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True North Archives - September 16, 2008
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Featured Articles

Choose the Larger Number: 1037 or 1180
By Martin Harris

Researcher/writer Charles Murray, in the current issue of The American, takes a less Pollyanna-ish view, citing the College Board’s own estimate that a students needs a Math-Verbal total of at least 1180 to be "college-ready" and have a 65 percent chance of graduating once there. Neither the average US student nor the average Vermont student has posted a score meeting such minimal expectations. Neither "strong" nor "incredible", I’d say. You can note that 1037 is indeed a lower number than 1180, meaning that the average Vermont student-test-taker is 43 points short of a full academic load, in term of readiness-for-college. In like manner, The Wall Street Journal sees little cause for such self-congratulatory claims of educator accomplishment: its headline (27 August) reads "Class of ’08 Fails to Lift SAT Scores" and the jump-head uses the adjective "Unimpressive".

Family-Friendly Libraries?
By Eileen Haupt

What is happening to our family-friendly libraries? Often located in the heart of small towns in Vermont, the local library provides a valuable service to the community. So why are library policies interfering with family relationships and putting children at risk?

Sarah Palin and the Future of Conservatism
By Robert Maynard

That being said, the real issue at hand here is the fact that she is young, wildly popular and has the potential to sell conservatism to mainstream America in a way that may rival Reagan himself. There is a lot of talk that, should he win, McCain would only serve one term. Palin is already having a measured affect in the polls on GOP House and Senate races around the country. (See Sarah’s Skirt Tails in the Elsewhere section of this edition) If she is seen as playing a role in stemming some of the elections losses that almost everyone has predicted for the GOP in the House and Senate races around the country, she will be looked at as the savior of the GOP. In short, the future could be hers.

For those of us who watched Bush Sr. back off from Reagan style conservatism and then have the GOP as a whole back away from the "Contract With America" brand of limited government conservatism, Sarah is the answer to our prayers. We are tired of hearing that we need to abandon traditional limited government conservatism in favor of "Governing Conservatism". If it means that we need to support McCain in order to eventually get to a Palin Presidency, so be it.

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"The men and women of this country who toil are the ones who bear the cost of the Government. Every dollar that we carelessly waste means that their life will be so much the more meager. Every dollar that we prudently save means that their life will be so much the more abundant. Economy is idealism in its most practical form." ---Calvin Coolidge

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

New Ways To Sustainable Agriculture
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 09, 2008

One of the most frequent, perhaps the most frequent, lament in Vermont is that the traditional Vermont family farm is less and less sustainable, and when it disappears, so will much of the Vermont way of life. Hence, we must find ways to preserve family farms, usually with government-sponsored programs that amount to hefty subsidies of an institution that is already on artificial life support. ...

The key to sustainable agriculture is innovation, ingenuity, and entrepreneurship. It is the classical vision of seeing a glass as half-full or half-empty. Already, Vermonters with vision are filling the other half of a half-full glass. As soon as the rest realize that the dairy decline is a door opening onto the future, Vermont agriculture will thrive again.

Wisdom, September 14, 2008

It has been a good week for humility.  All those people who had been assuring us, condescendingly, about the soundness -- financial, ethical, and theoretical – of the Government Sponsored Enterprises, Fanny Mae and Freddy Mac, have been proved wrong.  Once again, Washington is coming to the country for a bailout.  Only Washington doesn't ask.  It commands.

A Peacham Liberal’s Dilemma
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 12, 2008

Welcome to the Vermont taxpayers' world, Mr. Edwards. Here is a reminder of the facts of tax life in Vermont. Every cent we pay in taxes goes to pay for programs authorized by our local and statewide officials, and they, in turn, are authorized to charge and collect taxes by the people who voted for them. And Vermonters have elected a super majority of Democrats of the "tax and spend liberals with socialist leanings," as you so revealingly describe yourself.

So, we are overburdened with expensive programs and entitlements that flow from the left wingers' axiomatic beliefs that government should care for us from cradle to grave, that we owe a living to those who won't work for one, that we need the largest per capita public work force in the country, the lowest student/teacher ratio in the country, the most time-consuming, expensive, discouraging permit system in the country, and the highest marginal tax rates to match

More Wants; Less Wallet
From, September 11, 2008

Last month's grim forecast was not, it seems, grim enough.  Still, with even less money than anticipated flowing into Montpelier, the candidates for governor talked, during a debate last night, about increasing spending on higher education in the state.  Why?  Because it sounds far-sighted.  And it is safe.  Who can possibly be against higher education?  Even though the higher ed establishment is merely another special interest, making a case and trying to get as much as it can from the public treasury.

