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True North Archives - June 29, 2010
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Featured Articles

Taking Local Control of the Storm
The Health of our Water, our Property Values, and the General Fund depend on it. 
By James Ehlers

NPDES. MS4. NPS. 303(d). BMP. TMDL. CWA. 305(b). WWSRF. TSS. WWTP. NMP. EPA. The list of acronyms involved in water quality protection and enhancement is enough to send one running for cover, never mind the sometimes actual storm to which they may be related and the political storm to which they almost always are. I suppose that is what happens though when we look for a mammoth bureaucracy to address the problems that start in our own roof gutters and around gazing balls perched on our front lawn pedestals.

Saving the Planet Through Higher Taxes
By John McClaughry

"Our planet's destruction" could be the consequence of Congress's failing to pass a sweeping energy tax, carbon regulation, and subsidy cornucopia bill this session, according to Senate leader Harry Reid.

The House has already passed the Waxman-Markey bill with all these features. In May Senate Democrats unveiled their version, called Kerry-Lieberman. Both sound a shrill alarm about greenhouse gas "pollution" and the Menace of Global Warming, but that increasingly derided term has now been replaced by "climate change", after Mother Earth refused to validate the UN's bogus computer models.

Crisis!!!  Real, Fake or Man-Made?
By Martin Harris

One of the observeable ways in which politicians prove that they’re destined –indeed, obligated-- to govern because they’re more intelligent and clever than the rest of us (the Progressive theorem) is their ability to produce a well-turned phrase. Case in point, from the Chicago School of Politics: "never let a crisis go to waste". Its author used just seven words to describe the skillful use of events to move public opinion toward his preferred ideological position. Historically, conspiracy theorists had invented, much earlier than the Emanuellian phrase, much shorter acronyms to express the same crisis-utilization concept: LIHOP and MIHOP. You’ll recognize these from the discussions of the Pearl Harbor attack almost 70 years ago and the discussions of the Twin Towers attack almost 10 years ago. I’d add a new one: MIWOP, to describe a situation wherein a politician, in the context of an ideological argument over public policy, chooses to create a fake crisis where none exists or to seize on a real crisis and, by deliberate action or inaction, taking steps to advance it, to Make It Worse On Purpose. In terms of political intent, it falls somewhere between Letting It Happen On Purpose, which was the accusation against FDR, or Making It Happen on Purpose, which is the accusation against GWB.

Featured Video Extra
Watch Rob Roper & Bill Sayre discuss Vermont Issues.

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"It is sobering to reflect that one of the best ways to get yourself a reputation as a dangerous citizen these days is to go about repeating the very phrases which our founding fathers used in the struggle for independence." 

– Charles A. Beard

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

The Sinews of Modern Prosperity
By Daniel Foty, Vermont Tiger, June 25, 2010

As part of this news story, the (English language) Moscow Times apparently asked Esther Dyson to pen a short column of advice for President Medvedev about this effort - and what it will really take.

This advice is directed at Russia - but it encapsulates in more general terms what it takes to build economic growth, prosperity, and social contentment in the contemporary world.  An excerpt:

Think of the project as a garden rather than a construction site. For this garden to grow, Russia must create the following conditions:
1. No killer weeds. Entrepreneurs must be free from blackmail, expropriations and other shakedowns.

2. Healthy seeds. Russia needs to attract and reward technical talent and scientists for good ideas.

3. Nutrients in the soil. There must be a steady source of good managers, businesspeople, and marketing and sales talent.

4. Careful gardeners and consumers. There must be mentors for entrepreneurs, as well as customers who buy the products and services on the basis of quality and price rather than bribes.

5. Cross-fertilization. There must be critical mass so that people can learn from and compete with each other.

6. Sunshine. There must be maximum transparency.

Right now, the Russian Silicon Valley project is still very much a mystery. The location has been selected, and a number of large companies are being invited to set up incubation, and research and development facilities. That’s a start, but what will be most important is the people and the culture they establish. Entrepreneurs need to be encouraged to take sensible risks, and they need support and mentoring to build sustainable companies that can make useful products and services from their inventions and market them successfully.

