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True North Archives - May 11, 2010
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Where the Fault Lies
By Tom Licata

"The fault, dear Brutus, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves…" so said Shakespeare. 

We have lived beyond our means and the answer to this economic problem is this:  We must methodically manage an orderly reduction in our standard-of-living.  Without such action, a disorderly reduction is inevitable.

Regulate Government Before Anything Else
By Rob Roper

So, if Wall Street needs to be regulated because of it’s the way it does business, why not Washington? If cronyism, selfishness, short sightedness and plain old dumb decision making that costs taxpayers billions needs to be reigned in, where’s the laws regulating Chris Dodd (Countrywide Loan Scandal), Charlie Rangel (Tax Evasion), etc and so on, not to mention Obama himself for botching the stimulus, screwing up the auto industry takeover, and sending our national debt into the stratosphere.

Virtual Vermont
By Martin Harris

If you’ve been following the continuing literary efforts of the Fourth Estate, you know that it’s about as unusual as a blizzard over the Shakespearean Tempest-Island for an accredited op-ed specialist to admit a blind-spot in his commentary; but perhaps it’s OK for a mere free-lance amateur like your humble scribe. My judgment-gap came while pondering whether Vermonters, like so many in other States, might contemplate some sort of break-up or even secession (the last actual multi-State attempt had a sorry history)  because of internal differences in political-governance objectives. I thought they might consider either an individual Town defection (think Killington) or even a New-England-in-the-1820’s/Thomas-Naylor-in-the-present sort of secession debate. I had toyed with, and rejected, the notion of a "Virtual Vermont" of pretty-much-disenfranchised old Vermonters practicing some form of traditional self-government while co-existing geographically mixed (but governmentally-separated) among the pretty-much-in-charge-now new in-migrants, because the facts on the ground are that there’s no place in the State –not even the once-safe Northeast Kingdom-- where the now-dominant group is clearly absent; no place to furnish a sanctuary for the now-subordinate group. My error in thinking it couldn’t be done may well be proven wrong by the example of Hawaii, and so I concede my past shortfall of imagination to raise the possibility that what’s about to take place in the Aloha State could possibly come to pass in the Green Mountain State, albeit for somewhat different reasons.

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"The notion arose in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that if wise men could have "flexibility" in issuing money without the constraints of its being tied to the supply of gold, or even silver, they could rid us of financial panics, the business cycle and other human ailments! John Maynard Keynes and others thought that if the economy looked to be slowing you should just churn out more money, like putting more logs on a flickering fire, and do the opposite if things looked to be overheating. But manipulating the amount of money or the cost of it, à la the Fed's fixing interest rates, gets in the way of prosperity. It does not facilitate prosperity but retards it. There is no way a handful of people—wise or unwise—in government and central banks can second-guess what markets made up of billions of people might need. We are living through a disaster that is the result of the latest Greenspan/Bernanke attempts to guide our economic destiny through central bank operations."

- Steve Forbes writing at, April 21st, 2010

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

The Montpelier Follies
From Vermont Tiger, May 8, 2010

One looks over this laundry list of late-session business and wonders: "Did they not know, back in January, that they were going to have to produce a budget?  Is that not one of those things they are always supposed to do?"

We all know that making laws is like making sausage, as legions of hack writers like to remind us, mistakenly attributing the quote to Bismark in the process.  It was – actually and appropriately – a Vermonter who said it first.  One who, incidentally, played around in Vermont politics, putting him perfectly in position to know what he was talking about.

Internet Privacy Not an Employment Right
Caledonia Record Editorial, May 5, 2010

A disagreement arose last week about whether state employees' use of state computers should be monitored. The issue arose when it became a general concern that Vermont's employees may be using state computers for personal reasons on employer time. It came to a point when it was discovered that federal employees were surfing pornography sites on federal time, specifically when the financial crisis was crashing down on all of us.

Carrying the NEA's Water
From Vermont Tiger, May 5, 2010

The NEA wants more money.  It always wants more money.  Its lust for money is insatiable.

Senators Patrick Leahy and Bernard Sanders are reliable allies of the NEA and, thus, have signed on as supporters of legislation to pour more federal money into public school systems around the country.  The NEA advances, with a straight face, all the usual justifications for the bill.  Saving jobs.  It's for the children.  Etc. etc. etc.