Bad Information
From, September 14, 2008

The average household in Vermont used about 800 gallons of oil .... last winter. That's a little different than the "conservative" estimate of 2,000 gallons that appeared in the story the day before and makes the payback period for a $9,000 solar installation (which may be too conservative an estimate of the installation cost, but I'm not sure) a lot more than 2.25 years and the return on investment a lot less than 50%.

Apparently, Sky Barsch, the author of the solar story either has a very, very large house or did not try to paint a realistic picture of the cost savings from solar power.  (I'm also skeptical of the $9,000 installation cost because it appears that her husband and family members did a lot of the work themselves.) The article was extremely misleading and is one more example of how the desire to be "green" oftentimes trumps an honest analysis of the true cost of making changes in energy use and other environmental changes.  There are no free lunches.

The Union Endorsement
From, September 12, 2008

The VT-NEA, representing 11,500 teachers and education professionals, and the roughly 8000-member Vermont State Employee Association are also poised to make their endorsements soon. That's nearly 20,000 workers.

The U.S. Labor Department reports that 30,000 Vermont workers are members of unions and 35,000 are represented by unions.  So roughly two-thirds of all union members in Vermont are in white collar, government jobs.  That leaves 10,000 other union members out of 253,000 non-government workers.  That is, about 4 out of every 100 Vermont workers not employed by state or local government are members of a union.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Osama Bin Laden as Robin Hood?
By Raymond Ibrahim, American Thinker, September 11, 2008

Are Osama bin Laden and other "salafi" Muslims being true to Islam's tenets or are they simply "freedom fighters" articulating their grievances against Western imperialism through an Islamic paradigm? The debate in the Islamic world over this question has profound consequences for the war on terror. That same debate is underway in the English speaking world.

In English, best-selling author and ex-CIA analyst, Michael Scheuer compares the words of Osama bin Laden to Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence, as Jefferson spoke about the tyranny of Britain's King George III. 

Russia Realities
By Donald Devine, American Conservative Union, September 10, 2008

Only one country in the world can annihilate the United States: Russia. Russia has 5,669 active nuclear warheads and 9,300 in reserve or 15,000 total. Of these, 3,339 are strategic nuclear weapons that can do enormous damage to widespread areas of the American homeland and kill millions of people. Of these, 1,800 nuclear bombs are mounted on Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles against which there is no defense. Russia can destroy the United States of America and much of its population. 

Why does this basic fact elude most discussions of U.S./Russia relations? Should this not be a major, even the first consideration?

Answering Iran
From Investor's Business Daily, September 12, 2008

Tehran has elevated its effort to become a member of the nuclear arms club. That leaves our government with a tough choice: Will it make a firm stand or be rolled over by a lawless regime?

The War on Christians in Moslem Countries
By Ethel C. Fenig, American Thinker, September 13, 2008

If you attend a place of worship this weekend, or even if you don't, you just don't think about it. Freedom to believe, or even not to believe, is so protected by our Constitution, so integrated into our culture that luckily we don't, for the most part, even think about it.  But as Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein, founder and president of the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews, documents  in an op-ed in the NY Daily News that,  except for Israel, the same freedoms do not exist in the Middle East. 

An Islamic court in Shiraz, Iran , has just convicted two men of being infidels. Their crime? Converting to Christianity. The possible sentence? Death. Not too far away in Saudi Arabia, an outraged father recently hacked his own daughter to death for the same "abomination."

In the daily drumbeat of Mideast news, there is one story of historic proportion that goes nearly unreported: the persecution and systematic destruction in the Islamic world of some of the world's oldest Christian communities. (snip)

The pattern is nearly the same wherever extremist Islam holds sway. From Bangladesh to Darfur, Christians have become regular targets for Islamic thugs and the governments that back them. Just this month, a Pakistani court upheld the kidnapping, conversion and "marriage" to older Muslim men of two Christian sisters, aged 10 and 13. 

The Other 9/11 Story
What has and hasn't happened in the seven years since September 11, 2001
By Victor Davis Hanson National Review September 11, 2008

The more we sought to prevent "another 9/11" through increased security, and the more therein we found success in preventing another attack, so too the more we faced yet another paradox: renewed security prompted a sense of complacence which in turn questioned the need for increased security in the first place. 