Inside Election 2010
By Fox 44 News

An overview of the various political races in 2010.

An Outrageous Share
By Chris Campion, Vermont Tiger, June 25, 2010

Our esteemed Senator Sanders (S - Brooklyn) uncorks another howler - he wants to make sure that the estate tax rates increase even more on the highest earners.  All in the interests of fairness, as determined by our patriarch: 

Mr. Sanders and his co-sponsors said, "It's time for multi-millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share." 

Sanders conveniently ignores the progressive tax rate, which ensures that higher earners already paid a "fair" share on their incomes over the course of their life.  The estate tax is simply a tax on what's left over after people have already paid taxes on their income.  Leave alone that the top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all income taxes collected, the top 10% pays 71%, the top 50% of income earners pays 97% - then we have to ask the question:  How much is enough, let alone "fair"?  Our gov't has the gall to insist on taxing income you've already paid income tax on while earning it or investing it.

Bridge Construction will Bring Jobs
From Denton Publications, June 25, 2010

Help Wanted: Labors to assist in the construction of the Lake Champlain Bridge.

The $69.6 million project to reconnect New York and Vermont is expected to create at least 200 jobs for local workers, according to officials.

A Bucket Brigade, Neighbors Helping Neighbors
From the Caledonia Record, June 21, 2010

It was a heart-warming story when we learned of a woman taking the time to stop and rescue an aimless steer with its head stuck in a bucket. He couldn't see where he was going and was in danger of wandering into the road or stepping into a hole and tumbling down. Mary Batten, of Hale Road in Waterford, jumped out of her car and, after guessing what a farmer would say to get the steer and a companion to stop walking away ("Come on, boys!"), she grabbed the bucket and held on until he could pull his head out of it. She said the steer looked back at her in gratitude.

Crunching Numbers for Crunch Time
By Hugh Kemper, Vermont Tiger, June 25, 2010

Education Commissioner Vileseca has written a  memo alerting School Boards/Superintendents and others to Challenges for Change’s target for reducing FY 2012 education spending by $23.2 million or by 2%.  Putting this target in perspective – if Vermont K-12, the most staff intensive public school system in the country, were to reduce teacher/teacher aide staffing alone to levels of the second most staff intensive system, savings would approximate $86 million or 3.7 times the target reduction.

In short, this savings target is eminently achievable – a slam dunk so to speak - and should be viewed as just the beginning of an effort to put K-12 spending on a rationale and sustainable basis.

Hot off the Press
by Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, June 29, 2010

The U.S. Census Bureau today released its annual report Public Education Finances 2008... the comparisons between Vermont and the nation are stark.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Criminal Intent and Militant Funding
By Scott Stewart, Strategic Forecasters, June 24, 2010

STRATFOR is currently putting the finishing touches on a detailed assessment of the Islamic State of Iraq (ISI), the al Qaeda-inspired jihadist franchise in that country. As we got deeper into that project, one of the things we noticed was the group’s increasing reliance on criminal activity to fund its operations. In recent months, in addition to kidnappings for ransom and extortion of businessmen — which have been endemic in Iraq for many years — the ISI appears to have become increasingly involved in armed robbery directed against banks, currency exchanges, gold markets and jewelry shops.

This increase in criminal activity highlights how the ISI has fallen on hard times since its heyday in 2006-2007, when it was flush with cash from overseas donors and when its wealth led the apex leadership of al Qaeda in Pakistan to ask its Iraqi franchise for financial assistance. But when considered in a larger context, the ISI’s shift to criminal activity is certainly not surprising and, in fact, follows the pattern of many other ideologically motivated terrorist or insurgent groups that have been forced to resort to crime to support themselves.

The Coming Crisis in the Middle East
By Herbert London, Family Security Matters, June 23, 2010

The gathering storm in the Middle East is gaining momentum. War clouds are on the horizon and like conditions prior to World War I all it takes for explosive action to commence is a trigger.

Turkey’s provocative flotilla - often described in Orwellian terms as a humanitarian mission - has set in motion a flurry of diplomatic activity, but if the Iranians send escort vessels for the next round of Turkish ships, it could present a casus belli.

