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True North Archives - May 20, 2008
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Moving the Political Debate Leftward
By Robert Maynard

At first glance, from a liberal’s point of view, the candidacy of Progressive Anthony Polina would appear to be little more than that of a spoiler. Surely his campaign will split the liberal vote and ensure a victory for Douglas. Is Polina doing this simply for the sake of his own ego, or does his campaign serve the purpose of the left’s agenda in Vermont? I am inclined to take the position that his campaign will serve the purpose of keeping the political debate here in Vermont moving leftward. ... Without someone willing to establish an opposing pole on the right, the left is really unopposed when it comes to setting the direction of the political debate. The only opposition is on how fast we want to move in the direction they propose. It is time to propose a new direction.

Keep Vermont Green: Send Money
By Martin Harris

One of the many Vermont NGO’s which I hadn’t heard of until, somehow, one of its press releases fell onto my (electronic) desk is VTCECH, an un-pronounceable acronym which stands for Vermont Campaign to End Childhood Hunger. Like most such NGO’s, it’s partially taxpayer-funded-but-never-voted (who knew?) to the tune of some 16% of its budget, but this column isn’t about "taxation without representation" or "your-tax-dollars-at-work" arguments, it’s about an assertion within the press release which states that "each Food Stamp dollar that is allocated to a recipient generates $1.84 in economic activity". That assertion assumes it’s actually spent for food, and not sold for cash, as in, say, Chicago, but I digress; let me return to the "multiplier effect" which, all you former Econ 101-attenders will recall, occurs when wealth created and money earned in an economy, say from the conversion of sunlight into wheat, is then spent and re-spent multiple times through the various non-primary sectors. In agriculture, the green-eye-shade folks who analyze such things now report, the multiplier for wealth created in that primary sector is 7. For a government entitlement, we’re now told by VTCECH, it’s 1.84.

Something for Vermonters to be Proud Of
By John McClaughry

The majority came to Montpelier with a Grand Vision. Its liberal leaders vowed to make Vermont #1 in the war against the Menace of Global Warming, determined to convert Catamount Health into their beloved single payer system, licked their lips at the prospect of new programs and new taxes, and advocated more government regulations over the lives of Vermonters.

Most of those dreams died in the legislature they controlled. Five important measures made it to the Governor's desk to be vetoed. The House failed to override any of the vetoes. For the Democratic leadership, this had to be a very disappointing biennium.

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"Wherever is found what is called a paternal government, there is found state education. It has been discovered that the best way to insure implicit obedience is to commence tyranny in the nursery." 
-- Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) Prime Minister of England, British statesman, novelist
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Paying off the Rich to Get Help to the Poor
From The Burlington Free Press, May 18, 2008

The legislative exercise that finally produced the Farm Bill demonstrates how those serving big agriculture in this country are holding hungry children hostage to get their way.

Vermont Economist Calls Farm Subsidies Pork
From WCAX-TV, May 17, 2008

Advocates of Vermont's dairy farms call it a tradition worth paying for. But one critic calls it pure pork. We're talking about one of the largest pieces of domestic legislation, the Five-Year Farm Bill.

Good for Vermont?
From, May 16, 2008

The state's newspapers are acting more like cheerleaders than objective reporters of the news when it comes to the farm bill just passed by Congress:

The biggest victory for Vermont is a provision to renew and expand the federal milk subsidy program to boost payments and help farmers cope with rising energy and feed costs.
--Burlington Free Press

Farm bill will benefit Vermont, lawmakers say
--Rutland Herald

Kirkpatrick Has Some Questions
From, May 17, 2008

"Why do so many educators complain about excessive government regulation (about which they are right) but oppose any attempts to enact meaningful deregulation of the system?"

Related: The Collected Works of David Kirkpatrick

Shumlin’s Shenanigan
From, May 14, 2008

What's happened to Peter Shumlin? He recently accused an IBM representative of lying about Vermont Yankee. He referred to the timing of Governor Douglas’ economic stimulus plan as ‘morally wrong’. Now, his committee’s killed a bill that might have saved lives.

Act 185: The Failure to Move Forward is a Failure of Leadership

Vermont Republican Party Chairman, Rob Roper, said today, "Gaye Symington’s failure to lead and move forward in correcting glairing problems with Act 185 have left Vermont property taxpayers’ privacy at risk and town officials in potential legal jeopardy. For two years she has been "stuck in neutral," and, despite giving her word, never showed leadership or took action to fix this legislative mistake. Gaye Symington’s record shows that she is not part of the solution in Vermont, but rather part of the problem."

