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True North Archives - July 21, 2009
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The Dead Keeping Vermont Alive
By James Ehlers

Usually people are saddened when they hear of another’s passing. Not here. We celebrate. Not openly, of course. That is tacky. We disguise our glee with a few token words of feigned sorrow, but, hey, $13 million is $13 million. And $13 million is the sum that landed in politicians’ laps recently just when they could not agree how to keep our state fiscally alive due to a lack of funds and an unwillingness to slow spending. Plugging a budget hole, it seems, is just the tonic for coping with the loss of a fellow Vermonter. 

Indecent Proposal
By Martin Harris

A recent event in Somerset and Glastonbury (sometimes, recently, spelled with an "e") brings to mind, if your memory span is relatively short, the 1993 movie in which an upper-income-quintile (trophy?) -wife agrees to engage in seduction with a playboy for a million dollars. The theme – what’ll you sell your honor for?--  was first put to print in a 1988 novel by one Jack Englhard. If your memory span is a bit longer, you’ll recall that many years earlier, the same theme was discussed in the form of a college campus joke: BMOC invites co-ed to an overnight dalliance for a million; she agrees, he drops the offer to a sawbuck, she angrily refuses with a rhetorical "what do you think I am?" and he replies with "We’ve already settled that question; now we’re just discussing price". It’s not a perfect analogy, but I’d opine that the legal-but-not-ethical confiscation, by the State, of collected-but-not-spent monies taxed from property owners in those two unincorporated towns demonstrates that the posted price of virtue-loss in Montpelier is a mere $400,000, less than a thousandth of the total State budget of $4.4 billion. In this case, it isn’t merely an "Indecent Proposal" presumably consummated with mutual consent, but an actual unilateral indecent action, backed by the full and ultimately lethal power of the State. 

Is Left Wing Media Bias Real?
By Rob Roper

Of course, Republicans are immediately labeled paranoid and delusional for suggesting such a thing. Even after CBS reporter Carl Cannon's recent admission "We Took Sides, Straight and Simple"  and Bernard Goldberg's book "A Slobbering Love Affair" describing in minute detail the, well, slobbering love relationship, tingly legs and all, the media has with Barack Obama, it's still "all in our heads," right?

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NEA Union Official Admits Promoting Union Is More Important Than Improving Education. —

"This is not to say that the concern of NEA and its affiliates with closing achievement gaps, reducing dropout rates, improving teacher quality, and the like are unimportant or inappropriate. To the contrary, these are the goals that guide the work we do. But they need not and must not be achieved at the expense of due process, employee rights, and collective bargaining. That simply is too high a price to pay. When all is said and done, NEA and its affiliates must never lose sight of the fact that they are unions, and what unions do first and foremost is represent their members."

-- (NEA General Counsel Bob Chanin, Farewell Address to the National Education Association's annual Representative Assembly, 7/6/09)

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Vermont Unemployment Rate (7.1 percent) Falls, But So Do Jobs
From, July 17, 2009

The Vermont Department of Labor announced today that the seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for June 2009 was 7.1 percent, down 0.3 tenths of a point from the revised May rate and up 2.6 points from a year ago.  When seasonally adjusted, June job levels fell by 1,200 or -0.4% from May. Only the Construction sector, (+300 or +2.2%) and Health Care, (+200 or +0.4%) showed any over the month seasonally adjusted growth. Manufacturing, Leisure and Hospitality and Administrative Support & Waste were the largest job losers, shedding 500, 300 and 300 jobs respectively.
Newscast/Pix of the Burlington Healthcare Rally

A Clip of the rally in Burlington opposing the Obama Health Care plan.

Rules for Thee, Not Me
From Vermont Tiger July 19, 2009

I notice that on Senator Sanders' website there's no mention of his voting "Nay" in requiring all Senators and staff enroll in the "public option" health care plan that's currently under discussion, if and when it materializes.  In other words, the Senator is quite happy to ram government-mandated health care down his constituents' throats (at an economy-destroying cost), but is unwilling himself to sign up for this solution to a long-simmering outrage of inequality and, well, you know the rest. 

