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True North Archives - July 28, 2009
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Puritan Contribution to New England Liberty
By Bruce Shields

In summary, the Puritans insisted that, because God created humans as unique individuals each endowed with reason, every person must be heard on public issues. That insistence on the unique personality of individuals is very directly to be viewed as the source of political liberty.   The New England insistence on functional equality infuriated people with more aristocratical views in other colonies, such as James Fenimore Cooper in New York, and thinkers of many other strands of American thought have been offended by the practical egalitarianism of New England’s Puritan tradition.  But to imagine American democracy without a base in Puritanism is hard.

Health Care Questions for Your Congressperson
By John McClaughry

Vermont’s three Members of Congress will be home next week for a month-long recess. This will provide an excellent opportunity for citizens to query them on the subject of the Obama-Kennedy-House Democrat health care bill

There are actually three huge bills under intense development. The Democrats’ game is to cobble together some collection of provisions that will attract enough votes to pass their respective chambers. Then in the House-Senate conference, their leadership and the Obama Administration will reshape the package into what they want, and twist arms until enough Democrats agree to vote to enact it

Here are twelve questions that concerned citizens should pose to their Congresspersons:

Penumbras and Emanations
By Martin Harris

"Penumbras and emanations", you recall, is the phrase invented by SCOTUS Justice William Douglas to explain his judicial view that the US Constitution fails to say, in print, all that it really, really, means to say. Even though there’s no explicit "right to privacy" in the Constitution (in contrast to the explicitly-stated Second Amendment "right to bear arms") Justice Douglas found his desired "right to privacy" in the context of the 1965 Griswold v. Connecticut case, by imagining what he knew the Founders really meant, but failed to say, in other Constitutional sections like the Fourth Amendment, which bans "unreasonable searches and seizures". In the Douglas doctrine, radiating from the Fourth Amendment are gamma-ray force-fields which, although invisible to the not-legally-trained eye, can be seen by experts such as he, enabling him to prescribe from such skillfully interpreted emanation, say, a "right to privacy" every bit as explicit as if the Founders had spelled it out themselves, with their own goose-feather-quill pens. In the Griswold case, the SCOTUS used the penumbras and emanations thesis to deny Connecticut the right to prohibit the sale of contraceptives within its borders; but presently, in the view of SCOTUS Justrix-in-Waiting Sonya Sotomayor, the same invisible legal-force-energy-ray enables the Nutmeg (and any other) State to disregard the Second Amendment, if it sees fit to do so. Similarly, although Griswold was an argument about contraceptive use by married couples, the penumbras and emanations argument has now radiated into another arena of human activity: planning and zoning. Consider, for example, US Route 7 in Ferrisburgh. 

Democrats Wanted this Budget, They Should Fix It
By Rob Roper

It wasn't long ago that Senate President Pro Tem Peter Shumlin and House Speaker Shap Smith led (and where necessary browbeat and cajoled) their Democrat/Progressive "supermajorities" into passing in lockstep their version of a state budget. They did this over the veto of Governor Douglas and the objections of every Republican and elected Independent in the House. The announcement on July 17th of yet another revenue downgrade, this time a $23 million decrease, and the need for yet another budget adjustment downward demonstrates just how disconnected from reality and unsustainable the Democrat leadership and its policies really are.

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"The U.S. Mint honored Abe Lincoln Friday with a new image of him on the penny. It shows him sitting on a log as a young man, studying a textbook. The teachers' union is angry at the mint for advertising that you can get a better education without them."  --humorist Argus Hamilton

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

UVM Scientists Create 'Hedonometer' to Measure Happiness
From, July 23 2009

Of course, there is an ocean of philosophical questions to swim when trying to understand happiness. Though people regularly rank happiness as what they want most in life, what is it, really? Plato argued that achieving happiness was our true goal in life but recent studies suggest many people are bad at doing what makes them happy. Why? And what of the Buddhist perspective that all life is suffering? Is happiness simply a feeling?

