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True North Archives - July 29, 2008
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Jessica’s Law: Brooke Bennett’s legacy?
By Jim Black

"Never again. We must pledge ourselves to that future. Never again." These were the words of Tom Harty, Pastor at Brooke Bennett’s funeral on July 9, 2008 in Randolph. The abduction and death of 12-year-old Brooke Bennett and revelations about her accused kidnapper’s history of violent sexual abuse beginning in the 1980s, has led to renewed calls for passage of Jessica's Law in Vermont. Lt. Governor Brian Dubie said, "I know that Vermonters everywhere feel as I do-- that action is required now to protect our state’s children from violent predators like those who brought Brooke Bennett’s young life to such a tragic end." Dubie continued, "I am calling upon Vermonters to unify in memory of Brooke Bennett, and make their voices heard in Montpelier." Dubie went on to call for the Vermont State Legislature to adopt Jessica’s law. He also called for civil confinement.

Stormwater: Indefensible Regulatory Excess
by John McClaughry

Prodded by the Federal Clean Water Act, the state of Vermont has struggled with stormwater discharge regulation since 1985. In 2000 the Dean Administration's Water Resources Board carried out a lengthy process to adopt objective standards for dealing with stormwater "impaired" waterways. Two years later the legislature hammered out a law that promised happier and healthier aquatic biota. Then began a grotesque carnival of bureaucratic and legal infighting. This has involved vague Federal rules, conflicting federal and state permit requirements, a surprise attack by the enviro-dominated Water Resources Board, a trip to the Supreme Court, its confused instructions to the Agency of Natural Resources, passage of a complicated new statute, abolition of the Water Resources Board, and more contentious stakeholder conferences.

States’ Rights in Alabama and Vermont
By Martin Harris

You can verify this discovery for yourself: the full name of the publication is "Mapping 2005 State Proficiency Scores Onto the NAEP Scales". It is Publication 2007-482 of the National Center for Educational Statistics, and is the result of grassroots political pressure: parents and taxpayers across the country asking why their children’s test scores seemed to be so much higher on State-preferred tests (in Vermont, there’s been a succession of them, most recently the NECAP diagnostic, which is currently popular for producing higher apparent test scores than its predecessors) than on the federal National Assessment of Educational Progress tests for, typically, math and reading at various grade levels. In Connecticut, Massachusetts, and New Hampshire, for example, students showing 60-to-80 percent "proficient" on State-preferred tests show a much less impressive 30-to-40 percent on the Federal tests. You can see why Vermont edu-crats would embrace "States’ Rights" so as not to cooperate with a federal effort comparing NECAP (on which, the 2008 Addison Central Supervisory Union Annual Report proudly announces, its elementary school students are showing "proficient" percentages as high as 84 (4th grade math, Weybridge) with the State-wide NAEP tests (not mentioned in the Report) which show about 2/3 of all Vermont students non-proficient.

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"Above all, we must realize that no arsenal, or no weapon in the arsenals of the world, is so formidable as the will and moral courage of free men and women. It is a weapon our adversaries in today’s world do not have." --Ronald Reagan

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Jessica’s Law supporters rally in St. Albans
By David Gram, The Associated Press, July 27, 2008

ST. ALBANS — About 30 people turned out Saturday for a rally to demand that Vermont adopt tougher penalties for child sex offenders, one month after the state saw its first-ever AMBER alert issued for a 12-year-old Braintree girl later found dead. Speakers at the rally organized by conservative radio talk show host Paul Beaudry demanded that Vermont adopt Jessica’s Law — a 25-year mandatory minimum sentence for anyone convicted of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

The Regulatory Inquisition
From, July 22, 2008

The regulatory apparatus has been employed many times to restrain economic development in this state.  Critics of the system maintain that it is capricious, heavy-handed, and subject to political manipulation.  That  Vermont is punishing itself, economically, by inflexibly enforcing, for example, Act 250.  Supporters respond that this is merely sour grapes, the law-is-the-law and were it not for stringent regulation, the state would look like New Jersey.

