North Archives - August 05, 2008
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Rights Part II
concept of federal testing of students supposedly "owned" by States was
adopted by Congress in 1964, at about the same time that all sorts of other
"Great Society" social-engineering notions were being put in place by the
Johnson administration. The testing bureaucracy was to be the newly-created
National Assessment of Educational Progress, NAEP for short, and the first
tests were administered to very carefully selected statistical samples
of students in every State across the country, at the 4th, 8th, and 11th
grade levels in the math and reading subject areas, in 1969. For the first
time, under the theory of 50 different State educational systems serving
as competing laboratories for effective instruction, it would be possible
to see the different systems compared in terms of how much they spent per
pupil, how they organized their instructional efforts, and how well their
students fared, measured in terms of actual achievement, as a result. However,
in the late ‘60’s, such openness to measurement was more than the Left
in general or the National Education Association in particular could or
would tolerate, and so political compromises were made. Yes, the NAEP tests
would be administered and the results compiled, but the individual States,
while obliged to participate, were not obliged to turn in their results
for inclusion in the National Digest of Educational Statistics, nor to
publicize the results in-State if their State Education Departments didn’t
like them. Under the rubric of States’ Rights, their SED’s would be free
to purchase, deploy, and publicize the results of any other tests they
might choose alongside of the NAEP’s. They still are free to do so, and
most do. From the start, a handful of States opted out of full participation
in the NAEP protocol. On the website of the NAEP there’s a page illustrating
the pattern for the decade of the ‘90’s: Vermont students’ scores show
up for only three years in mid-decade. Other absentee States, almost all
Northern, range from Washington to New Jersey.
- An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
Rep. Thomas F. Koch Barre Town
The basic facts are simple
but significant. Built in 1964, Vermont Yankee provides nearly one-third
of Vermont’s electrical power, and it provides it at roughly four cents
per kilowatt-hour. That’s a lot of power at a very cheap price, compared
to the current market price of power. The plant was sold in 2002 to Entergy
Nuclear Vermont Yankee, a private company based in New Orleans. The plant’s
operating license is due to expire in 2012, which means that we will lose
the benefit of that base power (which would then have to be purchased "from
the grid" at market prices) unless the operating license is renewed. Entergy
has signaled its intention to apply for a 20-year license renewal, which
would need approval of both the federal Nuclear Regulatory Commission and
the Vermont legislature. Once the plant’s operating license finally expires,
whether in 2012 or 2032, or at some other time, the plant will have to
be safely dismantled, at a cost presently estimated to be $893,000,000.00.
# # #
"Barack Obama is back
from his big European tour. Did you see him in Europe? People were cheering
him, holding up signs, blowing him kisses. And that was just the American
media covering the story." --Jay Leno
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Symington Losing Her
Vermonters are catching some
profound insights into Gaye Symington’s character and her curious relationship
with the truth.
This week began with an attack,
in which she claimed Vermont has the lowest job growth in New England.
We don’t. We’re tied for third. When confronted with this fact, the explanation
was that the states that actually lost jobs were discounted by Symington
because they were experiencing job shrinkage, not job "growth." Needless
to say, this bizarre "logic" didn’t wash with the press (See
Campaign Mis-Speakings on the Free Press Blog) .
Next, her campaign charged
that the Douglas administration could not quickly produce for VSEA a list
of the 150 jobs trimmed through attrition, despite the fact the VSEA wasn’t
even requesting such a list. Most recently, Symington penned an Op-Ed in
the Brattleboro Reformer leveling a false attack at the administration,
claiming that Department of Public Service (DPS) blocked the Public Oversight
Panel from participating in the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) inspection
of the Yankee plant. This was not the case.
Symington has a pattern of
viciously attacking, often with disregard for the truth, opponents who
simply disagree with her agenda. See her comments lashing out at IBM on
the VTGOP website.
See her comments baming Vermont’s business community
when they respectfully asked for specific reforms to Vermont’s business
climate. Note her sour grapes reaction to
the success of the Sales Tax Holiday, rather than simply being happy Vermonters
saved some money, made some money, and felt good about the economy for
a few days. Note her curt failure to condemn the actions of a left-wing
activist who threw a pie at Governor Douglas during a parade.
How can anyone work with
a person who acts and thinks this way?
