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True North Archives - September 01, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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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

Beware of Structural Changes
By Tom Licata

What we are experiencing today is nothing short of the structural changes that transpired during the 1920s through 1940s; which were followed by decades of unprecedented prosperity and growth in the United States.  Today’s structural changes will not be followed by such good fortune.

By Deborah T. Bucknam

Recently I read a story about a young American who stayed with a family in Leningrad during the Soviet era. The family would gather around the TV set every night to watch the news. The young man reported that the news was unvarying: great news from the Soviet Union, good news from Eastern Europe, and bad news from the West. 

Vermont Public Radio follows the Soviet era model. A review of its morning and evening news broadcasts over the last several months reveals that VPR reports great news about Democrats and particularly our Democratic congressional delegation, good news from the Progressive party, and in the rare instances it reports on Republican candidates, bad news. 

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"Your love of liberty - your respect for the laws - your habits of industry - and your practice of the moral and religious obligations, are the strongest claims to national and individual happiness."  – George Washington
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Vermont Accomplishments?
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 31 2010

Here are some Vermont accomplishments of which we can be proud (?). The Cato Institute did a study of the percentage of non-poor people in the country who are getting benefits from one of the eight federal welfare programs. Non-poor people are those whose income levels are above the federal poverty level. Of all the United States, Vermont was No. 1 with 17.5 percent of its non-poor citizens receiving welfare benefits. No. 2 was Mississippi with 14.4 percent non-poor citizens on welfare. New Hampshire was No. 32 at 7.8 percent.

The Thomas B. Fordham Foundation periodically rates state education standards for clarity and rigor. In 2010, it found Vermont's English language arts standards among the worst in the country, rating a D, and our mathematics standards, again, among the worst in the country with an F.

Related: Fordham Foundation report on the Vermont Standards

Solar Tax Credits Go to Companies with Ties to Vermont Board
By Daniel Barlow, Rutland Herald, Sep 1, 2010

A majority of the solar tax credits awarded by the state last month went to a renewable energy developer who was once a member of the board deciding how to allocate the funds.

Companies founded by, and linked to, Burlington renewable energy developer David Blittersdorf received $4.3 million in tax credits for solar projects across Vermont. The total pool of available tax credits was about $7 million.

Green Energy Depends On Subsidies For Fuel
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 26, 2010

Vermont's Clean Energy Development Fund Board recently considered how to hand out $7.5 million worth of solar tax credits to developers proposing solar energy projects. When it became apparent many of the projects would not be given tax credits that they were counting on to make their projects feasible, some developers were mighty unhappy.

Chief among the unhappy participants was David Blittersdorf, founder of NRG Systems and the owner of All Earth Renewables. Blittersdorf previously served as a board member of the Clean Energy Development Fund. He resigned in July after sponsoring more than half of all the tax credit requests submitted to the board. As soon as Blittersdorf realized his ship might not come in, he promptly announced he would be thinking hard about taking all his business out of state. Later in the meeting, Blittersdorf was quoted as saying, "If New York state offered me $5 million in tax credits to move to the other side of the lake, I would have to give it some serious thought." Such loyalty.

State Board Adopts Costly Mandates
By William J. Mathis Times Argus, August 29, 2010

School budgets, school quality and property taxes are particularly fluorescent issues in election and school seasons. With a stagnant economy and a state deficit, they are even more intense. Thus, to see these issues addressed at the August meeting of the state Board of Education was not surprising. Unfortunately, instead of making things better, they may have made them worse.

Board brows were furrowed examining charts and graphs on the average 2 percent cuts imposed on local schools for next year. Since inflation has to be absorbed and new state mandates (early education, employee background checks, technology, etc.) must be implemented, the real cut to school budgets may be closer to 5 percent.

Redundant And Absurd; More Money, More Teachers
Caledonia Record Editorial, August 24, 2010

The English language metaphor for adding more of anything to whatever we already have too much of is, "Carrying coal to Newcastle." In England, Newcastle is the center of the coal mining industry. The last thing that Newcastle needs is more coal.

That is what is happening in Vermont as a spin-off from President Obama's payback to the teacher unions that spent millions getting him elected. Vermont's share of his recent squandering of $600 million more stimulus money to hire/rehire more teachers is $16 million. The five Democratic candidates for governor all want to spend the money as soon as it arrives. On what? They don't know. The single Republican candidate suggests holding on to it until something truly needed and unaffordable comes along.