Turkey, from Ally to Enemy
Commentary by Michael Rubin,

Traveling abroad on his first trip as president, Barack Obama tacked a visit to Turkey onto the tail end of a trip to Europe. "Some people have asked me if I chose to continue my travels to Ankara and Istanbul to send a message," he told the Turkish Parliament. "My answer is simple: Evet [yes]. Turkey is a critical ally." On the same visit, however, the president showed that he considered Turkey more firmly part of the Islamic world than of Europe. "I want to make sure that we end before the call to prayer, so we have about half an hour," Obama told a town hall in Istanbul. Obama was not simply demonstrating cultural sensitivity. The fact is that Turkey has changed. Gone, and gone permanently, is secular Turkey, a unique Muslim country that straddled East and West and that even maintained a cooperative relationship with Israel. Today Turkey is an Islamic republic whose government saw fit to facilitate the May 31 flotilla raid on Israel's blockade of Gaza. Turkey is now more aligned to Iran than to the democracies of Europe. Whereas Iran's Islamic revolution shocked the world with its suddenness in 1979, Turkey's Islamic revolution has been so slow and deliberate as to pass almost unnoticed. Nevertheless, the Islamic Republic of Turkey is a reality—and a danger.

Related Article: Turkey in Crisis

Was Solicitor General Subtly Soliciting Shariah Law?
By Frank Gaffney Jr., Family Security Matters, June 16, 2010

Hats off to Senator Jeff Sessions! The top Republican on the Senate's Judiciary Committee has opened up an important new front in the debate over Solicitor General Elena Kagan's fitness to serve on the Supreme Court:  Her attitude towards the repressive legal code authoritative Islam calls Shariah and her enabling of efforts to insinuate it into this country.

By so doing, the Alabama legislator has given his colleagues and the country an opportunity not only to flesh out and evaluate the thin public record of President Obama's second nominee to a lifetime appointment on the nation's highest court.  The Senator has also afforded us all what Mr. Obama might call a "teachable moment." 

Unfriendly Fire
By Bill Roggio, Investor’s Business Daily, June 22, 2010

The summoning of the president's hand-picked Afghan commander to the White House to explain a critical magazine profile does not bode well. Are we looking for scapegoats or victory?

To some, it evokes President Truman's meeting with Gen. Douglas MacArthur on Wake Island during the Korean War, shortly before Truman sacked the general who believed that in war there's no substitute for victory, a word that doesn't appear on administration teleprompters these days.

Related Article: McChrystal relieved of command, Petraeus chosen to take over

Hamas's Web School for Suicide Bombers, Radical Islam
By Yohanan Manor and Ido Mizrahi, Middle East Quarterly

All states use education as a medium to encourage responsible behavior in their children, at least in part to develop a law-abiding, civic-minded citizenry. Authoritarian regimes have a history of distorting this trust, often turning schools into places of indoctrination for a state or religious ideology. The Palestinians have, for some time now, created an educational system exemplifying this indoctrinational approach: Their textbooks deny Jewish and Israeli legitimacy within historic Palestine, demonize Jews and Israelis, discourage compromise or negotiated peace, and glorify violent struggle to achieve what are often termed "Palestinian aspirations." Since coming to power through elections in early 2006 and following its military coup in Gaza in June 2007, Hamas has continued this path of indoctrination, utilizing its popular children's website, Al-Fateh.

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From Elsewhere

Why The G20 Won't Listen To Obama
The U.S. president's message of spending is out of step with the other members.
By Andrew B. Busch, Forbes Magazine, June 25, 2010

Therefore, the call by President Obama to keep stimulating is at best ignored and at worst scoffed at by the G-20. But it's worse than that.

The U.S. is not only calling for more spending, but it is also failing to reduce its own deficit, which will reach $1.4 trillion in 2010. Now, the question becomes when will this come back to hurt the country?

Immediately. The U.S. loses its leadership position with the G-20 when it advocates measures that would harm those countries that followed its advice. Can any European nation risk additional stimulating or even delaying action on deficit reduction without a negative repercussion from the markets?

