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True North Archives - May 19, 2009
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Ending the Budget Whack-a-Mole Game
By John McClaughry

By June 30 the Vermont budget crisis of 2009 will most likely be over. It is also likely that all parties involved in that exhausting process will be more open to a better way of prioritizing what government does, finding more efficient ways of doing it, dropping low priority programs, and living within the revenues produced by the present tax structure.

This will mean stepping on some powerful interest group toes, but it has to be done - or Vermont will simply slide toward eventual insolvency.

Senator Patrick McCarthy
By Deborah T. Bucknam

Not just content to win elections, the Left is trying to destroy its political opponents by calling for criminal prosecution of Bush administration officials for political and legal decisions the Left does not like. 

Vermont Senator Patrick Leahy is leading this banana republic style campaign to criminalize policy decisions made by a duly elected previous administration. 

When Montpelier Steps in to Table Waste
By Martin Harris

What’s interesting about this tale isn’t so much the skillful use of the law to grab the table waste from one  re-cycler and give it to others (themselves) more entitled, in their own opinion;  it’s the growing list of areas in which Vermont’s Beautiful People and politically-dominant Gentry-Left (the two demographics pretty much overlap) have, on the basis of their own innately superior  wisdom and judgment, made Vermont law more restrictive and demanding than Federal law.

A partial list of such areas includes the American with Disabilities Act, wherein Vermont has included a number of handicap-access requirements not found in Federal law;  more stringent requirements for asbestos management in buildings; more stringent requirements for radiation management at Vermont Yankee; and even activist demands for more stringent air-quality standards at International Paper’s New York State plant because prevailing winds are westerly. One area in which the B-P’s have chosen easier standards: locally-purchased school achievement tests, to supplant the Federal requirements, so that Vermont students appear more capable than they really are.

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

About 30 years ago, a California state senator wrote a bill titled What Makes You Think We Read the Bills?  The title says it all—you can pretty well figure out what was between the covers!

I have been wanting to send out an end-of-session "Scribblings," but between getting caught up on a backlog of chores around the house, working in my greenhouse, teaching a safe boating course, serving as scoutmaster of Barre Troop 95, and a few other things I have concluded that won’t happen—at least right away.  However, Rep. Anne Donohue of Northfield sent out her legislative report this week, and I thought you might find it both interesting and revealing.

What Anne does not report, out of an excess of modesty, is that she is the one who asked most of the questions she writes about.  Many people in the legislature work hard—nobody works harder than Anne Donohue.  In the almighty rush to adjourn by last weekend, she actually had the audacity to want to read and understand the bills she was being asked to vote on!  In the process, she irritated more than a few people.  She also uncovered numerous drafting errors and little nuances that had been inserted in bills while most people were not looking!  The fact that she was slowing down the adjournment process and aggravating a some people was simply secondary to her desire to be able to answer a constituent’s question about one bill or another.

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"One of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the great struggle for independence."  -- Charles A. Beard, 1935

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Rhapsody in Green - The Nightmare Continues
From Vermont Tiger, May 11, 2009

Sometime last week, fellow Tiger Chris Campion mentioned the new report that has come out of Spain, analyzing the outcomes of that country's big "green energy" drive - a drive that is frequently held up to us as a model for emulation.

As Chris noted, the results have been - to say the least - not only disappointing, but very negative.  The salient economic highlights are findings that: 1) For every four "green" jobs created, nine other jobs were destroyed; 2) Among those "green" jobs, only 1 in 10 was a real, full-time job.  None of this is a surprise; "alternative energy" requires overly-massive use of scarce resources - resources that can only be taken away from better and more productive activities.

A Make-Believe Adjournment
From the Caledonia Record, May 12, 2009

The Vermont Legislature adjourned on Saturday. The term "adjournment" may be used only if it is allowed to mean "continuance," too. That's because the most significant piece of business of the session, the budget, is in a Democrat created limbo unless and until the governor signs the pretend budget they passed Saturday. The likelihood of that is less than Willa Warthog being named Miss America. Barring a miracle, the governor will veto that budget and everybody will be back at square one.

Douglas Promises Budget Veto
From WCAX-TV May 15 2009

Governor Jim Douglas, R-Vermont, says he will definitely veto the state budget and call lawmakers back next month for a special session to re-work it. He says the $4.5 billion plan passed by the Legislature will result in economic harm to Vermonters through tax increases and unsustainable spending.

Letter from Governor Douglas Calling Lawmakers Back for a Special Session (pdf)

"A growing number of Vermonters share my concern that steps taken by the General Assembly this session are only short-term patches that set our state on a dangerous course for years to come."  Click here to view references referred to in the letter (pdf).

