North Archives - October 02, 2007
| Editorial | News & Views
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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.
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.
Vessels of Clay
By Martin Harris
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
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.
# # #
to the Editor
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
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
here) and it will be interesting to see what they come up with this
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 ourherald.com
enter Blakeman or Sunset Hill in the archives and there will plenty to
Anyway, Thanks again and
please thank Professor Black and Karen Kerin for covering the story. I
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,
"God grants liberty only
to those who love it, and are always ready to guard and defend it." --Daniel
Weekly News Round-Up
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.
Slow - Real Slow!
Caledonian Record Editorial,September
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
(but gives environment
By Rob Roper, September
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
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.
in on Green Hype
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
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.
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.
& Oranges: Part II of VI
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.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
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.
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.
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.
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
several months ago and moved to an undisclosed location in the West.
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.
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
# # #
Part 6 of 'The
Crisis of the Republic'
By Alan Keyes, 2007 Renew
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.
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.
of the Absurd
Responsible debate and
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.
Soros Threat To Democracy
From Investor's Business
Daily, September 24, 2007
Soros is known for funding groups such as MoveOn.org 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"?
There are problems with
our health care system, but they won't be solved by creeping nationalization.
By Fred Barnes, Weekly Standard,
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
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?
# # #