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True North Archives - July 22, 2008
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Featured Articles

Vermont Economy Marches on Stomach, not Heart
By Tom Licata

Land use, regulatory and tax reform are desperately needed to keep and grow business in Vermont. Given that over 75 percent of Vermont is farmed, forested or conserved, it's absurd to think that these necessary reforms would materially disrupt our "bucolic paradise." Al From, CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council said it best: "Growing the economy and creating jobs remain the best ways to fight poverty, and neither is possible with a cocoon around our economy." Vermont's private-sector job growth this past decade: 0 percent.

Vermont Needs YOU!
by Rob Roper

We’re less than two weeks away from the deadline to become a candidate, and we still have a few House and Senate seats in search of candidates. If you have ever thought of running for public office, NOW is the time to contact us.

Re-Defining School Performance
By Martin Harris

Out on the Left Coast, in The Golden State to be specific, there’s an NGO (shorthand for non-governmental organization, a typically tax-subsidized group with partial autonomy created to pursue some governmental agenda) by the name of "The Collaborative for High Performance Schools". You might be so naïf as to think that "high-performance" schools are those which produce high-performance / high-achievement students, but if so, you’d be wrong. The CHPS has just published a new set of high-performance criteria for schools in its Basic Practices Manual, and not a one of them has any connection with the primary attribute a simpleton like me might consider exemplary school performance: teaching better. Instead, every one of the criteria is architectural or urban-design. I have nothing against things architectural (unless they stray into the "crushed-tin-can" school of admire-me trendy modern design, as pioneered by one Frank Gehry, AIA) but calling them "performance" indicators is, I’d opine, a stretch. Here’s a partial list: school gardens, energy efficiency, safe neighborhood walking routes for students, net-zero energy useage, and limits on mercury.

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"I have never let my schooling interfere with my education."

-- Mark Twain

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Dubie Wants Special Session on Sex Crime Bills
By Nancy Remsen, Burlington Free Press, July 15, 2008

Lt. Gov. Brian Dubie urged Gov. Jim Douglas to convene a special session of the Legislature in 30 days to take up proposals that would strengthen Vermont laws on sex crimes. Dubie's call Monday follows the slaying of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett, who disappeared June 25. Her body was found in a shallow grave July 2.

"I know that Vermonters from every walk of life feel as I do that we need to act to protect our state's children from violent predators like those who brought young Brooke Bennett's young life to such a tragic end."

Republicans v. Democrats on the Economy
Douglas’ Sales Tax Holiday v. Symington’s Why Vermont Works

This past weekend, Vermonters enjoyed a two day break from the Vermont sales tax. The "holiday" was one part of Governor Jim Douglas’ fifteen point economic stimulus package, and was vehemently opposed by Democrat leaders. At the time Douglas proposed the holiday Gaye Symington called it a "gimmick," and later referred to it derisively as "cotton candy."

But, by all accounts the tax reprieve was a resounding success. Press reports from around the state describe merchants and customers as gleeful about record sales and big savings.

Don Mayer, owner of Small Dog Electronics, told the Burlington Free Press, "’If you want to stimulate the economy there’s no better way than to stimulate small business.’ He had doubled up on staffing at his South Burlington and Waitsfield stores …. ‘We’re doing 10 times the business we would normally do,’ he said. ‘Maybe 20 times before we’re done.’" (Burlington Free Press, 7/13/08)

"Bill Congdon, owner of Star Electric on Main Street, said it was the best weekend in his store's history. He has been in business for 43 years. ‘We've sold more in two days than we usually do in a month.’" (Burlington Free Press, 7/13/08).

It seems reality has trumped Symington’s and her party’s hard-left, ideological belief system. The sales tax holiday was good idea, well executed, and, most importantly, it got results. It also left Vermonters happy and feeling good – a welcome change in tough times.

These positive results stand in sharp contrast to Gaye Symington’s own Why Vermont Works economic "plan," which she unveiled as the 2008 legislative session opened. (Haven’t heard much about it lately? Well, that’s not surprising, as it hasn’t done or accomplished anything.)

Symington’s hatched her proposal in reaction to a Vermont Chamber of Commerce sponsored symposium for legislators. The business community reached out in an inclusive, non-partisan forum to discuss several specific areas of Vermont’s business climate that needed fixing, among them: lowering Vermont’s highest-in-the-nation taxes, permit reform, ensuring Vermont’s supply of cheap, abundant energy, and the need for more affordable housing for workers.

