North Archives - September 30, 2008
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Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Part I of IV)
By Martin Harris
recently, no one paid much attention to this National Assessment of Educational
Progress (NAEP) even though the resulting student test scores were uniformly
quite dismal, typically in the low 200’s out of a possible 500, meaning
that about 2/3 of all test-takers couldn’t make "proficient", (the three
categories are basic, proficient, and advanced) and couldn’t, therefore,
function at grade level. All that began to change in 2001, with the adoption
of Public Law 107-110, better known as No Child Left Behind, or NCLB, and
that was not because of the federal testing, which had been in place and
unprotested for some 32 years, but because of the line deep within the
new law requiring that almost all students be "proficient" by 2014, and
States now must demonstrate via test results that their students are making
Adequate Yearly Progress towards that goal. As you may have noticed, we’re
halfway there, calendrically, but not test-score-wise. Time is running
out; each additional year of stagnant NAEP test scores makes it statistically
more improbable for students to improve achievement enough that virtually
all are "proficient" in only six more years. Such an intractable problem
calls for a conference; or, if you prefer, a Forum....
But then, a funny thing happened.
On page 9 it says, "NAEP’s definition of "Proficient" is not bound by grade-level
expectations or proficiency in a subject". In one brilliant etymological
stroke, the Forum-goers solved the NAEP student-achievement "proficiency"
shortfall, simply by re-defining proficiency. Wow.
Struggle with Choice?
By Retta Dunlap
On September 10, the VT-NEA
held its first ever gubernatorial education debate. The three candidates,
James Douglas (R), Gaye Symington (D), and Anthony Pollina (I), squared
off on the stage of the Chandler Music Hall in Randolph, Vermont. What
was surprising was the lack of real substance about education in the debate.
Where was the discussion of giving parents the real tools they need to
be involved in their children? education? Where was the discussion of how
to help small schools stay open? Why not allow them to open up as charter
schools? What about the quality of Vermont's education compared with the
rest of the world? Should we have merit pay for teachers? How would the
candidates help to get technology into the classrooms? Are teachers being
trained for the 21st Century and what would the candidates do to support
that? Just how supportive are they of other educational opportunities,
such as homeschooling and private schools? Do they support allowing parents
to take advantage of school choice? These are the questions that the VT-NEA
rarely ever asks and should have been the real focus of the debate.
on Sarah Palin
By Ruth Dwyer
I am convinced that John
McCain will be our next President, just as I was positive George W. Bush
would prevail in both of his elections. So the first women Vice President
will be a Republican. And thankfully not a country club Republican! My
friend from New York City says Palin is "too much of a yokel" for national
office. She is a yokel, God bless her. So was Harry Truman.
I planned to send John McCain
some money, but I doubled the amount when he chose Palin as his running
mate. Finally the election got interesting, because Palin has more executive
experience than Obama, even if he has little by most standards. And so
what is she never had a passport? Do Americans REALLY want leaders
who spend lots of time in Europe? Obama obviously thinks so. But one of
my favorite things about George W. Bush - apart from his kissing me on
stage at a Republican Dinner – is how much Europeans hate him. Proves he
is doing something right. So if up until now Sarah Palin has stayed in
Alaska doing the job she was elected to do, rather than globetrotting at
taxpayer’s expense, good for her. When she’s Vice President she’ll rack
up lots of frequent flyer miles and think of the hunting opportunities!
# # #
Week’s Mail Bag
Not a time for partisanship
In his 1980 work "The Real
War", Richard Nixon discusses the Cold War and global power in terms of
national will, diplomacy, natural resources (i.e. oil), military power,
and economic power.
Today we find ourselves facing
crises of national will, diplomacy, oil, and economic power. We are a nation
observing its national will in the mirror of a national election fraught
with bickering, name calling and a total lack of anything resembling a
coherent, reasoned discussion of the great issues facing our great nation.
We have seen our global diplomatic status erode through consistent, unilateral
initiatives. Our refusal to deal with our increasing thirst for foreign
oil has put us in a position where our national wealth is being siphoned
off at a staggering pace. We still can take perverse comfort in our ability
to bomb anyone into the stone-age with virtual impunity, though we seem
to be having trouble keeping track of all of our nukes. And our economic
power, the great stability and opportunity of the US capital markets stands
in a shambles, victim to misguided legislation and lack of oversight.