Though Francis Edgeworth hoped to measure happiness, "exactly according to the verdict of consciousness," all science has to work with today are the tracings of a mind, not a literal mind-probe. New techniques in neuroscience seem to be moving closer to such a tool, but "we don't know what is going on in people's heads, really," says Dodds.

Ira Crowd Largely Opposes Wind Farm
By Gordon Dritschilo, Rutland Herald, July 22, 2009

The president and spokesman of Vermont Community Wind Farm stood before a crowd of about 80 people for more than two hours in Ira's Town Hall. The company wants to build an 80-megawatt wind farm in and around Ira and requested the meeting with townspeople. ...

Much of the feedback amounted to "go away." People in the audience held up signs opposing the project. David Potter, who represents part of Ira in the Legislature, even objected to the company's name.

Socialism In One City
From Vermont Tiger, July 26, 2009

Recent editorials relating to the City of Burlington finances point to a larger issue – the results of 25 years of progressive/socialistic governance and what it has produced.

For those Vermonters curious about the future if the state’s gradual slide into Burlington type socialism continues, it would be instructive to examine the present state of affairs in the city.

Cost Control, Not Cost Shift
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 25, 2009

As President Barack Obama urges Congress to pass some form of government health care, it appears the focus is once again in the wrong place.

Health care reform, whether it's in the Vermont Legislature or in Congress, seems to focus on who is going to pay the bill. The focus should be on the escalating cost of health care. Let's find out what drives health care costs, why they're are so high and how costs can be controlled.

Alarms and Diversion
From Vermont Tiger, July 25, 2009

It appears that many Vermonters are having second thoughts on the budget passed by our Legislature over Governor Douglas’ veto.   First, the state auditor, Thomas Salmon, a Democrat, strongly criticized the unsustainable course our state is on, with expenses far outpacing income. 

More recently, an op-ed piece in the July 12 Burlington Free Press by Geoffrey B. Shields, president, dean and professor of law at Vermont Law School, strongly criticizes the tax burden imposed on Vermonters by our Legislature.  He notes that Vermont ranks among the five states in the nation with the highest tax burden. 

Early Retirement Incentive Programs
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 23, 2009

Gov. Jim Douglas's administration has offered an early retirement option to Vermont state workers. Three hundred of those who apply by a date certain for early retirement will be granted their wish with the incentive benefits that come with the program. Already, more than 1,000 state employees have applied. ...

The problem is that the program on the table is too limited. There are more than a thousand employees who would like to retire early. Only 300 will be allowed to. Why only 300? Saving three hundred salaries won't nearly maximize the savings that a real early retirement program could. Why not accept all one thousand who are ready to leave their posts? Not one of them would complain. Rather, they would all depart with smiles on their faces.

Socialism In One City
Burlington Is the Future and It Doesn't Work
By Rich Tarrant, Vermont Tiger, July 27, 2009

Recent editorials relating to the City of Burlington finances point to a larger issue – the results of 25 years of progressive/socialistic governance and what it has produced.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Iran: "Death to Russia" at Friday Prayer
By Hamid Tehrani al, Global Voices, July 17, 2009

Traditionally at Friday Prayer, people are encouraged to chant "Death to America" and "Death to Israel" but today, they defiantly shouted "Death to Russia", in referring to opposition accusations that Russia has been involved in training repression forces of the regime.

In the following video, recorded from a short distance of the outdoor gathering, you can hear a male voice over the loudspeaker screaming "Death to America", "Death to the hypocrites" and "Death to England", while the crowd roars "Death to Russia!" in response EVERY time.

Iraqi Leader May ask U.S. to Prolong Stay
Says needs will be reassessed in 2011.
By Eli Lake, Washington Times, July 24, 2009

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said for the first time Thursday that Iraq may ask U.S. troops to stay in his country beyond a previously agreed 2011 deadline for withdrawal.