This "my way or I’ll attack
you to the highway" attitude is probably a big reason why, even given a
supermajority in both chambers of the legislature, Gaye Symington was not
able to accomplish much as Speaker of the House.
From VermontTiger.com, July
The Freeps' was about a proposal
from Josh Farley, an ecological economist at the Gund
Institute at UVM who argues that
Americans could substantially
cut their energy use, he declared, if they could manage to live at the
level that prevailed in 1969.
...It's hard to believe anyone
can seriously think that an average American would want to go back to 1969's
standard of living or that things were better back then for the average
American. You'd have to give up your cell phone and replace it with
a rotary dial phone (your choice of white or black, and no answering machines
allowed). Out the window with your computer, DVD player (not to mention
your VCR), and microwave. No more iPods or Walkman. Or even boom
boxes. Back to vinyl.
Half the people who own them
would have to get rid of their dishwashers, clothes washers, color TV's
and air conditioners. Your 2007 car's pollution is about 99% less
than the 1969 vehicle. And it's safer and lasts longer.
I don't even want to start
talking about medical care.
Views on Vermont’s Largest Private Employer: IBM
the Governor's press release...
On a recent trip to southern
Vermont, House Speaker Gaye Symington let her true colors show in candid
statements she made about IBM, Vermont’s largest
private employer. Symington accused IBM of not adopting her political
agenda...an agenda which would result in higher costs for Vermont businesses,
including IBM, which provides over 5,000 jobs at its Essex facility.
In front of a group of supporters,
Speaker Symington attacked IBM for not agreeing to her energy plan and
stridently questioned the company’s environmental ethic. She even
questioned their commitment to "thinking long-term about our energy future
past today and tomorrow." Symington's attack came in part because
IBM – like other businesses – has identified affordable energy as a key
element to their continued success in Vermont. Gaye Symington's irresponsible
energy policy will lead to increased energy prices for both families and
This is part of a larger
pattern of Gaye Symington's hostility toward Vermont businesses – large
and small. From companies like IBM on down to S.D. Ireland Concrete
Construction, Sterling Construction, Bouchard-Pierce, Wendell’s Furniture,
and dozens of others, Symington chooses to ignore the things they say they
need to grow good jobs and a strong economy.
"In 2003, IBM officials highlighted
key changes that could help the company stay competitive in Vermont.
Unfortunately for them, Gaye Symington opposes every one of these changes
and has a record of making Vermont less friendly to businesses," said Douglas
campaign manager Dennise Casey. "Now Vermont businesses are seeing that
Gaye Symington is will attack them if they don't agree to her political
This is about more than just
IBM, Casey said. "It's about an attitude that Gaye Symington has
toward both large and small companies. She taxes them, she disparages
them, she over-regulates them and if they won't back her political agenda,
she goes after them. Vermonters have a right to ask; how can you
expect Gaye Symington to grow Vermont jobs when she attacks Vermont businesses?"
Identifies Needs in Order to Keep their Vermont Facility Competitive.
"IBM officials have identified
several areas that could help the Vermont plant stay competitive: reform
the permit process; cut taxes, reduce electricity costs; invest in education
to produce better workers; and build the circumferential highway, linking
IBM directly to interstate 89 in Williston."
-- Vermont Business Magazine,
Reform the Permit Process
Symington Voted Against
Common Sense Permit Reform – Twice!
In 2003, H.175 Consolidated
Environmental Appeals and Revisions of Land Use Development passed the
house by a vote 78 to 53 on April 11, 2003, Symington voted against the
In 2004, Symington once again
voted against permit reform when the house voted overwhelmingly to support
the final bill – the conference committee’s report – which passed the house
During her tenure as
Speaker, Symington has ignored calls for action to lower property taxes,
while supporting new taxes on payroll, income, property transfer, gas,
diesel, home heating oil and trucks & family vehicles.