No One Is Served When The Public Is Shut Out
Caledonia Record Editorial, July 26, 2008

The Vermont Supreme Court decision in the matter of St. Johnsbury School Principal Janet Haley's firing and license suspension is a valuable public document. It is Exhibit A of what happens when local and state governments decide it's "in the public interest" to shut the door on the public and conduct government in secrecy.

We Have to Want Prosperity First
From, July 24, 2008

"The situation was getting desperate in Bulgaria. We were losing our population and our best workers. They were leaving for Western Europe to find jobs and the No.1 form of foreign capital came from remittances." All that began to change when the corporate tax was cut to 10% in 2007 and the personal income tax to 10% in January of this year. " (source)

Sound familiar? Declining tax revenue, a shrinking economy, workers leaving, a sense of desperation. Like Bulgaria was, our tax policies are designed to raise tax revenue at any cost - they're not designed to promote prosperity. The question being – is a no-growth, no-prosperity policy really a good long term strategy?  Perhaps we, like Bulgaria,  should consider thinking about economic consequence when we design our policies?

Mandatory Minimums, Civil Confinement, and an Expanded Sex Offender Registry

The possibility that the legislature will convene for a special session for the purpose of passing tougher laws against sex offenders does not look good at this point. Governor Douglas met with Speaker Gaye Symington and Senate President Pro Tem to discuss what such a session would cover. The Governor insisted upon mandatory minimum sentences, civil confinement (extending for sex offenders still deemed to be a threat), and an expanded sex offenders registry. (Click HERE to read the Governor’s official statement)

Symington and Shumlin refused.

The Democrats want to take a narrow, minimalist approach to this issue, looking only at the Brooke Bennett case and what could have been done to stop that tragedy from occurring. Republicans want to take a broader approach, concentrating on measures that might stop the next tragedy from occurring. Every case is different, and any action taken by the legislature should reflect that.

You can take action on this issue by calling Gaye Symington at 802-828-2245 and Peter Shumlin at 802-828-3806 and tell them that we need increased mandatory minimum sentences, civil confinement, and an expanded sex offender registry. You can also download a copy of the petition calling on the legislature to pass these common sense measures into law, get your friends and neighbors to sign, and return the completed petition to the Vermont Republican Party, PO Box 70, Montpelier, VT 05672.

Is Bobby Jindal 'the one' for the GOP?
By Kathleen Parker, July 25, 2008

Although Jindal is less well-known, and though he insists he's not interested in the VP slot, he's got rising star power. Importantly, he's young -- and looks even younger. If he had cheeks, you'd want to pinch them. Reed-thin, Jindal has the metabolism of a hummingbird and the kind of intellect that makes Vulcans uneasy. Often referred to as the smartest man in the room, Jindal's mind can wrap around anything but the idea of repose. More to an important point, he's not another white guy. The son of Indian immigrants, Jindal is both the Republican Barack Obama and the anti-Obama. To a vote, he's a fiscal and social, pro-life conservative who came to the governorship on a promise of reform in the wake of Katrina.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

IRGC Revamps To Counter Enemy Within
By Alireza Jafarzadeh, Fox News, July 24, 2008

The revamping of the IRGC underscores the reality that while the ayatollahs' foreign policy imperatives are to establish a client state in Iraq and acquire a nuclear weapon, domestically they are at risk from the Iranian people and their democratic resistance movement - the enemy within. The success of this domestic movement is the key to a non-nuclear, peaceful Iran and to an independent and democratic Iraq.

Afghanistan Doesn't Need a 'Surge'
By Ann Marlowe, The Wall Street Journal, July 22, 2008

Afghanistan needs many things, but two more brigades of U.S. troops are not among them.

Barack Obama said: "We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there." Mr. Obama should have supported the surge in Iraq, but that doesn't mean that advocating one in Afghanistan makes sense.

Afghanistan's problems are not the same as Iraq's. Its people aren't recovering from a brutal, all-controlling tyranny, but from decades of chaos and centuries of bad government. Afghanistan, unlike Iraq, is largely illiterate and has a relatively undeveloped civil society. Afghan society still centers around the family and, for men, the mosque. Its society and traditions are still largely intact, in contrast to Iraq's fractured, urbanized and half-modernized population.

