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True North Archives - August 17, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

Radio Archives

Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North airs daily between 11:00 am - 12:00 noon on Radio Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).


Featured Articles

Tea Party Focus
By Robert Maynard

There has recently been talk within the Tea Party movement on whether to maintain a focus on "fiscal issues", rather than take on the "social issues". Arguments for both sides have been put forward. On the one side is the argument that you stick with what brought you success rather than divide the movement. The opposing argument mostly makes the point that the restoration of America’s constitutional republic requires more than a "materialistic" focus on economics.

Both sides make the mistake of separating economic and social concerns. The cornerstone of the social order is the family and social endeavors are somehow related to family affairs. A key aspect of that social order is tied to economics. Like the ancient Greeks, the early Americans did not see economics as something separate from family issues.

Test Questions
By Martin Harris

If, as conservative talk-show pundit Rush Limbaugh and purple PBS dinosaur Barney both say, "the learning never ends", then it’s logical that the testing never ends, either. Here are two education questions lobbed (a little tennis lingo, there) at me in recent days: 1. why is there so much teacher-initiated social engineering in the classroom? and 2. In academic subjects, if the student didn’t learn, is it always because the teacher didn’t teach? Both questions are in the contemporary public "conversation" (a little political lingo, there) although in different ways: the first is reflected in a kind of gallows humor already present in such other distressed (in economic, not productivity, terms) sectors as agriculture, and the second is remarkable for the vast intellectual chasm between academic-expert and concerned-citizen on the answers.

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Letters to the Editor

Battle of Bennington Patriots Needed Today

As I read Audrey Pietrucha's column in the Bennington Banner this week, the similarities between what those brave patriots fought for and what we are up against today leaped out at of the page.

The base issue is the concept of one person or group of people lording over another person or group of persons.  The patriots of 1777 felt that concept was wrong enough to fight against, even to the point of death if required.

Today we are rapidly returning to a nation with lords and servants, with a self-appointed elite class trying to control the people through government. While our battle today need not be a bloody battle, it is no less important to future generations than the Battle of Bennington has been to our generation.

Vermont itself is a clear example of how things are shifting from self-government of, by and for the people to a governing class that either in ignorance or ill-intent enacts policy after policy that widens the chasm between the elite and the rest of the people.

One point of battle today is to reopen the Vermont State House to the people of Vermont.  I built the following website a few weeks ago to point out how over the past five decades or so we have allowed our State House to be out of reach for most Vermonters. Vermont patriots are needed today as much as the soldiers of 1777 were needed and this website presents what I believe is an important way to engage the battle.   Throughout Vermont there are districts in need of patriots who will run for the Vermont legislature. Please give this some consideration. Vermont needs you.

Mark Shepard 
Bennington VT

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Quotable
Though "none by searching can find out God, or the Almighty to perfection," yet I am persuaded, that if mankind would dare to exercise their reason as freely on those divine topics as they do in the common concerns of life, they would, in a great measure, rid themselves of their blindness and superstition, gain more exalted ideas of God and their obligations to him and one another, and be proportionally delighted and blessed with the views of his moral government, make better members of society, and acquire, manly powerful incentives to the practice of morality, which is the last and greatest perfection that human nature is capable of.  --Ethan Allen
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Primary Predictions
By Matt Austin, Fox 44 News, August 11, 2010

In less than two weeks there will be a lot less people running for Vermont Governor. Voters will narrow the field on Primary Day, August 24th. There are two big questions this year: which democrat will win and how many voters will show up?

Racine in the Right Church, Wrong Pew
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 14 2010

As the state's primary season heads into its final weeks, the five Democratic candidates for governor sound, to use an archaic phrase, like a broken record. Just when the monotony of the five talking heads had most Vermonters looking for the off switch, Doug Racine finally broke from the pack and made some comments that were, well, honest.

Racine's new mantra is "big promises become empty promises" and he used the phrase to describe promises made by his Democratic rivals. Racine says he's been listening to his fellow Democrats during 50-plus debates and has grown frustrated by the big promises made by them. The group has promised single-payer health care where everybody wins and the state saves money. Universal broadband is promised as a panacea for the state's economic doldrums. We hear promises of no cuts in education and more money for human services - without a nickel in new taxes. Here's the rub for Racine: His competition does what it does because it appears to work for them.