Crocodile Tears Followed By Oinks
Caledonia Record Editorial, May 4, 2010

Somebody a few years ago explained that when government entities announce they are cutting costs, what they almost always mean is their costs will continue to rise, but at a slower rate. That's exactly where Vermont's public colleges are going with tuition hikes next year, this year, last year and every year. Does anybody remember even one year when they didn't hike tuitions? ...

So many public agencies and entitlements are completely out of financial control - the state, the towns, the school districts. The only people who are exercising constraint are private citizens who know they have to live within their means. It's a matter of very little time before the expense/debt/tax/disposable income continuum collapses. At this point, we are speeding downhill. It is questionable whether we can stop before we go collectively bankrupt.

Vermont Highway Paving Expenditure to Top $100 Million
From Vermont Business Magazine, May 5, 2010

The Vermont Agency of Transportation paving expenditure for the 2010 construction season will top $100 million for the first time. Governor Douglas will make a formal announcement at an event on Monday in Sheldon. VTrans this construction season will resurface nearly 250 miles of Interstate, state and class one town roadways with this record funding amount. Douglas and VTrans Secretary Dill will be joined by officials from the Federal Highway Administration, Pike Industries and the Town of Sheldon along Route 105 where the Agency is resurfacing nearly 10 miles between Sheldon and Enosburg.

VT Guard Heading to Haiti
From Fox 44 News, April 28, 2010

A group from the Vermont Air National Guard is getting ready to head to Haiti.

A sendoff ceremony took place Friday afternoon.  The guardsmen will soon leave for Port-Au-Prince.  There they will dismantle an Air National Guard facility that supported the Haiti earthquake relief effort.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Obama Administration Removed Faisal Shahzad from Terror Surveillance List Before Attack
By Jim Hoft,, May 6, 2010

Faisal Shahzad was removed from the national terrorist surveillance list before the Times Square attack.

Confessed terrorist Faisal Shahzad was removed from the Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list sometime after Barack Obama came into office. CBS reported:

Sources tell CBS News that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad appeared on a Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list – Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) – between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States.

Iraqi Forces Arrest Leader of Ansar al Islam
By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, May 4, 2010

Iraqi security forces backed by US advisers have captured the head of the al Qaeda-linked Ansar al Islam.

Abu Abdullah al Shafi, the leader of Ansar al Islam, or Partisans of Islam, was detained along with seven "criminal associates" during raids in the Baghdad neighborhoods of Mansour and Adhamiyah on May 3, US Forces Iraq reported in a press release.

Goldman Sachs & Islamic Banking
The Next Security Fraud Disaster, with a Terror Finance Twist.
By Karen Khan, Family Security Matters, April 29, 2010

Little did Sen. Byron Dorgan (D-ND) know that he hit the jackpot when he described Goldman Sach’s fiduciary breach at the April 27th Senate hearing as "to bet against your clients, to bet against your country, all for the sake of big profits."

This kind of security fraud (weak disclosure, transparency and national security risk) is being committed by a laundry list of investment firms who have been "quietly building infrastructure for the past 5 – 14 years in order to become the money manager of choice for Iran, Saudi Arabia, the Taliban and Al-Qaeda."

Nuclear Terrorism: Iran Presents ‘Clear and Present Danger’ (Part 7 of 10)
Peter Huessy,Family Security Matters, April 1, 2010

However, it is not that engagement made Iran ready to "make a deal." What is argued is that engagement set Iran up to be hit with even more severe sanctions. It was now obvious [finally!]the Iranians were not interested in any kind of deal complying with the terms of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Their obstreperous behavior could not be chalked up to anything Washington had done wrong.

However, here things took a turn perhaps not anticipated. The idea of invoking further sanctions was to "get a deal" consistent with a nuclear weapons-free mullah-land. Nevertheless, since no sanctions have yet been adopted that go beyond the three rounds of sanctions previously adopted by the UN Security Council, we do not know yet what the future brings. That is where the crystal ball gets somewhat cloudy.

If the regime believes God himself has directed them to kill the Great Satan and the Little Satan (Israel), then any negotiation is simply an Iranian tactic to buy time. Thus it is that we have set deadlines, in all apparent intention to enforce our will, only to see such deadlines come and go, as the UN, China, and Russia take further time to determine what road they want to travel. Therefore, we are now faced with choices, not any one of them without difficulty:  (1) Continued engagement backed by today's sanctions; (2) additional crippling sanctions to force a deal; (3) containment and deterrence; or (4) regime change.