Payroll & Income Tax:
In 2005, the Legislature under Gaye Symington’s leadership proposed raising
taxes for a government run health care plan. "The Legislature proposed
a 3 percent payroll tax paid by companies that didn't offer coverage to
their employees and a 1 percent income tax on those receiving the proposed
primary care benefit." (Brattleboro Reformer, 8/19/05)
"Only a week after the budget message, the Democrats unveiled their first
initiative of the session…It was a property transfer tax increase on commercial
properties." (Vermont Guardian, 2/9/07)
Gas & Diesel Tax:
According to the Rutland Herald, in 2006 "Symington has been steadfast
in her support of the gas tax increase and an accompanying jump in the
diesel tax by 6 cents to 31 cents a gallon." (Rutland Herald, 4/17/06)
Home Heating Oil:
In 2008, Symington said she would consider tripling, over 10 years, the
half-a-percent per gallon weatherization charge on heating fuel to 1.5
percent to help subsidize efficiency programs. "That will be controversial…We
will definitely look at it," Symington said. (Valley News, 1/29/08)
Trucks & Family Vehicles:
In 2007, Symington thought that, although a tax on large vehicles was unpopular,
"it the right thing to do anyway." (Rutland Herald, 4/9/07)
And when proposals to reduce property taxes were laid on the table, she
dismissed them in spite of the benefit they might have for Vermont businesses.
According to Symington "The real agenda [of Republican House Leaders] is
lowering the property tax burden…for businesses at the expense of Vermonters…"
a new and arbitrary tax on Vermont’s largest energy producer, even though
business leaders throughout the state recognized it would raise electricity
In 2007, representatives
of the business community worried that the arbitrary tax that Democrats
in the Legislature tried to stick on Vermont Yankee would harm the ability
of utilities to negotiation favorable rates in a new contract with Entergy.
"The tax isn't going to go away," [Steve] Kimbell said. "The costs will
show up someplace."
"He questioned, too, if Entergy's
profits are taxed this time, what company might be next. ‘Does that apply
to GE in Rutland, to General Dynamics in Burlington? Does it apply to IBM?’
he questioned." (Burlington Free Press, 4/27/07)
Even in the face of the concerns,
Symington supported the tax. "‘I think there will remain in the bill
resources from Vermont Yankee,’ said House Speaker Gaye Symington, D-Jericho."
(Burlington Free Press, 5/7/07)
Invest in Education
to Produce Better Workers
to cut funding for the Next Generation scholarship program.
In 2008, during contentious
budget negotiations, Gaye Symington and Legislative leaders "chose to accelerate
the effective date for some higher business fees; cut pay for the highest-paid
state workers and set travel restrictions; tap the higher-education fund
for $2.2 million; redirect $1 million from the Vermont Housing and Conservation
Board; and reduce by $1 million the funding for the Next Generation scholarship
and work-force development initiatives." (Burlington Free Press, 4/19/08)
Build the Circumferential
Symington has consistently
been against building the Circumferential Highway
"The speaker remains opposed
to large projects like the Circumferential Highway in Chittenden County
and the Bennington Bypass…" (Eagle Times, 9/14/07)
Symington doesn’t think that
the Circ – or the Bennington Bypass – is a priority. "‘I'm concerned that
we don't have the money for new projects like the circumferential highway
and the Bennington Bypass,’ said Symington." (Bennington Banner, 9/15/07)
Math Is Always Up
Caledonia Record Editorial
Understanding the mathematics
of taxes under Acts 60 and 68 baffles most Vermonters who don't have an
accounting education plus a degree from an engineering school. ... Whether
Vermonters understand the math or not, they understand and feel the pain
of paying taxes that are too high and rising. That fact dictates that the
first order of business in the next Legislature has to be to reduce our
runaway property taxes, and since the lion's share of these taxes is the
cost of education, the former can't be achieved without reducing the latter.
VermontTiger.com, July 28,
With so many states facing
budget shortfalls this year, one would expect to see states
proposing a myriad of novel solutions. We're still waiting to see what
kind of solution Vermont's creative class, (i.e., carpetbaggers), comes
up with. While we're waiting, here’s what Cato
found five states are doing -- they're using Education
Tax Credits to save a bundle while simultaneously serving the grander purpose
of expanding educational freedom:
Pellets And Legal Permits
Caledonia Record Editorial,
August 02, 2008
Vermont's permit process
is an intentional nightmare. It is a maze of panels, commissions, departments,
and committees, with foot dragging conflicts of bureaucratic interests
that would discourage the Sphinx from entering it. There are worthy projects
and plans that have waited for up to 12 years, and are still waiting, to
clear the permit process. "If we can slow things down, we have done our
job," seems to be the motto of the permit authorities.