All In?
From Vermont Tiger, May 17, 2009

Between now and June 2nd, when the legislature reconvenes in special session, we will be hearing a lot about fairness and shared sacrifice and how the legislators have struggled with their responsibilities. Political boilerplate, in other words.  One will have to concentrate to keep in mind certain facts.  As, for instance, the fact that the educational establishment is not being asked to give up much of anything. Nor is the housing and land trust empire; the cuts in its budget being largely illusory. What the legislature took away with one hand, it gave back with another. Income sensitivity still insures that some people living in million dollar homes can get a break on their property taxes. People who ride Amtrak will continue to be subsidized at the rate of  $71 per ticket. And so on.

Border Posts Ready with Crossing Scanners
From the Caledonia Record, May 10, 2009

The scanners and the new computer systems are in place at Vermont's largest border crossing with Quebec and people in both the United States and Canada are starting to get identification cards that makes it easier for them to cross the border.

Sen. Leahy Proposes Reforms for Immigrant Farm Workers
By Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau, May 16, 2009

There are an estimated 2,000 immigrants working illegally – and often surreptitiously – on Vermont farms during busy seasons. And U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy would like to see as many of them as possible brought into the light.??Leahy, a Vermont Democrat, has once again sponsored legislation in Washington, D.C., that would make it easier for farm workers who may not be in the country legally to obtain proper documents and possibly become U.S. citizens.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

U.S. Has Plan to Secure Pakistan Nukes if Country Falls to Taliban
By Rowan Scarborough,, May 14, 2009

American intelligence sources say the military's chief terrorist-hunting squad has units operating in Afghanistan on Pakistan's western border and is working on a secondary mission to secure foreign nuclear arsenals if the Taliban or Al Qaeda overwhelm Pakistan.

The Pope Stands Up
From The New York Post, May 12 2009

In an action that spoke far louder than words, Pope Benedict yesterday walked out of an interfaith meeting in Jerusalem after the chief Islamic judge of the Palestinian Authority launched into an anti-Israeli diatribe.

Right Wing Extremist' Report Withdrawn
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, May 14 2009

File this one under "closing the barn door after the horse escaped."

The Department of Homeland Security is withdrawing the notorious report that branded our returning veterans as possible terrorist recruits and hinted that immigration and abortion activists were likely terrorists.

The West is Naïve, Greedy, and Cowardly When it Comes to Appeasing Islamists
By Dr. Sami Alrabaa, Family Security Matters, May14, 2009

Some Westerners, especially politicians, act in good faith toward Islamists and Muslim terrorists. Guantanamo will be closed, and its inmates will be rehabilitated in the U.S. and some European countries – although everybody knows that these men were not accidentally roaming Afghanistan as tourists, but were criminals fighting along side their Taliban comrades when they were arrested.

Alongside Hamid Karzei, the Afghan president, and Pakistan’s president, Asif Ali Zardari, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said during a press conference on May 6, 2009, that she "deeply regretted" the death of civilians in a recent clash with Taliban terrorists, and promised a thorough investigation.

But Clinton should by now know that terrorists, whether they are Taliban or Hamas do not value human life. They use civilians as human shields when they fight the "infidels." This has become a pattern in Afghanistan and Gaza. Besides, as these terrorists do not wear a uniform, it is difficult to tell whether they are civilians or terrorists.

Caught on Tape: The Middle East's Culture of Cruelty
By Daniel Pipes,, May 15, 2009

Some of the bravest and most distinguished analysts from the Middle East emphasize that region's culture of cruelty. Kanan Makiya titled his 1994 book about Arabs Cruelty and Silence. Fouad Ajami writes about Beirut being "lost to a new reign of cruelty," about Iraq's "plunder and cruelty and sectarian animus," and about the region's "cruelty, waste, and confusion."

That cruelty, usually at a remove from outsiders, became cinematically vivid on April 22, 2009, when ABC News aired a tape of a prince from the United Arab Emirates sadistically torturing an Afghan merchant he accused of dishonesty. No less instructive were the passive reactions of his government and of American officials. The story reveals much and is worth pondering:

In Abu Dhabi, the UAE's largest and most powerful emirate, the Nahyan family has long ruled and dominated. After the 2004 death of Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who had ruled the emirate since its independence in 1971, his long-restrained 22 royal sons and grandsons reveled in their new-found freedom of action. One of them in particular, Issa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, a younger brother of Abu Dhabi's current ruler and president of the seven-member United Arab Emirates federation, Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (b. 1948), went crazy. "It's like you flipped a switch and the man took a wrong turn in his life and started getting violent," comments Bassam Nabulsi, 50, of Houston, Texas, a native of Lebanon and former business associate of Issa's.

