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True North Archives - May 15, 2007
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Featured Articles

VT vs VY (part I) 
By Martin Harris

For some years now, Vermont’s movers and shakers have had a difficult time with the dumber among us. Not a failed school bond or budget vote happens, that isn’t followed by anguished introspection among the beautiful people: Oh, if only we had better and earlier explained the importance of it, so that "those people" who (unfortunately) get to vote on such things, could have had the extra time they need to understand and comprehend all the wonderful goals we’re trying so nobly to accomplish…and so on.

An American Abroad
By Pete Behr

Howdy, folks. I just returned from a good will trip to France and Morocco. Since our image is not what it should be, and our politicians are not doing anything about it, I decided to improve things, at no taxpayer expense.

Corruption or the appearance of corruption: 
Who IS calling the shots?
By Rob Roper

Last summer, Vermont’s campaign finance laws were declared unconstitutional by the US Supreme Court, and they were thrown out. Today, a new campaign finance reform bill is making its way through the Statehouse. Its primary supporter, VPIRG, claims the restrictions on Vermonters’ First Amendment rights that would result from the new bill are necessary to eliminate "corruption or the appearance of corruption" in Vermont  politics. They are also supposed to reduce undue influence by any "single source" over the political process. Events of this past week should give Vermonters pause before taking VPIRG at its word.

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

These are dangerous days in the legislature. We are hoping to adjourn today, and on the one hand, the sooner we get out of town, the safer it will be for the people, especially those among "the people" who pay taxes. On the other hand, in the rush to adjourn, a lot of pet projects and bad ideas can get inserted into conference committee reports and passed into law before most legislators figure out what’s happening. 

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Stop Feeding the "Petri Dish" of Envy

Traditional democrats, moderate republicans and independents must band together and defeat the dangerous "radical progressivism" that has gripped Vermont.  They should also take notice of two seemingly independent events: the proposed Vermont Yankee "shakedown tax" and France's election of the center-right, free-market orientated Nicolas Sarkozy over Socialist Segolene Royal.

For years, France's economy has stifled under oppressive business regulation, taxes, union work rules and an entitlement welfare mentality. This has produced some of Europe’s worst outcomes: anemic economic growth and double-digit unemployment rates.

Vermont has been following in France's footsteps and it's time for change.  Like France, Vermont's radical progressivism has been fomenting class warfare, hatred of corporatism and the evils of the free-market system; the very system that has brought us the prosperity and spoils we now fight over.  Senator Shumlin's proposed Vermont Yankee tax feeds into this "petri dish" of envy.

Vermonters must reject radical progressivism and the politicians that have been stoking its envious flames. Leaders who promote an entrepreneurial, dynamic and economic growth orientated culture will bring the kind of jobs and economic security that Vermonters want. Property is initially derived from one’s labor, without jobs there is no need for labor and thus no opportunity for Vermonters to acquire property and wealth. Our government has a moral obligation to provide its citizens with the equality of opportunity necessary to earn an honest and decent living; this should be considered a basic human right.  It's time to demand the kind of economic and productivity growth needed to achieve these ends.

Tom Licata

The writer will be a State Senate candidate representing Chittenden County in 2008

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The natural law of taxation

Dear Friends:  I take it you do not want energy in Vermont any more.  There is a natural law of taxation. It is: "you want more of something, lower the taxes on it. You want less of something, raise the taxes on it".  I guess you want less availability of energy in Vermont.  We will take all of that into consideration. 

Bob Hardy


"[Y]ou’d think this dramatic fiscal turnaround would cheer up Capitol Hill. Instead, Congressional Democrats seem to live in a parallel universe — one that they claim is starved for revenues, with a runaway deficit, and is dominated by the rich who pay no taxes at all. The reality is that the wealthy are financing Democratic spending ambitions, and the deficit could easily vanish within a year or two if Congress has the good sense to leave current tax policy in place. - Wall Street Journal (read it here)

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Democrats Against Impeachment
A bridge too far even for Vermont
By John McClaughry, Wall Street Journal, May 13, 2007

So the passionate drive to get Vermont's legislature to be the first in the nation to call for impeaching the president came up short. And the credit for that goes to the 39 Democrats, some moderate but most of them liberal, who agreed with the very liberal congressional delegation of this state that this "metaphor for outrage" was not a good idea.

Peter Shumlin's Got To Go
Caledonian Record Editorial, May 8, 2007

Sen. Peter Shumlin has no credibility. His ethics reek of arrogance. His track record in the Senate is one of denial and deceit. He has to go. The Democratic power structure in the state has two choices: Get rid of him or continue to embrace him with the ethical stink that he exudes and that will surely rub off on them.

