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True North Archives - June 17, 2008
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Education Costs and Results
 By John McClaughry

Only 42 percent of its students in Vermont' s best category, eighth grade reading, scored "proficient" or above. Nationally, the figure was 29 percent. One has to conclude that either the "proficient" standard is unreasonably high, or America's kids aren't getting much proficiency from their education.

The national average expenditure per pupil for 2006-07 was $9,295. Minnesota spent $9,366, less than one percent above the national average. Massachusetts spent $12,566, 35% above. Vermont (4th highest in the nation) spent $13,102, 41% above. New Hampshire spent $10,562, 14% above. South Dakota spent $8,077, 13% below.

Planned Parenthood Event Reveals "Glib" Attitude On Abortion
By Bob Sekerak

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England held a fundraiser entitled "Our Right to Shoes" on April 19th in Burlington. The event featured the auctioning of shoes and other items donated by area retail outlets. The glib play on words, ‘shoes’ for ‘choose‘ (in other words, abortion), typifies Planned Parenthood’s disdain for the taking of human life in the womb and the organization’s disordered sense of humor. Similarly, Planned Parenthood has celebrated the Supreme Court decisions Roe v Wade and Doe v Bolton, which decriminalized abortion during all nine months of pregnancy, by serving ‘birthday’ cake.

How to Fix Pre-School
By Martin Harris

… but the really interesting part pops up on p.355 of Race, where author Urie Bronfenbrenner opens a different line of thinking and starts by conceding that "long-term effects of pre-school programs…significant differences between experimental and control groups…were no longer visible at the end of second grade". By the mid-90’s, it turns out, experts in the pre-school education field were aware that it wasn’t working, something that contemporary advocates of public school expansion still refuse to recognize.

The same conclusion came from a February 2006 U-Cal/Santa Barbara study: "any advantage from pre-school in kindergarten performance had faded away by third grade". Chris Braunlich of the Thomas Jefferson Institute has written a two-page summary of that and multiple similar findings. The title is "Arguments for Universal Pre-School Don’t Add Up". 

On p. 358 of Race, therefore, Urie Bronfenbrenner proposes a fix: home-based intervention, to replace or supplement group-based (public school, Head Start, et al) programs. In subsequent pages he focuses on the students’ mothers, describing not only mother-child-tutor home visits but mother-classes in some sort of classroom. By p. 363 he’s writing that "the generalization that parent intervention has more lasting effects the earlier it is begun can now be extended into the first year of life", because (p.365) "a parent education component is important", and that is because "…it appears to enhance the mothers’ perception of themselves [as] capable of independent thought".

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"Mr. Obama reserves the right to define what is and is not a 'special interest.' He has ordered the DNC not to accept money from lobbyists and special interests, yet it's still alright for him and the DNC to accept money from unions, trial lawyers and environmentalists." -- Charles W. Baird, WSJ Blog

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

It's Wal-Mart Season Again
Caledonia Record Letter to the Editor, June 11, 2008

On April 23, a city council meeting was held in Newport in which the main topic of discussion was Wal-Mart. Predictably, the Wal-Mart opponents prophesied devastation for the area if Wal-Mart were to move in (obviously having learned no lessons from St. Johnsbury and the devastation that occurred there because they forced Wal-Mart across the river into New Hampshire) and the proponents who say the people need a department store. After all, there has been no department store in this area since Ames went belly-up and closed their Derby store in 2002, a bleak day for this area.

Addicted To What?
From, June 12, 2008

"The oil companies pass everything on to us, you know. Tax-breaks, no tax-breaks – we’ve got to get off this addiction and when we do, we’ll be free of them. That’s how I look at it."

--Barbara Boxer, explaining why an "excess profits" tax on oil companies is a good thing. The oil companies as pushers.  Rehab by government intervention.  This is what passes for policy analysis in the energy-strapped summer of 2008.  Well, as long as we are going to go down the road of argument by pop-culture cliché how about this one: the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over in the expectation of different results. Taxing the excess profits of oil companies during an energy crisis has been tried before.  Didn't work. 

Report: Vacant Office Space in Chittenden County Hits Record High
From The Burlington Free Press, June 6, 2008

The vacancy rate for Chittenden County office space has hit a record high: 10.4 percent, according to an analysis released today. During the last six months, the amount of vacant office space in Vermont’s most populous county is "up sharply" from 7.4 percent, according to Allen & Brooks, a South Burlington-based real estate analysis firm. The current vacancy rate means 708,000 square feet of office space sits idle in Chittenden County, the report said.

Vermont Must Do Better
Caledonia Record Editorial, June 13, 2008

As Lunderville describes it, it's not just that there's not enough money to even begin to upgrade Vermont's highways and bridges - significant external pressures block progress and prevent the efficient repair and replacement of highways, bridges and culverts. 