Textbook Terrorism
From Investor's Business Daily, July 24, 2008

Islamofascism: A new study confirms our "ally" Saudi Arabia is still poisoning young Muslim minds with anti-Western textbooks. So? Its hate-filled graduates are enrolling at our colleges.

The New Taliban Tactics Have a Catch
From The Strategy Page, July 22, 2008

The Taliban have developed more effective tactics this year. After a disastrous outing last year, the Taliban were under a lot of pressure to reduce their casualties this year, and they have. The Afghans have always been adaptable, especially when it is a matter of life and death, and there have been many small changes in Taliban tactics to counter the greater lethality of NATO forces (who use UAVs, smart bombs and better trained troops). Taliban forces now operate in smaller groups, keeping weapons (which can be identified from the air by UAV or aircraft cameras) hidden, and concentrate forces just before an attack. Cell phones and walkie-talkies make this easier. Taliban will also break off an attack quickly, knowing that the smart bombs are on the way. The Taliban will stay near the Pakistani border, because the Americans and NATO rarely pursue, although smart bombs are more frequently dropped on the Pakistani side. But once a group of armed Taliban have made it into Pakistan, they can melt into the civilian population. ...

Despite new tactics, the Taliban still get chewed up pretty badly. A Taliban war band, of about 300 men, was spotted as it crossed over from Pakistan, and quickly jumped on by NATO troops and smart bombs. About half the Taliban were killed, and the rest wounded, captured, or scattered. It's catastrophes like this that force the Taliban to pay better, and to encourage their commanders to keep their fighters dispersed. But many of the Taliban big shots are traditionalists, and just love the feeling of leading a column of several armed men through the mountains. It's a tradition that's become an expensive luxury, one that often costs you your life.

Breeding Evil: Hezb'allah's Children
By Lance Fairchok, The American Thinker, July 22 2008

In 1979, Samir Kantar was 16 years old when he pulled Danny Haran and his young daughter from their apartment in the Israeli town of Nahariya. He shot to death the father and smashed the little girl's skull against a rock with an AK-47. After 29 years in prison, he was welcomed back to Lebanon as a hero last week.

U.S. Congressional Representatives' Stance on Jihad and the War of Ideas
By Jeffrey Imm, The Counterterrorism Blog, July 2008

Last week, there was an interesting development in the U.S. House of Representatives that will give Americans a clear view as to exactly where their individual representatives stand on the war of ideas in fighting Jihad.

Per my previous article on this subject, on May 8, 2008, Congressman Peter Hoekstra attempted to add an amendment on the "terror lexicon" to a House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence bill on 2009 intelligence funding (House Resolution 5959).

Hoekstra's amendment condemned efforts by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), National Counter Terrorism Center (NCTC), and the State Department to recommend a "terror lexicon" that prohibits use of words such as "Jihad," "jihadist," "Islamist," "mujahadeen," "caliphate," etc. In this amendment, Congressman Hoekstra called for the House of Representatives to prohibit the use of intelligence funding in support of such "terror lexicon" efforts. The House Intelligence Committee voted against this amendment, and over 900 people signed a petition condemning the actions of the House Intelligence Committee that was sent to members who voted against the amendment.

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From Elsewhere

Our Government Problem-Solvers
At election time, pols can't help but "do something" — even if it makes matters worse
By Thomas Sowell, National Review, July 23, 2008

We don’t look to arsonists to help put out fires but we do look to politicians to help solve financial crises that they played a major role in creating. How did the government help create the current financial mess? Let me count the ways.

In addition to federal laws that pressure lenders to lend to people they would not otherwise lend to, and in places where they would otherwise not invest, state and local governments have in various parts of the country so severely restricted building as to lead to skyrocketing housing prices, which in turn have led many people to resort to "creative financing" in order to buy these artificially more expensive homes.