What Took So Long?
Caledonia Record Editorial, Jul 18, 2009

Here we are. It's the middle of July. The Vermont Legislature convened Jan. 6 and adjourned on May 9. Two months after adjourning, House Speaker Shap Smith has said the state should look for $30 million in savings in the coming year by designing a more efficient government.

Where was he during the legislative session? The process of belt-tightening should have started in January. 

Weekend Thoughts
Agreeing with the Toms – Salmon & Jefferson.
From Vermont Tiger, July 17, 2009

It is rare to find a Vermont Democrat espousing fiscal responsibility.  Thus, it was very refreshing to read Montpelier Report by Thomas Salmon, our state auditor, in the July 2 edition of The Vermont Standard.  Mr. Salmon, who has been on active duty in Iraq, returned to find, to his dismay, a dysfunctional Legislature hell-bent on passing a budget which failed to face reality, and imposed new taxes on already overtaxed Vermonters. 

VSEA Mathematics
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 14, 2009

The Vermont State Employees Union, VSEA, is now claiming that Vermont lost $4 million of federal money by laying off 132 employees. In a masterpiece of false reasoning, Conor Casey, VSEA legislative coordinator, asserts that keeping those employees would have saved the lost federal money. He neatly avoids acknowledging that keeping them would have cost Vermont about $13 million more by continuing to pay them Vermont's share of their salaries. The VSEA's cockeyed math adds up to this ridiculous equation. Spend $13 million of our money to save $4 million of our money.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Attack on Iran to Include Ground Forces
By Dr. Sam Vakin, Intenrational Analyst Network, July 16, 2009

An eventual attack on Iran may include ground forces. Units of Sayeret Matka"l ("Headquarters Scouts", Israel's elite special forces) have been transferred to the mock in Biq'at Hayareach ("Moon Vale"), not far from Eilat. They have spent the last few weeks training there: parachuting, paragliding, urban warfare (laba"b in Hebrew), and hand to hand combat. Special emphasis is placed on explosives. The area is isolated (it got its name from its eerie similarity to the moonscape), but various civilian suppliers have reported massive explosions during the day.

Intel Centres to Keep Tabs on China's Missiles, Navy
By Sachin Parashar, The Times of India, July 18, 2009

Stung by China's aggressive posturing, including its deployment of missiles in Delingha near Tibet, and other increasingly hostile activities in India's neighbourhood, the Cabinet Committee on Security is considering a proposal to set up separate centres for nuclear or missile intelligence and maritime security. In fact, with strong backing by National Security Advisor M K Narayanan, the CCS, which is still smarting under the Chinese `aggression', is all set to give the go-ahead to the proposal.

Iranian Protesters Galvanized by Sermon
By Borzou Daragahi and Ramin Mostaghim, The LA Times, July 18, 2009

Reporting from Tehran and Beirut -- A sermon by powerful cleric and opposition supporter Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani reignited Iran's simmering protest movement Friday, heartening thousands of supporters who braved tear gas and club-wielding militiamen to march and chant slogans across Tehran.

Why the restless Chinese are Warming to Russia's Frozen East
By David Blair, Telegraph UK, July 16, 2009

The endless silver birch forests of the Russian Far East might appear so desolate and windswept that no one could possibly be interested in them. Yet the vast swath of territory between Lake Baikal and Vladivostok may become a new theatre of confrontation between Russia and China in the decades ahead.

For now, the two giant neighbours have been thrust together by their shared suspicion of America and they cooperate as tactical allies, working in the United Nations Security Council to contain Washington's power. But this affinity is based on little more than having the same rival. The empty lands of the Russian Far East, far closer to Beijing than Moscow, contain major sources of tension between the two powers.

