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True North Archives - June 12, 2007
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Featured Articles

A Conflict of Visions
By Robert Maynard

Ultimately, this clash of visions comes down to a profound difference between the way we see the relationship between God and Man and the role that freedom plays in that relationship. In this battle, we will find allies among those Muslims who see no conflict between Islam and freedom. The problem is that their voices are being drowned out by those of the fatalists. While we spend a good deal of resources and lives fighting the military aspect of this conflict, Saudi oil money is funding Islamic schools and Mosques all around the world that teach the Fascist version of Islam. We need to engage in an ideological offensive and promote our version of freedom as a sacred gift of God, which no man has a right to infringe upon. In fact, it is the infringement upon God granted human freedom, which is heretical and sacrilegious, not the exercise of freedom.

Who Owns the Environment?
by Bruce Shields

Where resources are actually owned by government units, the conflicts over uses seem almost unresolvable.  In Vermont, we have had very bitter conflicts over camp leases on State lands, over land swaps between the State and various private entities, over the management plans on National Forest lands, over erection of communication towers (since the visibility of these structures has been deemed part of the public estate), and many other issues.  When something is identified as public in nature, grievious and frequently stalemated conflict erups.  When ownership is private, control is clear: whoever values (i.e. pays for) a property gets to determine its use.  The clearer and more defensible title to property is, the more responsible and beneficial to society its use is.

Breaking News!
By Pete Behr

You may be tired of my harping on the “global warming” bill, but I feel obligated to point out its shortcomings.  It is so full of wishful thinking that it is difficult to pick out its worst feature, but I think that Section 3 is the most far-fetched.  It calls for Vermont to produce 25 percent of its energy requirements by 2025 from renewable sources, particularly from its farms and forests, and requires that the Commissioner of Public Service present a plan to attain this goal by January 15, 2008.  The Legislature passed the bill, and then asks that a study be made to prove its merits! 

Defining Productivity Down
By Martin Harris

The school solution measures lineal feet of chalkboard as a quality standard, while others --Caroline Hoxby, Harvard education researcher, for example-- measure units of achievement output against units of cost input, and how these have changed over time. Ms. Hoxby’s conclusion is that “educational productivity fell by approximately 42 percent between 1970-71 and 1998-99” when measured by spending (input) vs NAEP reading test scores (output). You can read her comments for yourself on the website of School Reform News, a monthly publication of the Heartland Institute. Note that such quantitative productivity measures aren’t based on the presence or absence of electronic door locks, as in Boca Raton, or the presence or absence of generous amounts of chalkboard, as I heard some Vermont educators declaim, in the Middlebury Inn basement, many years ago, when test scores were somewhat higher and annual per pupil costs a whole lot lower than they are today.

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"Dependence begets subservience and venality, suffocates the germ of virtue, and prepares fit tools for the designs of ambition." -- Thomas Jefferson

"The teachers must disabuse their pupils' minds of any archaic ideas they might have about our history. They must be told that the American Revolution was not a revolt of men who wanted to be free against an all-powerful, tyrannical and tax-eating government. It was just a brawl between American landlords and the British nobility, and the men who led the Revolution were merely interested in their own property. The students must be taught that our free-enterprise system is a failure - it breeds poverty and inequality and the only fair system is a planned one, run by the government." -- Dr. Harold O. Rugg a colleague and disciple of John Dewey at Teachers College

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Man will plead guilty to sex charges
By Mike Gleason, Bennington Banner

Stephen A. Matteson Sr., 50, of Webb Street, was charged in March with lewd and lascivious conduct with a child, and in November with aggravated sexual assault and lewd and lascivious conduct. He is scheduled to plead guilty the those charges today in Bennington District Court. ... Matteson is facing possible life imprisonment for the November charges.  He has an extensive criminal record, including two convictions for driving under the influence of alcohol, three violations of probation convictions, a disorderly conduct conviction and a conviction for prohibited sexual acts. 

This Is The Good News?
by Geoffrey Norman, Vermont Tiger, June 09, 2007

Scores for 2005 show that in eighth-grade math, about 38 percent of Vermont students were proficient on the NAEP test while 60 percent passed Vermont's New England Common Assessment Program (NECAP) -- a 22-point gap.

The Really Important Things
Caledonian Record Editorial, June 7, 2007

The realists over there worry about the small things, like, how we can manage and reduce property taxes, what we need to do about our schools that repeatedly just don't seem to make the grade, how we can induce our youths to return to Vermont when they finish college, how and when can we solve the affordable housing problem, how to bring Vermont into the wireless electronic age, how we can create and project an image of friendliness to business to replace the extraordinarily poor one we have now. Things like that. Meanwhile, the liberal/romantics worry about how we can lead the way for the whole United States and the world in solving the global warming problem, why the biggest, cheapest producer of electricity should smile and pay triple taxes to fund more giveaway programs for our nanny state, and how we ought to search the demography for even more tiny sub-groups, such as transgendered people, that Vermont can protect from real or imagined slights.

