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True North Archives - August 18, 2009
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Featured Articles

The "Road to Serfdom" Becomes a Super Highway
By Robert Maynard

The concern expressed by the "tea baggers" is not merely over the health care bill, but the sudden acceleration in a general move toward centralized and expansive government. In raising this concern, they are echoing the concerns of Nobel Prize winning economist Friedrich Von Hayek. Hayek expressed this concern in a 1944 book entitled "The Road to Serfdom". The book points out that the road to serfdom is paved by centralized planning, which dismantles the free market and ends up with the destruction of personal and economic liberty. The central theme of his book is that all forms of collectivism tend toward tyranny. He used the examples of the Soviet Union and Nazi Germany as nations that have already traversed the road to serfdom and arrived at tyranny. His concern was that the welfare state societies of the West were heading down the same path of political centralization and economic central planning, but at a slower pace.

Urbanism and its End
By Martin Harris

A recent conclave of urban-renaissance advocates in Dayton was convened to  brainstorm alternatives to the pervasive decline which Rae calls "the end of urbanism" which is exemplified by such 50% population-loss basket cases as Detroit and Youngstown. One recommendation: urge the media not to call them basket cases. Another: bring in street theatre and puppet shows to emphasize the "creative economy". A third: level the abandoned buildings, sell the scrap lumber and brick, and plant subsidized gardens. And a fourth, from Daytonís Mayor: "we are developing a boutique city".

Who's Laying Astroturf?
By Rob Roper

In response to this and the national grassroots opposition to a government takeover of the healthcare system, Sanders is calling on his people to show up and counter the "right wing activists will show up to disrupt the public discussion," carrying signs that say "Single-Payer, the only way." Green Mountain Daily, the progressive/democrat blog, reports, "Of the 3 alerts I received on the meetings, two (VPIRG, VT Workers Center/Jobs With Justice,) raised the specter of possible confrontation and sounded the call for activists to show up en masse to counter potential unruly teabagging hordes..."

This, of course, begs the question which side is ginning up fake, "Astroturf" demonstrations to give a false impression of support for its position.  VPIRG is a gang of professional activist/lobbyists with an annual budget of about $1 million. Jobs With Justice (never heard of it before today) is a Washington DC based non-profit with about $1.6 million according to its latest 990 filing.

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"In 100 years we have gone from teaching Latin and Greek in high school to teaching Remedial English in college." -- Joseph Sobran

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Health Care Meetings are Lively, but Civil
By Tim Johnson, Burlington Free Press, August 16, 2009

Healthcare is a Human Right, a labor-funded campaign, had a presence at both events and funneled speakers to the pro-reform microphones. Many of the reform critics, by contrast, made a point of saying they were speaking for themselves, not for any organization.

Bringin' Home the Bacon
Leahy delivers for Vermont when it comes to earmarks.
By Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont Press Bureau, Times Argus, August 15, 2009

Steve Ellis, vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, has a less generous view.

"It's actually U.S. taxpayer money that could be spent anywhere in the country, so essentially we are picking winners and losers based on political muscle rather than project merit," Ellis says.
Additionally, Ellis says, earmarks feed a pay-to-play culture that has a corrupting influence on politics.
"We've seen time and again that earmarks are a petri dish for corruption," Ellis says. "They are the currency that is used as grist in the mill for pay-to-play politics."
VT Tax Revenues Down
Tax collections continuing to decline.
From WCAX, August 14, 2009

The new fiscal year isn't starting any better than the old one.

New revenue figures from the state of Vermont show tax collections continuing to decline. All of the top revenue sources came in lower in July than they did a year ago.

Mother of Killed Unborn Twins Speaks Out
From WCAX-TV August 12, 2009

A Bennington mother who lost her unborn twins in a car crash two days ago is speaking out -- about her grief -- and about Vermont law.

Patricia Blair is recovering at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center and invited us to the hospital to share her story.  Blair hopes her twins did NOT die in vain.

Vermont in Decline
By P.G. Behr, Vermont Tiger, August 17, 2009

What happened to the Vermont that used to have a truly "vibrant" economy, with hi-tech jobs in the machine tool industry, leading the nation in several specialties?  While we can blame China and other low-cost competition for taking away our industry, we must also recognize that the political climate of Vermont has changed dramatically.  Investors have shunned our state, while across the river in New Hampshire, many new enterprises have been established.  Incomes there are significantly higher and taxes are lower.

Vermont should be a great place to live, work and raise a family.  But the good jobs needed to provide the work element of this equation are missing.  Business investment requires a political climate providing reasonable permitting, regulatory, tax, and employment regimes, all of which are less than ideal in Vermont.  The Grange Hill project provides an example.  Whether you are for or against it, the permitting process has taken years, and is still not concluded.  Businessmen cannot accept this kind of uncertainty.  Our politicians have their heads in the sand.  Our state bird is the ostrich.