Tax Holiday Tumps Symington Plan
By Rob Roper, The Burlington
Free Press, August 3, 2008
It seems reality trumped
Symington's and her party's hard-left, ideological belief system. The sales
tax holiday was a good idea, well executed and, most important, it got
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
From Investor's Business
Daily, August 01, 2008
A "breakthrough" in Iran's
nuclear program, a shipment of advanced U.S. anti-missile radar destined
for Israel and word of a secret Iranian bomb factory. Are these signs Iran
soon will be under attack?
Bank Accounts, and Bleedout: al-Qa'ida's Road in and Out of Iraq
From the Combating Terrorism
Center at West Point
Key Findings Saudi Arabia
and Libya supplied the most fighters in the Sinjar Records. Saudi Arabia
contributed the highest number of foreign fighters to al Qaida’s fight
in Iraq between August 2006 and August 2007, followed by Libya. Foreign
Fighters contributed approximately 75 Percent of suicide bombers between
August 2006 and August 2007. Of the 376 fighters in the Sinjar Records
that designated their "work" in Iraq, 212 (56.4 percent) were listed as
suicide bombers. AQI is a wounded organization. Tribal disaffection, the
surge in Coalition and Iraqi Forces in 2007-2008, and AQIs self-destructive
penchant for violence have all contributed to...
1 in 3 Muslim students approve killing for Islam
From Worldnet Daily
If ignorance and poverty
are responsible for the growth of extremist views in the Islamic world,
someone needs ask to Muslim students, privileged enough and bright enough
to attend some of the United Kingdom's best universities, why one-in-three
of them endorses killing in the name of Islam.
The report of this finding,
based on a poll of 600 Muslim and 800 non-Muslim students at 12 universities
in the UK, and conducted by YouGov
on behalf of the Center for
Social Cohesion, will be released tomorrow as "Islam on Campus."
operatives caught in Baghdad
The Jerusalem Post, August
In a display of Hizbullah's
extended involvement in conflicts throughout the Middle East, Coalition
Special Forces captured two members of the group during a raid over the
weekend in eastern Baghdad.
Zawahiri Worm Food?
By Rick Moran, The American
Thinker, August 02, 2008
CBS News is reporting - with
a lot of caveats - that there is a possibility al-Qaeda's #2, Ayman al-Zawahiri,
may be criticially injured
Deobandi Fatwa Against Terrorism Didn't Treat the Jihadi Root
By Walid Phares, The American
Thinker, July 28, 2008
From the fatwa itself and
the statements made as it was issued, the following political goals likely
motivated the gathering and the fatwa.
Create a separation in
the eyes of the public discourse between Islam (as a religion) and terrorism
as an illegal violent activity.
Such a move is legitimate
and to be encouraged as it diminishes the tensions towards Muslims in non-Muslim
countries, particularly in the West, as some are claiming that the Islamic
religion is theologically linked to the acts and statements of the Jihadists.
The logic of "we are Muslims and we are against Terrorism," helps significantly
the disassociation between the community and the acts of violence. However,
without criticizing the ideological roots of this violence, the fatwa seem
to state a wishful thinking, not an injunction. A more powerful fatwa should
have openly and expressly said: "we reject the calls for violent Jihad
regardless of the motives." For the followers of Jihadism do not consider
their Jihad as "terrorism." Their answer has always been -to these types
of fatwas- "but we aren't performing terrorism, we are conducting Jihad."
Thus, at this crucial level, the Deobandi fatwa missed the crux of the
# # #
Speaker Pelosi's News Blackout
By Nancy Coppock, American
Thinker, August 03, 2008
This is a classic example
of how the MSM has controlled the message and the debate. This unnamed
reporter, while witnessing ground-breaking news, is not interested in the
actual events unfolding before his eyes, but rather in how to change the
issue and debate of that event in order to present a freshly spun and sanitized
message to the public. But reporters like him are no longer in control
of the message or the debate. What we are witnessing is a true (r)epublican
revolution in which individuals can become their own newsgathers. Technology
has given us a clear view of Congress as much as Newt Gingrinch used the
C-Span cameras for special order speeches to speak directly to the viewing
public to explain Democrat scandals like those involving the House Bank
and Post Office. What the public is learning now is once again making us
very angry with the Democratic Party Leadership and its members of Congress.
