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True North Archives - July 01, 2008
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Featured Articles

The Corrupt Government Squeeze on WalMart
 By John McClaughry

Simony is simply the government requiring an applicant to buy its permit with a forced contribution - an unlegislated tax - payable to some public or private organization designated by the government. This is as politically corrupt now as the Church's practice was ecclesiastically corrupt in the 16th century. ... But once the simony principle wins general acceptance, Vermont government will become as corrupt as the Church had become before Luther's challenge forced reform.

Stop the Economic Thrashing
By Jim Black

It is very frustrating to hear Senate leaders say that Vermont has the ability to influence global climate change and save polar bears, then turn around and say that they are powerless to help Vermonters cope with their own economic problems. Perhaps it is Vermonters who are being thrashed.

De-Coupling Redux
By Martin Harris

Because values haven’t dropped, State government hasn’t had to face the test the 251 Towns failed last time, when values dropped in the early 90’s and assessments didn’t because, as one political figure explained to me "the schools couldn’t afford the cuts". Now, of course, with assessments legally de-coupled from rates (unlike the time-honored traditional rule, whereby, unless spending goes up, a rise in assessment value causes a drop in tax rates) the State can choose to re-assess or not, as it pleases, and to hold the rates or change them, again as it pleases. That’s been the pattern with the last few relatively tiny drops in rates as assessment have increased by percentages up into the 40 percent range.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Wrong Gear

Rob Roper notes (06/24/08) that "Symington is the one 'stuck in nuetral'"

More like reverse, ain't it?

Jim Daley

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"We are opposed to state interference with parental rights and rights of conscience in the education of children as an infringement of the fundamental Democratic doctrine that the largest individual liberty consistent with the rights of others insures the highest type of American citizenship and the best government." -- Democratic National Platform of 1892

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Other Views On IBM
From, June 26, 2008

This is an old dodge.  Blame critics for being negative rather than arguing the merits of their case.  If our criticisms were as laughably false as the Progs and others like to say they are, then nobody would listen to them.  If this were, say, Texas – or New Hampshire – and we were arguing that taxes are too high, regulation too baroque, and the general attitude toward business too hostile, then we would be dismissed, rightly, as crackpots and nobody would pay us any attention.

Democrats’ Hostility Toward Business Hurts Vermont Families
By Rob Roper, VTGOP Press Release, June 26, 2008

Now it is Vermont’s workers and families (not to mention those in the social safety net who depend upon the tax dollars generated by these incomes) who are paying the price for Democrat’s lack of vision, misplaced priorities, and economic ignorance.

Government's Role II: Don't Give Our Children A Choice or Voice
From, June 24, 2008

We've referenced Off The Rails many times here at VT.  For those of you who have not read it, the short version is that given the changing demographics of Vermont, and the likely future path of state revenues and expenditures resulting from those demographic changes, Vermont will either have a far higher tax burden than the state has ever experienced or we will have to make significant changes in our spending and spending priorities. The U.S. faces similar problems due to promises the government has made, promises that essentially force future taxpayers to do things they never had a chance to vote on.

VT's Lawmakers Bemoan Catamount
By Daniel Barlow, Vermont Press Bureau, Rutland Herald, June 25, 2008

Lawmakers voiced frustration Tuesday that enrollments for Catamount Health, Vermont's latest insurance product aimed at reducing the number of uninsured, are far below expectations. ... Sen. Kevin Mullin, R-Rutland, also a member of the Senate's health care committee, said he believed the only way to greatly decrease the number of uninsured Vermonters would be to follow in the footsteps of states such as Massachusetts and mandate health insurance.