Today the debate is raging
regarding the great $700 billion bailout bill. The administration says
that the plan is desperately needed to maintain the solvency of the US
economy. Voices from the opposition bemoan the shifting of the burden onto
the taxpayers. Both arguments have merit. In a global financial marketplace
where billions of dollars are moved with the push of the button, time is
of the essence, and the appearance of a protracted legislative fight will
only reinforce the impression that the US has no credible plan. Conversely,
the granting of a financial mulligan to a handful of Wall Street profiteers
is as distasteful as a plate of cold haggis.
Into this mix, as predictable
as the sunrise, has entered Senator Bernie Sanders. On the Senator’s web
site (Sanders Op-Ed: The Middle Class Must Not Be Forced to Bail Out Wall
Street Greed -- 09/21/2008) he states:
"…as a member of the House
Banking Committee and now as a member of the Senate Budget Committee, I
have heard the Bush Administration tell us how "robust" our economy was
and how strong the "fundamentals" were… Now, we are being told that if
Congress does not act immediately and approve the $700 billion Wall Street
bailout proposal …there will be an unprecedented economic meltdown in the
United States and an unraveling of the global economy".
Now, I don’t know about you,
but this strikes me as odd. Isn’t Mr. Sanders, as a member of these committees,
supposed to be the expert on banking issues? Shouldn’t he be telling the
President, and anyone who might listen, what the state of our economy is?
Why is he looking to the President for analysis of our economic situation?
The answer to that question
is quite simple. Mr. Sanders views this crisis as a vehicle for political
gain first, and an opportunity to serve his constituents and this nation,
second. Before we rush to lay the blame for the current mess on the Bush
administration, let us remember that it was President Clinton who signed
into law the legislation to dismantle Glass-Steagall, the post depression
regulations that prevented the construction of integrated financial institutions.
Without that legislation, sponsored by Phil Gramm ,we could not have gotten
into this mess.
The blame for this mess crosses
party lines, and is at your feet, Senator, as well as your colleagues,
past and present, on both sides of the aisle.
We are faced with a Hobson's
choice; fund the bailout with taxpayer dollars or let the financial institutions
fail, and bring our collective net worth, and economy down with them. With
the bailout, we buy time to let you "experts in congress" who represent
us try to fix the problem. Without it, you are off the hook. You will keep
drawing your government check while those whom you, supposedly, serve lose
Time is of the essence. Partisanship
is unacceptable. Tweak the bill, but don’t re-write it.
Way to go, Bernie. This is
Gary Crosby, Fayston
Candidates Urged to Sign
Economic Health Petition
This letter is to all candidates
running for election in November. I urge you to go to the web site
and click on the site's petition. There are currently 869 signatures
and many comments left there by Vermonters who are very concerned with
the direction in which our state is going. You all need to pay attention
to what the voters are saying, and let this be your wake-up call.
Marge Day, Saint Albans
"I never emulate white
men and brown men whose fates didn't speak to my own. It was into my father's
image, the black man, son of Africa, that I had packed all the attributes
I sought in myself, the attributes of Martin and Malcolm, DuBois and Mandela."
from Dreams of My Father
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Abysmal Legislative Business Report Card
Caledonia Record Editorial,
September 23, 2008
Twice a year, the Vermont
Chamber of Commerce publishes its "Legislative Report Card," which rates
legislators on how they voted on issues important to the Chamber. Two weeks
ago it published the report card, and the Democrats in the Legislature
got abysmal grades....
Republicans earned an average
score of 86 percent, while Democrats averaged 26 percent. Democrats were
closer in the Senate, but still averaged 60 percent to Republicans' 87
percent. Sen. Kevin Mullen, R-Rutland, earned a 100-percent ranking. So
did Sen. Hull Maynard, also a Republican. Seven members of the House -
all Republicans - also voted with the Chamber 100 percent of the time.
The obvious conclusion is that these lawmakers heartily agree that what
the Chamber thinks is good for business is good for Vermont.
Vt. Schools Below Sate Results
By Katie Beth Ryan, Eagle
Times, September 24, 2008
The Vermont Department of
Education released results from the science evaluation of the New England
Common Assessment Program (NECAP) test on Wednesday, and results show that
the state has room to improve in ensuring science proficiency. The test
was administered last spring to Vermont's fourth-, eighth-, and 11th-graders.