State Supreme Court Makes The Right Call
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 14, 2009

It's a rare occurrence that the Vermont Supreme Court gives us a decision worth cheering, but justices recently made a ruling with which we agree strongly. The court ruled in favor of Central Vermont Public Service Corp. by overturning an Environmental Court ruling that required the utility to go through another permit hearing before running a power line to a new customer across a property already covered by an Act 250 permit. This ruling relieves the utility from costly and time consuming delays in seeking the additional permit.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Is ĎPetro Jihadí Behind Western Abandoning of Iranís Uprising?
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family Security Matters, August 12 2009

What are the strategic reasons behind Western reluctance to support Iran's opposition? One theory is that there are immense Oil interests in partnership with the region's Jihadist regimes obstructing the advance of democracy in the region. The reluctance by the Obama Administration and other European Governments to extend their hand of support to Iran's civil society during the June uprising can be explained through the pressures applied by interest groups, including Oil producing regimes not to "meddle" in Iran's affairs and let go of the democratic movement.

Corruption, Communism, and Catholicism in Vietnam
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, August 12, 2009

It would be nice if this were all history, but if we ever needed proof that Communist regimes donít change their stripes, one need only look at the little-reported but growing confrontation between the Catholic Church in Vietnam and Vietnamís Communist authorities.

There are about 6 million Catholics in Vietnam today (about 8 percent of the population). They are the biggest religious minority in a nation which has been ruled in its entirety by a Communist government since 1975. Like all Communist regimes, Vietnam had its "re-education" camps. The regime has also long harassed the Catholic Church. There is no greater symbol of this than the late Cardinal François-Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, widely regarded as a modern saint. Before exiling him, the regime imprisoned him for 13 years, nine of which were spent in solitary confinement.

Who Is Winning?
By Oliver North,, August 14 2009

It's a mission that makes sense. The Taliban insurgency depends on financing provided by opium, Afghanistan's No. 1 export commodity. Most of the "ratlines" for precursor chemicals and delivery of processed heroin and morphine flow across the porous border between Afghanistan and Pakistan. Because Islamabad finally has decided to crack down on the Taliban in Pakistan's federally administered tribal areas and its northwestern provinces, there is a greater chance for success now than at any time since 2001.

That doesn't mean accomplishing this mission is going to be easy. One U.S. commander told me, "Our greatest operational challenge is logistics" to support the offensives. That's something that hasn't changed in the 11 months since I was there. As I reported then, "Afghanistan, with only one paved highway, too few airbases and insufficient air assets, is the most difficult country to move men and materiel that I have ever seen." Apparently, it still is.

Finally, there is the difficult task of winning the "hearts and minds" of the tribal people who live in the shadow of the Hindu Kush. Achieving that goal requires more than allied courage, tenacity and perseverance; it necessitates recruiting, training and equipping another 100,000 Afghan police and soldiers, who will become responsible for the fate of their own country.

When that happens, we will know we have won. If it doesn't, the headline will read, "Taliban Win."

Putin's Reset Button: Pressing Ukraine
By Ken Blackwell, August 15, 2009

It's really amazing how soon the Obama administration's chickens are coming home to roost. They made a big deal out of finding a "reset" button for U.S.-Russia relations. They wanted to reject what they saw as George W. Bush's truculence over the Russian invasion of Georgia last summer. So they went out of their way to send a message to Russia that they wanted a new beginning in their relations with Moscow.

Well, they've gotten it. London's prestigious Financial Times reports that Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has sent a tough "ultimatum" to Ukraine's leadership.

America Absconds Ė Iraq Feels Abandoned by Obama
By Amir Taheri, Family Security Matters, August 11, 2009

Where are the Americans?" Talk to Iraqis in Baghdad these days, and you'll likely hear the question.

Of course, everyone knows where the Americans are physically. The 130,000 US troops cantoned in a diminishing number of barracks outside the cities make their presence felt on occasion. The thousands of civilian Americans who are helping build a new Iraq are also easy to spot.

The question refers to the United States' fast-fading political profile.

Those who deem Iraq as the biggest US foreign-policy success in decades are baffled by Washington's determined efforts to deny that reality -- indeed, whenever possible, to try to undermine it.

Our Aging Deterrent
From Investor's Business Daily, August 12, 2009

Defense: President Obama dreams of a world without nuclear weapons. Unless testing and maintenance of our nuclear deterrent is resumed, it will be a world without American nuclear weapons.

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From Elsewhere

Morning Bell: Obamacare Pep Rally Fact Check
From The Heritage Foundation, August 12 2009

Any doubts that President Barack Obamaís "townhall" in Portsmouth, New Hampshire yesterday was a complete farce were dispelled early on when the hand picked crowd broke out in a chant of: "Yes we can! Yes we can! Yes we can!" at the close of his opening remarks. Recognizing his campaignís signature slogan, the President responded: "Thank you. I remember that." Comforted knowing he was surrounded by a room full of die-hard supporters, President Obama then want on to make a number of misleading and outright false statements about the health care legislation still working itís way through Congress. Here are just seven:

Michael Crichton Is Right!
From The Heartland Institute, 2009

State of Fear is a devastating critique of radical environmentalism in general and global warming alarmism in particular. When the book appeared in 2005, Crichton was met with a barrage of attacks and distortions from leftists and radical environmentalists. Fenton Communications--a public relations firm with a long history of fanning public fears in order to advance liberal causes--even launched a Web site called devoted to rebutting Crichton. That site still exists, and still pitches global warming alarmism.