Vermont needs more teachers about the same way Newcastle needs more coal. We already have the lowest student/teacher ratio in the nation at 10-to-1. We have established the unenviable record of increasing the number of Vermont teachers over a 10-year period, when the student population has fallen by 25 percent, and by just about the same percentage. Our cost per student is perhaps the highest in the nation. A simple question: Where will we put all of these additional teachers?

Related: The $19 Million Choice: Does it go to the Teachers or the Taxpayers?

Judge: Leopold Not Immune in BT Lawsuit
By John Briggs, Burlington Free Press, August 21 2010

A Superior Court judge Friday denied motions by the city of Burlington and Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold to dismiss a lawsuit arising from Burlington Telecom's financial shortcomings.

The city argued that because the state Public Service Board is addressing questions arising from Burlington Telecom's failure to repay $17 million of public money used for BT within the 60 days required by BT's state license, Superior Court does not have jurisdiction in the matter.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

An Il wind in China
By Richard Weitz, Hudson Institute, August 30, 2010

Chinese officials are indicating that one of the results of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il’s visit to China last week was that he has agreed to rejoin the Six-Party Talks aiming to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. Unfortunately, we have heard this before, and one should not expect Beijing to exert itself to achieve this result any more than it has in the past.

It is understandable that the international community has looked to the People’s Republic of China (PRC) to influence Pyongyang’s policies and help end the protracted dispute over North Korea’s nuclear program and its other threatening behavior. The PRC is North Korea’s most important foreign diplomatic, economic, and security partner. Through the Six-Party Talks and other mechanisms, PRC policymakers have sought to convince the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to relinquish its nuclear weapons and moderate its other foreign and defense policies in return for security assurances, economic assistance, and diplomatic acceptance by the rest of the international community. Such a benign outcome would avoid the feared consequences of precipitous regime change—humanitarian emergencies, economic reconstruction, arms races, and military conflicts.

Yet, Beijing’s willingness to pressure Pyongyang to modify its policies is constrained by a fundamental consideration. Unlike most policymakers in Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington, PRC policymakers want to change Pyongyang’s behavior, not its regime. Chinese officials remain more concerned about the potential collapse of the DPRK than about its government’s intransigence on the nuclear issue or other questions. The PRC government has accordingly been willing to take only limited steps to achieve its objectives. These measures have included exerting some pressure (criticizing DPRK behavior and temporarily reducing economic assistance), but mostly have aimed to bribe Pyongyang through economic assistance and other inducements. Despite their frustrations with Kim Jong-Il, PRC policymakers appear to have resigned themselves to dealing with his regime for now, while hoping a more accommodating leadership will eventually emerge in Pyongyang.

Related Article: If Only China Were More Like Japan

Cracks in the Iranian Monolith
Opposition is spreading in the streets, in prisons, and even in the military.
By Michael Ledeen, The Wall Street Journal, August 24, 2010

The Iranian regime loves to boast of its military strength, international clout and hold on domestic power. Much of this is accepted by outside experts, but in fact the regime is in trouble. Iran's leaders have lost legitimacy in the eyes of the people, are unable to manage the country's many problems, face a growing opposition, and are openly fighting with one another.

A few weeks ago, according to official and private reports, the Iranian air force shot down three drones near the southwestern city of Bushehr, where a Russian-supplied nuclear reactor has just started up. When the Revolutionary Guards inspected the debris, they expected to find proof of high-altitude spying. Instead, the Guards had to report to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei that the air force had blasted Iran's own unmanned aircraft out of the sky.

Apparently, according to official Iranian press accounts, the Iranian military had created a special unit to deploy the drones—some for surveillance and others, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad bragged on Sunday, to carry bombs—but hadn't informed the air force.

Securing Our Interests, and Iraq’s
The National Review Online, September 1, 2010

‘Tell me how this ends," Gen. David Petraeus famously asked during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It’s still a question no one can answer, although the odds of a satisfactory outcome have vastly increased since 2006, when Iraq was spiraling downward into a hellish civil war.