CAIR Attempts to Sabotage Law Enforcement Terrorism Training
By Jim Kouri, The Conservative Voice, NC, September 09 2008 

The Council for American Islamic Relations has been trying in vain to stop a counter- terrorism program in Sarasota Florida, aimed at providing first responders with information on subjects such as building safety, suicide terrorism, technologies against terrorism and more. This is part of CAIR's program to stop Security Solutions International (SSI) -- an organization that has trained more than 500 Federal, State and Local agencies since 2004. 

According to SSI officials, CAIR attempted to stop a training program for cops and security personnel in Seattle last Memorial Day. Fortunately, they failed. 

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From Elsewhere

Why Sarah Palin Makes such a Big Difference for the GOP Ticket
By C. Edmund Wright, American Thinker, September 10, 2008

The Alaska Governor is far more than someone who appeals to the base, she is someone who can make the base appeal to America. She is more than a token to take advantage of disaffected Hillary voters, she can replace Hillary as the authentic female role model and more in line with how the base lives. That's why the base is beyond happy. They are  electrified. And fear of this game-changing dynamic is panicking some on the left (and in the center, too).

Related: Sarah Scares Them Because They Don't Scare Her

Why Is Our Oil Up Hurricane Alley?
From Investor's Business Daily, September 12, 2008

Even as global forces drive oil prices lower, all it takes is one nasty storm to reverse that. With a continent full of energy resources, why is U.S. oil production still concentrated in one Hurricane Alley?

Developing Nations Offer Hope For U.S. Retailers
by Anthony B. Bradley, Acton Institute, September 10, 2008

Even as economic news continues to be stormy, a silver lining is discernible in the continued advance of globalization. As a new report on department stores indicates, the progress of developing economies promises to benefit the rest of the world as well--an outcome that comes as no surprise to those who understand international trade to be a win-win proposition.

Sarah's Skirt Tails
From Investor's Business Daily, September 12, 2008

Is a dazzling damsel about to save fellow Republicans in distress? Polling finds that Sarah Palin's energetic message of freedom, and her record fighting corruption, may save GOP congressional candidates.

The Fallacy of 'Green Jobs'
By John Stossel, Real Clear Politics, September 10, 2008

"Obama will strategically invest $150 billion over 10 years to accelerate the commercialization of plug-in hybrids, promote development of commercial scale renewable energy, encourage energy efficiency, invest in low emissions coal plants, advance the next generation of biofuels and fuel infrastructure, and begin transition to a new digital electricity grid. The plan will also invest in America's highly skilled manufacturing workforce and manufacturing centers to ensure that American workers have the skills and tools they need to pioneer the green technologies that will be in high demand throughout the world." (

Note that word "strategically." It is there to suggest that Obama knows how best to "invest" the $150 billion. (Of course it is not his money, and he'll have none of his own at risk, so from his perspective, it won't really be investment.) But how does he know that the things he names ought to get the money? Will he give it to cronies of his campaign contributors? Will he appoint Al Gore to pick grant recipients? Lobbyists will make a fortune steering "green" inventors and promoters to the $150 billion.

Politicians have a lousy record trying to make "strategic investments." President Jimmy Carter's Synthetic Fuels Corporation cost taxpayers at least $19 billion but failed to give us alternative fuels (story here). In the 1950s Japan's supposedly omniscient Ministry of International Trade and Investment rebuffed Sony and was sure the country should have just one car producer (story here).

Will Growing Number Of Bailouts Make Economic Problems Worse?
By Nicole Gelinas, Investor's Business Daily, September 10, 2008

The real nightmare would be if the government were to take on hundreds of billions of dollars of new risks on behalf of the taxpayers, as it has already begun to do with Fannie, Freddie and Bear, and find that there's not enough money in the U.S. Treasury to stem the decline in housing prices and thus end the banking crisis.

The open-ended risk here is already startling. Consider: If Fannie and Freddie experience losses in their mortgage portfolios of just 10%, such losses could cost taxpayers $500 billion. Losses of 20% could cost taxpayers more than $1 trillion.

New Evidence on Taxes and Income
By Arthur B. Laffer & Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal, September 15, 2008

The new Census Bureau data on income and poverty reveal that many of the economic trends in this country are a lot more favorable than America's detractors seems to think.

Obama Only Talks Good Game On Gender Pay Equity
By Deroy Murdock, The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 11, 2008

Compensation figures for [Obama's] legislative staff reveal that Obama pays women just 83 cents for every dollar his men make. ... Among Obama's five best-paid advisors, only one was a woman. Among his top 20, seven were women. ...Women in John McCain's office make $1.04 for every dollar a man makes. ... Among [McCain's] top-five best-compensated staffers, three are women. Of his 20-highest-salaried employees, 13 are women.

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