Fair? (pdf)
By Emerson Lynn, St. Albans Messenger, June 07, 2007

Fair? Yes, absolutely fairness is the key test here. It is not fair to forget the basis upon which all agreements with Vermont Yankee have been based. It's not fair to forget the hundreds of millions of dollars Vermonters have saved. It's not fair to forget that Vermont Yankee is a key reason our carbon footprint is so minimal. And it's bone dumb. The governor's promised veto should stand

Related: A more efficient energy solution

William Jefferson Is Finally Indicted
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 8, 2007

Rep. William Jefferson, the Louisiana Democrat, has finally been indicted. After years of being privately acknowledged by his colleagues as the most corrupt politician in the Congress, the U.S. Department of Justice has indicted him on a basket full of charges - 16 counts, including racketeering, soliciting bribes, wire fraud, money laundering, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. He faces a possible 325 years in jail. Jefferson is the one who was recorded soliciting a bribe from an undercover agent and was later found to have $90,000 in bribe money in his home freezer, yet he has remained in office for two years since and even been re-elected before the indictments.

What's Going On Next Door
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 9, 2007

In 1960, and for several years thereafter, Canada's dollar was traded at parity with the American dollar, even exceeding it in value for a time. That parity caused American interests to build hundreds of shopping centers all along the border, and Canadians descended in hordes to spend their shopping dollars down here. With the sharp decline of the value of Canada's dollar in the last 15 years, many if not most of those centers went belly up. Now, we may be witnessing a reversal of that historic trend. Eighty percent of Canada's population lives within 50 miles of the United States border. As their dollar continues to increase in value against our dollar, Canada deserves watching.

Editorial: Affordable housing gets more complex
Burlington Free Press, June 6, 2007

Tucked into the news about the renovation of six Burlington buildings into affordable apartments were two bits of information that should concern anyone who wants to see housing in the city that remains within the reach of average Vermonters.

Lawmaker upset with Act 250 rule
By Nancy Remsen, Burlington Free Press, June 7, 2007

A state senator complained Wednesday that the Natural Resources Board had proposed a rule that was far more lenient toward development outside "designated growth centers" than the Legislature intended. The rule as written would "open Pandora's box," said Senate Natural Resources Chairwoman Virginia Lyons, D-Chittenden. "We are trying to close that particular door."

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

How To Win War on Terror
by Donald Devine American Conservative Union

The obvious conclusion why the U.S. has not had another 9/11 is that either the FBI cannot find the serious terrorists after five years—but then why have they not committed mayhem?—or, more likely, there are none to be found. Surely Al Qaeda itself is destroyed as an international logistics or even training operation. All it can do is produce videos and distribute them, mostly through public media, which could be harassed into being less cooperative. It only survives in remote mountains protected by the locals or where there is existing opposition and turmoil as in Iraq and Afghanistan. As FBI Director Robert Mueller told reporters recently, "We have seen an increase in the number of self-radicalized groups that…are nor organized by overseas groups." Few of these have the means or will to carry out serious operations. Several of the plots taken to court actually were developed under the supervision of an undercover FBI agent and it is not clear they would have gone so far by themselves. There is no James Bond, 007-like evil Specter terrorist organization masterminding American terror operations. The danger is not a central Al Qaeda but the idea embedded in its ideology that in turn appeals to many disaffected Muslims

The Right Not to be a Muslim
In Malaysia, don’t try to convert if you’re a Muslim
By Doug Bandow, National Review Online, June 8, 2007 

Much injustice once was wreaked by Christians in the name of a loving God. Islam has yet to confront the tragedy of coercion. The result is authoritarian political systems, oppressive legal regimes, discriminatory social environments, and theologically-sanctioned terrorism. There are liberal, tolerant Muslims, of course, who are horrified by the injustices perpetrated in Allah’s name. But the refusal by so many average Muslims to respect — personally or legally — freedom of conscience encourages a political milieu in which dictatorship and terrorism naturally flourish. So long as Islamic populations are willing to fine, imprison, and even kill those within their own communities who worship a different God, or the same God differently, they are likely to at least tolerate, if not applaud and aid, the murder of such people in other societies.

The Threat of Bioweapons
By Janet Ellen Levy, American Thinker, June 08, 2007 

Biological weapons are among the most dangerous in the world today and can be engineered and disseminated to achieve a more deadly result than a nuclear attack.  Whereas the explosion of a nuclear bomb would cause massive death in a specific location, a biological attack with smallpox could infect multitudes of people across the globe.  With incubation periods of up to 17 days, human disseminators could unwittingly cause widespread exposure before diagnosable symptoms indicate an infection and appropriate quarantine procedures are in place. ... Due to their virulence, ease of dissemination and detection difficulties, bioweapons experts and the Department of Homeland Security assert that smallpox and anthrax are the most worrisome biothreats to national security.  Both have been weaponized which means they can be produced in a particle size that is releasable in the air and can be easily inhaled into the respiratory system.  Both smallpox and anthrax are extremely deadly and present unique forensic, environmental, logistical and public health care delivery challenges.

