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True North Archives - October 02, 2007
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Campaign finance effort hurts taxpayers
By Rob Roper

On Sept. 5, Vermont taxpayers got stuck with a $1.4 million bill for loser's legal fees in the U.S. Supreme Court case of Randall v. Sorrell. This is the consequence of our Legislature passing a radical, unconstitutional campaign finance law in 1997. It is also a reminder in real numbers why we should be thankful Gov. Douglas vetoed the Legislature's 2007 campaign finance bill.

The Reasonableness of Christianity
By Bruce Shields

Recently a number of books have arrived on the scene suggesting a) that religion is responsible for most social evils in the modern world, and that b) all religions are equally evil in this respect.  ... These arguments have been sharpened in recent political discussion by three phenomena: the rise of radical Islamism, the influence attributed in the US to the "Christian Right," and the eruption in various places of sectarian violence such as between the Muslim and Hindu factions in India or between Muslim and Christian factions in East Timor.  Several popular authors attributed the sectarian violence to a "Rise of Fundamentalism," theorizing that Fundamentalism could be seen as a religious movement regardless of the core beliefs espoused.  By this logic, Jerry Falwell, the Hindu Janata Bhatriyu, and Usama bin Laden can be seen as simply peas in the same pod of violent extremism.

Wonderful Vessels of Clay
By Martin Harris

Consider this hypothetical: you’re in the pottery business, and it’s your task to take raw clay and shape it into reasonably well-(in)formed little chalices. Years ago, you accomplished this with a fairly low production cost per unit and a fairly high output quality standard, but in recent years your unit costs have gone way up while your reject percentages –"failed to meet the standard"—have likewise gone way up. Presently, the federal agency which monitors chalice quality reports that 2/3 of your output doesn’t meet the standard at various points along the production line, and therefore you’ve been prohibited from advertising your product as "excellent" any more. 

All of that describes the post-WWII history of public education, with the exception that the feds who monitor student achievement aren’t allowed to forbid educators from calling their students the product of "high standards" even though most of them aren’t. In fact, educators aren’t even required to publish, locally, the federal test results, and have been encouraged to go out and buy their own tests which seem to show a higher product quality.

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Letter to the Editor

Zoning Problems

Dear Paul,

I wanted to thank you for a great show today with Professor Black and Karen Kerin discussing my zoning problems in Randolph and the effects of zoning in general. Karen did a good job condensing 5 years of my frustration and delays down to a few minutes and Jim also did a great job fielding the questions from the other callers. 

I did try to call in to response to "Carol" who portrayed me as a mean and spiteful neighbor for making a mess of my property. I was advised by Martin Harris that it might not be a good thing to do and perhaps he is right, but everything else that I tried to do for 4 1/2 years was getting me nowhere. It was implied that I had trashed the whole 6 acres parcel which is far from the truth. Anyone who drives by this property I think would be very impressed with how well it is being maintained with one minor exception in one corner where I have stored some farm equipment, fencing and old building supplies. It certainly is much cleaner and neater than when I purchased the property 5 years ago. 

All the other charges made by "Carol" are the same old nonsense that my neighbor has been saying for years. What I paid for the property is not a zoning issue!  I did not "lie" about my plans for the property because I really did not know what I might do with it if the town were to grant the sewer permit. In fact, I have video of the selectboard chair telling me to make up something that could always be amended down the road when I actually had a plan, so you could say that the selectboard told me 'lie' so that they would have something to approve.

As for their willingness to meet and discuss our differences nothing could be further from the truth! I have tried to talk with plenty of folks and the conversation goes nowhere, if they will talk with me at all-most will not. The  Environmental Court order that we all participate in mediation was agreed to by myself, the town and all the so-called "interested parties" but almost no one showed up, and those few that did offered nothing. The town’s attorney and ZA attended but said they had nothing to offer and would not comment on anything that was put on the table. Fortunately the VLS ran the mediation for free but as it turned out that was more than it was worth.

The towns game plan has been to delay-delay-delay from the very beginning. Every single meeting with every board requires a follow-up meeting and always at least 30 days down the road. It is my understanding that the DRB has made a decision responding to the very favorable decision by the Environmental Court in July 2007 (described here) and it will be interesting to see what they come up with this time.

