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True North Archives - June 10, 2008
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Why Not Grab the Steering Wheel?
by Robert Maynard

My question is why are we even engaged in a battle of hope vs. fear? Why does the Democratic message of "hope" create anxiety which causes us to seek security? Could it be because it is a message of false hope that is leading us off a financial cliff? Instead of countering this message of false hope with fear and an appeal to security, why not counter with an alternative message of genuine hope? Not Reagan’s "Morning in America" theme as an incumbent in 1984, but his 1980 campaign call to reverse course from the destructive direction that Carter was taking. Or, the 1994 GOP "Contract With America" approach.

Forget about the brake, it’s well past time that we grabbed the steering wheel and changed our direction, not merely slowing the rate at which we are traveling in our current direction.

House Republicans Bring Leadership to the House
By Steve Adams

Thankfully, the entire legislative session was not entirely consumed by these issues. House Republicans were able to push aside many of the boutique policy initiatives that dominated this legislative biennium, and made our state’s economic situation a priority. At the beginning of the year, we outlined several challenges that House Republicans wanted to address during the session: Vermont’s economy, the cost of home heating fuel, health care affordability, property tax reform, and our state’s transportation infrastructure.

Exit Fee
By Martin Harris

If you want evidence of the mobility of the affluent, you need look no further than the histories of class-based urban re-gentrification or suburban-migration patterns or the various analyses of upper-income-quintile tax avoidance behaviors. There seems to be quite a noticeable correlation between Wealth and Mobility: folks with more W also display more M. Montpelier’s Golden Dome folks, who have been making remarkable progress in moving the State’s economic base away from the old earned-income triad of agriculture, manufacturing, and tourism, towards a new unearned-income monad of passive cash flow in forms ranging from the pension check to the trust-funder stipend, should take careful note: their favored new constituencies of pensioner-retirees, rich kids, and tax-loss "businesspersons" are a lot more potentially mobile, should they become displeased, than the traditional Vermonter population of relatively-low-liquid-wealth farmer, machine-shop operator, or bed-and-breakfast owner ever was.

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"The purpose of the surge was to provide a secure space, a time for the political change to occur to accomplish the reconciliation. That didn't happen. Whatever the military success, and progress that may have been made, the surge didn't accomplish its goal. And some of the success of the surge is that the goodwill of the Iranians--they decided in Basra when the fighting would end, they negotiated that cessation of hostilities--the Iranians."

-- Speaker Nancy Pelosi, in an interview (audio only) with the San Francisco Chronicle, offers a curious explanation for recent American success in Iraq.

"This is an inexcusable slander," fumes Commentary's Abe Greenwald, who accuses Pelosi of "discounting the success of the American military, denying the accomplishments of U.S. allies, and giving the credit to our most dangerous enemies."

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

A Question Of Choice That Cries Out For An Answer
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 6, 2008

Nicole Saginor, St. Johnsbury's school superintendent, wrote an excellent column recently on the problem of non-residents illegally claiming St. Johnsbury residence in order to have the town pay their children's tuition to St. Johnsbury Academy. She fairly stated the difficulties related to verifying residence or a lack thereof. The school board has authorized hiring an investigator to flush the non-residents out. Saginor's analysis, though, omits the question that cries out for an answer. Why are so many people moving out of towns with public or designated high schools into towns without them?

It's ALL a Conspiracy
From, June 7, 2008

But reining in "speculators" won't reduce the price of oil.  As last week's issue of The Economist points out clearly, there are numerous commodities that are not traded in futures markets whose prices have soared far more than oil..   Mr. Cameron is correct that no new refineries have been built in this country in 30 years, which obviously restricts the supply of refined products like gasoline and heating oil. No doubt, that's part of the conspiracy, too.

N.H. firm acquires Vermont Tubbs
By Bruce Edwards, Rutland Herald, June 5, 2008

Financially strapped Vermont Tubbs is being sold to a New Hampshire furniture company. But the future of the high-end furniture maker in Brandon with its 87 employees remains in question. BSF Transition LLC, an affiliate of Brownstreet Furniture of Whitefield, N.H., announced Wednesday that it is buying "certain assets" of Vermont Tubbs.