The Reasons Why Al-Qaeda Wages War On Us
By Curt,  Flopping Aces, June 8, 2007

Ok, so we understand what the goals of al-Qaeda was and is.  The formation of an Islamic state.  To stop the support of Israel by the West.  Not because we are in Iraq, not because we were in Saudi Arabia.  If none of these things had happened they would still wage jihad against us.  They hate what we stand for, they hate we are "unbelievers", and they hate that we support Israel. But lets look at the central argument in the al-Qaeda/Iraq connection.  The left will constantly state that bin Laden would never support secular Saddam, or Shiites.  But wait a minute, when he moved to Sudan he formed a relationship with Hasan al-Turabi, who also envisioned a international Muslim community with Sudan as it's headquarters:

The Right Lessons To Learn From Viet Nam
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 08, 2007

Many years ago, the two of us clashed sharply over the wisdom and morality of American policy in Indochina, especially in Cambodia. One of us (Mr. Shawcross) published a book, "Sideshow," that bitterly criticized Nixon administration policy. The other (Mr. Rodman), a longtime associate of Henry Kissinger, issued a rebuttal in The American Spectator, defending American policy. Decades later, we have not changed our views. But we agreed even then that the outcome in Indochina was indeed disastrous, both in human and geopolitical terms, for the United States and the region. Today we agree equally strongly that the consequences of defeat in Iraq would be even more serious and lasting."

Iraqi forces take lead in operations
Operation Iraqi Freedom, June 08, 2007

The Iraqi Security Force is currently continuing to progress in taking the lead in operations while under Coalition observation.

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From Elsewhere

Western Civilization
Frank Meyer, The American Conservative Union, Reprinted from Modern Age

The men who settled these shores and established an extension of Western civilization here carried with them the heritage of the centuries of Western development. With it they carried the contradiction between the driving demands of the Western ethos and the political system inconsonant with that ethos. In the open lands of this continent, removed from the overhanging presence of cosmological remains, they established a constitution that the first time in human history was constructed to guarantee the sanctity of the person and his freedom. But they brought with them also the condition, which is tempted always by the false visions of Utopianism.

Will we ever learn Mr. Buckley’s lesson?
by Katie O'Malley, Human Events, June 05, /2007

"That the so-called conservative, uncomfortably disdainful of controversy, seldom has the energy to fight his battles, while the radical, so often a member of the minority, exerts disproportionate influence because of his dedication to his cause." I might not be so disquieted if those words had been spoken last month, last year or even last decade.  Tragically, these wise words were written by William F. Buckley, Jr. almost 60 years ago in his brilliant tome, "God and Man at Yale."

I Was On the Global Warming Gravy Train
By David Evans Ludwig Von Mises Institute

So the idea that carbon emissions were causing global warming passed from the scientific community into the political realm. Research increased, bureaucracies were formed, international committees met, and eventually the Kyoto protocol was signed in 1997 to curb carbon emissions. The political realm in turn fed money back into the scientific community. By the late 1990s, lots of jobs depended on the idea that carbon emissions caused global warming. Many of them were bureaucratic, but there were a lot of science jobs created too. I was on that gravy train, making a high wage in a science job that would not have existed if we didn't believe carbon emissions caused global warming. And so were lots of people around me; there were international conferences full of such people. We had political support, the ear of government, big budgets. We felt fairly important and useful (I did anyway). It was great. We were working to save the planet!

The Forgotten Past
Donald J. Devine, The Hill, June 5, 2007

It’s like "déjà vu all over again," as Yogi would have said. The Democratic presidential candidates are headed down the very same slippery slope their predecessors slid down in the ’70s, with little or no regard for the consequences. The debate over whether the United States should have chosen Iraq to make a stand against international terrorism is perfectly legitimate, as is the argument about the Bush administration’s conduct of the war and its aftermath, but Democrats today find themselves making the very same mistakes that destroyed their party’s national security credentials decades ago.

Hillary Clinton’s Backwards "Progressive Vision"
Her economic platform would only hurt those she intends to help.
By John Tammy, National Review Online, June 8 2007

In a speech last week in New Hampshire, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton outlined an economic vision of "shared prosperity" that centered on raising the incomes of American workers who were allegedly left behind in the prosperous economic era that began in the early 1980s. Remarkably, the majority of her proposals would be detrimental to the financial health of the very Americans she claims to want to help.

American Support For Amnesty Fades
by Mike Franc, Human Events, June 8 2007

Conservative senators took to the Senate floor to correct various shortcomings in the massive bill. In most cases, they failed, sometimes by lopsided margins. But, even in defeat, they forced the bipartisan coalition of senators behind the agreement to confront some "inconvenient truths" about their bargain.

A Property Tax Plan with Specifics
Legislators propose rollbacks and expanded exemptions
By Alex Leary & Jennifer Liberto, St. Petersburg Times, June 9, 2007

Top lawmakers proposed the largest tax cut in Florida history Friday, a sprawling $31.6-billion plan that would trim the average property tax bill by seven percent this year and give homeowners significantly lower taxes in future years.

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