Don't Do This
By Daniel Foty, Vermont Tiger, August 14, 2010

As a natural combination of these two thoughts, perhaps the "three things" I had in mind for Tiger-fest could be recast in this form: If your jurisdiction doesn't do these three things in the years and decades ahead, it has almost no chance of being stagnant and impoverished.

We'll look at the three below the fold...

Take the Downing Cross Down
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 13, 2010

Then came the NIMBYs (Not in My Back Yard), who discovered how to use Act 250 to stop development altogether. They spawned Vermont's virtually impossible permit system, which has essentially paralyzed development of just about everything. For the past 30 years, Act 250 has been a weapon rather than a protection.

That's exactly what Richard and Joan Downing have been up against in their efforts to keep an illuminated cross beside their very attractive chapel on their own land on Darling Hill Road. The District 7 Environmental Commission ordered them to remove the cross because "it is out of character in the rural, scenic neighborhood." Hello? A chapel with a cross is an environmental intrusion in a rural, scenic neighborhood? We bet there are 50 such chapels in rural, scenic neighborhoods across Vermont. In fact there are at least four of them on Route 15 between West Danville and St. Albans.

Economic Development Success Story
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger, August 6, 2010

Why is it that Vermont has been so successful at attracting this industry over the past twenty-five years?  According to the VCIA:

In 1981, the Vermont Legislature passed the Special Insurer Act which was designed to provide a unique and attractive statutory framework for captive formation. These landmark regulations have become the model of captive regulation.

Vermont's captive insurance statute has been modified continually to meet the needs of this dynamic, fast-paced industry. The Vermont legislature listens and is responsive; and Vermont has a team of regulatory professionals dedicated to serving captives. Throughout its history in Vermont, the captive insurance industry has received universal and enthusiastic support from the governors and state legislators.

English translation:  We have very low taxes on captives and government officials work with the industry to insure that the regulatory environment helps, rather than hinders, the industry.

Are there any lessons here? Bueller?

Is Commissioner Vilaseca Above The Law?
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 10, 2010

For months now, school districts and newspapers across the state have waited in apprehension to learn how much each of the 283 school districts will have to cut from their budgets to save the $23 million in savings targeted by the state education department. Learning that the numbers were complete, the Rutland Herald and Barre Times-Argus asked for the list last week under the public's right-to-know laws. To their surprise, education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca agreed the document was public but refused to release it until the school districts checked it for factual errors.

Vilaseca's refusal to release the document clearly breaks the law. He gave no legally acceptable reason for withholding the document. He just said, "No, you can't have it yet." And if that weren't ridiculous enough, his rationale for stonewalling was his own blunder last spring - when he botched the list of lowest performing schools in Vermont. He had to apologize to them and to name two other schools, including the St. Johnsbury School. His blunder potentially cost St. Johnsbury more than $100,000 in salary and benefits to be paid to a dismissed principal who had signed a contract before learning that her job was no longer there. Her contract remained, however, so she has a year-long paid vacation, courtesy of Armando Vilaseca and funded by St. Johnsbury taxpayers.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

The Coming Conflagration
By Michael Ledeen, Pajamas Media, August 10, 2010

Meanwhile, Mubarak of Egypt is dying, and when he passes, that huge country may enter chaos. The frightening Mohammed al Baradei (you remember him, the faux inspector from the UN) is running for office in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood.  Should he become the effective leader of Egypt, things will get worse.  And Turkey is right there, Islamist Turkey, a Turkey that wants women bundled up and the West very far away until it is once again dominated by triumphal Islamic power.  A Turkey ruled by a man who wants to be Caliph.

A very few people can change the world right now because the world is off its previous orbit and the new one isn’t yet stabilized.

Meanwhile again, a Latin American anti-American alliance, very much in league with Iran, is being assembled to the south. And nobody cares.  Colombia and Chavez’s Venezuela are in a phony war that may become a shooting war most any day.