Wind Energy Can’t Fly On Its Own
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 5, 2008

When it came to wind and solar power, sadly, niether generated (literally or figuratively) enough power to sustain itself. Wind energy only blew by the grace of a $23.37 per megawatt hour subsidy from taxpayers while solar proved the most burning fleece at $24.34 per megawatt hour. According to the EIA, capital-intensive, base load generating technologies (like nuclear power and coal-fired steam generators) together produce about 68 percent of the total net electrical generation in the U.S. Solar power and wind power together generate less than 1 percent of U.S. electrical production.

State to Demolish 80-year-old Bridge if No One Wants It
By Louis Porter, Rutland Herald, June 5, 2008

Due to the bridge's historic nature, the Federal Highway Administration has instructed the AOT that it must advertise the bridge for sale for 30 days before beginning demolition, John Zicconi, spokesman for the AOT, said in a press release Tuesday. Anyone interested in saving the bridge has the opportunity to do so; if no interested parties step forward, demolition can proceed as planned at the beginning of July.

Senator Bartlett And The Danger Of Political Schizophrenia
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 2, 2008

Sen. Susan Bartlett, D-Lamoille, chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has one of the most challenging jobs in the Democratic leadership of the Vermont Legislature. She has to find the money to finance her Democratic compatriots' big government, high tax schemes, while her native sense, and she has one, of fiscal responsibility cries out, "No! No! No!" It is with a touch of sympathy that we watch her perched on the edge of political schizophrenia, her common sense self holding back the money that she knows we don't have, and her political and philosophical self continuing to preach the Gospel of Tax and Spend.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Rejecting Terrorism, But Not Jihad
By Robert Spencer, Front Page Magazine, June 06, 2008

Much is being made of "The Rebellion Within: An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism," by Lawrence Wright, in the June 2 issue of the New Yorker. In it, one of Al-Qaeda’s chief theorists rejects terrorism – leading to a cascade of both liberal and conservative voices rejoicing that the end of the war on terror is at hand.

Unfortunately, reality -- as is usually the case -- is not quite so comforting. Sayyid Imam al-Sharif, Dr. Fadl, the subject of Wright’s piece, is not rejecting the idea that Muslims must strive to subjugate unbelievers under the rule of Islamic law. All he is doing is advocating a change in strategy: less terrorism, more stealth jihad. This news shouldn’t make Americans go back to sleep; it should spur them to become aware of the ways in which the jihadist agenda of Islamic supremacism is advancing without guns and bombs.

Why Islamists Persecute the Baha’is
By Amil Imani,

It is imperative for the free people of the world to defend freedom of conscience, including freedom of religion, irrespective of one’s own personal belief. It is for this reason that as a person who is not a Baha’i, I find it my solemn duty to speak up on behalf of a peaceful people, severely-persecuted by the savage Islamists.

Iran and the Problem of Evil
By Michael Ledeen, The Wall Street Journal, June 7, 2008

Then, as now, the initiative lies with the enemies of the West. Even today, when we are engaged on the battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little apparent recognition that we are under attack by a familiar sort of enemy, and great reluctance to act accordingly. This time, ignorance cannot be claimed as an excuse. If we are defeated, it will be because of failure of will, not lack of understanding. As, indeed, was almost the case with our near-defeat in the 1940s.

Would a Jihadi by Any Other Name Smell as Foul?
By Raymond Ibrahim, American Thinker, June 04, 2008

As someone well acquainted with al-Qaeda's writings and communiqués (see The Al Qaeda Reader), I can confidently state that their messages to the West are markedly different from their messages to fellow Muslims.  To Americans, al-Qaeda, just as the U.S. memo recommends, rarely evokes Islamic theology; instead, the discourse is entirely about the Muslim world's political grievances at the hands of the West.  Their more clandestine writings to Muslims, conversely, rarely revolve around political grievances, but instead are grounded in Islamic theology and law, and stress how Muslims are commanded to have antipathy for infidels and to constantly be in a state of war with them.  Even the 9/11 strikes are justified through the strict rules of Islamic jurisprudence.

The NYT article suggests that,

"If we want to say what we mean, what terms better describe [al] Qaeda members and other violent extremists? ‘Muharib' or the more colloquial ‘hirabi' or ‘hirabist' would be good places to start. ‘Hirabah,' the base word, is a term for barbarism or piracy. Unlike ‘jihad,' which grants honor, ‘hirabah' brings condemnation; it involves unlawful violence and disorder."
Now, as a native Arabic speaker, I regret to say that usage of these terms -- that is, Americans trying to be at once politically-correct and descriptive, in, of all languages, Arabic -- is, alas, somewhat comedic.  I further suspect that Arabs, especially al-Qaeda types, would find it hilarious and consistent with their interpretations of wishy-washy Americans, who go to great lengths to learn a language only to censor themselves and compromise their precision in that same language, all so they can appear the "nice guy."