Related: Symington Running (From her record)

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

When Religious Myths Are Destroyed, Why Islamo Fascism Is On The Brink
From The Stata-Sphere, May 15, 2008

Want to get a taste of what is happening in the Middle East when Sunnis broke with al-Qaeda, when Shiites broke with Sadr and the Mahdi Army, when Afghans broke with the Taliban. There is nothing more shattering than to have the belief system that underpins your life and soul shattered. There is nothing like learning people you supported and trusted would kill you without any thought to further themselves. What the eiltes in this country cannot fathom is losing everything to heartless killers and thugs you once thought were saviors and an army of angels. If you want to see a snapshot of what is happening to al-Qaeda, the Mahdi Army, the Taliban and other Islamo Fascists as the facade is ripped from them and their evil core is exposed to the Muslim Street watch this clip and how a believer became a fighter. How an image of the future of Islam turned into the enemy of Islam:

Lebanon's Future
By Michael J. Totten, Commentary Magazine

Still, Hezbollah is a guerrilla army, not an occupation force. Counterinsurgency is not in its toolbox. Hassan Nasrallah will have a rude awakening if he tries to emulate Hamas in Gaza and seize the whole country. "No victor, no vanquished" is the rule Lebanese live by in both politics and war, and every faction that has ever tried to dominate Lebanon has learned it the hard way. Whether Nasrallah has learned this near-iron law from the mistakes of others isn't yet clear, but the stiff resistance his men faced in the Chouf, and the recent ominous threats from radical Sunnis, should give him pause at the least. Fifteen years of civil war (1975 to 1990) proved that no one in Lebanon is strong enough to hold the country together or utterly defeat their enemies.

Nasrallah can bully the Lebanese government and render it effectively obsolete, at least on foreign policy questions, but he cannot conquer and administer the entire country himself. Unless the Syrian military returns in full force, Lebanon's future will not be one of dictatorship. Its future most likely will resemble its past--a grim stalemate of schism and internal war.

Village of Hope’ Graduates Ready to Rebuild in Iraq
By Army Sgt. David Turner, Special to American Forces Press Service, May 15, 2008

A program aimed at teaching Iraqi citizens valuable career skills, with the added benefit of rebuilding their community, graduated its first class of students May 8 in a ceremony at Patrol Base Stone in Hawr Rajab, south of Baghdad. The 42 graduates, many of whom had been part of the "Sons of Iraq" group that helps in the local security effort, spent the past three months learning plumbing, electrical and construction skills at the "Village of Hope" training facility. They will continue their training outside the classroom by renovating structures in the area.

Al-Qaida in Iraq devastated Hawr Rajab last year, said town council chairman Sheikh Ali Majid, who attended the graduation ceremony. Terrorists burned houses, stole goods, and used many structures for storing weapons and building bombs, he said. Now that violence has subsided in the area, its residents can move on.

Iraqi Air Force Supports Mosul, Other Operations
By Tech. Sgt. Amanda Callahan, 447th Air Expeditionary Group Public Affairs, May 16, 2008

Members of the Iraqi air force integrated and synchronized with Iraqi special forces in an effort to dissolve the al-Qaida in Iraq influence since early May in Mosul, Iraq. In less than two weeks, the Iraqi air force members have moved more than 3 tons of cargo and 251 passengers into Mosul using both fixed-wing and helicopter operations.

"It's a new thing for Iraq's air force to back the forces in the Mosul's operations," said General Mohammed al-Askari, a spokesman for Iraq's ministry of defense.

Study Explains How Military Can Modernize for the 21st Century
From The Heritage Foundation

The U.S. military will face unprecedented challenges in the years ahead. Yet according to a new study by The Heritage Foundation, with the proper leadership, America’s armed forces will be well positioned to keep the country safe. Military analysts James Carafano, Baker Spring and Mackenzie Eaglen say that it’s difficult to predict how many people the United States will need to have under arms ten years from now, or what equipment those forces will deploy with. But, they say, if policymakers focus on getting the big things right, the details should fall into place.

