North Archives - June 08, 2010
| Editorial | News & Views
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In summary, we have been
warned about the perils of heading down a path toward health care reform
paved with more government control and have had a free market alternative
approach proposed to us. In light of this, how has our political class
reacted to the evidence that the path we are on is a dead end? Are they
calling for a change of course? No, their response is to pass a bill calling
for a study of a single payer system, which basically is the logical destination
of the current path we are on. This brings to mind the classical definition
of insanity as doing the same thing and hoping for different results.
the Economic Desert
Last week the Arno Group
and Vermont Business Magazine released results from an unscientific survey
of Vermont businesses regarding Vermont’s business climate. The Stowe Reporter’s
rosy headline "Businesses staying, despite taxes," is a bit misleading
and misses the most important point articulated by the surveyors entirely.
First, only 254 of 3100 returned
the survey, and, according to the surveyors, responses were skewed heavily
toward very small businesses with just twenty or fewer employees. It’s
certainly a good thing that most of these businesses plan to stick around.
However, this is kind of like surveying the cacti and kangaroo rats in
the desert and asking them if Death Valley is a good place to live. It’s
fine for them, so what’s everybody else’s problem?
By Martin Harris
you Google "gesture politics" you get 800,000 hits and a New York Times
definition as "…symbols and empty promises". The Grey Lady (not-entirely-there-any-more)
of 43rd Street has it somewhat wrong: a more important aspect of gesture
politics involves making rhetorical noise for an outcome you don’t at all
want (or vice versa). The classic Vermont example, for the last score of
years, has been the flow of Golden Dome oratory demanding the closing of
the Vermont Yankee power plant and replacing the jettisoned one-third-of-the-State’s
electricity need with some mix of windmills and bio-mass. Most of the I-don’t-really-mean-it
language comes from those G-D LB-er’s whose core constituency is the battalions
of latte-machine devotees who would, arguably, be most displeased should
their essential beverage dispenser be deprived of wattage. But an even
better example has now surfaced: its inventrix is the Golden Domer from
Burlington, the Honorable Johannah Leddy Donovan, who is presently the
Chairwoman of the House Education Committee.
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"If I had
an hour to save the world I would spend 59 minutes defining the problem
and one minute finding solutions"
-- Albert Einstein
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Weekly News Round-Up
Why They Call It The Blues
From Vermont Tiger, June
said her department had concluded Blue Cross had broken the law by paying
Milnes more money than necessary to perform his functions as head of the
nonprofit health-benefits provider. -- Freeps
Ah, the system at work.
In a state where it has become impossible for profit-seeking health insurance
companies to do business, Blue Cross of Vermont enjoys a kind of protected
status and rolls along serenely raising its rates, year after year, and
providing a kind of mystifying coverage where it is just about impossible
for a subscriber to know what is – and is not – covered until the bills
come due and Mr. Blue informs him that he is responsible for this or that
much of the charge for his recent medical procedure. And, by the
way, your premium just went up. Again.
Current Use Tax Is Bad Public Policy
Caledonia Record Editorial,
June 4, 2010
Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas,
as one of his last actions in office, vetoed the Democrats' current land
use bill recently passed by both Houses. We agree with his decision to
veto the bill, but not for the same reasons at all. Douglas vetoed it because
he thinks that the bill is unacceptably punitive of the 12,000 participants
with their 15,000 parcels of land included in the program. We agree with
his veto because we think that the Democrats' bill is way too weak and
is far less punitive of the current use abusers than it should be. It amounts
only to a slap on the wrist.
Here are some facts. The
land in the program is more than 2.2 million acres. That's more than one-third
of the whole land area of Vermont. The current land use entitlement reduces
taxes on the parcels by 60 percent on the theory that its current use as
farm or timberland is more valuable than its development value. But, the
entitled owners routinely withdraw their parcels or parts of them to develop
them themselves, or to sell them to developers to develop them. Either
way, there is practically no financial penalty for withdrawal. The Democrats
tried to plug that hole with a financial penalty. We believe that the new
penalty is still too little a disincentive to slow the withdrawals.