Across the state, 48 percent of fourth- graders, 26 percent of eighth-graders
and 25 percent of 11th-graders had attained proficiency in science.
Asks Ben & Jerry's to Make Ice Cream out of Breast Milk
By Daniel Barlow, Vermont
Press Bureau, Rutland Herald, September 25, 2008
The People for the Ethical
Treatment of Animals asked Ben & Jerry's Homemade Ice Cream this week
to consider using human breast milk instead of cow's milk in their products.
Caledonia Record Editorial,
September 24, 2008
The endorsement of Pollina
by the state's three largest labor unions came at a time when Pollina had
the support of about 7 percent of Vermont voters, according to poll results
released around the same time as the endorsements. In fact, Pollina made
no secret of the fact that his decision to file as an Independent was to
broaden his support after failing to get any traction run for governor
as a Progressive.
Since the three big labor
union endorsements, Pollina is now getting twice as many votes as Symington
in a current online (and unscientific) news poll. Douglas, the Republican
incumbent, is way out in front of both Pollina and Symington with around
48 percent of the vote.
Hydro Hopefuls Critical of ANR Permit Process
By Mike Ives, Seven Days,
September 17, 2008
In the late 1990s, Anders
Holm came up with what he thought was a pretty good idea: converting the
energy generated by Middlebury’s Otter Creek Falls into hydroelectric power.
Holm recalls that, as he began to craft his hydro-powered vision, the developers
One Hydroelectric Project, which was approved by regulators
in 1988, warned him about complications associated with the Agency
of Natural Resources’ permitting process. But he decided
to try anyway, and in 2006, he began working with the state agency to get
his project permitted.
He had no idea at the time
that some 20 "small hydro" developers were in line behind him. Since 1988,
not a single one of those projects has gotten the green light from ANR.
the Evidence Doesn’t Support A Reasonable Doubt
Caledonia Record Editorial,
September 25, 2008
Anybody who watches "Law
and Order" on television knows that a case is not proven until the jurors
cannot, in the face of the testimony and evidence, support a reasonable
doubt. When that is successfully achieved by the prosecutor, the juror
must find the defendant guilty.
If we were to consider the
current question of whether the Vermont Legislature should pass Jessica's
Law, a stringent holding-to-account of sex offenders, we think that the
accumulation of testimony and evidence has made a compelling case for adoption
of Jessica's Law and an end to the dithering about it.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Threat Bigger than Wall Street
By Greg Sheridan, The Australian,
September 27, 2008
The new president will have
one modestly useful extra resource, a bipartisan report commissioned by
two former US senators and written primarily by Middle East expert Michael
Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute. The Weekend Australian has
obtained a copy of the report, to be released later this week. Before I
got the report, I had a long discussion with Rubin.
Rubin is a Republican, but
the report he wrote was the consensus work of a bipartisan taskforce that
includes Dennis Ross, Obama's key Middle East adviser. The report is sobering
and in some ways shocking reading. It begins baldly: "A nuclear weapons
capable Islamic Republic of Iran is strategically untenable."
It points to the disastrous
consequences of an Iran with nuclear weapons: "Iran's nuclear development
may pose the most significant strategic threat to the US during the next
On The Main
From Investor's Business
Daily, September 26, 2008
With America hit by a financial
crisis, Venezuela's Hugo Chavez now sees a weak U.S. and is pushing to
accelerate Russia's foothold in the Caribbean. Russia's with him. Will
the next U.S. president be ready?
Pakistani Soldiers Take On al-Qaeda in Volatile Tribal Region
By Zahid Hussain, Times
Online, September 27, 2008
This was the scene yesterday
in the Bajaur tribal region, as it has been for much of the past six weeks.
Bajaur, which borders southeastern Afghanistan, is a main operating base
for al-Qaeda and the Taleban; Pakistani intelligence believes that Ayman
al-Zawahri, the second-in-command of al-Qaeda, has been a visitor. Now
it is the venue for the fiercest battle between Pakistani military and
Islamic fighters since Pakistan joined the US War on Terror in 2001.
More than 8,000 Pakistani
troops have been involved in the six-week campaign. The generals claimed
yesterday to have killed 1,000 militants so far – yet the hostilities show
no sign of letting up. A constant supply of fresh fighters from inside
the country and across the border in Afghanistan is helping the militants
to stay in the fight.
