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True North Archives - September 23, 2008
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Featured Articles

A Government of Mood and not Men 
By Martin Harris

In today’s hyper-sensitive political-correctness atmosphere, it’s not safe any more to quote 18th century French writer/philosopher/politician Charles de Secondat, Baron de Montesquieu’s pre-liberte, egalite, fraternite comments about "a government of laws and not of men" because of its unacceptable sexist language. "A government of laws and not of persons" doesn’t have quite the same cachet but the larger point remains valid: the rules ought to be published, predictable, and transparent, not subject to constant case-by-case re-interpretation according to monarchical whim or, in the modern Vermont, vocal-majority mood. 

Get Ready for a New Tax on Milk
By John McClaughry

Proposing a new tax only weeks away from election day is not generally thought of as a smooth political move. But that is precisely what the Vermont Milk Commission is in the process of doing.

Sarah Palin – Accomplishment Over Talk
By Mark Shepard

Recent editorials claiming that Alaska Governor Palin is not qualified to be vice president are yet another confirmation that the fascination with Obama is hitting against reality. Americans are looking for more than smooth speeches; we want real solutions.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

New Math From the Martin Harris article

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.

Chris Santee, Fairfax 

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"I found a solace in nursing a pervasive sense of grievance and animosity against my mother's race."--Barack Obama from Dreams of My Father

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Australian Ballot Nays
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 20, 2008

Today is Saturday. Tomorrow is Sunday, followed by Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. It is with that kind of regularity that anytime anyone brings up the idea of changing the way we vote on school budgets from a voice vote at Town Meeting to the Australian ballot, every teacher, teacher's union, and school board will oppose it. So, we were not the least bit surprised that all three have objected to the latest suggestion to decide future school budgets by Australian ballot. 

It's that way in every school district in the state. 

And the reason? Quite simply, teachers, their families and friends, and school boards dominate the town meetings at which school budgets are voted up or down. They all have a powerful self-interest in seeing that the budget is passed. They suspect, with pretty good reckoning, that, if the budget goes to an Australian ballot, it will stand a much higher chance of being rejected by the voters who will turn out for a ballot vote, but who don't like meetings or who can't get to them for whatever reason.

From, September 19, 2008

Well, nobody was trampled in a rush to the polling places during the recent primary.  There were all sorts of good reasons not to bother with voting. Voters might have been more excited if there had been a close contest or two and a few candidates taking novel or controversial positions.  But in this election, it was hard to believe that old line about your vote somehow "making a difference." 

So the political mood in Vermont seems to be one of apathy.  The Governor is cruising while Ms. Symington fails to catch fire and Mr. Pollina does better than most people expected but shows no sign of reaching that threshold where people begin to believe he may actually be elected.  A measure of the sense of malaise hanging over the race for governor is the talk of a victory by Douglas that would give him less than 50% of the vote and throw the thing to the legislature – a thoroughly dismal outcome that would replace a portion of the prevailing mood of apathy with one of rancor.  Not a good trade,

Our Best Weapon
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 16, 2008

When our country's framers crafted the second amendment, British soldier quartering, foreign oppression and armed domestic uprisings were fresh in their collective memories. Protection from future tyranny, from home or abroad, factored foremost in the architecture of our "right to keep and bear arms." .... Those of us who think the conditions necessary for Constitutional protection are outdated do so at their own peril and are dangerously naive of history and ignorant of political conditions throughout most of the world today. To disarm a nation, as George Mason argued to Virginia's ratification convention in 1788, is surely to set the conditions to enslave it.

Congressional Warming Trend
From, September 18, 2008

Of course, had our starving Congressmen/women not voted themselves a $4,100 raise this year, I guess those lonely Federal salary dollars that were "sitting in an agency’s vault" (according to Sen. Leahy) could have been sent to those who need heating assistance, too.  No?  Leahy continues:  "Congress appropriated these funds for times like these."  Well, thanks Senator, but if it's all the same to you, I don't need my Congressional Dad withholding my allowance from me so I don't spent it all on foolish things.  Why not let Vermonters decide what they should do with their own money, rather than 535 people who don't live in the same economic world that the rest of the country lives in?

