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True North Archives - October 07, 2008
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Featured Articles

Government Meddling, Not Deregulation, Caused The Financial Meltdown
By Rich Tarrant

A popular theme in the media is that the financial meltdown was a failure of the "free market." A careful look at events, however, shows that this is not true. In fact, the origins of this crisis can be traced back to the exact opposite of free market principles: government meddling in which politics trumped sound business practices.

This started with The Community Reinvestment Act in 1977. Jimmy Carter signed this bill into law, caving in to grassroots political pressure for more affordable housing in low-income communities, which sounds nice and is very politically correct. However, it ignored the staunch opposition of the banking community.

Far from jumping into the sub-prime market with dollar signs in their eyes and greed in their hearts, banks wanted nothing to do with this scheme. In fact, ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) liberal activist Martha Talbot noted proudly that her organization and political allies were "dragging banks kicking and screaming" into making these loans – hardly the free market at work. For voicing what turned out to be very legitimate concerns, banks were labeled "racist" by the same political opponents who are now blaming them as "greedy."

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (Part II of IV)
By Martin Harris

As I reported in this column space last week, a funny thing happened at (or on the way to) that Forum: the participants decided to solve the problem by re-defining the NCLB all-students-proficient–by-2014 requirement as merely an all-students-basic requirement, that "there are two definitions (who knew?) for "proficient", one for NAEP and one for NCLB" and that students who can make basic on the NAEP tests should be considered proficient for meeting that onerous NCLB AYP all-students-proficient-by-2014 legal requirement. You can read the above quote for yourself in "Using NAEP to Compare States or to Confirm State Test Results" published by the Idaho State Board of Education, Dr. Stoneberg’s home base. As an exercise in brilliantly flexible semantics, it’s another example of your tax dollars at work in the sophisticated leadership of public education, I would opine.

From Miss Hayes I received a four-page study commissioned by the State Education Department to make up for the embarrassing blank space for Vermont on the federal "Mapping 2005 State Standards onto the NAEP Scales". It reports, on page 3, that Vermont 4th graders in 2005 made the NAEP equivalent of 236 in math and 215 in reading on the State-preferred NECAP exams, those same exams which local districts cite in claiming about a 2/3-of-all-students-proficient accomplishment in their annual reports. These numbers are well below their actual NAEP scores: 244 in math and 227 in reading, but even so the study author then says that "Vermont’s NAEP Scale Equivalents are very high…Vermont is at among (sic) the top performers in both reading and math at grade 4" and so on. More on this happy interpretation of the 236 and 215 out of a possible 500) numbers next week.

Candidates: Fish or Cut Bait
By John McClaughry

Almost every candidate running for the legislature is urgently promising to work - or better yet, fight - for or against a list of causes framed to win the support of the maximum number of voters. Thus we have candidates from every point on the spectrum vowing to fight for more jobs, more affordable housing, better roads, and lower tax rates (for you), or the Sanderista favorite, higher tax rates on "the wealthy". How they expect to achieve these wonders is rarely discussed.

So let's force the candidates to fish or cut bait. Here are ten pointed questions that will put candidates on the spot.
Fairly Tales of Good and Bad and Ugly
By Rob Skinner

Nancy Pelosi simply could not put Americans first as she stood before the House of Representatives and went into a partisan lecture about how financial meltdown was the result of eight years of failed policies under President Bush and the Congressional Republicans.  Of course she failed to mention that she was the leader in the US House for the last two years.  Her arrogance, and that of the Democrat leadership under DNC Howard Dean, simply could not resist a political cheap shot thinking it would push Obama's favorability numbers to 50% or higher. Hey - McCain hit the 50% mark not long ago and Obama has to match this at some point before the election so Pelosi stung the conservatives in the House.  In essence becoming the wicked witch of the West in this Frankenstein Fairy Tale sticking her bony finger into the eyes of Republicans.  Like the towns folks who revolted and raided Frankenstein's lair, they revolted against Pelosi and the elitist millionaires on Wall Street who took full advantage of the liberal mortgage practices of pressuring banks and lenders to just Say  "YES" to any low income person who wanted to have a home.  Now get this -  a CNN poll taken on Lou Dobbs on his show September 29th, 77 percent of Americans who voted said the rejection of the bill was the right call.

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Martin Harris, Retta Dunlap and Ruth Dwyer, WOW!

Wow! Both Martin Harris and Retta Dunlap on education, and then to top it all, the bit by Ruth Dwyer! Terrific! And thanks!

--Meg Barnes

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Ruth Dwyer!

I loved the article by Ruth Dwyer.  One wonderful, down-home woman talking about another wonderful down-home woman!