Al Jazeera reports Palestinians phonebanking for Obama
By Thomas Lifson, American Thinker, May 14, 2008

It appears that some Palestinians in Gaza share American Thinker's skepticism over Barack Obama's devotion to the cause of Israel. Jim Geraghty of NRO's The Campaign Spot draws our attention to this video news report broadcast on Al Jazeera television, showing Palestinians in Gaza running a phone bank to call American voters before primary elections and urge them to support Obama.

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From Elsewhere

Cap-And-Trade Folly
From Investor's Business Daily, May 15, 2008

Climate Change: Legislation pending in the Senate might warm environmentalists' hearts, but not because of potential cuts in carbon emissions. Their interest is in the heavy economic costs the plans would inflict.

The Cult of the Presidency
By Gene Healy, Reason Magazine, June, 2008

"I ain't running for preacher," Republican presidential candidate Phil Gramm snarled to religious right activists in 1995 when they urged him to run a campaign stressing moral themes. Several months later, despite Gramm's fund raising prowess, the Texas conservative finished a desultory fifth place in the Iowa caucuses and quickly dropped out of the race. Since then, few candidates have made Gramm's mistake. Serious contenders for the office recognize that the role and scope of the modern presidency cannot be so narrowly confined. Today's candidates are running enthusiastically for national preacher — and much else besides.

If The GOP Wants To Govern Like Democrats, Why Have a Separate Party?
By Patrick J. Casey, American Thinker, May 16 2008

What we're watching is the culmination of the decade-plus deterioration of the conservative Republican brand. Put simply, no one, including base conservatives, trusts the Republicans to govern effectively while following anything even faintly resembling a conservative platform.

That's unfortunate, since the only time that the Republicans really took the country by storm was in 1994, when they all ran on a set of firm, well established conservative values and issues. When the GOP strayed from that, falling back on the Democratic Party tradition of retaining power through excessive pork barrel spending and questionable ethical practices, they first lost seats - then lost their majorities. To regain what they have thrown away they must return to those conservative principles. If successful, they then must reject the compromising allure of power and promise to govern in the future as conservatives, not as the Democratic Party Lite.

Arctic Fairy Tale
The Polar Bear isn't Threatened, But Big Oil Should Be.
By Roy Spencer, National Review, May 15, 2008

So how is it that the eventual extinction of the polar bear has been forecast in the face of record-high numbers? Well, as in the case of global-warming projections, experts relied on computer models that predict continued global warming and continued melting of summer Arctic sea ice. And the scientists had some help. Hollywood did their part by producing the heartwarming movie Arctic Tale, which followed a polar bear family struggling to survive on a fixed budget and without a father around to help out. Queen Latifah did her part by channeling the polar bears’ thoughts for us, since the last person who tried to interview a polar bear was eaten.

California Marriage Ruling: A Few Comments
By Ed Whelan, National Review, May 15, 2008

The majority itself concedes that "from the beginning of California statehood, the legal institution of marriage has been understood to refer to a relationship between a man and a woman."  But it fails to recognize that that is an essential characteristic of the very "right to marry" that it is construing—and that no one, until recent years, would have pretended otherwise.

Americans Cooling to Global Warming
By Lawrence Solomon, Financial Post, May 15, 2008

All three U.S. presidential hopefuls have made global warming a high-profile issue in their campaigns. In this they are out of step with the broad electorate, which ranks global warming well down the scale of important issues. The public's increasing skepticism is particularly surprising given the overwhelming air time that the press has given to the notion that global warming spells doom.

Why Doctors Are Heading for Texas
By Joseph Nixon, The Wall Street Journal, May 17, 2008

Over the past three years, some 7,000 M.D.s have flooded into Texas, many from Tennessee. Why? Two words: Tort reform. In 2003 and in 2005, Texas enacted a series of reforms to the state's civil justice system. They are stunning in their success.

Democrats for School Choice
The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2008

When Florida passed a law in 2001 creating the Corporate Tax Credit Scholarship Program for underprivileged students, all but one Democrat in the state legislature voted against it. Earlier this month, lawmakers extended the program – this time with the help of a full third of Democrats in the Legislature.

What Happened to Al Gore?
Joe Lieberman's answer may surprise you
By James Taranto, The Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2008

Last night found us at the annual dinner of the Commentary Fund, publisher of Commentary magazine, where Sen. Joe Lieberman delivered the Norman Podhoretz Lecture. Truth be told, it was more campaign speech than lecture. It was dramatic because Lieberman, a senior Democrat, was speaking on behalf of John McCain, the Republican presidential nominee.

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