Read The Fine Print
Caledonian Record Editorial, May 11, 2007

The next two weeks are fraught with danger for Vermont taxpayers. The Legislature is trying to wrap things up and when they do that, bills and issues move with great haste. Both the House and the Senate suspend the rules routinely in order to move business along faster than ordinary. When that happens there is optimum opportunity for lawmakers to slip their own issues that didn't or wouldn't survive the scrutiny of the usual snail's pace of committees into last minute rush business.

No leadership in talks about school funding
Burlington Free Press Editorial, May 11, 2007

The flurry of proposals to hold down school spending that appeared Wednesday included two -- from the Legislature and the Douglas administration -- that are stunning for their disconnect from the problems they are supposed to solve.

Three Ho-Hums And A Yawn
Caledonian Record Editorial, May 12, 2007

The House/Senate conference committee who are supposed to come up with an acceptable compromise on education spending reform have come up with four different proposals. They amount to three ho-hums and a yawn.

VT's Lawmakers pursue yet another new tax for climate change initiative
WCAX, May 9, 2007

Another proposal designed to pay for lawmakers' cherished global climate change initiative was unveiled Tuesday and, like the others, it would apply primarily to the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant.

Related: Nearsighted idea

Networks fight to hold advertisers as TV-watching drops off
By David Bauder, The Associated Press, May 9, 2007

In TV's worst spring in recent memory, an alarming number of Americans drifted away from television the past two months: More than 2.5 million fewer people were watching ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox than at the same time last year, statistics show. Everyone has a theory to explain the plummeting ratings: early Daylight Saving Time; more reruns; bad shows; more shows being recorded, downloaded or streamed.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The Case for Hegemony
By Robert T. McLean, American Thinker, May 10, 2007 

In fact, it was largely the example of the tumultuous environment of 19th century Europe that molded America's earliest perceptions of a proper security environment.  What was essentially conceived by George Washington and was later refined by John Quincy Adams, American leaders have long sought to avoid entangling the nation in any sort of foreign policy based on balance of power. Expressing his deep seated reluctance for any type of balance of power in the Western Hemisphere, Adams noted in 1811 that were the United States not to emerge as the hegemon of the Americas, "we shall have an endless multitude of little insignificant clans and tribe at eternal war with one another for a rock or a fish pond, the sport and fable of European masters and oppressors."  Multipolarity, in the absence of a global congruence of interests and widespread cooperation, will inevitably lead to such a situation the world over.

Al Qaedism, Again
Another straw on the back of the proverbial American camel.
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, May 11, 2007 

The aggrieved Islamist, whether born here or abroad, lives in a world of emotion, never reason, in which pride, envy, and a sense of inferiority always trump logic. When, as an individual or collectively, he constructs someone or something culpable for his own — or his people’s — sense of failure, then a primordial urge to lash out follows. His mind returns to the seventh-century never-never land of scimitars and sharia law mixed in with rote chanting of "Allah Akbar!" while his body and material appetites are stranded in our cosmos of Baywatch reruns and professors on the BBC and CNN whining on about the dangers of Islamaphobia. What, then, are the catalysts for the al Qaedist that turn him from hothouse anti-Americanism to deadly violence?

Nothing to Fear but Polls Themselves?
The Iraqi political class is showing a lot more courage than the American political class.
by William Kristol, The Weekly Standard, 05/21/2007 

These same Republican congressmen presumed--at the very same meeting--to criticize Iraqi politicians. Yet the Iraqi political class is showing a lot more courage than the American political class. They risk assassination. Our politicians risk electoral defeat. Yet it is our politicians who panic--and do so shamelessly and abjectly. And stupidly. Do the Republicans who want Bush to cut and run really think they would benefit if Iraq were to blow up, with U.S. troops helplessly standing by watching the slaughter, the full spectacle of American defeat unfolding before the American people? Here is a fine posture for a Republican to assume in 2008: I voted for the war, and then I voted for the surrender. Who in their right mind would vote for such a person?

What We Got Right in Iraq
By L. Paul Bremer, The Washington Post, May 13, 2007 

Once conventional wisdom congeals, even facts can't shake it loose. These days, everyone "knows" that the Coalition Provisional Authority made two disastrous decisions at the beginning of the U.S. occupation of Iraq: to vengefully drive members of the Baath Party from public life and to recklessly disband the Iraqi army. The most recent example is former CIA chief George J. Tenet, whose new memoir pillories me for those decisions (even though I don't recall his ever objecting to either call during our numerous conversations in my 14 months leading the CPA). Similar charges are unquestioningly repeated in books and articles. Looking for a neat, simple explanation for our current problems in Iraq, pundits argue that these two steps alienated the formerly ruling Sunnis, created a pool of angry rebels-in-waiting and sparked the insurgency that's raging today. The conventional wisdom is as firm here as it gets. It's also dead wrong.