Signs Shaky for Catamount Health
By Louis Porter, Rutland
Herald, Jun 6, 2010
The state's landmark Catamount
health insurance program is not terminally ill, but it needs a checkup.
A smaller-than-expected infusion
of federal money and other factors mean the nearly four-year-old program
needs help – about $3.8 million – from the state's General Fund to stay
afloat this fiscal year, sooner than expected. The goal of having 96 percent
of Vermonters insured by the end of 2010 seems unlikely to be met. About
7.6 percent lack health insurance now.
From Vermont Tiger, June
Governor Douglas did not
sign the bill known as H. 66 – aka an Act Relating to voluntary school
district merger, virtual merger, supervisory union duties, and including
secondary students with disabilities in senior year activities and ceremonies
– into law. Nor did he veto it. He simply allowed it to become
law without his signature.
The bill's advocates claim
that it creates incentives for school consolidation thus preventing the
fiscal train wreck facing the state as a result of its broken system for
funding K-12 education. The bill is pabulum of the sort that legislators
like to spoon feed to voters who, they believe, do not have the stomachs
for anything stronger.
Some Vermonters with the
constitution and the nerves to handle real reform – which comes down, always
and inevitably to cutting staff – are unhappy that the governor did not
veto the bill and force the legislature to come back to Montpelier and
try again. They have an argument that is worthy of respect.
Governor’s message relating to H. 66
Best Reason to Cheat
Caledonia Record Editorial,
June 2, 2010
Rob Hofmann, Vermont Human
Services commissioner, recently revealed that state employees have used
state computers wholesale for personal interests and business. Here are
some of the uses that the state discovered and that have brought on the
threat of a monitoring system that will nail offending employees:
Bringing computer network speed
to a crawl by using scarce bandwidth to watch afternoon NCAA March Madness.
Loading a thousand pornographic
images onto a state computer.
Connecting to pornography sites,
downloading images, and in the process, introducing a computer virus that
started hacking into a local bank computer system.
Using state computers to run
small businesses on taxpayer time.
By Chris Campion, Vermont
Tiger, June 2, 2010
Fiscal Office has a nice graphicregarding
the state's budget and projected revenues, and the gap between those two
numbers. That the state is facing a shortfall in revenues compared
to the planned outlays is not new news, but sometimes the simple chart
can illuminate the issue in ways that the raw numbers cannot. Even
with the budget as passed, with the challenges included, demonstrates the
significant deficit Vermont is facing in the immediate future. This
type of chart might beg the question why the legislature has been so unwilling
to act on this issue, when the information as to how bad the state's finances
are has been available to any Vermonter for the past few years, with but
the click of a mouse.
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Global War on Terrorism
Qaeda in Iraq is 'Broken,' Cut off from leaders in Pakistan, says top US
By Bill Roggio, The Long
War Journal, June 5, 2010
Iraqi and US forces have
hit al Qaeda in Iraq hard over the last several months, crippling the terror
group's senior leadership and disrupting its communications with al Qaeda's
top leaders in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the top US commander in the country
"Over the last 90 days or
so, we've either picked up or killed 34 out of the top 42 al Qaeda in Iraq
leaders," General Ray Odierno, the commander of US Forces - Iraq, told
reporters during a Pentagon press briefing.
By George H. Wittman, The
American Spectator, June 4, 2010
North Korea's (Democratic
People's Republic of Korea -- DPRK) continuing efforts to maintain political
and military pressure on the United States is difficult for Washington
to understand. It seems so simple in American terms: Pyongyang needs only
to reduce its military power, primarily in the field of nuclear weapon
development and missile delivery systems, and investment and aid will flow
into the North. The problem with this thesis is that the DPRK leadership
needs confrontation with South Korea (Republic of Korea -- ROK) and the
U.S. to maintain control of their country.
By D. Gartenstein-Ross,
B. Roggio & Tara Vassefi, The Long War Journal, June 2, 2010
'Homegrown terrorism' has
become a major national security concern. The problem is discussed in the
Obama administration’s new
national security strategy, which states: "Several recent incidences
of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting
here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our
interests posed by individuals radicalized at home." Further, a
new RAND Corporation paper written by Brian Michael Jenkins
notes that in 2009, there was "a marked increase in radicalization leading
to criminal activity."