While Iraqi and American military figures have spoken privately about a longer-term presence in part to maintain U.S. military equipment ordered by Iraq, the Iraqi prime minister has not previously acknowledged this publicly. When U.S. combat troops exited Iraqi cities last month under the terms of a Status of Forces Agreement, Mr. al-Maliki declared a national holiday to celebrate the milestone toward full Iraqi sovereignty.

Victory Is So Yesterday
By Abe Greenwald, Commentary Magazine, July 24, 2009

Is this language befitting a wartime commander-in-chief?

President Obama has put securing Afghanistan near the top of his foreign policy agenda, but "victory" in the war-torn country isn’t necessarily the United States’ goal, he said Thursday in a TV interview.

"I’m always worried about using the word ‘victory,’ because, you know, it invokes this notion of Emperor Hirohito coming down and signing a surrender to MacArthur," Obama told ABC News.

The enemy facing U.S. and Afghan forces isn’t so clearly defined, he explained.

"We’re not dealing with nation states at this point. We’re concerned with al Qaeda and the Taliban, al Qaeda’s allies," he said. "So when you have a non-state actor, a shadowy operation like al Qaeda, our goal is to make sure they can’t attack the United States."

So victory itself is now an outdated construct — like ideology or, heaven forbid, American exceptionalism. If the president thinks that asymmetric war precludes victory, then the U.S., in his estimation, is likely never to win a war again.

Iran: Recent Developments and Implications for U.S. Policy
By Michael Rubin, House Foreign Affairs Committee, July 22, 2009

Secretary Clinton is correct to note the challenges the Islamic Republic poses, but is incorrect to blame her predecessors rather than the Islamic Republic itself for the failure of diplomacy. It is a myth that the United States has not engaged Iran. Every administration since Jimmy Carter's has engaged the Islamic Republic. During the 1980 presidential campaign, Ronald Reagan criticized the Carter administration's diplomacy toward Iran but then, faced with his own Iranian-instigated hostage crisis, also sought to offer incentives. During his inaugural address, George H.W. Bush extended an olive branch to Iran. "Good will begets good will. Good faith can be a spiral that endlessly moves on," he declared. Days later, he clarified, "I don't want to…think that the status quo has to go on forever. There was a period of time when we had excellent relations with Iran." Bush offered an olive branch with the promise of better relations upon the release of the hostages, but refused to make concessions or offer incentives, even as prominent foreign policy voices like Rep. Lee Hamilton, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on the Middle East, urged him "to send some kind of gesture." The Supreme Leader dismissed Bush's initiative, however. "Iran does not need America," he told Tehran radio.

Family Charged in Possible Honour Killings of Montreal Women in Kingston
By Paul Cherry, The Gazette, July 24 2009

Mohammad Shafia, 56, his wife Tooba Mohammad Yahya, 39, and their eldest son, Hamed Shafia, 18, all face first-degree murder charges in the deaths, which came to light last month after a Nissan Sentra was discovered in the canal near the Kingston Mills Locks. Conspiracy charges filed at the Kingston courthouse Thursday reveal investigators believe plans to commit the killings were hatched as far back as May 1, long before the family travelled to Niagara Falls. The deaths occurred during the return trip to Montreal. ...

A relative of the couple has told reporters she believes the murders were carried out as so-called honour killings. Kingston police confirmed Thursday that 50-year-old Rona Amir Mohammad was Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, and that he was also married to Yahya. A person claiming to be a relative sent an anonymous email to The Gazette alleging that Shafia was "disgraced" by his daughters’ behaviour in Canada and that he wanted his first wife to return to Afghanistan while hiding the fact they were married. The author of the email said Shafia married Yahya as his second wife because Mohammad could not have children. The person also wrote that just before leaving for the family’s fateful trip to Niagara Falls, Rona Amir Mohammad expressed surprise, to relatives abroad, at being included in Shafia’s vacation plans.