--Ethel Brousseau, Milton

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 "Banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."  -Thomas Jefferson

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Clothesline Politics
Caledonia Record Editorial, October 1, 2008

Because of some of the things that are said and promised during the election season, that season has come to be called the "silly season," by some. Did you ever think that hanging your clothes on an outside line could become a political issue? No? Well, it has. Sen. Richard J. McCormack, D-Windsor. has introduced "right-to-dry" legislation for several years to enable residents to line-dry their clothes despite community covenants that might ban the practice.

Important Event
From, October 4, 2008

Back by popular demand, the Vermont 3.0 Creative/Technology Career Jam  will reconvene on Saturday, October 25 at Champlain College. This tech job expo showcases some of Vermont's most innovative companies, many of whom are hiring. Yes, hiring! Exhibitors include, NRG Systems, Brighter Planet, Union Street Media and Burton Snowboards.

A Big Bank Walks the Edge, Falls Off
Caledonia Record Editorial, September 29, 2008

A really big news story slid past last week with nary a peep from the media. The story? TD Banknorth came out on the short end of a Vermont Supreme Court decision that affirmed a lower court's decision on an earlier ruling by Tax Commissioner Tom Pelham, that TD Banknorth illegally dodged a huge piece of bank franchise taxes owed Vermont by setting up three sham holding companies in 2000 and 2001.

Eating Soup With A Fork
From, September 29, 2008

Did someone say "declining enrollments?" If you have fewer students to educate, wouldn't that imply that you'll need to spend less on education? In Vermont, that qualifies as a silly question.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Analysis: Stable Iraq could influence Mideast
By Robert H. Reid, AM 620 - WIND, October 03, 2008

Still, countries of the Middle East cannot ignore the potential role of a resurgent Iraq, a nation of 28 million people, bordering Iran to the east, Syria and Jordan to the west and sitting on one of the world's major pools of oil. ... However unlikely it may seem today, a relatively stable Iraq would have all the cards necessary to emerge as a major player in the Persian Gulf, where Saudi Arabia and Iran are competing for leadership. Those three countries account for most of the population and most of the oil in the Gulf, which has about 60 percent of the world's proven reserves.

How the three deal with one another will shape the Middle East for decades. Iraq's vast oil reserves alone should guarantee the country a major regional role.

Russia Suffers a Bloody Nose in Georgia
By Joel J. Sprayregen, American Thinker, October 02, 2008

Viewed from Georgia, Russia suffered a significant bloody nose in its August invasion. Russia dislodged Georgian soldiers and ethnically cleansed South Ossetia and Abkhazia, setting up puppet regimes in both breakaway regions. But Russian armed forces performed poorly and Moscow sustained economic and political damage. 

UN anti-blasphemy resolution will curtail free speech: Critics
From Daily, October 4 2008

An anti-blasphemy resolution passed by the United Nations has been criticized in certain quarters as attempting to curtail the right to freedom of speech. Religious groups and free-speech advocates are banding together to fight the resolution, which they say is being used to spread Sharia law to the Western world and to intimidate anyone who criticizes Islam. The non-binding resolution on "Combating the Defamation of Religion" is intended to curtail speech that offends religion -- particularly Islam, they add.

Control of Sunni 'Awakening' Militias handed to Iraqi government
By Rick Moran, American Thinker, September 30, 2008

In a step that at the moment appears to have uncertain consequences, the US military is handing control of the 100,000 Sunni "Awakening Council" militias to the Shia dominated Iraqi government. ... The Sunnis fear that the Shia-led government will kill or arrest them. The Americans fear the Iraqi government - who has shown a distaste for the very idea of armed Sunnis in the past - may deliberately force their disbanding by not paying them. And the Iraqi government is resentful that the Americans seem so interested in the fate of these "Sons of Iraq" when all they see are former killers who should be punished.

FBI Hunts American Citizens Ttrained Overseas for Terror
From Worldnet Daily, September 29, 2008

As Pakistani investigators hunt the terrorists behind the massive Marriott Hotel bombing in Islamabad, FBI agents in the U.S. have begun aggressively hunting for Americans who have recently returned from trips to Pakistan where they may have trained at al-Qaida camps, WND has learned.

A coast-to-coast dragnet has been launched partly in response to leads developed in the arrest of one of al-Qaida's "fixers" in the U.S., say FBI officials. They report the bureau is in a race against time to identify Pakistan-trained sleeper cells and disrupt a possible pre-election "October surprise."