But was Crichton right? In an extensive analysis of State of Fear presented below, the president of The Heartland Institute, Joseph Bast, catalogues all of Crichtonís scientific claims, checks them against peer-reviewed literature, and finds Crichtonís science was as strong as his narrative skills. Crichton was right, and thanks to his popularity as a novelist, millions of people around the world now know that global warming is not a crisis.

Markets Bet ObamaCare Won't Survive
By Lawrence Kudlow, Investor's Business Daily, August 12, 2009

It's still tough to know whether this behemoth government takeover of heath care will actually pass. But two key markets are betting against it.

First, over at the Intrade pay-to-play online-betting parlor, the bid for the U.S. government health-plan contract is only 38 cents. That's down from 50 cents in late July. Second, the share prices of big private health insurers have rallied in recent weeks.

UnitedHealthcare is up 13%, Humana is up 12.4% and Aetna is up almost 10%. These firms will be decimated if the government insurance plan passes. But investors are now predicting it won't.

New Poll Shows Voters Ignoring Dem Message on Town Halls
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, August 13, 2009

The Democrats have tried to portray the activists who are attending congressional town halls on health care reform as racists, Nazis, un-American, or worse. This point has been hammered home at every opportunity and the liberals have been assisted by a media that largely agrees with them.

But something funny happened on the way to passing health care reform; the American people aren't buying what the Dems are selling and instead, sympathize with the protestors.

Eyes on the Real Prize
Democrats may bet it all on health care.
By Jim Geraghty, National Review, August 13, 2009

If you asked House Democrats what they most wanted to leave as their legacy in public office, itís a good bet that a healthy number would offer a variation of "a government-managed health-care plan that is available to every American citizen." Some would classify it as "single payer," others would want the "public option," but they all add up to a massive new entitlement, in which Americans depend upon the federal government for their health care. Conservatives have dreaded it; looking around the globe, they know that once created, these programs are just about politically impossible to repeal.

Many congressional Democrats, told that passage of the sweeping health-care legislation will cost them their seats, may find the choice a harder decision than many observers think. Yes, no one should doubt a politicianís instinct for self-preservation. But itís quite possible that long-serving Democrats might want to enact a sweeping social change instead of taking the safe route.

Consumer Sentiment Plummets in August
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, August 15, 2009

This really isn't good news as any drop in consumer confidence will slow the recovery. I think Rich Baehr has nailed it; people are fearful of what the Obama administration will try and change next, as well as worrying about out of control spending and higher taxes on the horizon.

Hard-Hit Schools Try Public-Relations Push
Districts Facing Declines in Enrollment Use Marketing Campaigns to Win Back Students -- and the State Funding They Bring.
By Stephanie Simon,The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2009

Financially struggling urban districts are trying to win back students fleeing to charter schools, private schools and suburban districts that offer open enrollment. Administrators say they are working hard to improve academics -- but it can't hurt to burnish their image as well.

So they are recording radio ads, filming TV infomercials and buying address lists for direct-mail campaigns. Other efforts, by both districts and individual schools, call for catering Mexican dinners for potential students, making sales pitches at churches and hiring branding experts to redesign logos.

Faith-Based Programs Get a Pass
By Kathleen Parker, August 16, 2009

A comparison of how the media have treated the two presidents and their faith-based programs during the first six months of their administrations (2001 and 2009) is the subject of a new study by the Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism and the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life. The findings suggest a very different standard applied to each president.

When the Right Protests, It Must Be Wrong
After 8 years of Nazi images and loony left protests, now the media oppose dissent.
By Dan Gainor, Business & Media Institute, August 12, 2009

For eight years in America, protest was in and all the cool kids did it. We had flamboyantly dressed Code Pinkers demonstrating at conventions and in sessions of Congress, calling Marine recruiters "traitors" .... And anti-war lefty Cindy Sheehan got so much news coverage from the major networks and top newspapers that they practically had to create a bureau to handle her antics. ...

That all happened before January 20, when the left, along with their supporters in the news media, decided protest and dissent were suddenly unpatriotic.

Whole Foolishness
The left boycotts a progressive retailer.
From The Wall Street Journal, August 17, 2009

August is the slowest month for political bloggers, so to chase away the summer doldrums, several on the left have decided to gin up a retail boycott. The object of their wrath: Whole Foods CEO John Mackey's op-ed in these pages last week, presenting alternative ideas for health-care reform.

Perish the thought. The response to the piece on liberal Web sites has been frothy, with bloggers lining up to reproach Mr. Mackey for his transgression against progressive orthodoxy. A post on the Web site DailyKos called Mr. Mackey a "right-wing zealot," and his opinions "asinine." 

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