A Muslim Hate Crime is in Your Future
By Michael Reagan, Front Page Magazine, June 06, 2008

Two Christian preachers were stopped from handing out Bible tracts by police officers because they were in a Muslim neighborhood in England. According to British news reports, the preachers were told by a Muslim community support police officer in Birmingham that attempting to convert Muslims to Christianity is a hate crime.

Obama and McCain
By Thomas Sowell,, June 05, 2008

Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times. But, when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America. On the contrary, he has paid a huge price for resisting our enemies, even when they held him prisoner and tortured him. The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.

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From Elsewhere

Senate Climate Bill Blocked
By H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press, June 6, 2008

Republicans have blocked efforts to bring a global warming bill up for a final Senate vote after a bitter debate over its economic costs and whether it would push gasoline prices higher.

Baby, Baby It’s a Cold World
By Peter Ferrara, National Review, June 2, 2008

Lord Christopher Monckton, a policy adviser to former British prime minister Margaret Thatcher, was recently referenced by senior climate-science authority Fred Singer as saying: "Global warming stopped ten years ago; it hasn't gotten warmer since 1998. . . . . And in fact in the last seven years, there has been a downturn in global temperatures equivalent on average to about [or] very close to one degree Fahrenheit per decade. We're actually in a period . . . of global cooling."

This is what the temperature data shows. Indeed, even global-warming advocates are now saying there won’t be any actual global warming for the next ten years or so. You can interpret that to mean the budding cooling trend will continue.

Living On Obama's Collective Farm
From Investor's Business Daily, June 02, 2008

President Kennedy once spoke of a rising tide that would lift all boats. Obama wants us to pull into shore and tie them to a dock. Worse than that, a disturbing pattern of rhetoric indicates he will not only counsel a draconian lifestyle, but also mandate it.

The man who made over $4 million last year, who lives in a $1.65 million house and who probably doesn't get his great suits off the rack, advised graduates: "You can take your diploma, walk off this stage and chase only after the big house and the nice suits and all the other things that our money culture says you should. But I hope you don't." I got mine.

Climate-Change Collapse
By Stephen Moore, The Wall Street Journal, June 6, 2008

Environmentalists are stunned that their global warming agenda is in collapse. Senator Harry Reid has all but conceded he lacks the vote for passage in the Senate and that it's time to move on. Backers of the Warner-Lieberman cap-and-trade bill always knew they would face a veto from President Bush, but they wanted to flex their political muscle and build momentum for 2009. That strategy backfired. The green groups now look as politically intimidating as the skinny kid on the beach who gets sand kicked in his face.

Canada Eats Our Trade Lunch
From Investor's Business Daily, June 05, 2008

As Congress gloats over its denial of free trade to Colombia, Canada has moved on a free-trade pact of its own that will take U.S. markets.

Are Conservatives Dead or Resting?
By Christopher Chantrill American Thinker, June 08, 2008

If you look back over the last 30 years, back over the record of conservative reform, there is one thing that stands out.  Conservative reform never had a chance unless there was a crisis.  The Reaganomics of hard money and low tax rates only got done in the crisis of Carter inflation/recession.  The Bush tax cuts only got passed in the tech meltdown.  Welfare reform only got passed when Newt Gingrich put a gun to President Clinton's reelection prospects in 1996.

The problem that today's conservatives face is that things aren't bad enough on the Social Security front, on the education front, or on the health-care front for the American people to be ready for "change."  So Republican primary voters sensibly nominated John McCain, a man to fight the war on Islamic extremism while holding the line on domestic issues.

Five Percent of Mass. Taxpayers Uninsured, Some Fined
By Steve LeBlanc, Associated Press, June 03, 2008

Nearly 100,000 Massachusetts taxpayers have been fined for failing to obtain health insurance....In 2006, a legislative committee estimated the law would cost about $725 million in the fiscal year starting in July. In his budget, [Gov. Deval] Patrick set aside $869 million, but those overseeing the law have already acknowledged costs will rise even higher. Lawmakers are hoping to close the gap in part with a new dollar-per-pack cigarette tax. "Our success has created a very big challenge for us," Senate President Therese Murray said.

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