Spoiled Children of Capitalism
By Jonah Goldberg National
Review, August 01, 2008
Capitalism is the greatest
system ever created for alleviating general human misery, and yet it breeds
ingratitude. People ask, "Why is there poverty in the world?" It’s a silly
question. Poverty is the default human condition. It is the factory preset
of this mortal coil. As individuals and as a species, we are born naked
and penniless, bereft of skills or possessions. Likewise, in his civilizational
infancy man was poor, in every sense. He lived in ignorance, filth, hunger,
and pain, and he died very young, either by violence or disease.
The interesting question
isn’t "Why is there poverty?" It’s "Why is there wealth?" Or: "Why is there
prosperity here but not there?"
From Investor's Business
Daily, August 01, 2008
A new study showing fewer
illegal aliens bolsters the case for putting enforcement first. What we're
seeing is the necessary first stage of reform.
sponsors gay pride parade
By Donald E. Wildmon, American
Family Association, July 30, 2008
McDonald’s helped sponsor
the San Francisco Gay Pride Parade. Want to see what McDonald’s considers
worthy of support? Click
here. (Warning: These photos are extremely offensive and
graphic.) AFA asked McDonald’s to remain neutral in the culture war. The
company refused, stating they will continue to support the gay agenda including
same-sex marriage. AFA has called for a boycott of McDonald’s restaurants.
McDonald’s spokesman Bill Whitman told the Washington Post that those (even
Christians) who oppose homosexual marriage are motivated by hate, saying
that "... hatred has no place in our culture."
This boycott is not about
hiring homosexuals or how homosexual employees are treated. It is about
McDonald’s choosing to put the full resources of their corporation behind
promoting the homosexual agenda. To help promote the gay agenda, McDonald’s
paid $20,000 to become an official "organizational ally and corporate partner"
of the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce and secure a seat on
the group’s board of directors. The NGLCC lobbies against laws protecting
marriage as between a man and a woman.
From Investor's Business
Daily, August 01, 2008
Barack Obama's newly unveiled
"Emergency Economic Plan" is quite a document, sounding more like the rantings
of an extremist fringe candidate than a serious contender for the presidency.
of the Opposition, Again
Rush Limbaugh resumes
the role he was born for
By James Bowman, National
Review, August 01, 2008
After the loss of the Republican
congressional majority in 2006, Rush declared his independence from the
current leadership of his party. "I like President Bush," he told Zev Chafets
of The New York Times Magazine last month, "but he is not
a conservative. He is conservative on some things, but he has not led a
movement as Reagan did every day of his career. Bush’s unpopularity is
due primarily to his reluctance to publicly defend himself and his administration
against attacks from the left. . . . The country has not tilted to the
left in my view. What has been absent is elected conservative leadership
from the White House down to the Congress." That seems unlikely to change
now that John McCain is the presumptive Republican presidential nominee
and Republicans in Congress are going into the November elections in the
expectation of even more serious losses.
And that means that, whatever
happens in November, Rush is now well-placed, 15 years later, to resume
the role of Leader of the Opposition.
Pelosi’s "Lights Out" Energy Policy
By New Red Majority, August,
Yesterday our Democratic
lawmakers in the US House decided they were due for a break. With abysmal
approval numbers and a "pro-US energy" bill looming, Nancy Pelosi decided
it was just time to go. She shut off the lights. She shut off CSPAN. She
shut off the mics. Where in the world could there be a more perfect symbol
of Democrat energy policy than this "shutting off the lights?" The double
entendres alone are worth millions in available political capital. Time
to capitalise, friends. It’s days like this I wish I had 15 people with
film and graphic design degrees on staff.
Me the Money
From the Education Reform
Newswire, July 29, 2008
We released our 2008
Annual Survey of American Charter Schools yesterday. The findings provide
a powerful look at the operational success of public charter schools in
the face of a severe funding gap when compared to conventional public schools.
Tidbits include: even though they are public schools and should receive
the same amount of federal, state and local funds, charter schools receive
nearly 40 percent less funding than other public schools; despite receiving
less money, charter schools are able to offer longer school days, longer
school years, and innovative curricula not available in conventional public
schools; and charter schools have grown at a rapid pace over the last ten
years, but state caps and moratoriums on new schools are now impeding the
necessary growth. Check
# # #