Related: 5 Percent of Mass. Taxpayers Uninsured, Some Fined

Related: Thinking About Health Insurance by Art Woolf

Can't Do
From, June 29, 2008

The present energy crisis drives home a depressing point – America has lost the old "can do" spirit.  There are a hundred reasons why we can't drill off the coasts, drill in Alaska, import ethanol from Brazil, build nuclear plants ... can't do anything except, perhaps, sue OPEC.  That's what we do.  We file lawsuits.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Death to al-Qaeda
The view from the Red Zone.
By Carter Andress, National Review, June 24, 2008

Iraq is central, if not the key nation, in the Arab world. Baghdad is ground zero. Not the mountains, caves, and isolation of the Afghan-Pakistani border. When Robert Baer, former CIA operative and now commentator for Time, states that "al Qaeda is an idea, a way of thinking," when he argues against our taking the war on terror to Iraq, he is right on, but not in the way he uses that statement. What is the death knell of the efficacy of an idea? When reality proves it does not work. Bin Laden himself has said the war in Iraq is central to his jihad, and we are taking him at his word here. The Muslim world sees that the al-Qaeda idea kills far more Muslims than infidels. The Muslim world sees the failure of the suicide bomber — the only significant weapon of jihadi terrorism — to force out the American Army from one of the greatest lands of Islam. The al-Qaeda idea has died a violent death on the battlefields of Iraq.

A Nuclear Hourglass
From Investor's Business Daily, June 24, 2008

Only last fall, the head of the U.N.'s nuclear "watchdog" said Iran would need three to eight years to acquire an atomic bomb. Now he says six months to a year. Is he dishonest or incompetent — or both?

Why NATO Must Win in Afghanistan: A Central Front in the War on Terrorism
By Sally McNamara, Heritage Foundation, June 23, 2008

With a catalogue of successful and thwarted al-Qaeda terrorist attacks on Britain and Europe since 9/11, it is imperative that all NATO members recommit to the mission in Afghanistan. The terrorist attacks on London and Madrid serve as stark reminders of why NATO undertook the Afghanistan mission in the first place. Europe cannot afford to underestimate the incredible momentum that Islamist extremists—at home and abroad—will gain from signs of weakness by the Alliance in Afghanistan.

Mahdi Army Decimated During Recent Fighting
By Bill Roggio, The Long Journal, June 26, 2008

The Mahdi Army suffered a significant blow during fighting against Iraqi and Coalition forces this year, according to an Iraq intelligence report. The heavy casualties suffered by the Mahdi Army have forced Muqtada al Sadr, the leader of the Mahdi Army and the Sadrist political movement, to change his tactics and disband the Mahdi Army in favor of a small, secretive fighting force.

Culturecide of the Islamic Republic of Iran
By Amil Imani, "Freedom of Iran," June 26, 2008

The intolerant monolithic Islamists are on the march, lashing out with fury at non-Islamic people and cultures. This cult of violence and death spares neither the living nor the non-living heritage of humanity: wherever and whenever it can it commits culturecide—wiping out other people’s precious cultural treasures. Not long ago, the Islamists’ destruction of the Buddha statues in Afghanistan shocked the world and exposed the savage nature of this cult of violence depravity. Yet, much more destruction on a broad range is taking place in Iran under the direction of the Islamist theocrats.

Bush Administration to Remove North Korea from Terror Watch List
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, June 25, 2008

This gives me a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach: Steve Clemons is reporting that the Bush Administration plans to remove North Korea as a state sponsor of terror. ...  One has to wonder how serious the Bush Administration is about the War on Terror. He appears to have totally caved to the striped pants crowd at the State Department - the folks who never met a thug they couldn't grovel before.

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From Elsewhere

Obama's Dry Hole
From The Wall Street Journal, June 30, 2008

To deflect the GOP effort to relax the offshore-drilling ban – and thus boost supply while demand will remain strong – Democrats also say that most of the current leases are "nonproducing." The idea comes from a "special report" prepared by the Democratic staff of the House Resources Committee, chaired by Mr. Rahall. "If we extrapolate from today's production rates on federal lands and waters," the authors write, the oil companies could "nearly double total U.S. oil production" (their emphasis).

In other words, these whiz kids assume that every acre of every lease holds the same amount of oil and gas. Yet the existence of a lease does not guarantee that the geology holds recoverable resources. Brian Kennedy of the Institute for Energy Research quips that, using the same extrapolation, the 9.4 billion acres of the currently nonproducing moon should yield 654 million barrels of oil per day.