Symington wanted no part of this. Rather than do anything to fix these problems, she turned around and blamed the business community for our state’s economic woes by being "negative." Rep. Warren Kitzmiller, who Symington appointed to chair the House Commerce Committee, actually called the business community "myopic" for being worried about their bottom lines. Symington then trotted out Why Vermont Works, a PR scheme aimed at putting a positive spin on the status quo, while ignoring all the areas where real work needed to be done.

Needless to say, Symington and her supermajority in the legislature (which, all should remember, needed not one single Republican vote to pass and veto override anything they wanted to do) proceeded to waste the entire 2008 legislative session talking about Why Vermont Works, but doing nothing meaningful to actually make Vermont work better.

The results of Symington’s and the Democrats’ approach our economy are reflected in recent loss of Vermont Tubbs and its 90 jobs to New Hampshire. Tubbs owner Kyle Tager said, "There are lots of challenges currently with facility costs, energy costs, even local property taxes, which are certainly making it a challenge [to keep the business in Vermont]." These concerns closely echo those the Vermont’s business community laid out seven months earlier, but which Symington and her party refused to address.

Unfortunately, Tubbs has not been an isolated event. KBA in Williston decided to pull all of its 55 jobs out of Vermont in favor of Texas. Their Chief Financial Officer said, "‘We are getting more concerned about our Vermont location." (Burlington Free Press, 6/21/08) IBM cut 180 jobs from its Essex, Vermont, operation, but is reportedly investing a new $1.5 billion in Fishkill, New York. Green Mountain Coffee Roasters in expanding, but in Tennessee.

Despite witnessing the success of the sales tax holiday, Symington remains sourly grumbling: "Symington said Sunday that despite the popularity of the sales tax holiday, the state could have better used the $3 million in revenue…" (Fox 44, 7/13/08)  This is not only out of touch with the sentiment in Vermont, it’s out of touch with reality.

These two plans and governing philosophies – one positive, proactive, empowering to Vermonters with proven results; the other based on lots of talk, little action, and nothing to show for it – give Vermonters a clear choice in November regarding the direction we want our state to move.

As Governor Douglas said in his campaign kick-off speech, Vermonters want a Government that’s by their side, not on their backs. For a too short time, we had a window into how such a philosophy put in place would work. It worked well. Vote for Vermont Republicans in November, and you will see more of this sort of initiative, and more results.

A Choice Between Wrist Slapping And Mandatory Sentencing
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 19, 2008

Last week, the Caledonia County District Court news reported on a woman who has at least 10 charges of violating her probation, illegally using prescription medicines, driving drunk (three times), driving with a suspended license half a dozen times, assault (twice), theft of services, and retail theft. She has yet to do hard time.

In another reported case, a young man was arrested for driving a car with phony license plates and a phony inspection sticker, for having no insurance and no license, and driving with a suspended license for the seventh time. He got 59-60 days on pre-approved furlough.

This is the rule in Vermont courts. Between Nov. 1 and Nov. 15, 2007, Caledonia County District Court heard and passed sentence upon 41 lawbreakers who pleaded or were found guilty of 51 charges, both felonies and misdemeanors. They were sentenced to a total of: minimum of 153 months to maximum of 344 months. They had their sentences reduced to a total of 54 months to serve. One defendant served 48 of them; the other 40 guilty defendants served only six hours total.

IBM In New York
From, July 16, 2008

So ... what are we hearing about the economic future of the state?  What plans and initiatives for taking Vermont where it needs to go are being put forward for debate?  Who has an idea for what we will do to replace the economic activity generated by our small sliver of the IBM pie when it goes away – as it inevitably will?

A Taste Of Freedom
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 15, 2008

This weekend had a festive, carnival-like feel to it, with Vermonters turning out in droves to go shopping. They seemed to exude the carefree, happy optimism of domestic animals, who are used to being in the harness or penned behind a fence and suddenly get loose. Not used to the freedom, they are rambunctious and high-spirited. They know the freedom is temporary, but they are going to enjoy it while they can. The happy occasion was the Vermont sales tax holiday that took place Saturday and Sunday. Vermonters could enjoy the tax freedom our neighbors to the east enjoy every day of the year.