Disgraceful Result
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 19, 2008

Of all the alarming headlines this week, the scariest thing we witnessed were results from the First Amendment poll hosted at in which half of respondents disgracefully say that the press in the United States enjoys "too much freedom." The poll, borrowed as a small excerpt from a more encompassing annual First Amendment Center poll, was chosen in honor of "Constitution Week" and asked readers to describe press freedom as "too much," "too little," or "about right." The chilling results, which (at best) bespeak shameful ignorance or (at worst) wanton stupidity, seem irrefutably to suggest dramatic failures in our educational system. 

Maintstream Media Picks Up on Emailgate
From, September 12, 2008

Well, turns out the mainstream media is interested in the emails of  Gaye Symington and her colleagues. I'm glad.  Because it affects the job they try to do.  And members of the media seem to agree that Symington is getting some questionable advice from General Counsel Emily Bergquist.

According to Bergquist, the Vermont Constitution offers immunity in Article 14, which says:  "The freedom of deliberation, speech, and debate, in the Legislature, is so essential to the rights of the people, that it cannot be the foundation of any accusation or prosecution, action or complaint, in any other court or place whatsoever."

Seems a stretch.  Not just to me, but to our attorney, Paul Gillies, who happens to be a former deputy secretary of state and an expert on public records.

Who Pays?
By Art Woolf,, September 22, 2008

Whatever you think of the bailout plan being considered by Congress (and I have serious concerns about it), what we don't need is this kind of concern from our Congressional delegation.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Walid Phares: To Contain Jihadism, You Need Pluralism and Democracy
By Charles Recknagel, Family Security Matters, September 19, 2008

The U.S. change of command in Iraq this week comes with violence levels at four-year lows and a slight reduction planned in U.S. troop figures. Although large-scale attacks remain a concern, many observers regard a weakening of al Qaeda in Iraq as a major reason for the reduction of bloodshed.

Walid Phares, a visiting fellow at the European Foundation for Democracy in Brussels and senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, talks to RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel about Al-Qaeda's setbacks in Iraq and the future of its ideology. He says young Muslim minds must be offered "a model of pluralism and democracy" as an alternative to a "fighting caliphate."

As the West Sleeps, Islamists Work on Establishing a Worldwide Islamic State: (Part Two of Two)
By M. Zuhdi Jasser, Family Security Matters

Qaradawi opens with a castigation of what he describes as both "economic democracy" or capitalism and ‘social democracy or absolute freedom." He states that "they (Islamists) have significant reservations against capitalism because of its ‘teeth’ and they also have reservations against liberalism (or absolute freedom)". He is a typical demagogic politician who exploits religion and scripture for his own delusions of grandeur. Qaradawi repeatedly grabs entirely irrelevant passages of the Koran in his effort to present his case "for Islamic democracy" and ‘against western capitalism and liberalism" in a diatribe more fit for an Islamist sermon than the weak and incoherent political analysis he attempted. But that is the key to Islamism. It is a manipulation of Islam through the pulpit of imams like Qaradawi towards the grand deception that the Islamist interpretations of  our scripture gives the clerics mastery over the domain of government and the rule of law.

Surge Protector
From Investor's Business Daily, September 19, 2008

Arguably the greatest American general since Patton, David Petraeus has taken over Central Command. Obama wants a surge in Afghanistan. We're sending the architect of the victory on Iraq he opposed.

Being PC hampers fight vs. Islamists
By Sid Shahid, American Islamic Forum for Democracy, September 7, 2008

We should not let our short-term memories delink the importance of counterterrorism from our continued economic prosperity. From a global perspective, the threat of Islamist-inspired terrorism is one of the most significant issues of our time.

Our resounding failure in countering the fuel of terror in the past seven years is due to our inability to constructively study and counter Islamism (political Islam). As Zeyno Baran, a senior fellow from the Hudson Institute, noted in recent testimony before the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs: "Nearly all individuals involved in terrorism - whether as a foot soldiers executing the attack or as upper-level strategists, financiers or recruiters - start out as non-violent Islamists."