Using Oil as a Weapon Against Iran?
By Ed Lasky, American Thinker,
September 27, 2008
Business Week article on Saudi Arabia portrays a kingdom eager to pump
oil far above its OPEC quota despite a rapid decline in the price of oil
on the world markets. This places them in an adversarial relationship with
Iran and Venezuela - two allies. Why might the Saudis engage in this practice?
One, is they want to prevent a collapse in demand that might bring about
a harsher collapse in prices.
However, there might be another
reason: to destabilize Iran, an arch-foe of Saudi Arabia. Iran is a Shiite
power intent on achieving hegemony throughout the Middle East. Saudi Arabia
sees itself as the leading Sunni power and a protector of two of the holiest
sites of the Sunni branch of Islam (Mecca and Medina).
Warn That Al Qaeda Aims for October Surprise
Asking Local Cells To Be Prepared for Imminent Instructions
By Eli Lake, New York Sun,
September 22, 2008
In the aftermath of two major
terrorist attacks on Western targets, America's
counterterrorism community is warning that Al
Qaeda may launch more overseas operations to influence the presidential
elections in November.
Proposes Anti-Sharia Measure in Wake of U.K. Certification of Islamic Courts
Act" would deny U.S. visas to advocates of ‘Sharia’ law, expel Islamists
From the Muslims Against
Sharia Islamic Reform Movement, September 20, 2008
WASHINGTON, DC – Amid disturbing
revelations that the verdicts of Islamic Sharia courts are now legally
binding in civil cases in the United Kingdom, U.S. Representative Tom Tancredo
(R-Littleton) moved quickly today to introduce legislation designed to
protect the United States from a similar fate.
# # #
Goal Is Freedom: State Capitalism in Crisis
By Sheldon Richman, Foundation
for Economic Education, September 26, 2008
Words from politicians are
like incantations. You’re not supposed to ask exactly how an alleged government
solution will work. You’re just supposed to feel reassured. The well-meaning
politicians and their experts have things under control. No need to worry.
Nothing to see here. Move along.
But let’s be mischievous
and wonder how government plans to fix the financial markets it so royally
screwed up over many decades. The government will take bad loans off the
hands of the lenders. For how much? No one else wants the loans, so Czar
Henry is the only buyer. Some kind of reverse auction will perhaps be held.
Will that yield the "right" price? Is there a way to tell? And do you think
there’ll be lobbying and rent-seeking going on in the selection of what
to buy and how much to pay? If you think not, you still believe in the
tooth fairy too.
The jockeying for advantage
has begun! "Financial companies were already lobbying to broaden the plan.
And the Bush administration did indeed widen the scope by allowing the
government to buy out assets other than mortgage-related securities as
well as making foreign companies eligible for government assistance," the
York Times reported. Bad credit-card debt and car loans could also
be on the government’s shopping list.
It goes without saying that
Paulson will not be spending his own money. Last I heard, the government
was running a $400 billion budget deficit. There isn’t $700 billion tucked
away in a petty-cash drawer somewhere. That’s 700,000,000,000 dollars.
Seven hundred thousand million dollars, or 2,333 bucks and change per man,
woman, and child in the United States. More than the Pentagon spends in
a year. More than the Iraq war has cost. It’s a lot of money.
Report Exposes Environmental Groups as "Massive Democratic Political Machines"
U.S. Senate Committee on
Environment & Public Works, September 25, 2008
U.S. Senator James Inhofe
(R-Okla.), Ranking Member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee,
today released an updated comprehensive investigation into the financial
and political activities employed by charitable and environmental organizations
claiming to be non-partisan. [See today’s updated full report: Political
Activity of Environmental Groups and their Supporting Foundations -
Previously in 2004 Senator Inhofe released the original report on environmental
group funding. See: INHOFE
RELEASES DETAILED REPORT ON ENVIRONMENTAL GROUP POLITICAL FUNDRAISING –
October 5, 2004]
"Campaigns to ‘save the cuddly
animals’ or ‘protect the ancient forests’ are really disguised efforts
to raise money for Democratic political campaigns," Senator Inhofe said
during a floor speech today presenting the new report. "Environmental organizations
have become experts at duplicitous activity, skirting laws up to the edge
of illegality, and burying their political activities under the guise of
non-profit environmental improvement.