It seems to me that the state of Vermont should take an active role if housing is truly in such short supply as they claim, but they claim they cannot. If I was a nonprofit housing group then they would get involved, but not for an individual. 

There is so much more to say but I cannot find media to get interested other than The Randolph Herald which has been doing a great job reporting the facts. If anyone is interested go to and enter Blakeman or Sunset Hill in the archives and there will plenty to read.

Anyway, Thanks again and please thank Professor Black and Karen Kerin for covering the story. I appreciate it. 

Perhaps Paul, you would consider inviting me to your program if you and the listeners would like "to hear the rest of the story".

Kevin Blakeman, Sharon, VT


"God grants liberty only to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." --Daniel Webster

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

What causes prosperity?, September 29, 2007

Adam Smith answered it in 1776 with the Wealth of Nations  (which, by the way, many authors of another famous document of that same year had read and were familiar with).  Bryan Caplan, an economist at George Mason University and a blogger at one of my favorite economics blogging sites, Econlog, points out how most people still don't get the answer right.

Go Slow - Real Slow!
Caledonian Record Editorial,September 27, 2007

The Vermont House Ways and Means Committee has begun to explore the feasibility of replacing the property tax that funds education with a new income tax. The investigation is being led by a prominent Democrat, Michael Obuchowski, and a prominent Republican, Bud Otterman. This appearance of bipartisan support is deceptive, and we advise these two and the rest of our legislators to go slow - real slow - before mounting a charge.

Symington’s company boasts green thumb 
(but gives environment the finger)
By Rob Roper, September 26, 2007

"The left in Vermont has repeatedly used our environment as tool for partisan politics. The negligence at Intervale illustrates that they are not only hypocrites, but unworthy of Vermonters’ trust as environmental stewards." – Rob Roper

House Speaker Gaye Symington is the Development Coordinator for the Intervale Center. This organization has just been cited by the Agency of Natural Resources as having violated the Vermont Solid Waste Management Rules, the Vermont Indirect Discharge Rules, and the conditions under which the center was certified. As a result of Intervale’s danger to the environment the Center is facing the possibility of a forced shut down in July. 

It is outrageous that a project enjoying the intimate involvement of the Speaker of the House and the Chairman of the House Agriculture Committee, with a mission dedicated to "protecting natural resources," could be in such flagrant violation of Vermont environmental law. 

Intervale is made up of a veritable who’s who of left wing politics in Vermont. The Speaker of the House is the Development Coordinator. Progressive Representative David Zuckerman farms a plot on Intervale. The treasurer for Democrat Scudder Parker’s gubernatorial campaign, Will Rapp, is the "honorary founding member." Check out the "Who We Are" section of Intervale's website. 

Cashing in on Green Hype, September 29, 2007

The bigger story the Heraldmissed is that a lot of the businesses going-green these days aren’t expecting a direct return on investment at all. Had the folks at the Herald followed the news this week they’d have know there’s a growing trend of businesses using ‘Green Hype’ to get free publicity which is exactly what the Herald gave to this laundromat. Indeed, the business owner interviewed in the Newsweek story as much as admitted the solar panels he installed on his car wash "provide[s] only enough juice to run the shop's refrigerators and lights." He further elaborated that, "to run my main motors, I'd need a city block of solar panels." But he's not going to buy a city block of solar panels because making electricity has nothing to do with it. He says he "regards them as an effective form of advertising because of the image we are trying to maintain and create.

Legislating Common Sense
Caledonian Record Editorial, September 28, 2007

Currently, Vermont has a secondary enforcement statute that states a ticket for failure to wear a seat belt may only be issued when the motorist is stopped and ticketed for another, primary violation. Proponents of a primary enforcement law support a change in Vermont statutes that would allow police to stop someone for failure to wear a seat belt. Such a proposal has passed the House twice only to die in the Senate. During the 2007 session, federal officials from the National Transportation Safety Board used the usual federal green mail approach of promising legislators federal grants in return for a new seat belt law. The feds were back in town this week pushing for the enhanced law once again. 