Why Would Anyone Want to Blow Up Times Square?
By Daniel Pipes, National Review Online, May 5, 2010

When news comes of Muslims engaging in violence, the triad of politicians, law enforcement, and media invariably presumes that the perpetrator suffers from some mental or emotional incapacity. (For a quick listing of examples, see my collection at "Sudden Jihad or 'Inordinate Stress' at Ft. Hood?").

Instead, I argue, they should begin with a presumption of jihadi intent. That is, the default expectation should be ideological passion, not insanity. Spreading Islam and applying Islamic law are the goals. Of course, some crazy Muslims exist and they do engage in violence, but they constitute a microscopic percentage of the 15,247 Muslim terrorist incidents since 9/11, as counted by

UN Dithers While Dangerous Alliances Form
By William R. Hawkins, Family Security Matters, May 10, 2010

Officials from 189 nations opened a month long conference to review the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) at the United Nations on May 3rd. It would be useful to look back at what happened after the last major gathering meant to improve nuclear safeguards. President Barack Obama held a much ballyhooed Nuclear Security Summit April 13th-14th attended by 47 nations. A four-year plan to control nuclear materials that could be used for weapons was signed, but there is no enforcement mechanism. Even President Obama had to concede, "We're relying on good will on the part of those who are signatories. I believe they take their commitments very seriously."

But do they? After the NSS, Chinese President Hu Jintao traveled to Brasilia for the BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) summit at which support was voiced for Iran’s nuclear program against any new international sanctions. Though Obama had tried to give the impression that he had persuaded Hu to support action on Iran when they met at the NSS, this was not the case. When Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Jiang Yu was asked about this at a press conference on April 13th, he stated, "On the Iranian nuclear issue, our position has been consistent....Sanctions and pressure are not the fundamental way out."

US Airstrike Kills 10 'Rebels' in North Waziristan
By Bill Roggio, The Long War Journal, May 9, 2010

The US killed six people in an airstrike in a known al Qaeda haven in the Taliban stronghold of North Waziristan.

Unmanned Predators or the more deadly Reapers fired at least two missiles at a compound in the town of Inzar Kala in the Datta Khel region near the Afghan border. Ten "rebels" were killed in the strike, according to AFP.

"The compound became suspicious as it was being used by foreigners," a Pakistani official said, referring to al Qaeda fighters. "It was, however, not immediately known if any high-value target was present in the area at the time of attack."

Today's airstrike took place in a region administered by North Waziristan Taliban leader Hafiz Gul Bahadar. Al Qaeda and allied Pakistani and Central Asian jihadist groups shelter in Bahadar's tribal areas, and they also run training camps and safe houses in the region.

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From Elsewhere

The Rise of Government and the Decline of Morality
By James A. Dorn, Renewing American Leadership

The growth of government has politicized life and weakened the nation’s moral fabric. Government intervention—in the economy, the community, and society—has increased the payoff from political action and reduced the scope of private action. People have become more dependent on the state and have unwittingly sacrificed freedom for a false sense of security.

One cannot blame government for all of society’s ills, but there is no doubt that economic and social legislation, especially since the mid-1960s, has had a negative impact on individual responsibility. Individuals lose their moral bearing when they become dependent on government. Subsidies, bailouts, and other aspects of the "nanny state" socialize risk and reduce individual accountability. The internal moral compass that normally guides individual behavior will no longer function when the state undermines incentives for moral conduct and blurs the distinction between right and wrong.

Pro-Immigration Violence Escalates
Tea Party pacifism contrasts favorably to liberal arrests.
The Washington Times, May 4, 2010

Blatant falsehoods about Arizona's new immigration law keep piling up. Not only is the substance of the law grossly distorted, the liberal media is demonizing anyone who supports the reform and minimizing any wrongs by those opposing it.

Compare the media's hostile treatment of peaceful Tea Party protests to the sometimes violent leftist demonstrations against Arizona's law. No Tea Party demonstrators have been arrested during anti-government gatherings, and none has thrown rocks or broken bottles at police. This pacifist Tea Party track record spans multiple national demonstrations with crowds ranging from 300,000 at the April 15 Tax Day protest to around a million at September's demonstration against Obamacare.