"Take this ad for example,
displayed on the League of Conservation Voters, or LCV, website. This is
LCV’s standard text used to raise money for the nonprofit organization.
In turn, LCV takes these donations, given to ‘save the environment’ and
uses them to fund ads for Democratic Candidates such as Ben Lujan from
New Mexico. LCV, similar to other groups I’ll highlight later, disguises
itself as an environmental group dedicated to saving the environment, yet,
as shown by this political ad, it is simply an extension of the Democratic
By Donald Devine, American
Conservative Union, September 24, 2008
Actually, I was introduced
to Ms. Palin in 1999 when I was recruiting activists for a conservative
organization. I was overwhelmed by her intelligence, knowledge and judgment,
to say nothing about her commitment to conservative principles. She was
willing to discuss limited government philosophy and impressed this professor
with her depth. I met her again to recruit her for Steve Forbes’ campaign
for president and was again overwhelmed by her questioning and inquiring
mind and her willingness to commit to a dedicated conservative even though
it would probably not benefit her politically.
May Back Alternative to Bank Bailout
By Mike Sunnucks, Phoenix
Business Journal, September 25, 2008
U.S. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz.,
may be throwing a monkey wrench into efforts to pass a $700 billion bank
bailout, instead favoring alternative plans that looks to free up capital
and credit markets via tax and regulatory relief while allowing financial
institutions to temporarily skip dividend payments to shareholders.
Republican and Democratic
officials in Washington said McCain was offering alternatives Thursday
to the $700 billion plan backed by the Bush administration, Federal Reserve
chairman Ben Bernanke and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson. That plan
has the federal government acquiring bad mortgage assets from struggling
banks with the goal of keeping them afloat and allowing more credit to
McCain appears to be siding
with conservatives and House Republicans who question the bailout and its
costs to taxpayers as well as government rescuing private lenders and perhaps
taking ownership stakes in rescued banks.
Man Who Never Was
By Tony Blankley, GOPUSA,
September 24, 2008
The mainstream media have
gone over the line and are now straight-out propagandists for the Obama
While they have been liberal
and blinkered in their worldview for decades, in 2007-08, for the first
time, the major media consciously are covering for one candidate for president
and consciously are knifing the other. This is no longer journalism; it
is simply propaganda. (The American left-wing version of the Volkischer
Beobachter cannot be far behind.)
And as a result, we are less
than seven weeks away from possibly electing a president who has not been
thoroughly or even halfway honestly presented to the country by our watchdogs
-- the press. The image of Obama that the press has presented to the public
is not a fair approximation of the real man. They consciously have ignored
whole years of his life and have shown a lack of curiosity about such gaps,
which bespeaks a lack of journalistic instinct.
Aliens & the Mortgage Mess
By Michelle Malkin, New
York Post, September 24, 2008
But there's one villain that
has slipped notice: how illegal immigration, crime-enabling banks and open-borders
Bush policies fueled the mortgage crisis. It's no coincidence that the
areas hardest hit by the foreclosure wave - Loudoun County, Va., California's
Inland Empire, Stockton and San Joaquin Valley, and Las Vegas and Phoenix
- also happen to be some of the nation's largest illegal alien sanctuaries.
Half of the mortgages to Hispanics are subprime. A quarter of all those
subprime loans are in default and foreclosure.
Regional reports across the
country have decried the subprime meltdown's impact on illegal-immigrant
"victims." A July report showed that in seven of the 10 metro areas with
the highest foreclosure rates, Hispanics were at least one-third of the
population; in two of those areas - Merced and Salinas-Monterey, Calif.
- Hispanics comprised half the population. The National Council of La Raza
and its Development Fund have received millions in federal funds to "counsel"
their constituents on obtaining mortgages with little to no money down;
the group almost succeeded in attaching a $10 million earmark for itself
in one of the housing bills passed this spring.
For the last five years,
I've reported on the rapidly expanding illegal-alien home-loan racket.
The top banks clamoring for their handouts as their profits plummet, led
by Wachovia and Bank of America, launched aggressive campaigns to woo illegal-alien
homebuyers. The quasi-governmental Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development
Authority guaranteed home loans to illegal immigrants.
# # #