Meanwhile a third time, the Chinese are making dramatic strides in seapower.

Everybody knows they think of themselves as the rightful rulers of the universe. Many of them believe we are a spent force. So that’s another set of glowing embers.

One cannot know the future, but great leaders must anticipate the worst-case scenario, and prepare for it. We’re not. Our guy is showing off his basketball skills for wounded vets and mocking his opposition. Something about fiddling as the flames get hotter comes to mind…

Hezbollah, Radical but Rational
By Scott Stewart, Strategic Forecasters, August 12, 2010

So, while Hezbollah has the capability to attack U.S. interests, it does not currently possess the intent to do so. Its terrorist attacks in Lebanon in the 1980s, like the bombing of the U.S. Marine barracks and the two attacks against the U.S. Embassy, were intended to drive U.S. influence out of Lebanon, and the attacks largely succeeded. An attack by Hezbollah inside the United States today would result in the return of U.S. attention to, and perhaps even a presence in, Lebanon, something that is clearly not in Hezbollah’s interests.

Then why the recurring rumors of impending Hezbollah terrorist attacks? For several years now, every time there has been talk of a possible attack on Iran there has been a corresponding threat by Iran that it will use its proxy groups in response to such an attack. Iran has also been busy pushing intelligence reports to anybody who will listen (including STRATFOR) that it will activate its militant proxy groups if attacked and, to back up that threat, will periodically send IRGC-QF, MOIS or Hezbollah operatives out to conduct not-so-subtle surveillance of potential targets. (They clearly want to be seen undertaking such activity.)

In many ways, the Hezbollah threat is being played up in order to provide the type of deterrent that mutually assured destruction did during the Cold War. The threats of unleashing Hezbollah terrorist attacks and closing the Strait of Hormuz are the most potent deterrents Iran has to being attacked. Since Iran does not yet possess a nuclear arsenal, these threats are the closest thing it has to a "real nuclear option." As such, they are threats that Iran will make good on only as a last resort.

U.S. Defense: "May The Force Be With You"
By Riki Ellison, Family Security Matters, August 14, 2010

In our galaxy next week, far beyond the lights of Los Angeles, off the Ventura Coast, our nation's Airborne Laser (ABL) housed in a Boeing 747 will shoot in flight its laser beam at the speed of light against a target resembling a current foreign short-range ballistic missile threat. The chemical laser beam will travel twice as far as did this past February, when the ABL successfully pierced the metal skin of two short-range ballistic missiles, destroying the targets within seconds.

These successful tests marked the only proven and demonstrated "Boost Phase" missile defense system intercept against both solid (2/3/10) and liquid (2/11/10) fueled short-range ballistic missiles. The laser, with its speed of light delivery and multiple shots, when developed and deployed can defend against what our combat commander's fear from Iran and North Korea - salvo launches of ballistic missiles.

This technology is one of the greatest that the Department of Defense and our national labs have developed. The applications of the laser and its follow-on directed energy platforms are astounding and well exceed the value of funding invested into them. There are no other countries in the world that have this generation of technology and as such the ABL is highly coveted, especially by China and Russia.

American Taxpayer, Financial Jihadist
Thanks to our takeover of AIG, we now are involved in Islamic finance
By Andrew C. McCarthy, National Review, August 14, 2010

It is "financial jihad," explained Yusuf Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood’s sharia compass — and the man Feisal Rauf, the brains behind the proposed Ground Zero mosque, admires as "the most well-known legal authority in the whole Muslim world today." It was 2002 and Qaradawi, who endorses suicide bombing and the targeting of American personnel operating in Islamic countries, was giving a lecture on the need to use the international financial system to support Islamist goals — like Hamas’s war to destroy Israel.

The financial jihad has now achieved its greatest coup so far: It has co-opted the U.S. government as a partner. In fact, if you would like to see a contributor to the jihad, have a look in the mirror. Thanks to the Obama administration, every one of us is complicit. The bailout bonanza made each of us an owner of American Insurance Group (AIG). Under the stewardship of its real CEO, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, AIG proudly runs the world’s most lavishly funded sharia-compliant insurance business — and it is desperately trying to convince a federal court in Michigan that no one should have a problem with that.