The Culture Of "Can't Do"
From, July 15, 2008

The initiative, however, is handicapped by its parentage. Seems it was put forward by (hide the children) the Republicans. Which might explain why it hasn't made much news.  Also why the legislature's Joint Fiscal Committee has not even deigned to consider the proposal. So ... as it turns out, somebody is actually coming forward with proposals for doing something about the problems facing the state and, in this case, one of  the most compelling of those problems.  But those behind the proposal lack the proper pedigree and, thus, their proposal is ignored by the party in power.  And also, it should be said, by the press that carries that party's water.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

If You Want Something Done Right, Do It Yourself
By Rick Moran, American Thinker July 16 2008

Don't look now but Pakistan is apparently about to be in for a very rude awakening. After years of frustration in dealing with the Paksistani's reluctance to go after the Taliban and al-Qaeda sanctuaries along the border with Afghanistan, the US may finally be ready to violate the territorial integrity of their extremely difficult ally and go in themselves to destroy those bases.

Al Qaeda's Market Crash
By Ralph Peters, New York Post, July 19, 2008

In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, Osama bin Laden was the darling of the Arab street, seen as the most successful Muslim in centuries. The Saudi royal family paid him protection money, while individual princes handed over cash willingly: Al Qaeda seemed like the greatest thing since the right to abuse multiple wives. Osama appeared on T-shirts and his taped utterances were awaited with fervent excitement. Recruits flocked to al Qaeda not because of "American aggression," but because, after countless failures, it looked like the Arabs had finally produced a winner. What a difference a war makes....

Where do Osama & Co. stand today? They're not welcome in a single Arab country. The Saudi royals not only cut off their funding, but cracked down hard within the kingdom. A few countries, such as Yemen, tolerate radicals out in the boonies - but they won't let al Qaeda in. Osama's reps couldn't even get extended-stay rooms in Somalia, beyond the borders of the Arab world. And the Arab in the (dirty) street is chastened. Instead of delivering a triumph, al Qaeda brought disaster, killing far more Arabs through violence and strife than Israel has killed in all its wars. Nobody in the Arab world's buying al Qaeda shares at yesterday's premium - and only a last few suckers are buying at all. Guess what? We won.

600 U.S. Taliban?
From Investor's Business Daily, July 18, 2008

All told, 600 American children are being indoctrinated into jihad in 22 madrassas across Pakistan. A U.S. filmmaker stumbled on them while tracing the path of the London suicide bombers. He discovered they attended the same radical Islamic schools. A congressional delegation has confirmed his findings.

From Universal Empire to the World State
By Chantal Delsol, Intercollegiate Studies Institute, July 16, 2008

Until the eighteenth century, therefore, the idea of a thoroughly universal unity was limited on one hand by the relative modesty of the actual imperial territory and the great extent of the surrounding world, and on the other by the restriction of its rule to spiritual ends by the Christian community. With the French Revolution, we see the two ideas combined for the first time. What emerged was the notion of a world government deployed throughout the entire earth with all the prerogatives of what Christians called "temporal government."

The French revolutionaries demanded the abolition of borders and their replacement by a universal republic: "The division of the human race into different peoples is like feudal anarchy . . . and two sovereigns on the earth are as absurd as two gods in heaven" wrote Anacharsis Cloots, who also spoke of his "aversion to the fragmentation of the world." As we will see, the denial of diversity is rooted in the absolute certainty that only one right way of life exists.

Where’s the ACLU on This One?
By Baron Bodissey, The Gates of Vienna, July 17, 2008

The State Department is selling a "Mosques of America" calendar. Yep, you read that correctly. It’s "perfect for Muslim outreach efforts". Since Islam is not really a religion, but a political ideology, the government’s sale of an Islamocentric calendar evidently doesn’t violate the separation of church and state. It’s like selling photos of local Democratic Party Headquarters..

Muslim Moles
From Investor's Business Daily, July 10, 2008

In a sign background checks are far too lax, an alarming number of Arabs and Muslims have landed sensitive government jobs only to be caught later spying for the enemy.

Obama, The Democrats, And The Surge
By Peter Wehner, The Weekly Standard, July 18, 2008

Rarely has a political party been so uniformly wrong, in such an obvious way, on such an important matter. And when Americans cast their vote on November 4, they should carefully consider how Barack Obama and the entire Democratic party fought ferociously and relentlessly to undermine a policy that has worked extraordinarily well and may yet prove to be among the most successful military plans in modern times.