How Will Freedom Succeed?
By The Reverend Robert A. Sirico Heritage Foundation, April 24, 2008

We must renew that critical engagement, not just with regard to the how of freedom, but also, I think, with regard to the why—the more metaphysical questions. I fear that if freedom is lost on our watch, it will be lost because we have lost the memory of its roots, and have become fascinated only with its practicality and its efficiencies.

Efficiency, of course, is important. But remember this: The fact that one can accomplish something doesn't tell us whether that thing ought to have been accomplished. We have to look deeper, and my fear is that many today live off of the legacy of that heritage without refreshing, in each age, our grasp of why freedom was born.

So Wrong, So Often, For So Long, Yet It's Europe We Want To Copy
By Thomas Sowell, Investor’s Business Daily, June 24, 2008

If Europeans have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, then we should have higher minimum wage laws and more welfare state benefits, according to such people. If Europeans restrict pharmaceutical companies' patents and profits, then we should do the same. Some justices of the U.S. Supreme Court even seem to think that they should incorporate ideas from European laws in interpreting American laws.

Before we start imitating someone, we should first find out whether the results that they get are better than the results that we get. Across a very wide spectrum, the U.S. has been doing better than Europe for a very long time.

Republic of Kennedy
By Mona Charen, National Review, June 27, 2008

Explaining why the statute violated the constitutional prohibition against "cruel and unusual" punishment, Justice Kennedy declared that, "Evolving standards of decency must embrace and express respect for the dignity of the person, and the punishment of criminals must conform to that rule." Will someone please ask Justice Kennedy and his liberal fellows this question: If it’s all a matter of "evolving standards," then why pretend to abide by a written document at all? And whose evolving standards?

As Justice Samuel Alito establishes in a devastating dissent, Kennedy distorts the historical record to bolster his claim that the U.S. is moving toward a "national consensus" against capital punishment in such cases. In point of fact, the opposite is more nearly the case, but the Court’s own previous rulings have prevented the people from fully enacting their policy preferences. "When the law punishes by death," Kennedy wrote, "it risks its own sudden descent into brutality, transgressing the constitutional commitment to decency and restraint." So that’s it. Preacher Kennedy is not comfortable. And, as Alito notes, "Although the Court has much to say on this issue, most of the Court’s discussion is not pertinent to the Eighth Amendment question at hand."

Don't Blame the Oil 'Speculators'
By Jon Birger, Fortune, June 27, 2008

Here's a suggestion: The next time a Congressional committee wants to hold a hearing on how "speculators" are driving up oil prices, each committee member should first be required to demonstrate - preferably in their opening remarks - a basic understanding of the mechanics of futures trading. ...

If our representatives did understand the oil markets, they'd know that the true telltale sign of a speculative bubble is not rising trading volumes but rising oil inventories. Speculators would be hoarding oil - building up inventories either in anticipation of higher prices or as part of a scheme to drive prices there. Yet according to the Department of Energy, U.S. oil inventories are now at below-average levels. U.S. oil stocks stand at 309 million barrels, versus 330 million in June 2005.

School Nightmare
By Alan Caruba, American Conservative Union Foundation, June 25, 2008

Today’s schools reflect the opening quote from a friend of mine, a fellow with a master’s degree in education who tried his hand at teaching and discovered that his school was a jungle of incompetent teachers, indifferent administrators, and a majority of students for whom the expectation of good behavior and a dedication to learning was laughable. And his school was every public school.

Judges Ignore Real Constitution
By Donald Devine, American Conservative Union Foundation, June 25, 2008

Even the very best judges fail to appreciate the real Constitution. It is not their fault. The document is simply ignored in law school. All they get of it is a sentence at a time followed by pages of judicial opinions about what that line really means. Lawyers rarely see the whole document. One lawbook mentioned that an outsider had read its proof copy and suggested printing the entire Constitution at the end, which it did, as if this were a radically novel idea.

The reason judges read other judges and lawyers opinions about the Constitution rather than the document itself is that judicial doctrine today holds that the Constitution is simply what judges say it is. That is what the "supremacy clause" says, right? At least that is what the judges think; so it must be so. Why bother taking the really radical step of reading it, right?

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