Let's Have Some Love for Nuclear Power
By William Tucker, The Wall Street Journal, July 21, 2008

All over the world, nuclear power is making a comeback. British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has just commissioned eight new reactors, and says there's "no upper limit" to the number Britain will build in the future. German Chancellor Angela Merkel has challenged her country's program to phase out 17 nuclear reactors by 2020, saying it will be impossible to deal with climate change without them. China and India are building nuclear power plants; France and Russia, both of whom have embraced the technology, are fiercely competing to sell them the hardware.

And just last month John McCain called for the construction of 45 new reactors by 2030. Barack Obama is less enthusiastic about nuclear energy, but he seems to be moving toward tacit approval.

OMG: Congressional Democrats Pushing To RAISE Federal Gas Tax by 50%
From Politically Drunk on Power, July 21, 2008

In perhaps the most distasteful and contrarian effort yet, stories are surfacing through news agencies this morning of a private congressional talks that would actually raise the Federal Gas Tax by approximately 50%. That's right, a 50% increase in the federal gas tax at a time when Middle Class and Lower Class Americans, along with the backbone of our economy, the trucking industry, are suffering from oil prices that have more than doubled since the beginning of 2007.

Global Warming Game Tells Children They Should Die
By Maureen Martin and Aleks Karnick, Environment & Climate News, The Heartland Institute, August 2008

Are global warming alarmists encouraging children to commit suicide because their carbon footprints supposedly are harming the planet? It certainly appears so in a children's game concocted by the state-funded Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Science Department, available online.

Mr. Obama in Iraq: Did he really find support for his withdrawal plan?
From The Washington Post, July 23, 2008

THE INITIAL MEDIA coverage of Barack Obama's visit to Iraq suggested that the Democratic candidate found agreement with his plan to withdraw all U.S. combat forces on a 16-month timetable. So it seems worthwhile to point out that, by Mr. Obama's own account, neither U.S. commanders nor Iraq's principal political leaders actually support his strategy.

Gen. David H. Petraeus, the architect of the dramatic turnaround in U.S. fortunes, "does not want a timetable," Mr. Obama reported with welcome candor during a news conference yesterday. In an interview with ABC, he explained that "there are deep concerns about . . . a timetable that doesn't take into account what [American commanders] anticipate might be some sort of change in conditions."

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has a history of tailoring his public statements for political purposes, made headlines by saying he would support a withdrawal of American forces by 2010. But an Iraqi government statement made clear that Mr. Maliki's timetable would extend at least seven months beyond Mr. Obama's. More significant, it would be "a timetable which Iraqis set" -- not the Washington-imposed schedule that Mr. Obama has in mind. It would also be conditioned on the readiness of Iraqi forces, the same linkage that Gen. Petraeus seeks. As Mr. Obama put it, Mr. Maliki "wants some flexibility in terms of how that's carried out."

Guns, Foreign Courts, and the Moral Consensus of the International Community
By Jordan Ballor, The Acton Institute, July 23, 2008

Over the last few years observers of the Supreme Court have noticed a trend among some of the justices to cite the decisions of foreign courts as part of the relevant precedent in deciding the cases before them. In 2005, justices Scalia and Breyer engaged in a rare public conversation on this very topic, "Constitutional Relevance of Foreign Court Decisions." In the recently-decided D.C. v. Heller neither of the two dissenting opinions, written by justices Stevens and Breyer respectively, make substantial reference to foreign court decisions. But the growing phenomena of reference to foreign judgments as precedents raises the question of what the justices might have found if they had consulted such materials.

Why Can't Obama Admit The Obvious? The Surge Worked
From USA Today, July 24, 2008

Perhaps it's too much to ask that Obama risk being taunted by headlines such as "Obama says Bush was right." But for the nation to move forward on its single most vexing debate, it would help if the next president could admit the obvious....Americans don't expect their president to be right all the time. They do expect him to change course when he's proved wrong.

The Greatest Scandal
From The Wall Street Journal, July 28, 2008

The profound failure of inner-city public schools to teach children may be the nation's greatest scandal. The differences between the two Presidential candidates on this could hardly be more stark. John McCain is calling for alternatives to the system; Barack Obama wants the kids to stay within that system. We think the facts support Senator McCain.

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