Petraeus Praises Afghan Troop Growth; Taliban Leader Killed
American Forces Press Service, August 11, 2010

The commander of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan today praised the Afghan defense ministry for growing its army ahead of schedule, while NATO forces confirmed the death of a senior Taliban commander killed in fighting with Afghan and international troops.

Afghanistan has reached its goal of 134,000 trained Afghan soldiers two months ahead of schedule, marking a milestone in the counterinsurgency strategy, Army Gen. David H. Petraeus said.

Less than six months ago, Petraeus said, Afghan army strength stood at about 107,000 trained soldiers, with a target of reaching 134,000 by October. He called the pace of growth "remarkable."

Iran’s Descent into Barbarism
By Shmuley Boteach, Jerusalem Post, August 9, 2010

To see what Shi’ite technocrats have done to Iran is tragic. I do not speak only of the violent clown Mahmoud Ahmadenijad, who can look an Ivy-League audience in the eye and say there are no homosexuals in Iran. Rather, I speak of a country so riddled with hate that it thinks nothing of producing cartoons, available on a website promoted by the semi-official Fars news agency, denying the Holocaust and portraying Jews as hook-nosed vermin. Have the Iranians been taught to hate Jews so much that they can caricaturize the gassing of one million children? When I visited Poland I walked into a clearing near Tarnow where 800 Jewish orphans had been murdered, mostly by having their brains dashed against trees. The Iranians would make fun of this as well? What level of humanity must be compromised before one feels that wholesale slaughter is a matter of comic relief? I forced myself to watch all of The Stoning of Soriah M by Iranian director Cyrus Nowrasteh. Based on a true story, its final scene – depicting an innocent woman buried up to her neck and having her skull slowly crushed by average men including her own father, husband and son throwing stones large enough to injure but not to immediately kill – is easily one of the most brutal events ever depicted on film.

If only it were an exaggeration.

The world is currently focused on the case of Sakineh Mohammadi Ashtiani, a 43-year-old woman awaiting death by stoning in the Iranian town of Tabriz after a sham conviction for adultery.

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From Elsewhere

What's Holding Back the Hiring?
By Jim Powell, The Cato Institute, August 9, 2010

President Obama claims that he's concerned about "jobs, jobs, jobs," but he has signed laws, issued executive orders and approved regulations that create incentives for private-sector employers to lay off people or delay hiring people. It's no wonder high unemployment persists. Obama's top 10 job killers include...

In the 'Green' Economy, the Poor Pay More
By Kelly Miller, Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, August 11, 2010

Rather than stimulating the American economy, full regulation of carbon emissions will damage it severely.  Essentially, a cap or a regulatory burden on carbon emissions would create energy scarcity, making it just as expensive to purchase energy from fossil fuels as it is to purchase energy from "renewable" sources.  The supply of efficient energy would drop in order to encourage production and consumption of inefficient energy, and prices would skyrocket as a result.  Politicians themselves, including Barack Obama as a presidential candidate, have admitted that skyrocketing prices are a crucial component of the carbon regulation strategy.

Under the cap-and-trade bill considered by the House of Representatives, the average American family would likely face a 90 percent increase in electricity prices, according to research done by The Heritage Foundation.  Gasoline and natural gas prices would also rise by over 50 percent.  The economic impact of EPA regulation would be even worse than the impact of cap-and-trade legislation, because regulation would involve more compliance, administrative, and legal costs.

Skyrocketing energy prices would cause the prices of most other goods and services to rise as well, because energy is the lifeblood of the economy.  Almost nothing happens – no manufacturing, no transportation, and no sales – without energy.  For people who already have plenty of money – think John Kerry and Bill Gates – this is not much of a problem.  But economically vulnerable groups already spend much larger portions of their budgets on basic necessities than do those who are better off.  The poor have less discretionary income to spend on things they don’t absolutely need, and therefore less room to breathe when expenses rise.