For now, we have transformed Iraq from a hostile, terrorist-supporting dictatorship destabilizing the region into a ramshackle democracy that is an ally in the war on terror. To get Iraq to this point, in January 2007 President Bush had to order tens of thousands of additional troops into a failing war, in the teeth of gale-force opposition from the political establishment, public opinion, and the balance of the military brass. To capitalize on the opportunity we have bought in Iraq with blood and treasure, President Obama has to do something much easier: resist a strategically witless urge to turn his back on Iraq as being merely the site of "Bush’s war."

The Muslim Brotherhood, America's Partner in Government
From Family Security Matters, September 1, 2010

But the speech is also part of another agenda that this administration has encouraged – the wholesale abandonment of America’s historical traditions to put Islam center-stage into American politics, and worse – pandering to and supporting the Muslim Brotherhood.

Ground Zero Mosque Madness
NYC Mayor Bloomberg’s Bloomberg LLC expanding its financial center to a regional hub in Dubai.
By Ann "Babe" Huggett, Emerging Corruption, August 16, 2010

New York City Mayor, Michael Bloomberg, is currently on record excoriating opponents to the construction of the Islamic Cordoba Center mosque scheduled to begin construction on September 11, 2011 in Lower Manhattan.  The proposed mosque’s site is two blocks from the former World Trade Center’s Twin Towers destroyed ten years previously on September 11, 2001 by Islamic jihadists.  Bloomberg’s demands of religious tolerance from his city’s citizens is inconsistent in a city with 100 mosques already in operation but with a school system that will not acknowledge Christianity or Christmas, or even allow the repairs necessary for the Greek Orthodox Church, St. Nicholas, to go forward nearly a decade after it was crushed by falling debris from the Twin Towers themselves.

Paralleling Mayor Bloomberg’s veiled insults towards those acutely aware of the historical Islamic conquest of non-Muslim lands by their building of mosques on top of or dominating a conquered people’s holy sites, is the concurrent Bloomberg LLC’s expansion of its Dubai financial center into a regional hub for the UAE.  Founded in 1981 by Michael Bloomberg, who privately owns 85% of the limited liability corporation, Bloomberg LLC is a dominant player in global financial software, data gathering and news, commanding one third of its market niche estimated at $16 billion dollars.

Afghanistan Getting Worse: Reposition Our Forces
By Maj. Gen. Paul Vallely, US Army (Ret), Family Security Matters, August 31, 2010

We see more casualties each day and the leadership standbys a self-destructive and self-defeating strategy of "counter-insurgency" (COIN) doctrine and nation-building. The COIN principle is not based on winning; it is based on political whims and is not a true tenet of warfare. Warfare is, and always should be, about WINNING or do not go to War. Great Generals and Admirals of battles past had enough acumen and understanding of the tides of battle to change the strategies and tactics to turn the tide on the enemy. Not today!

Latest report received by Stand Up America today. Please read and understand what he is saying with identical messages coming forth from the troops the past two years. As I said on the Fred Thompson radio show when General Petraeus departed for Kabul that you will see no change and the situation will get worse.

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From Elsewhere

Glenn Beck’s Ecumenical Moment
The "Restoring Honor" rally showcased a nation dedicated to its constitutional heritage.
By Jonah Goldberg, The National Review Online, September 1, 2010

One striking feature of Saturday’s rally was how deeply religious and ecumenical it was. It seems like just yesterday that everyone was talking about how Christian evangelicals were too bigoted to vote for upright and uptight Mormon Mitt Romney. Yet Christian activists saw no problem cheering for — and praying with — the equally Mormon but far less uptight Beck, who asked citizens to go to "your churches, synagogues, and mosques!" 

The inclusiveness transcended mere religion. While the crowd was preponderantly white, the message was racially universalistic. That was evident not just on the stage, but in the crowd as well. When Reason TV’s Nick Gillespie asked a couple whether as "African-Americans" they felt comfortable in such a white audience, the woman responded emphatically but good-naturedly: "First of all, I’m not African, I am an American . . . a black American." She went on to explain how "these people" — i.e., the white folks cheering her on — "are my family."

Related Article: Glenn Beck's "Restoring Honor" Speech: Good Medicine for All Americans

Humility in a Time of Recession
By Samuel Gregg, The Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, September 1, 2010

Since 2008, there has been much discussion about the contribution of unethical behavior to our present economic circumstances. Whether it was borrowers’ lying on mortgage-applications or Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s politically-driven lending policies, there seems to be some consciousness that non-economic factors played a role in facilitating what we already call the Great Recession.