Apples & Oranges: Part II of VI, September 27, 2007

We continue to hear that Vermont ranks near the top of the charts for educational performance; these statistics are often cited as justification for our high levels of spending.   But, as others have pointed out, such statements are a statistical felony – they tell us more about the demographics of Vermont than the quality of its educational outcomes. 

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Al Qaeda Targets Our Schoolchildren
By Marc Sheppard, The American Thinker, September 25, 2007

While Democrats prepare witless campaign slogans blaming Republicans for millions of children not protected by health insurance, al Qaeda's blatant threat to exterminate 2 million American kids remains unheeded.  And it will likely continue to be, notwithstanding mounting evidence that there exists no peril on Earth our young need greater protection from today than merciless jihadist monsters.

A Quiet Triumph May be Brewing
By Ray Robison, The American Thinker, September 28, 2007

There are signs that the global Islamic jihad movement is splitting apart, in what would be a tremendous achievement for American strategy. The center of the action is in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the very territory which is thought to harbor Usama, and from which Al Qaeda was able to launch 9/11. Capitalizing on existing splits, a trap was set and closed, and the benefits have only begun to be evident.

War on the Horizon?
by Robert Maginnis, Human Events, September 28, 2007

The US is ill-prepared militarily to participate in "an accidental war" if it requires ground forces beyond those already committed to operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.  US military action to support Israel against potential antagonists Syria, Iran or Iran’s proxy Hezbollah (Party of God) would be limited to air and naval forces. Given the nature of the threat, however, that may be inadequate.

Report: Defecting Iranian official gave info before alleged Syrian foray
From the Jerusalem Post, September 28, 2007

Iranian former deputy defense minister Ali Rheze Asgari supplied intelligence sources in the West with information regarding the sites that Israeli jets allegedly attacked on September 6, the Kuweiti Al Jareeda reported Friday. Asgari defected from Iran several months ago and moved to an undisclosed location in the West.

U.S. Forces Deserve Opportunity To Win
By John Alderman, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, September 25, 2007

Understand this about insurgencies: They are meant to force political change. Any military actions are secondary and a means to that end. ... The attacks are meant to erode your political will, so you will force our leaders to order soldiers home before they can complete their mission. You must consider that you, personally, have a part in this war whether you like it or not. I am reminded of President Ronald Reagan's admonition at the Vietnam War Memorial in 1988: "Young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win." Our adversaries do not expect our collective will to endure through the tough times. And, under other circumstances they might be right. Indeed, the price could simply be too high. But this is not one of those instances. We are finally getting it right in Iraq. Our efforts are working. So, let us win.

As the Surge Succeeds
By J.R. Dunn, The American Thinker, September 26, 2007

The debate over the surge has revealed that critics had no understanding what a strategy actually is. They took the surge as representing merely an increase in troop levels, paying no attention to the fact that the new battalions were intended to support an entirely reworked strategic concept.  Rather than the "light-footprint" Rumsfeld-Casey strategy, the surge embodied a proactive counterinsurgency strategy designed to overmatch the Jihadis on their own ground and destroy them in detail. ...It's too early to say whether the surge is a masterly strategy. But it is a very good one. Petreaus took his time preparing his battlefield so that when all the pieces fell into place, the Jihadis would have no alternative but to run -- with nowhere to run to. A guerilla force must have a sanctuary, a secure area in which to rest and refit. The surge, assisted by the sheiks of Anbar and Diyala, has denied this to the Jihadis. As a result, we have a rollup, in which Jihadi units with no place to hide are confronted and destroyed by superior Coalition forces.

The results would speak for themselves if they were adequately covered by the legacy media. General Petreaus told Congress that Al-Queda is losing up to 1,500 men a week. At least five and perhaps more district leaders have been captured or killed and not replaced. Attacks in Baghdad have fallen to half their level at the beginning of the surge. According to Gen. Ray Odierno, Al-Queda forces are starting to flee the country.

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From Elsewhere

Sovereignty or submission?
Part 6 of 'The Crisis of the Republic'
By Alan Keyes, 2007 Renew America

The rank and file politicos in Congress fear for their political lives if they cast a vote that is perceived as supporting amnesty for illegal immigrants, or continued acceptance of the government's dereliction of duty with respect to border security. This is an issue that clearly reveals the political elite's abandonment of any allegiance to the sovereignty of the people. In fact, our current political leaders appear to have embarked on a strategy of demographic subversion that will dethrone the American people as presently constituted and replace them with a majority more easily dominated and controlled by wealthy or bureaucratically powerful elites. They are working toward the day when the American people look and behave more like the people of Mexico — who have never achieved sovereign control of their government, despite the outward forms of democratic self-government.