Islamism seeks to systemically marginalize debate and discourse within the Islamic community. Islamists promote the subjugation of other religions, persecution of other Islamic minorities, the relative servitude of women and the brutal elimination of certain social classes. They champion inhumane medieval laws. including death for apostasy and blasphemy.

Islamism of old, however, is undergoing a face lift. Islamist handlers and their corresponding organizations have come to the realization that overt radicalism laced with violence does not bode well with the vast majority of Muslims who are peace-loving and moderate.

Jihad and the Growing Surrender of American Counterterrorism
Jeffrey Imm, Anti-Jihad League of America, September 18, 2008

In the "stealth Jihad" war of ideas over the past year, one American institution after another has signaled its willingness to surrender to the advocates of Islamic supremacism -- our homeland security, our military, and our law enforcement. Islamic supremacist groups have "guided" such American government organizations to create a "terror lexicon" that excludes "Jihad," to promote "progress" over "liberty," to blackball those who would confront the Muslim Brotherhood and Islamic supremacists, to "train" our law enforcement, and to openly promote engagement with Islamic supremacist organizations as part of counterterrorism tactics.

Kneeling Before Iran
From Investor's Business Daily, September 16, 2008

The U.N. is complaining about Tehran keeping inspectors from monitoring the regime's uranium enrichment program. Sadly, complaining is about the only thing the U.N. will ever do about the situation.

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From Elsewhere

The Drumbeat
By William Stanesk, American Thinker, September 20, 2008

The drumbeat. It's always there. Day and night. Rain or shine. Winter or Summer. Sunday or Monday. It comes at you from every direction. It comes over the TV, the radio, at work, at school, in music, in the newspapers, from the politicians, in conversation with others, even in church. It wears you down. It robs you of the will to resist its message. Even short-lived victories, which stop it briefly, leave you with the knowledge that it will return; each minor victory bound to be lost to the redoubled efforts of this patient and persistent force. You can't escape it. It never stops. It never gives up. It never ends. It rains upon you from every possible angle, from every possible source.

It's the drumbeat of the left. It is political, philosophical, theological, and social. It pervades every activity. It is post-structural, post-modern, post-everything in the parlance of the day. It is tolerant, diverse, non-judgmental, non-discriminatory, egalitarian, politically correct, multicultural, globalist, and collectivist. It insists that there are no rights and wrongs, no moral absolutes. It turns everything upside down in its looking glass world. It denies the correctness of all that produced what our culture revered before the deconstruction of the world in accordance with the tenets of cultural Marxism.

Understanding the Crisis
Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr., Ludwig Von Mises Institute, September 20, 2008

What caused this? It is a simple question, and yet answers are all over the map, as you might expect. Here's mine in two words: fiat money. The word "fiat" means "out of nothing." Money out of nothing is money that is eventually worth nothing. The possibility of precisely that happening emerged in August 15, 1971. Since Nixon severed the last tie of the dollar to gold, the world's monetary system has not been restrained by anything physical. We've depended on the discretion of central bankers. We can't trust that, and this crisis shows precisely why.

Of course there are subsidiary factors: the lifting of restrictions on Freddie and Fannie; subsidized lending; the Fed's artificially low interest rates; the Community Reinvestment Act; financial "deregulation"; the war; Bush profligacy; debt. There is much more besides. But fighting each of these forces individually is like battling down flies at the garbage dump. The core issue is that there is nothing to restrain money creation.

Palin Phenomenon Accelerates Downfall Of Old Media
By Christopher G. Adamo, GOP USA, September 18, 2008

Nevertheless, a new wind is blowing across this nation. Friedman, Couric, and Gibson, along with those pretty but empty mouthpieces of the Hollywood left, will continue to offer their venom and drivel to an ever diminishing audience, oblivious to the fact that their sphere of influence is in danger of eventual extinction. In its place, the force and character of courageous individuals such as Sarah Palin, along with the grassroots network of true conservatives whom she so well represents, will begin the long task of restoring the dynamism, energy, and virtue of America.