Decoding the Language of Jihad
By Brig Barker, Middle East Quarterly, Summer 2009

Local law enforcement is the first line of defense to counterterrorism in the United States. The task of recognizing and identifying terrorists in the local jurisdiction is, however, challenging. While law enforcement officers are trained to respond to suicide bomb attacks or other terrorist events, little training and few resources are available for the preventative and preemptive side of security work. Preemption is controversial and carries inherent risk. However, it may also prove to be the most effective form of protection in the frenetic and ambiguous world of terrorism,[1] and so the question remains: What are the flags and indicators that suggest someone is involved in terrorism-related activities?

UN Calls for Overthrow of Free Market Ideology
By Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, Telegraph UK, July 16, 2009

The United Nations has called for a return to state-led "industrial policy" for poorer countries in what amounts to a rejection of the free-market thinking that has dominated global institutions for the last 30 years.

Related: Europe Thumps U.S., Again: First lower taxes, now freer trade

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From Elsewhere

The Pope, the Rabbi, and the Moral Economy
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, July 15, 2009

In our oh-so-secular age, it’s paradoxical that religious leaders’ pronouncements on subjects ranging from marriage to markets invariably receive considerable media attention. This makes it even more surprising that no one seems to have noticed the parallels between Benedict’s XVI’s encyclical, Caritas in Veritate, released on July 7th, and a provocative op-ed written by Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Lord Jonathan Sacks, in the London Times two weeks earlier.

Palin Showing Her 'Serious Side' With Obama Critique
Prominent Republicans have criticized Sarah Palin for failing to join the national debate.
By Kenneth T. Walsh, U.S. News and World Report, July 16, 2009

Palin, who was the GOP vice presidential nominee last year and remains the subject of intense fascination as a possible presidential candidate in 2012, criticized President Obama for proposing a "cap and trade" system for limiting carbon emissions. Palin wrote that the Obama plan is "an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage." In addition to boosting energy costs, Palin argued that the plan would increase unemployment in the energy industry. She said the answer is to "responsibly tap the resources that God created right underfoot on American soil" while at the same time protecting the environment.

Prominent Republicans in Washington have criticized Palin for failing to join the national debate on major issues since last year's campaign, but her essay suggested that she will now become much more vocal.

North Dakota Could Have a Huge New Oil Field?
By James MacPherson, Associated Press, July 14, 2009

Dozens of fruitful wells beneath the rich Bakken shale in North Dakota continue to fuel a hunch among oilmen and geologists that another vast crude-bearing formation may be buried in the state's vast oil patch. Lynn Helms, director of the state Department of Mineral Resources, said recent production results from 103 newly tapped wells in the Three Forks-Sanish formation show many that are "as good or better" than some in the Bakken, which lies two miles under the surface in western North Dakota and holds billions of barrels of oil.

Zogby Poll: Most Americans Want Strengths and Weaknesses of Darwinism Taught In Schools
By Christopher Neef, CNS News, July 13, 2009

A Zogby poll commissioned by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute says more than three-quarters of Americans would like teachers to have the freedom to discuss both the strengths and weaknesses of Darwinian evolution, with an even higher number reported among Democrats.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg and a Question of Eugenics
By Jonah Goldberg, Jewish World Review, July 15, 2009

Here's what Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said in Sunday's New York Times Magazine: "Frankly I had thought that at the time (Roe v. Wade) was decided," Ginsburg told her interviewer, Emily Bazelon, "there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don't want to have too many of."

The Culture Wars' New Front: U.S. History Classes in Texas
By Stephanie Simon, The Wall Street Journal, July 10, 2009

The fight over school curriculum in Texas, recently focused on biology, has entered a new arena, with a brewing debate over how much faith belongs in American history classrooms.

The Texas Board of Education, which recently approved new science standards that made room for creationist critiques of evolution, is revising the state's social studies curriculum. In early recommendations from outside experts appointed by the board, a divide has opened over how central religious theology should be to the teaching of history.

The New Old 'Card Check'
Labor's top priority isn't dead yet.
From The Wall Street Journal, July 20, 2009

Politicians don't typically broadcast their defeat, and when they do it pays to watch for the blindside hit. That's surely the case with last week's reports that six liberal Senators are abandoning part of labor's top priority, "card check" legislation.

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