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From Elsewhere

Bush Says Drill, Drill, Drill — and Oil Drops $9!
By Larry Kudlow, National Review, July 15, 2008

In a dramatic move yesterday President Bush removed the executive-branch moratorium on offshore drilling. Today, at a news conference, Bush repeated his new position, and slammed the Democratic Congress for not removing the congressional moratorium on the Outer Continental Shelf and elsewhere. Crude-oil futures for August delivery plunged $9.26, or 6.3 percent, almost immediately as Bush was speaking, bringing the barrel price down to $136.

Now isn’t this interesting?

Democrats keep saying that it will take 10 years or longer to produce oil from the offshore areas. And they say that oil prices won’t decline for at least that long. And they, along with Obama and McCain, bash so-called oil speculators. And today we had a real-world example as to why they are wrong. All of them. Reid, Pelosi, Obama, McCain — all of them.

Our ‘Horrible’ Economy
By Michael Novak, National Review, July 17 2008

A republic like the United States simply must defeat envy, and focus on a better future for each family. The only way that can be accomplished is by reasonably consistent and gently upward economic growth. Growth is the necessary condition for the pursuit by each of his own happiness. A happy society is a more generous and loving society. In this light, the U.S. — with a growing GDP from the year 2000 until today, along with a steady growth in the number (and percentage) of people employed — is better off than almost all nations in Europe. Whatever else is happening in the U.S. economy today, these are very good indicators.

Wealth Grows in the Desert
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., The Acton Institute, July 16, 2008

With the credit crunch and oil prices continuing to shake economies across the globe, the world's more prominent financial centers, most notably Wall Street and the City of London, have lost much of their luster.

From Geneva to Hong Kong, thousands working in financial industries have lost their jobs. Banks, hedge funds, and private equity groups continue to downgrade their profit forecasts and write off massive losses. Such is the price of poor investment decisions, loose monetary policy by central banks, and a casual attitude toward debt by consumers, businesses, and governments alike in North America and Western Europe.

Amidst the gloom, however, a dim light is beginning to shine in an unexpected place. Most people associate places such as Dubai, Qatar, Abu Dhabi, and Bahrain with oil. Rather fewer think of these locations -- in the very heart of the Arabic and Islamic worlds -- as emerging financial centers.

Do As They Say
From Investor's Business Daily, July 18, 2008

Unwilling to allow any expansion of drilling in American territory, Democrats are instead focused on changing American lifestyles. It's consistent with the goals of the party that wants to run everyone's lives.

Uncle Sam Can Bail Out Fannie, But Who'll Bail Out Uncle Sam?
By Nicole Gelinas, Investor's Business Daily, July 18, 2008

So the government has put the taxpayer in an unenviable position. If home prices continue to fall, the government's explicit backing of Fannie and Freddie, into the trillions, imperils the sterling credit rating of the Treasury itself. That exacerbates the stress of looming obligations for baby boomers' Social Security and Medicare benefits.

If Fannie and Freddie were isolated cases, the situation would be bad enough. But the squeeze gets worse. The government has spent the past six months creating mini-Fannies and mini-Freddies out of the nation's risk-taking investment banks.

Does It Have To Take A Decade To Bring New Crude To Market?
By Monica Showalter, Investor's Business Daily, July 18 2008

Polls show most Americans favoring opening federal lands and offshore areas to energy production. As it stands, 97% of our offshore areas and 94% of our federal lands are off limits. President Bush raised the likelihood that that could change with his lifting of the federal moratorium on offshore drilling. But he's been opposed by Congress, which argues it will simply take too long — as much as 10 years or more — for the new oil to come to market to do any good.

That doesn't appear to be true. To begin with, industry analysts note, much of the drilling delay is self-inflicted — a result of excessively stringent environmental and land-use regulations. Scrap those, or modify them, and new oil can be produced in far less than 10 years.

Disproof of Global Warming Hype Published
From Men's News Daily, July 18 2008

A mathematical proof that there is no "climate crisis" has been published in debate on global warming in a major scientific journal; Physics and Society, a scientific publication of the 46,000-strong American Physical Society.

Christopher Monckton, who once advised Margaret Thatcher, demonstrates via 30 equations that computer models used by the UN’s climate panel (IPCC) were pre-programmed with overstated values for the three variables whose product is "climate sensitivity" (temperature increase in response to greenhouse-gas increase), resulting in a 500-2000% overstatement of CO2’s effect on temperature in the IPCC’s latest climate assessment report, published in 2007.

The Audacity Of Vanity
By Charles Krauthammer, The Washington Post, July 18, 2008

For the first few months of the campaign, the question about Obama was: Who is he? The question now is: Who does he think he is?

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