Zero Mosque Imam Tied To Flotilla Funders
By Andy Soltis, New York
Post, June 5, 2010
The imam behind a proposed
mosque near Ground Zero is a prominent member of a group that helped sponsor
the pro-Palestinian activists who clashed violently with Israeli commandos
at sea this week.
Feisal Abdul Rauf is a key figure in Malaysian-based Perdana Global
Peace Organization, according to its Website.
Perdana is the single biggest
donor ($366,000) so far to the Free Gaza Movement, a key organizer of the
six-ship flotilla that tried to break Israel's blockade of the Hamas-run
Gaza Strip Monday.
Nine passengers aboard the
largest ship died in clashes with Israeli commandos, and a new confrontation
loomed today, when another
Free Gaza Movement ship was due to reach Gaza waters in defiance of
Elephant in the Room: Islamism and Appeasement
Obama is abandoning
religious freedom to placate oppressive Muslim regimes.
By Rick Santorum, The Philadelphia
Inquirer, June 2, 2010
In last year's Cairo speech,
however, Obama at least gave the impression that he would confront Islam
on one key front: religious freedom. "People in every country should be
free to choose and live their faith based upon the persuasion of the mind
and the heart and the soul," he declared.
A Pew Research Center report
released several months after the president's address found that the predominantly
Muslim countries Iran, Egypt, Indonesia, and Pakistan were - to no one's
surprise - among the nations most politically and socially hostile to religious
So what has the president
done to put teeth in his Cairo rhetoric? Less than nothing.
According to the bipartisan
U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom's most recent annual
report, the administration's promotion of religious freedom is "missing
the mark." USA Today reported bluntly that the commission had "blasted"
Obama for "softening his stand on protecting the right to one's faith at
a time when religious persecution is on the rise."
vs. Tactics in Afghanistan
By Ann Marlowe, The Hudson
Institute, June 2, 2010
Gen. Stanley McChrystal has
embraced Hamid Karzai as part of the Obama administration's startling about-face
on the Afghan president. Until recently, the Obama team seemed to understand
that Mr. Karzai was "not an adequate strategic partner," in the well-chosen
words of our ambassador (and former general) Karl Eikenberry. Mr. Karzai's
refusal to name cabinet ministers in the wake of the August 2009 election
(as required by the constitution) so angered his own parliament that for
several days last month they refused to conduct any business, instead sitting
silent in protest.
Mr. Karzai and the American
commander are both following what Col. Gian Gentile, head of military history
at West Point, has called "a strategy of tactics"—by which he means ground-level
measures pursued on an ad hoc basis without an overall objective.
Mr. Karzai has no vision
of his country's future. But he's adept at playing off all the actors,
including the U.S., against each other in the hope he will be the only
one left standing. His strange lack of urgency about the deteriorating
situation in Afghanistan, according to Abdullah Abdullah, the leader of
the Afghan democratic opposition, stems from his underlying belief that
the U.S. decision to gradually withdraw next summer is a bluff. Many Afghans
think the U.S. is there for ulterior motives (Afghanistan's small oil and
gas reserves, coal, taking Afghan farmland) and will stay forever.
# # #
Oil Spill: Who's Your Daddy?
By Gene Healy, Cato Institute,
June 1, 2010
"Did you plug the hole yet,
Daddy?" 11-year-old Malia demanded Thursday morning while the president
was shaving. Poor President Obama: even his kids won't give him a break
about the Gulf oil spill.
Tough. It's hard to feel
sorry for the "Yes We Can" candidate, who got the job by stoking the juvenile
expectation that there's a presidential solution to everything from natural
disasters to spiritual malaise.
But the adults among us ought
to worry about a political culture that reacts to every difficulty by screaming
"Save us, Superpresident!"