Jihadism in European Prisons
By Imaad Malik, Islamist Watch, May 14, 2009

Jihadists are radicalizing Muslims in prisons outside the U.S., in Europe and elsewhere, through aggressive indoctrination and recruitment. A new RAND Corporation report, "Radicalization or Rehabilitation: Understanding the Challenge of Extremist and Radicalized Prisoners," cites prisons as a key venue for Islamist recruitment. Abu Muhammad al-Maqdisi, a former inmate and mentor of the late al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia commander Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, describes jihadist tactics in prisons in the radical periodical Nida ul-Islam to include:

  • Refusal to cooperate in the prison's administrative regime, intimidating prison staff, and attacking guards.
  • Using prison visits to communicate with followers in the outside world.
  • Holding alternative Friday prayers to draw other prisoners away from the official prison services.
    Producing and distributing ideological literature within, and for dissemination beyond, the prison population.
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From Elsewhere

Entrepreneurship Isn’t Enough
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil, Acton Institute for Religion & Liberty, May 13, 2009

But in the midst of this enthusiasm about entrepreneurship, we risk forgetting that entrepreneurship’s capacity to create wealth is heavily determined by the environments in which we live. In many business schools today, it’s entirely possible to study entrepreneurship without any reference being made to the role played by factors such as rule of law, property-rights, and low-taxes in stimulating wealth-creating entrepreneurship.

In short, entrepreneurship doesn’t just depend on a particular understanding of human nature. Its wealth-creating character also requires a certain moral and institutional setting. If taxes are high, property-rights unprotected, and corruption the norm, then the environment embodies major deterrents to wealth-generating entrepreneurship. Why would people risk being entrepreneurial when they can’t assume their ideas won’t be stolen or their profits arbitrarily confiscated?

The Coming Ice Age
By David Deming, American Thinker, May 13 2009

Earth's climate is controlled by the Sun.  In comparison, every other factor is trivial. The coldest part of the Little Ice Age during the latter half of the seventeenth century was marked by the nearly complete absence of sunspots. And the Sun now appears to be entering a new period of quiescence.  August of 2008 was the first month since the year 1913 that no sunspots were observed. As I write, the sun remains quiet. We are in a cooling trend.  The areal extent of global sea ice is above the twenty-year mean.

Is America About to Go Broke?
Government obligations for Social Security and Medicare may soon exceed the combined net worth of every household and nonprofit organization in the country.
By Scott Burns, MSM Money

The figures exist, but they are ignored. News reports regularly inform us of the growing federal deficit, projected at a stunning $1.75 trillion for fiscal 2009 and $1.17 trillion for 2010. But regularly reported, less visible government obligations have been growing much faster.

In the four years from January 2004 to January 2008, the Medicare trustees reported that the unfunded liabilities of Social Security and Medicare grew by a stunning $10.4 trillion. The average annual growth topped $2.5 trillion. That was well over the expected formal deficit of $1.75 trillion this year.

Related Article: Report on Social Security and Medicare could be bleaker

Still the Biggest Missing Story in Politics
By Bruce Walker, American Thinker, May 14, 2009

In August of last year I wrote an article, "The Biggest Missing Story in Politics," which reviewed the single most important datum in the last thirteen Battleground Polls over a period stretching from early 2002 to late 2008.  The critical fact, completely ignored by almost everyone, was that in answering Question D3, which asked the respondent what he considered his ideology to be, sixty percent of the American people described themselves as "conservative" or "very conservative." 

End Times for Christian America?
By Hunter Baker, American Thinker, May 06, 2009

America is a complicated place. We are a dynamic society because we are a free society. From our birth as a republic, we have been a quasi-stable partnership of enlightenment modernism and vigorous Christian belief working together for the preservation of ordered liberty. There will be more proclamations of the death of Christian America. It is as good a story as the "war" between science and religion, which gets a makeover every time we have a slow news day.

The smart money is on Christianity to be around and relevant for as long as the American republic endures. The even smarter money says the faith will outlast the republic just as it did the empire into which it was born.

Poll: Majority identify as 'pro-life’
UPI, May 16, 2009.

A Gallup Poll indicates for the first time since it started asking the question 14 years ago that a majority of U.S. adults describe themselves as "pro-life."

In the poll released Friday, 51 percent called themselves "pro-life," while 42 percent considered themselves "pro-choice," The Washington Post reported Saturday. That's a significant reversal from last year's poll when 50 percent said they were "pro-choice" while 44 percent called themselves "pro-life."

Going After the Lawyers
By Kathleen Parker, Washington Post Writers Group, May 16, 2009

Even if Bybee and Yoo were wrong, their error doesn't rise to the level of an ethical offense, much less a war crime. Under the Justice Department's own standards, an ethical issue would arise only if their opinion was so obviously wrong that no reasonable lawyer could possibly reach the same conclusion. By that standard, the only obvious wrong is the continued persecution of Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The effect sanctions might have on future lawyering, meanwhile, could be chilling.

Pedagogy of the Oppressor
Another reason why U.S. ed schools are so awful
Sol Stern, City Journal, Spring 2009

This ed-school bestseller is, instead, a utopian political tract calling for the overthrow of capitalist hegemony and the creation of classless societies.

Cheney's War on the Democrats
He might be unpopular, but he's winning the debate.
by Stephen F. Hayes, Weekly Standard, May 25, 2009

Well, that settles it. Maureen Dowd thinks Dick Cheney should shut up. 

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