Tired Of Losers
From Investor's Business Daily, July 20, 2009

War On Terror: Defense Secretary Robert Gates says both our forces and the American people are "tired" of the Afghan war. What they're really tired of is defeatists put in charge of running wars.

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From Elsewhere

Walking Away When You Can Pay
By Kelsey VanOverloop, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, July 22 2009

Some of the promises our government has made in the last few months about "helping people keep their homes" may actually worsen the housing crisis.

New proposals ignore the real danger associated with "strategic default," when homeowners decide to stop paying their mortgage, even though they have enough money to make payments. The Obama administration is working to lower monthly mortgage payments, but as a recent study conducted at the University of Chicago points out, it is not necessarily high payments but negative equity in homes that drives default.

In the study, researchers found that "individuals who think the government should help homeowners who cannot make their mortgage payments are 12 percentage points less likely than the average homeowner to say strategic default is morally wrong." The same study states that "26 percent of existing defaults are strategic."

Peer-Reviewed Study Rocks Climate Debate!
'Nature not man responsible for recent global warming...little or none of late 20th century warming and cooling can be attributed to humans' 
From Climate Depot, July 22, 2009

Three Australasian researchers have shown that natural forces are the dominant influence on climate, in a study just published in the highly-regarded Journal of Geophysical Research. According to this study little or none of the late 20th century global warming and cooling can be attributed to human activity.

The research, by Chris de Freitas, a climate scientist at the University of Auckland in New Zealand, John McLean (Melbourne) and Bob Carter (James Cook University), finds that the El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) is a key indicator of global atmospheric temperatures seven months later. As an additional influence, intermittent volcanic activity injects cooling aerosols into the atmosphere and produces significant cooling.

"The surge in global temperatures since 1977 can be attributed to a 1976 climate shift in the Pacific Ocean that made warming El Niño conditions more likely than they were over the previous 30 years and cooling La Niña conditions less likely" says corresponding author de Freitas.

Will Obamacare Kill HSAs?
By Ryan Ellis, American Shareholders, July 24, 2009

Any HDHP which is this generous would have very little premium savings relative to a tradtional health insurance plan.  If the typical HDHP today shaves about 33 percent off your premium, a plan like this might only shave off about 10 percent.  There would be very little incentive to get an HSA-qualified insurance plan.

Rhodes Scholar Bobby Jindal Schools CNN's John Roberts
By Mike Sargent NewsBusters July 21, 2009

John Roberts, on the July 21 edition of American Morning, appeared to expect Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal to turn in a weak performance on the issue of health care.  Hilarity ensued, as Jindal, who turned down Harvard Medical and Yale Law for a Rhodes scholarship at Oxford, proved to be anything but a pushover.

Deficit Deceit
From Investor's Business Daily, July 20, 2009

Fiscal Policy: What do you do when you have bad news that could affect what you're doing? Why, delay it, of course. Which is exactly what the White House is doing right now with the midsession budget estimate.

The Lowdown on Crude Keynesianism
Keynesian "economists" push a second stimulus.
By William Anderson, Foundation for Economic Education

As the economy goes south, we hear calls for a "second stimulus," most prominently from Paul Krugman, the Nobel-prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist. To argue against further accumulation of government debt and the printing of new money, according to Krugman, is to fall back on "discredited" economic thinking: 

...The Keynesian economic "theology" holds that only spending matters. Keynesians believe that it does not matter who does the spending, although it is preferable for government to do it, since politicians love to buy votes with other people’s money.

Some Inconvenient Truths About Medicare and the New 'Public Plan'
By Regina E. Herzlinger, Harvard Business School, Real Clear Politics, July 25, 2009

The fundamental problem with health care reform is the absence of realistic plans to reduce unit costs. Without cost controls , tens of millions of newly-insured people will further cripple U.S. global competitiveness, which is already grievously injured because the U.S. spends roughly 70 percent more on health care, as a percentage of GDP, than other developed nations, yet cannot point to commensurate 70 percent increases in value.

Related: Obamacare: It's Even Worse Than You Think 

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