America’s Strategic Vulnerability
Vital energy questions.
By John McCain, National Review Online, September 27, 2007

America’s dependency on foreign oil is a major strategic vulnerability for our nation. One element in al Qaeda’s war against us is to target the U.S. economy by driving up the price of oil in the hope that severe recession and higher inflation will follow. Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda terrorists have spoken many times about the need to "mount … operations accordingly" in order to hit energy supply points in the Middle East and other regions to spike oil prices. Moreover, while most of the world’s known reserves are in the Persian Gulf, oil supplies are no more secure elsewhere on the globe. In Russia and Venezuela, Vladimir Putin and Hugo Chavez have rolled back democracy and utilized oil and gas as foreign policy weapons. Nigerian supplies — our fifth-largest supplier — are endangered by internal strife. Oil’s availability is uncertain and its price at the mercy of countries where our values aren’t typically shared and our interests aren’t their first priority

The economy is poised to maintain a healthy pace of growth.
By David Gitlitz, National Review Online, September 27, 2007

The prophets of economic gloom have been out in force lately, convinced that the financial-market turmoil of recent months spells serious trouble for the broader economy. With their pipeline to the mainstream media, the gloomsters have largely succeeded in establishing as accepted wisdom the notion that the economy is heading for a big slowdown, if not outright recession.

To some extent, the perspective of these economic naysaysers is a matter of proximity — a number of them are associated with Wall Street investment houses that have taken a beating in the recent market turbulence, so there’s a dark cloud hanging over their world right now. Out beyond the canyons of downtown Manhattan, however, available evidence suggests the economy remains on solid footing and is poised to maintain a healthy pace of growth.

School of the Absurd
Responsible debate and crass propaganda.
By Victor Davis Hanson, National Review Online, September 27, 2007

Ahmadinejad has denied the first Holocaust and all but promised a second one. His country’s government is on its way to having a nuclear bomb, sends Iranian terrorists into Iraq to kill American soldiers and customarily jails journalists, and expels politically active students from their universities. But all that apparently still earned Ahmadinejad his publicity coup — and occasional applause from the Columbia audience. Yet in this time of war, Columbia won’t allow our own Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) on its campus.

The Soros Threat To Democracy
From Investor's Business Daily, September 24, 2007

Democracy: George Soros is known for funding groups such as that seek to manipulate public opinion. So why is the billionaire's backing of what he believes in problematic? In a word: transparency. How many people, for instance, know that James Hansen, a man billed as a lonely "NASA whistleblower" standing up to the mighty U.S. government, was really funded by Soros' Open Society Institute, which gave him "legal and media advice"?

S-Veto It
There are problems with our health care system, but they won't be solved by creeping nationalization.
By Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard, October, 2007

S-chip was created in 1997 with a single, stated purpose in mind: to offer federally subsidized health insurance to children ineligible for Medicaid but unable to afford private insurance. Poor children, in other words. That was S-chip's sole rationale. Now, with the new legislation, the S-chip subsidy would cover millions of middle-class kids. .... Millions of kids with private health insurance would drop that coverage and sign up for S-chip instead, because it's "free." S-chip is an offer few could refuse. The Congressional Budget Office says two million children would make the switch, and that is among the more conservative estimates.

Bend over for Nurse Hillary
By Mark Steyn, Orange County Register, September 22, 2007

Last week freedom took another hit. Hillary Rodham Clinton unveiled her new health care plan. Unlike her old health care plan, which took longer to read than most cancers take to kill you, this one’s instant and painless – just a spoonful of government sugar to help the medicine go down. From now on, everyone in America will have to have health insurance. Hooray!  And, if you don’t, it will be illegal for you to hold a job. Er, hang on, where’s that in the Constitution? It’s perfectly fine to employ legions of the undocumented from Mexico, but if you employ a fit 26-year-old American with no health insurance either you or he or both of you will be breaking the law?

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