  April 25, 2007

A free, democratic and prosperous Russia closely associated with the West – that was the vision the country’s former president, Boris Yeltsin, who died this week, so splendidly incarnated when he defiantly stood on that tank in Moscow in August 1991. But Yeltsin’s dream of a liberal Russia died long before him. While he deserves eternal gratitude for ending the Soviet Union with minimal bloodshed and for all his unstinting work in the earlier defeat of communism, Yeltsin’s great tragedy was that he also laid the seeds for the return of authoritarianism.

Senator Joe Lieberman's Senate floor speech on Iraq
Special to The Daily Standard,  April 26, 2007

The sectarian violence that the Majority Leader says he wants to order American troops to stop policing, in other words, is the very same sectarian violence that Al Qaeda hopes to ride to victory. The suggestion that we can draw a bright legislative line between stopping terrorists in Iraq and stopping civil war in Iraq flies in the face of this reality.

'The Central Front'
"Actually there is a city of 7 million in which life goes on..."
by Gen. David Petraeus, for the Editors, Weekly Standard,  April 26, 2007

We do definitely see links to the greater al Qaeda network. . . . There is no question but that there is a network that supports the movement of foreign fighters through Syria into Iraq. . . . The Iranian involvement has really become much clearer to us and brought into much more focus during the interrogation of the members--the heads of the Qazali network and some of the key members of that network that have been in detention now for a month or more. This is the head of the secret cell network, the extremist secret cells. They were provided substantial funding, training on Iranian soil, advanced explosive munitions and technologies, as well as run-of-the-mill arms and ammunition, in some cases advice, and in some cases even a degree of direction. When we captured these individuals--the initial capture, and then there have been a number of others since then--we discovered, for example, a 22-page memorandum on a computer that detailed the planning, preparation, approval process, and conduct of the operation that resulted in five of our soldiers being killed in Karbala. . . .

Related: DoD News Briefing with Gen. Petraeus from the Pentagon
(The entire transcript of Gen.Petraeus's remarks can be retrieved here.)

Uneasy Alliance Is Taming One Insurgent Bastion
By Kirk Semple, New York Times,  April 27, 2007

Anbar Province, long the lawless heartland of the tenacious Sunni Arab resistance, is undergoing a surprising transformation. Violence is ebbing in many areas, shops and schools are reopening, police forces are growing and the insurgency appears to be in retreat.

Thompson: Help Iranians Overthrow Leader
By David Koenig, Associated Press, April 27, 2007

The former Tennessee senator accused Tehran of "playing a larger part in killing our soldiers" in neighboring Iraq. Many Iranians don't like their government, "and I think we ought to capitalize on that," Thompson told The Associated Press. "There is a chance they may mobilize themselves, and we need to assist them if that happens."

Back to Backbone: History is fundamental
By Fred Thompson, ABC Radio/National Review Online, April 25, 2007

By now, we’re used to people like Iranian President Ahmadinejad denying that the Holocaust ever happened, even while he and his regime promise not only the destruction of Israel but the elimination of Jews internationally. It’s bad enough hearing from a distance about the bizarre anti-Semitic theories taught by heads of state as well as schools and religious leaders. Now, according to a study funded by the British government, we find out that some schools in Great Britain have stopped teaching history that is offensive to Muslim students. The topics that have been erased from the curriculum, the study found, include both the Nazi genocide and the Crusades.

Vice President's Remarks on Senator Reid's Comments on Iraq
Capitol Hill, Washington, D.C., April 24, 2007

Some Democratic leaders seem to believe that blind opposition to the new strategy in Iraq is good politics. Senator Reid himself has said that the war in Iraq will bring his party more seats in the next election. It is cynical to declare that the war is lost because you believe it gives you political advantage. Leaders should make decisions based on the security interests of our country, not on the interests of their political party.

Related: Harry Reid, Loser

From Elsewhere

Industry caught in carbon ‘smokescreen’
By Fiona Harvey and Stephen Fidler, London Financial Times, April 25 2007

Companies and individuals rushing to go green have been spending millions on "carbon credit" projects that yield few if any environmental benefits. A Financial Times investigation has uncovered widespread failings in the new markets for greenhouse gases, suggesting some organizations are paying for emissions reductions that do not take place. Others are meanwhile making big profits from carbon trading for very small expenditure and in some cases for clean-ups that they would have made anyway.

Fred Thompson’s First Challenge: A Test of Leadership
By J.B. Williams, The eco-logic Powerhouse, April 24, 2007

When Republican National Committee (RNC) powers first met to lay out their ’08 battle plan, Fred Thompson’s name never came up. Party powers had already chosen their inside-the-beltway golden boys and pronounced them "front-runners" before the primary process even left the station. Thanks to a grassroots effort to draft Thompson, he now finds himself center stage, in a campaign he has not yet agreed to run. 

Global whining pumps debate with hot air
In Gore-topia, alarmism is the new black
By Adri Mehra, Minnesota Daily, March 22, 2007

Apparently, since 1975, we've become more powerful than the sun. Yes, compadres, even though the mass of the flaming center of our entire solar system is that of 332,946 Earths, it has become a near-religious commandment that the burning of our little humdrum underground liquid supply is somehow having more of an effect on our global temperature than the 10,000 degrees Fahrenheit star we revolve around.

"Scientist" Group's Funding Comes with Liberal "Strings Attached"
By Kevin Mooney, The eco-logic Powerhouse, April 25, 2007

At a time when the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) is censuring free market organizations for accepting donations from ExxonMobil, critics have turned the spotlight back onto the UCS, its left-wing positions, and its own funding practices.

Linking NAEP Achievement Levels to TIMSS
Expressing International Educational Achievement in Terms of U.S. Performance Standards
By Gary W. Phillips, American Institutes for Research

The American Institutes for Research has just released an important paper by chief scientist Gary Phillips, who for many years headed the NCES unit that administers NAEP and who knows that assessment system as well as anyone. In essence, he links NAEP's scoring scale to that of the Trends in Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) so that he can project NAEP's three well-known "achievement levels" (basic, proficient, advanced) onto the TIMSS scale and show how kids in other countries do (in math and science only) in relation to NAEP's expectations. A very nice piece of analysis, for starters, and one that undermines the assertion by state officials and some academics that NAEP's 'achievement levels' expect too much. When a non-trivial number of other countries, including some of America's toughest economic competitors, already boast far larger fractions of their students at or above NAEP's "proficient" level than the U.S. itself can claim, we'd be foolish to lower our expectations.

Related: Education Week News Report featuring Global Comparisons (free registration required and worth the time)

Related: "Linking NAEP Achievement Levels to TIMSS" (pdf - This is the full report) 

Personal Accounts or Bust
Social Security is still going broke, just like last year, and the year before, and . . .
By Pat Toomey, National Review, April 27, 2007

I’m going to save you the trouble of reading all 218 pages of the Social Security Administration’s "2007 Annual Report of the Board of Trustees" by summing up the dizzying details in six words: Social Security is still going broke.

The Will of the Uninformed
By Jonah Goldberg, National Review Online, April 25, 2007

Huge numbers of Americans don't know jack about their government or politics. According to a Pew Research Center survey released last week, 31 percent of Americans don't know who the vice president is....and only 15 percent can name Harry Reid when asked who is the Senate majority leader. And yet, last week, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found that two-thirds of Americans believe that Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales’ firing of eight U.S. attorneys was “politically motivated."

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