How Little We Know (pdf)
Laurie Mylroie, The American Spectator

It is frequently remarked that al Qaeda is unlike any enemy in history. It occupies no clear territory; it is extraordinarily resilient, constantly reinvents itself; and still posses an enormous threat even five years into the U.S. led war against it. Every post 9/11 study has warned against "group think", but there persists a pervasive stifling group-think regarding jihadis, a mindset that dates from the Clinton era: the dictum that their terror does not involve states. It is time for a profound reassessment of this assumption. Our current, blinkered understanding of a deadly serious enemy suggest all too clearly historic hallmarks of a major intelligence failure.

The Subjection of Islamic Women
And the fecklessness of American feminism.
by Christina Hoff Sommers The Weekly Standard, 05/21/2007

The subjection of women in Muslim societies--especially in Arab nations and in Iran--is today very much in the public eye. Accounts of lashings, stonings, and honor killings are regularly in the news, and searing memoirs by Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Azar Nafisi have become major best-sellers. One might expect that by now American feminist groups would be organizing protests against such glaring injustices, joining forces with the valiant Muslim women who are working to change their societies. This is not happening.

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From Elsewhere

Just a Mom?
by Michael Oberndorf, The eco-logic Powerhouse, May 12, 2007

Motherhood! What a glorious career! Especially when there's a title on the door. Does this make grandmothers "Senior Research associates in the field of Child Development and Human Relations" and great grandmothers "Executive Senior Research Associates"? I think so! I also think it makes Aunts "Associate Research Assistants".

Ending the Welfare State Through the Power of Private Action
By Richard M. Ebeling Foundation for Economic Education

People often act more wisely in taking personal initiative and reclaiming self-responsibility than their stated or unstated political views would suggest. I believe that while many Americans find it difficult to think politically "outside the box" of Big Government, they have in fact lost confidence in much of what government has promised or tried to deliver. As this confidence has been eroded, people have begun once more to take care of themselves and their families.

If You Love Nature, Desocialize It
By Manuel Lora, The Ludwig Von Mises Institute, May 10, 2007

Nature magazines are delightful to read. The photos that grace conservation publications are often magnificent. Yet it is hard to ignore the economic illiteracy or the socialist propaganda that is espoused in many of their thoughtless articles, and it is even harder to ignore the strength with which statists call for government expropriation of resources in order to achieve their goals. I will examine why this is ethically incorrect and economically inefficient.

Media Elites Struggle to Keep Ron Paul Under Wraps
By Jim Capo, May 11, 2007

Remember three years ago when the major press organs of the country were all atwitter over the rocketing presidential fortunes of Howard Dean? Dean and his supporters had "mastered the Internet."  .… Now in 2007, Ron Paul comes along last week and gives by most accounts of honest grassroots Americans the best performance in the first televised debate between GOP presidential contenders. Exclusively broadcast by MSNBC, Ron Paul led MSNBC's post election poll from start to finish with nearly a double digit margin over his nearest challenger Mitt Romney. An even more crushing defeat of the rest of the pack occurred in an ABC News poll which at first had been posted on-line with only nine names on it — Ron Paul's being the one missing. Irate Paul supporters who complained in the poll's comment section at first saw many of their posts ominously deleted — some no doubt for language, others for editorial discretion bordering on the c word. After someone posted in the comment thread the cell phone number of a Senior VP at ABC News, the Paul name was added to the poll.

Natural-gas powered cars: Who even knows they exist?
By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY, May, 2007

Natural-gas cars have some significant drawbacks. There aren't enough stations selling natural gas to make them practical for cross-country drives. They don't have as much driving range as gasoline-powered cars. And their fuel tanks take up more space in the trunk of the cars. But every alternative-energy vehicle has disadvantages. Gasoline-electric hybrids have received attention because they are touted by Japanese automaking giant Toyota. They are being introduced haltingly by other automakers because their high-tech battery packs and dual gas-electric power plants make them costlier and less profitable to produce.

Going Wobbly
by Michael Reagan, Daily Chronicle, May 11, 2007

Maggie Thatcher had a great line about politicians who lose their nerve when faced with a big problem: she warned them against going wobbly. That warning would be lost on the members of today’s national Democratic Party. They’ve gone far beyond that stage. Nowadays they have no problem with being seen as America’s surrender monkeys.

Related: Why I'm not going wobbly on Iraq by Tony Blair

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