The number of leftist agitators against Arizona's new immigration bill are far smaller. Yet, from the very first demonstration in Phoenix when the bill was signed on April 23, liberal protests have been marked by violence and arrests. In Chicago last week, the local Fox station reported that "police clashed with demonstrators" and protesters blocked vehicles; 24 were arrested. A Sunday march in Santa Cruz, Calif., damaged 18 businesses, with repair costs reaching an estimated $100,000. In San Francisco, three people were beaten by protesters, with two arrested. During a pro-illegal-immigration protest outside the White House on Saturday, 35 were arrested. The list goes on.

Despite Plan, Not a Single Fire Boom on Hand on Gulf Coast at Time of Oil Spill
By Ben Raines,, May 3, 2010

If U.S. officials had followed up on a 1994 response plan for a major Gulf oil spill, it is possible that the spill could have been kept under control and far from land. The problem: The federal government did not have a single fire boom on hand. 

This April 28, 2010 image made from video released by the Deepwater Horizon Response Unified Command, shows an in situ burn in the Gulf of Mexico, in response to the oil spill after the explosion on the Deepwater Horizon. The "In-Situ Burn" plan produced by federal agencies in 1994 calls for responding to a major oil spill in the Gulf with the immediate use of fire booms. 

But in order to conduct a successful test burn eight days after the Deepwater Horizon well began releasing massive amounts of oil into the Gulf, officials had to purchase one from a company in Illinois.

Related Articles: 

Gov. Haley Barbour on the BP Oil Spill

58% Still Support Offshore Oil Drilling

Tons of Oil Seeps into Gulf of Mexico Each Year

GOP to Insist on 10th Amendment
Rights belong to states, not Washington, task force says.
By Sean Lengell, The Washington Times, May 7, 2010

Republicans are so determined to stop what they say is abusive and unlawful expansion of the federal government under President Obama that they are willing to abdicate power to the states to do it.

Taking its cue from the Bill of Rights, the Republican Study Committee, a group of conservative House Republicans, says that the 10th Amendment dictates that initiatives such as the health care reform law and other massive government programs are the business of state governments, not Washington.

So the RSC this week announced that it had formed a 10th Amendment task force to help "usher in a new era of federalism" and to work to disperse power from Washington back to regions, states and local governments.

Chinese Property: Bubble or No Bubble?
By Geoff Dyer, Financial Times, May 6, 2010

No-one in the US these days has a good word to say for the ‘Greenspan put’, the idea that when asset prices fall sharply, the Federal Reserve will eventually ride to the rescue and provide a floor for the market by cutting rates. Some people are certain it helped foster the complacency that triggered the financial crisis.

Is China falling into a similar trap over its property market? Can current moves to cool demand be taken seriously when three years ago Beijing went through a similar campaign - only to go into reverse when prices went into freefall? That is the intriguing question proposed by Paul Cavey at Macquarie Research. And his answer is an unequivocal ‘no’.

The government has again been spooked by soaring house prices which has led to some signs of social unrest – and a new crackdown on speculators even more aggressive than last time. And the early indications of slumping sales of new houses suggest the measures are having a significant impact.

Unlocking the Promise of Nuclear Energy
By William D. Johnson, Investor’s Business Daily, May 4, 2010

Nuclear power has been part of the energy mix in our country for more than 50 years, and it currently accounts for 20% of the electricity generated here — and 70% of the country's carbon-free generation. But while many new plants are being built in Europe and Asia (56 reactors under construction in 15 countries worldwide), there have been no new nuclear plants started in the United States in three decades.

Until recently, support for new nuclear power plants by most U.S. policymakers has been tepid, at best, even though most Americans — 74%, according to a national poll in 2009 — support new nuclear generation.

ObamaCare's Phony Medicaid 'Deal'
The new health law unconstitutionally coerces the states.
By Richard A. Epstein, The Wall Street Journal, May 10, 2010

Under the Constitution the states are not wards of the federal government. Clever federal tax and spending statutes must not be allowed to reduce states to a servile status that allows the federal government to force massive wealth shifts among them. 

$145 Billion and Counting
Fannie and Freddie lose it all for you. 
The Wall Street Journal, May 11, 2010

The real joke is that the Obama Administration and Senator Chris Dodd have collaborated on a financial regulatory-reform bill that includes no reform of Fan or Fred. Senators should rectify this embarrassment as early as today by voting for John McCain's amendment to end this most costly of all bailouts.

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