Our Real Gulf Disaster
By  Lou Dolinar, National Review, August 12, 2010

Four months after the Deepwater Horizon spill — which President Obama called the "worst environmental disaster America has ever faced" — the oil is disappearing, and fisheries are returning to normal. It turns out that this incident exposed some things that are seriously wrong in the world of oil — and I don’t mean exploding wells. There was a broad-based failure on the part of the media, the science establishment, and the federal bureaucracy. With the nation and its leaders looking for facts, we got instead a massive plume of apocalyptic mythology and threats of Armageddon.

Related Article: The Worst Federal Disaster Response in Our Nation’s History

Related Article: The Spill Is Gone, So End Drilling Ban

2010 Social Security Trustees Report: Reform Needed Now
By David C. John, Heritage Foundation, August 11, 2010

The 2010 annual report by the Social Security trustees has been released. It comes as no surprise that the Trustees Report predicts massive—and permanent— yearly deficits if the Social Security system is not reformed. Though the report shows that Social Security payments are secure for another five years, Social Security already owes $7.9 trillion more in benefits this year than it will receive in tax revenues. The time for reform is now—delay will only make each challenge and problem harder to fix. Heritage Foundation financial and pension expert David C. John examines the findings of the new Trustees Report—and explains what they mean for Americans.

Memo to Republicans: It’s Big Government, Stupid!
Michael D. Tanner National Review, August 11, 2010

Riding a record of unprecedented government spending, rising debt, a government takeover of the health-care system, high unemployment, and proposals to tax everything they stumble across, Democrats have put themselves in position for an epic electoral defeat that will rival the Republican debacles of 2006 and 2008.

Given this record of Democratic ineptitude and the voters' reaction to it, one would think that Republicans would be talking about these issues every day. Instead, Republicans and conservatives have spent recent weeks talking about such distracting side-issues as immigration, the 14th amendment, gay marriage, and when and where mosques should be built.

No doubt these are important issues to various constituencies. But, the merits of the issues aside, if Republicans believe that the key to victory this year is to refight the culture wars, they are mistaken.

Taking Control of the Health Care Debate: Avoiding the Mistakes of the 1990s
By Larry Kudlow, Heritage Foundation, August 9, 2010

The reason that America needs health care reform, and the reason that the cost of health care is going up dramatically faster than we can afford and faster than everything else in the economy, is that government has broken the system. The health care system we have today is a product of policy decisions that were made in the 1990s, but it is also true that the debate on those decisions was decisive in 1994 in effecting a political revolution. Today, with enactment of the Obama health care plan, conservatives once again have such an opportunity, but merely replicating the posture of the 1990s is not enough. They have to pursue an aggressive, consequential health care reform proposal that will positively affect the lives of millions of Americans. It is equally important that Members of Congress, who represent the American people, do their will and fix this program and at the same time preserve individual freedom and personal choice.

Federal Workers Earning Double their Private Counterparts
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY, August 10, 2010

At a time when workers' pay and benefits have stagnated, federal employees' average compensation has grown to more than double what private sector workers earn, a USA TODAY analysis finds. What the data show:

  • Benefits. Federal workers received average benefits worth $41,791 in 2009. Most of this was the government's contribution to pensions. Employees contributed an additional $10,569.
  • Pay. The average federal salary has grown 33% faster than inflation since 2000. USA TODAY reported in March that the federal government pays an average of 20% more than private firms for comparable occupations. The analysis did not consider differences in experience and education.
  • Total compensation. Federal compensation has grown 36.9% since 2000 after adjusting for inflation, compared with 8.8% for private workers.
  • The Government Worker Advantage
    From The Stockton Record, August 15, 2010

    The average federal worker makes roughly double the total compensation of the average private-sector worker. An analysis by USA Today found that federal civil servants earned average pay and benefits of $123,049 last year, while private workers made $61,051 in total compensation, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis.... One thing glaringly sets federal workers - public employees in general, for that matter - apart from their private-sector counterparts: pension benefits. Public-sector workers continue to enjoy pension benefits that are the envy of most private-sector workers, especially those who have seen their defined-benefit pensions ended or frozen right along with the company match on their 401(k) plans.

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