The bridge between Middlesex and Moretown illustrates the Vermont governmental culture of "paralysis by analysis." The bridge is a steel truss bridge, one of many built in Vermont after the 1927 flood. There are 86 steel truss bridges in Vermont. As early as 1991, the bridge was identified as needing replacement, but federal agencies decided in 1998 that the bridge needed to be saved and remain in place

Ireland To EU: Take A Hike
From, June 14, 2008

By an impressive majority, Irish voters rejected one of those European Union treaties that is designed to empower unelected elites. Those elites insisted that the treaty would do nothing of the sort and that "groups opposed to the treaty successfully played on people's fears it would mean a loss of national sovereignty."

Well, perhaps those people's fears were validated when they looked across the way at Scotland where the EU bureaucrats took it upon themselves to regulate the volume at which bagpipers may play their instruments. 

A Real Stretch, Even In An Election Year
Caledonia Record Editorial 6/16/08

The main point of Jewett's Op Ed piece is that a wonderful bill that would have effectively saved the lives of junior operators could have been agreed to by both the House and Senate if only Gov. Douglas had used his moral authority, leadership and influence to pressure the members of the Legislature to pass the bill. Once passed, Jewett argues, Douglas could have signed the bill into law. He asserts that Douglas is the sole reason the bill failed to become law. ...

Once the bill got to the House, representatives like Jewett, who had given up on trying to get their own bill passed by the House, decided to take all the provisions included in all the House motor vehicle bills and tack them onto the Senate bill in the form of an amendment. It worked and Senate bill S.133, now weighted down by provisions adding a primary enforcement seat belt law, restrictions on passengers in cars driven by junior operators, a prohibition on nighttime operation by young drivers, and other amendments, passed the House. Since the House rewrote the bill, it had to return to the Senate to be voted on in its amended form. The Senate, on a voice vote, rejected the House rewrite.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty: An Effective Tool for Winning Hearts and Minds
By Jeffrey Gedmin, Ph.D., Heritage Foundation, June 13, 2008

So, I commend the Administration, certainly, for selecting Jeff to lead Radio Free Europe and Radio Liberty.  Today, it broadcasts in 28 languages to 30 million people in Russia, Central Asia, and the Middle East, including Iraq, Iran, and Afghanistan.  RFE/RL continues to do what it did so well in the Cold War, defending our principles of freedom and disseminating our ideas of liberty and civil society. That's very likely why Russia (under President Vladimir Putin) and other leaders in Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan have banned its broadcasts.

Iraq in Review
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, June 13, 2008

In the end, the U.S. military has achieved the near impossible by removing the worst government in the Middle East and fostering what has a real chance to become by far the best. In some sense, whether Iraq was worth the high cost depends on whether one thinks the present-day liberal and humane democracies in Europe, Japan, and Korea were likewise worth the past, and far more terrible, price that America paid in blood and treasure to secure their enduring freedom.

Rogue Nations May Have Nuclear Blueprints
CBS News, June 15, 2008

A former U.N. weapons inspector is set to reveal publicly that blueprints for nuclear devices were found on computers belonging to an international nuclear smuggling ring -- two years ago. The illicit group was once led by Pakistani scientist, A.Q. Khan.

Mad For Madrassas
From Investor's Business Daily, June 13, 2008

Saudi money buys a lot in Washington, even an extension of a lease to an Islamic school that graduates terrorists and teaches its students it's OK to kill non-Muslims.

Report: Troubling Texts at Va. Islamic School 
The books say it’s OK for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts
From The Associated Press, June 11, 2008

Textbooks at a private Islamic school in northern Virginia teach students that it is permissible for Muslims to kill adulterers and converts from Islam, according to a federal investigation released Wednesday.

Return of the Dupes and the Anti-Anti-Communists
By Paul Kengor, American Thinker, June 13, 2008

A couple of weeks ago in Washington, Herb Romerstein and Cliff Kincaid, two veteran investigators of American communism, held a press conference on Capitol Hill to announce the release of two new reports on Barack Obama's radical past, or, more specifically, his association with extremist elements from the American left -- yet more evidence of a frightening pattern of associations by Obama throughout his distant and recent life, from Bill Ayers to Reverend Jeremiah Wright, all of which at the least shows bad judgment. At the press conference, they discussed Romerstein's report on Frank Marshall Davis, an influential figure in Obama's early life, whom Obama refers to only as "Frank" (albeit affectionately) in his autobiography Dreams From My Father. Davis was a communist, a member of CPUSA. Romerstein developed that fact very carefully in his report, which contained at least a half dozen exhibits and other forms of reliable documentation -- a fact that itself is news, since many (on the gullible left) still like to question whether Davis was a Party member.

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From Elsewhere

No More Excuses: The U.S. Needs To Tap Into Its Own Oil Reserves
By Tim Walberg, Investor’s Business Daily, June 13, 2008

Why is our country facing a rising trade deficit even though American-made exports grew 19.2% over the last year (April 2007 to April 2008)? The answer is found at gas stations across the country and in America's $34.5 billion petroleum deficit, which is roughly half of our monthly trade deficit. ... Our country has vast and large supplies of energy, but unfortunately tapping into American energy sources has become controversial and mired in politics. And while political games are played in Washington, D.C., Americans keep paying more at the pump.