Bork: Kagan Not Qualified for Supreme Court
By Elisabeth Meinecke, Human Events, June 23, 2010

Judge Robert Bork said Elena Kagan’s admiration of Israeli Judge Aharon Barak is "disqualifying in and of itself" for her to sit on the Supreme Court.

Bork said Barak "may be the worst judge on the planet" because of his judicial activism and that the Israeli court under Barak was the "most activist court" he’d seen. Kagan has called Barak her judicial hero.

Bork said that if people understood that a U.S. Supreme Court nominee would follow Barak’s lead, there would be misgivings and "probably a refusal to confirm."

Soft Patch or Double-Dip?
By Larry Kudlow, National Review, June 23, 2010

The latest batch of lousy economic data took a sharp turn for the worse this morning with an awful report on new home sales for the month of May. New home sales plunged a record 33 percent to a record four-decade low. In addition, the April sales number was revised lower while inventories jumped from 5.8 months in April to 8.5. This ain’t good.

Making matters worse, existing home sales surprised on the downside yesterday with a 2 percent decline. Before that, we had big drops in housing starts and retail sales, and an upward tilt to weekly jobless claims. So it’s really no surprise that there’s a growing debate over whether we’re muddling through a soft patch, or whether a double-dip recession lies ahead. ...

As for me, I remain in the slow-growth camp. No double-dip, just slow, muddied growth. I also think an overly strong dollar — neglected by many on Wall Street — is interrupting the rate of recovery.

Medicare Havoc is Here - 50 Million Medicare Claims Get Trimmed
From ABC News, June 22, 2010

It’s been five days since Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said there would be "havoc" in America if Congress could not act to stop a 21 percent pay cut for Medicare doctors.

Congress failed to act. Havoc is here; the 50 million claims that Medicare has gotten since the beginning of June have started processing and somewhere a Medicare doctor is looking at his direct deposit transaction and shaking his fist at Uncle Sam.

Feds Halt Work on LA Sand Berms
By Jeannie DeAngelis, American Thinker, June 24 2010

Sand berms are an insurance policy meant to protect the Louisiana coastline from oil spill damage. The Louisiana sand berm venture involves moving "sand from a mile out in the Gulf of Mexico and pumping it closer in to shore to build manmade barrier islands."

Nevertheless, lacking a more formidable idea and one week into the project the federal government decided to shut "down the dredging that was being done to create protective sand berms in the Gulf of Mexico." 

Related Articles:

Judge halts Obama's oil-drilling ban
Giant oil skimmer makes stop in Norfolk on way to Gulf oil cleanup
Evangelicals and Global Warming
By Benjamin B. Phillips, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, June 23, 2010

If helping the poor in developing nations is made more difficult by the public policy proposals of evangelical environmentalists, then these policies would also undercut the traditional evangelical strategy of using social ministry to win a favorable hearing for the gospel. Drastic reductions of carbon dioxide emissions call for sacrifice on the part of both rich and poor nations. The rich however, are better able to absorb these changes with only marginal adjustments to their lifestyle. The global poor face the more difficult choice. To poor nations, the choice between electricity from expensive and/or unreliable carbon neutral sources and inexpensive, reliable fossil fuel burning sources is no choice at all. If required to build only carbon neutral power plants, which they cannot afford, they will not have power at all. The result will be continued exposure to a wide range of environmental hazards that lead to disease, malnutrition, and early death.

To hear a Western (i.e., rich!) evangelical environmentalist tell the poor that they must sacrifice the technologies that would improve the length and quality of life for them and their families in order to achieve a merely speculative benefit they will never see can only make the poor less likely to listen to the gospel that the evangelical brings. Such disillusionment will only deepen when it is realized that those evangelicals continue to enjoy the same lifesaving technologies they are effectively asking the poor to forego.

The U.S. Economy Needs Fewer Public School Jobs, Not More
By Andrew J. Coulson, Cato Institute

Teachers unions, the Obama administration, and most Democrats in Congress want to spend another $23 billion that we don’t have to shore up public school employment. If we don’t go along, they tell us, it’ll be a “catastrophe” for American education. With fewer teachers our kids will supposedly learn less, further crippling our already wounded economy. They couldn’t be more wrong.

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