Criticizing Cleanup, Jindal Finds His Voice
Washington Just Worsened the Gulf Oil Spill
By Bruce Edward Walker,
Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, June 2, 2010
Both Kirk and Buckley agreed
that the conservative tradition had its roots in spirituality –specifically,
the Judeo-Christian tradition. Morality and right-thinking come not from
man, but from a higher power. Furthermore, humankind will continue to succumb
to the temptations and appetites of the flesh it has been heir to since
the Fall. The two men took as articles of faith that humanity is not perfectible
and that the striving for earthbound utopias is foolhardy.
Kirk, writing from the "stump
country" of Mecosta, Michigan, and Buckley, writing and speaking in his
Brahmin-drenched New England patois, differed in their views of where conservatism
derived, what precisely it was and where it should go. Despite their differences,
Kirk wrote a column for nearly every issue of National Review from its
inception and for almost 30 years. ...
But, and as Nash repeatedly
notes, the threads braided together to form the rope of modern conservatism
are diverse and tenuous. No longer can a single thread be traced from Burke
to Santayana to T.S. Eliot as Kirk was able to do so expertly in "The Conservative
Mind." Instead of threads, tendrils of paleoconservatism, neoconservatism,
compassionate conservatism, crunchy conservatism, libertarianism, Randianism,
classical liberalism, small government advocates, tea partiers and even
Blue Dog Democrats tangle and creep in all directions while still managing
to squeeze into the conservative rubric.
a Welfare State, How Much Is ‘Enough’?
That’s a question
Democrats don’t tend to ask.
By Jonah Goldberg, National
Review, June 3, 2010
Governments do not generate
wealth; they can merely distribute it. The challenge for both liberals
and conservatives is simply to define how much distribution is "enough."
What would an acceptable safety net look like? Who should be taken care
of by taxpayers and for how long? Paul Ryan offered an answer to that question,
and liberals scoffed because they reject the question. There’s no such
thing as enough, as far as they’re concerned. That’s what the Greeks thought.
Panels' were an Overblown Claim -- Until Now
By Michael D. Tanner, The
Cato Institute, May 27, 2010
During the debate over ObamaCare,
the bill's opponents were excoriated for talk of rationing and "death panels."
And in fairness, with a few minor exceptions governing Medicare reimbursements,
the law does not directly ration care or allow the government to dictate
how doctors practice medicine.
But if President Obama wanted
to keep a lid on that particular controversy, he just selected about the
worst possible nominee for director of the Center for Medicare and Medicaid
Services, the office that oversees government health care programs. Obama's
pick, Dr. Donald Berwick, is an outspoken admirer of the British National
Health Service and its rationing arm, the National Institute for Clinical
Governor is Ready to Go to Court
By Ethel C. Fenig, American
Thinker, June 2, 2010
Arizona Governor Jan
Brewer (R) doesn't scare easily. President Obama (D) doesn't
scare her, neither does the US Attorney General, Erick Holder, or the ACLU
all of whom, in one form or another, have threatened to take her state
to court over Arizona's decision to implement US immigration laws. No
problem, she told John King on CNN, staunchly defending
"We'll meet you in court..."
Damn Lies, and Politicians: High Crimes and Misdemeanors at 1600 Pennsylvania
Ave (Part 2: The Inconsistencies)
By Liz Blaine, News Real,
May 31, 2010
The inconsistencies between
House and Congressman Sestack’s statements
lead to more questions than their "coordinated" statements answer.
The Obama administration
is adamant that "White House staff did not discuss these options with
Congressman Sestak." Really? Sestak claims the offer originated from
"someone in the White House," but former President Bill
Clinton is not part of the Obama White House. And
Sestak has repeated this claim on numerous occasions. (Hattip: The
the School Barricades
By Bari Weiss, The Wall
Street Journal, June 5, 2010
"The public education system
is at a crossroads," Ms. Sackler says. "Do we want to go back to the time
when children are forced to attend their district school no matter how
underperforming it is? Or do we want to let parents choose what's best
for their kids and provide a lot of options? Sometimes those options might
fail. But ... I don't see how you could choose to settle for what we've
been doing for half a century when it's been systemically screwing over
the same kids—over and over and over."
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