Iraq's Slippery Peace?
From, September 30, 2008

The overall security situation in Iraq has greatly improved this reporting period. Security incidents have remained at levels last seen in early 2004 for nearly three consecutive months, while civilian deaths across Iraq have declined to a level 77% lower than the same period in 2007. The surge in Coalition forces, the growth of more capable Iraqi Security Forces (ISF), the contributions of the Sons of Iraq (SoI), the ability of forces to secure the population, operations against Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and other extremist elements, and the increased willingness of the people and the Government of Iraq (GoI) to confront extremists are important factors that have contributed to the improved security environment. Periodic high-profile car and suicide vest bombings have occurred, but the number of these attacks and the resulting casualties have decreased dramatically. Moreover, these attacks have not rekindled the self-perpetuating cycle of ethno-sectarian violence that plagued Iraq in late 2006 and the first half of 2007.

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From Elsewhere

Bankruptcy, Not Bailout, is the Right Answer
by Jeffrey A. Miron, CNN, September 29, 2008

The fact that government bears such a huge responsibility for the current mess means any response should eliminate the conditions that created this situation in the first place, not attempt to fix bad government with more government.

The obvious alternative to a bailout is letting troubled financial institutions declare bankruptcy. Bankruptcy means that shareholders typically get wiped out and the creditors own the company.

Bankruptcy does not mean the company disappears; it is just owned by someone new (as has occurred with several airlines). Bankruptcy punishes those who took excessive risks while preserving those aspects of a businesses that remain profitable.

In contrast, a bailout transfers enormous wealth from taxpayers to those who knowingly engaged in risky subprime lending. Thus, the bailout encourages companies to take large, imprudent risks and count on getting bailed out by government. This "moral hazard" generates enormous distortions in an economy's allocation of its financial resources.

Biden's Big Lies: All 14 of Them
Rick Moran, American Thinker, October 03, 2008

The McCain campaign was out of the box quickly last night, releasing a damning list of 14 lies told by Joe Biden during the debate.

We highlighted below the biggest lie he uttered - that Obama would meet with the leaders of Iran without precondition. Now come 13 more Pinnochios that are breathtaking in their shamelessness:

Here are all 14 lies as compiled by the McCain campaign:

The Nature of Rights in American Politics: A Comparison of Three Revolutions
By Charles R. Kesler, Ph.D., Heritage Foundation, September 30, 2008

The American Declaration maintains that from man's place in the natural order arises the principle of human equality: "that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights." But at the end of the Declaration, the Revolution's leaders proclaim their willingness to risk "our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor" for the cause, implying a certain inequality among men. A special set of risk-takers, the signers of the Declaration, were willing to lead the Revolution and take upon themselves the important responsibility of saying that King George III was now a tyrant.

So is man equal or unequal in the American scheme? He is both. In his fundamental rights, he is equal, but not every human being has the same talents and capacities. The very equality that exists by nature and forms the baseline of our politics also makes it possible for certain inequalities—like abilities for statesmanship and political leadership—to come to the fore and play their natural role in life.

The French view of natural rights, in contrast, is a Rousseauian view. In the Rousseauian model for the social contract, when individuals form a society—when unaffiliated individuals in a state of nature decide to affiliate—they give up or alienate everything to society, including their powers, possessions, and natural rights. Under the American doctrine, however, individuals never give up their nature: The natural rights of individuals are inalienable. In some sense, they are always behind one's civil rights—behind the positive rights.

Fannie/Freddie and the Stealth Welfare State
By Christopher Chantrill, American Thinker, October 02, 2008

It is hard enough trying to reform headline programs like public education or Social Security.  At least everything is out in the open. But with stealth programs burrowed into the Community Reinvestment Act our liberal friends are learning to emulate the methods of the cold war Pentagon.  They have learned how to keep controversial programs under the radar, and they usually succeed.  It's only when a program blows up that people realize what is going on.

We are going to see more of these meltdowns in the future. Fannie/Freddie isn't the only government program adapted to serve a hidden agenda. But how did we get from open and accountable government to the new era of stealth social programs operating under the radar?

Obama's McKnight In Shining Armor
From Investor's Business Daily, September 29, 2008

Obama needed help getting into Harvard Law School. He got it from a disciple of Saul Alinsky who shared the socialist agitator's belief in the radical change the young community organizer could embrace.

The 'ACORNization' of America
By Ed Lasky, American Thinker, October 03, 2008

Remind me why protest groups who interfere with the running of the US government deserve taxpayer dollars, which they already receive and which they would have received in abundance if the Democrats had their way and created a slush fund for ACORN in the bailout bill.

This is especially grating when the same group has a history of voter fraud. Of course, if Barack Obama wins and the Democrats continue to control Congress - which looks guaranteed - we can expect increased funding for ACORN.

Related: An ACORN Falls from the Tree  A congressional outrage

Video: Burning Down The House: What Caused Our Economic Crisis?

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