Dawn of Energy Independence?
By Rep. Jeb Hensarling and Sen. Jim DeMint, Human Events, September 18, 2008

In just two weeks, on Oct. 1, Americans could be celebrating American Energy Freedom Day. That's the day the bans on oil shale and offshore drilling for oil and natural gas in America will expire. 

Right off American shores there are reserves estimated to hold over 20 billion barrels of oil and 97 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. And in the west, oil shale is estimated to be between 800 billion and 2 trillion barrels of oil -- that is more than three times the proven oil reserves in Saudi Arabia alone.

So-called "compromise" legislation being considered in Congress would increase energy taxes and only open up a fraction of these vast reserves, while permanently banning nearly 80% of our energy resources offshore. It would be irrational in a national energy crisis to create any new ban on American energy, and that's why the best solution is for Congress to allow the current bans to expire on Oct. 1

The Real Culprits In This Meltdown
From Investor's Business Daily, September 15, 2008

Barack Obama and Democrats blame the historic financial turmoil on the market. But if it's dysfunctional, Democrats during the Clinton years are a prime reason for it. ... Market failure? Hardly. Once again, this crisis has government's fingerprints all over it.

Related: How The Democrats Created The Financial Crisis
By Kevin Hassett,, September 22, 2008

For the first time in history, a serious Fannie and Freddie reform bill was passed by the Senate Banking Committee. The bill gave a regulator power to crack down, and would have required the companies to eliminate their investments in risky assets. ...But the bill didn't become law, for a simple reason: Democrats opposed it on a party-line vote in the committee ....Oh, and there is one little footnote to the story that's worth keeping in mind while Democrats point fingers between now and Nov. 4: Senator John McCain was one of the three cosponsors of S.190, the bill that would have averted this mess.

House Drilling Initiatives Keep Ban on Most Offshore Oil
By James M. Taylor, Senior Fellow, Environment Policy, The Heartland Institute, September 17, 2008

The U.S. House of Representatives approved a package of proposals yesterday [September 16] designed to convince voters it is addressing energy production shortfalls and high recent energy prices.

The proposals, which face an uphill battle in the U.S. Senate, would continue a ban on oil exploration and development within 100 miles of the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, with the exception that exploration and development can occur outside of 50 miles from the coast if both the governor and legislature of the affected state approve. Federal studies have shown more than 85 percent of known offshore oil reserves reside within the 50-mile zone that would remain under a moratorium.

The House plan would not allow any sharing of royalties with the states, which would discourage states from approving oil exploration and production 50 to 100 miles from their coasts. Also, rather than returning royalty money to energy consumers, the House plan would give the money to the renewable power industry to subsidize research.

Experts contacted by The Heartland Institute were unimpressed by the plan. Their comments below may be quoted or you may contact them directly.

"Telling energy producers that they cannot produce oil where federal experts know the vast majority of our oil reserves reside is like telling a person who lost his keys at the movie theater that he can look for them only at the bank across town.

"We need less politicking and more sincere action to increase domestic energy production. An offshore energy bill that continues to ban energy production where more than 85 percent of our energy reserves reside is not an energy bill at all, but merely a poorly executed head fake.

"Making matters worse, a proposal to give the royalties to the renewable power industry rather than returning them to citizens of the affected states is egregious corporate welfare that accomplishes little more than robbing Peter to pay Paul."

No Vote for the Troops
Wall Street Journal Editorial, September 20, 2008

The reality is that success in Iraq has confounded the political left, which placed a huge political bet on our defeat. Senator Harry Reid famously declared the war lost in April 2007. Joe Biden introduced a resolution opposing the surge. And Hillary Clinton said the reports of progress in Iraq required "a willing suspension of disbelief." In the Democratic narrative, our troops in Iraq are victims of a lost cause, not heroes. They're allowed to get maimed and killed, but not to succeed.

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