One Million Reasons For Radical Education Reform
By Anthony B. Bradley, The Acton Institute, June 11, 2008

What reports overlook, and all the political rhetoric during the presidential campaign will miss, is that high school graduation rates are tied to a stable family life, a sense of self-efficacy, and moral agency, rather than to money spent per pupil or the number of standardized assessments given from kindergarten through grade twelve.

Fatherless children are twice as likely to drop out of school as their classmates who live with two parents. Children whose fathers are absent consistently score lower than the norm in reading and math tests. ... Regardless of race or class, education reform will only be successful in concert with other needed reforms. Family, self-efficacy, and agency work in concert like one of Bach's Brandenburg concertos. We have over one million annual reasons to stop playing rhetorical political games and ignoring the fact that educational success is forged outside of the classroom.

Energy and Environment Experts Praise Senate for Rejecting Lieberman-Warner
By Dan Miller, The Heartland Institute, June 10, 2008

Energy and environment experts are praising the U.S. Senate for its rejection of stifling energy restrictions contained in the Lieberman-Warner climate bill. Proponents of the bill mustered only 48 votes, and some observers predicted many of those votes would likely melt away if the bill had any real chance of success.

Republicans in Denial
By Tom Coburn, American Conservative Union Foundation, June 11, 2008

Becoming Republicans again will require us to come to grips with what has ailed our party – namely, the triumph of big-government Republicanism and failed experiments like the K Street Project and "compassionate conservatism." If the goal of the K Street Project was to earmark and fund raise our way to a filibuster-proof "governing" majority, the goal of "compassionate conservatism" was to spend our way to a governing majority.

The fruit of these efforts is not the hoped-for Republican governing majority, but the real prospect of a filibuster-proof Democrat majority in 2009. While the K Street Project decimated our brand as the party of reform and limited government, compassionate conservatism convinced the American people to elect the party that was truly skilled at activist government: the Democrats.

31,000 Kyoto Skeptics
By Dennis Avery, American Conservative Union Foundation, June 11, 2008

In 1998, Dr. Arthur Robinson, Director of the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine, posted his first Global Warming skeptic petition, on the Institute’s website ( It quickly attracted the signatures of more than 17,000 Americans who held college degrees in science. Widely known as the Oregon Petition, it became a counter-weight for the "all scientists agree" mantra of the Global Warming crowd. 

Recently, with America being dragged toward Kyoto-style energy limits by cadres of alarmists, Robinson mailed a new copy of the petition to his original signers, asking them to recruit additional qualified scientists. Now his list includes well over 31,000 American man-made warming skeptics with science qualifications. More than 9,000 hold scientific Ph.Ds. Almost 32,000 thousand skeptics happens to be twelve times as many scientists as the 2,500 scientific reviewers claimed by the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change to form a scientific consensus. 

Congress Again Lards Iraq War Spending Bill
By Brian M. Riedl, The Heritage Foundation, June 12, 2008

Despite vowing to rein in spending, cut the budget deficit, and implement pay-as-you-go (PAYGO) rules, the Democratic Congress recently voted to cast these promises aside. Rather than making the success and safety of American troops a top legislative priority, both the House- and Senate-passed versions of the Iraq war spending bill (H.R. 2642, now in conference committee to reconcile the two versions) focus on adding tens of billions of dollars in new spending unrelated to the war on terrorism.

Barack Pushes Windfall Profits
By Neal Boortz,, June 10th, 2008 

Ok .. first of all, just what are "windfall profits?" Does anyone have a handy definition? Might I offer one? Damn right I might. Try this: "A tax levied on a industry by a politician eager to pander to economically ignorant voters who, for whatever reason, are upset with that industry." This term "windfall profits" has become another buzzword for liberals, and particularly the Barack Obama campaign. A majority of Americans probably couldn’t tell you the first thing about windfall profits … but the word inflicts these feelings of evil and wealth envy.

Related: Obama's Economic Plan Deserves Close Scrutiny

Voters Give Media Failing Grades in Objectivity for Election 2008
Rasmussen Reports, Sunday, June 08, 2008

Just 17% of voters nationwide believe that most reporters try to offer unbiased coverage of election campaigns. A Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that four times as many—68%--believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win.

Putting Children Last
Wall Street Journal Editorial, June 11, 2008

Democrats in Congress have finally found a federal program they want to eliminate. And wouldn't you know, it's one that actually works and helps thousands of poor children.

We're speaking of the four-year-old Washington, D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program that provides vouchers to about 2,000 low-income children so they can attend religious or other private schools. ... Kevin Chavis, the former D.C. City Council member who sits on the oversight board of the scholarship program, says, "If we were going to do what was best for the kids, then continuing it is a no-brainer. Those kids are thriving." More than 90% of the families express high satisfaction with the program, according to researchers at Georgetown University.

Many of the parents we interviewed describe the vouchers as a "Godsend" or a "lifeline" for their sons and daughters. "Most of the politicians have choices on where to send their kids to school," says William Rush, Jr., who has two boys in the program. "Why do they want to take our choices away?"

Related: NEA says "Tell Congress: End the DC Voucher Experiment!"

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