Unfortunately evidence is emerging that some people have learned nothing. A recent report, for example, commissioned by the Wall Street Journal illustrates that "losses from mortgage fraud—ranging from falsified credit reports to identity theft—rose 17% last year after declining 57% in the two years after its 2006 peak."

Of course wider adherence to ethical norms against lying and stealing won’t solve every economic problem. There are heavy technical dimensions to many economic dilemmas which require technical solutions. Nor does every policy-error constitute a moral failure.

Nevertheless those making economic decisions are human beings, and our virtues and vices do shape our purchasing, selling and policy choices. Many such virtues could be highlighted, but one needing extra-attention today is humility.

Welcome to the Party
If the tea-party candidates are so extreme, why are they so popular?
Michael Tanner, The National Review Online, September 1, 2010

At first glance, it seemed a silly headline even by the standards of MSNBC: "Can the GOP Survive a Tea Party Takeover?"

Of course, the story was yet another in the narrative that has been eagerly embraced by both the mainstream media and desperate Democrats: "Extreme" candidates who are associated with the tea-party movement are dooming Republicans to defeat this fall. If only the Republicans had nominated more moderate, "go along to get along" candidates, who supported tax increases and the health-care bill — why, they might even manage a ten-point lead in the Gallup generic ballot.

In fact, Republicans do have a ten-point generic-ballot lead, the biggest GOP lead in the history of Gallup’s tracking poll.

Wrong About Human Rights
By Roger Pilon, The Cato Institute, September 1, 2010

So what's going on here? A little background will be useful. Founded on the ashes of the Second World War, the United Nations assumed as one of its gravest missions the protection of human rights. Toward that end, however, its declaration on the subject cobbled together both real and spurious "rights."

Hence the United Nations' two main rights covenants: one on civil and political rights — those any American would recognize — to which the United States is a party; and the other on economic, social, and cultural "rights" commonly recognized by European welfare states, which the United States signed but the U.S. Senate has never ratified.

The Carter administration was less than adept at defending America against Soviet charges that we failed to protect the second class of "rights." By contrast, the Reagan administration showed that the United States not only protected real rights, but in doing so afforded American citizens far more of the results that the Soviets purported to be providing their citizens as rights. Moreover, President Ronald Reagan went on the offensive, using the U.N. Commission on Human Rights as a forum for public diplomacy against some of the worst regimes of the Cold War, including the Soviet Union.

With the end of the Cold War, however, the lines between the two kinds of rights grew blurry. What's more, "human rights" became just another club to be wielded for political ends by human-rights abusers who sat on the commission, often targeting Israel and America.

Can't Blame War For Spike In Deficit
By Tim Cavanaugh, Investor’s Business Daily, August 31, 2010

Federal Spending: The CBO says eight years of war in Iraq were less expensive than the president's failed stimulus package. In Iraq, we jettisoned a losing strategy and changed generals. Hint, hint.

Is the Trade Gap to Blame for Slowing GDP Growth?
By Daniel Griswold, The Cato Institute, August 27, 2010

The fatal flaw of the story line (as I tackled recently here and at greater length here) is that it assumes that rising imports slow economic growth. That assumption, in turn, rests on a simplistic Keynesian view that if a portion of domestic demand is satisfied by spending on imports, that means less demand for domestically produced goods, thus less output and lower employment.

That view neglects the supply-side role of imports. More than half of what we import consists of goods consumed by producers—capital machinery, raw materials, parts and other intermediate inputs. Those imports help us produce more, not less. The Keynesian view also confuses cause and effect: Imports usually grow in response to RISING domestic demand. Consumers more eager to spend "swelling sums" on imports typically buy more domestically produced goods as well. 

'The Bush Tax Increase'
A solution to a Democratic conundrum.
By James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, , August 31, 2010

Unless Congress acts, the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 will expire Jan. 1. The prospect of big tax increases has contributed to sluggish growth, and Democrats, facing increasingly dire forecasts for November, are beginning to think maybe it would be a good idea to extend the Bush cuts. This creates a bit of a dilemma, because Democrats love taxes. 

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