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True North Archives - October 20, 2009
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Featured Articles

Market Failure in Health Care?
By John McClaughry

Four years ago then-Senate President Peter Welch, now Congressman, declared, not for the first time, that "the private sector approach [in health care] has failed." That assertion has been echoed repeatedly by all of the advocates of increased government control over health and medicine, culminating in a wholly government run health care system.

It never seems to occur to such people that, while there remain private actors in the health care sector, that entire sector has been distorted, restricted, mandated and indeed corrupted by decades of government meddling.

Planned Parenthood Conference:
A Critical Link: The Environment & Women’s Health
By Mary Beerworth

Despite the appearance of concern for women’s reproductive health, Planned Parenthood continues to lie to women and young girls about the serious consequences of abortion on women’s reproductive health. In addition, new research reveals the negative consequences of hormonal contraception, medical abortions, and the so-called "emergency contraceptive" pills on women’s health and the environment. In the end, the only thing "green" about Planned Parenthood is the cash they’ll take for performing abortions.

Numero-phobia in Ferrisburgh
By Martin Harris

Those of us in the planning discipline who were enthusiastic back then about quantitative, measurable, standards as the transparent, predictable criteria basis for development approval by local zoning boards turned out to be in a distinct minority, which is reflected in the history of performance-standards bylaws drawing a lot of hostility and almost zero acceptance from planning and zoning boards across the country. Instead, the P&Z folks chose to go in just about the opposite direction, raising "conditional use" (with its option for invented-on-the-spot conditions) from an infrequently-applied approach to special-situation permitting to one that has grown markedly in scope in most city and town plans just about everywhere. It’s not surprising, therefore, that the Ferrisburgh P&Z folks have used their conditional approval powers to set some decidedly non-measurement-based requirements for the present Champlain Oil food and fuel proposal on Route 7. Two parts of the proposal have been rejected: one is diesel fuel pumps and the other is drive-through fast-food service. Both rejections are predicated on a stated board belief that such elements would "increase traffic in the area to an unsafe level". No numbers are offered to support this belief, even though the applicable figures are readily available, or reasonably estimable.

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"In 1947, when Mao Tse Tung was being challenged within his own party on his plan to basically take China over, Chiang Kai-shek and the Nationalist Chinese held the cities, they had the army, they had the air force, they had everything on their side. And people said, "How can you win? How can you do this? How can you do this against all of the odds against you?" And Mao Tse Tung said, you know, "You fight your war, and I’ll fight mine."

--Anita Dunn, White House Communications Director explaining that Mao Tse-tung was one of her "favorite political philosophers", one of the "two people she turns to most".

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This Week’s Mail Bag

Write a Check: Break Some Eggs

In "Fie, Fatal Flaw!" (New York Times, Oct. 18), Maureen Dowd writes:  At the New Orleans town hall, 29-year old Gabriel Bordenave complained about the slow pace of recovery.  "I expected as much from the Bush administration," he told Obama.  "But why are we still being nickel-and-dimed?"  [Obama responded]:  "Now, I wish I could just write a check.”  When an audience member yelled "Why not?" he dryly noted, "There's this whole thing about the Constitution."  [Ms. Dowd writes]:  "The president should remember, though, that when you're cooking up a more perfect Union, sometimes you've got to break some eggs."

With regards to the unauthorized use of Burlington city funds for Burlington Telecom, David O’Brien, Commissioner of the Department of Public Service, had this to say in a October 16, WCAX report:  “The key factor that allowed me to be comfortable was that the risk of this project was going to be kept from taxpayers and the lenders were the ones that were going to carry the risk.”

In response, Burlington Chief Administrative Officer Jonathan Leopold said there is always an implied risk when investing tens of millions of dollars.  “First of all the promise that you could guarantee the city would not be at risk I think was overly optimistic.”

Has Burlington’s political class, and Vermont's, for that matter  - think Mayor Hooper in Montpelier - gotten to the place where “you’ve got to break some eggs,” to achieve ones’ ends?  Maybe Mr. Leopold and Mayor Kiss believed taxpayers “could just write a check.  Maybe not.  “Overly optimistic” is Mr. Leopold’s and Mayor Kiss's belief in their own arrogance.

Tom Licata

Tom Licata is the founder of Vermonters for Economic Health

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Our Guard Needs Our Support
Caledonia Record Editorial, October 13, 2009

The largest deployment of Vermont National Guard soldiers since World War II means approximately 1,500 members of the Vermont National Guard will soon be headed for Afghanistan.

While we wholeheartedly support our soldiers and pray for their safe return, we find President Barack Obama's sudden war wavering problematic.

DPS: Burlington Broke Law
From WCAX, October 16, 2009

Burlington officials and the state Department of Public Service are sparring over financial issues at Burlington Telecom. At the center of the controversy is $17 million Burlington Telecom borrowed from taxpayers.

Math Test Results
From Vermont Tiger, October 14, 2009

Vermont spends more than almost every other state to educate our students, but we don't seem to get a lot for what we pay for.

Halfway Is Not Far Enough
Caledonia Record Editorial, October 16, 2009

Education Commissioner Armando Vilaseca wrote an op-ed piece this week that expresses all of the right sentiments about the unfolding drama of the Morristown/Swanton/Colchester teacher facing 17 charges of sexual abuse of his students, all of these self-admitted charges from only one of the three districts he has sullied with his presence....

And Vilaseca never mentions the elephant in the middle of the room. Neither the three superintendents involved, nor anybody on the three boards involved have acknowledged the bogey man who is present in every discussion of what to do with problem teachers. That bogeyman is the teachers' union, in this case VT-NEA. Everybody in and out of the profession knows that one of the principal reasons for being of teachers' unions is to protect poor teachers from losing their jobs. And, everybody knows that it is virtually impossible to get rid of a lousy teacher, whether simply incompetent or morally deficient, with this bear/bogeyman growling over the loser teacher's shoulder. It is far easier just to "pass the trash."

Related: How the NEA Spends Dues Money (pdf; see chart on page 8)
Related: School Unions are Out for Themselves

From Vermont Tiger, October 12, 2009

Andrew McKeever, editor of the Manchester Journal, asked all the right questions. Given the opportunity to give tough, straightforward answers to those questions, Deb Markowitz – who would like to be governor of Vermont – took refuge in all the usual, empty formulations.

She will find $200 million by eliminating waste in government?  Give us a break.

Safety Concerns Close Crown Point Bridge
From WCAX, October 16, 2009

Traveling between northwestern Vermont and northern New York has just gotten a little tricky. After months of temporary repairs the Crown Point Bridge failed a safety inspection Friday and officials closed it indefinitely.

(Editor’s Note: Keep in mind, when reading the above article, Vermonters for Economic Health’s warning about the consequences of neglecting our transportation infrastructure while spending so much on social programs)

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Russia's 'Nyet' And America's Naivete
From Investor’s Business Daily, October 14, 2009

The U.S. seems to be taking the advice of a New York Times editorial in June 2005 suggesting that "rallying Russia constitutes a key part of any successful containment strategy vis-a-vis Iran." The Times contended that "Iran's nuclear and ballistic missile advances could put roughly 20 million people in the south of Russia, Kazakhstan and Ukraine at risk by as early as next year," and it warned of Russian fears of "nuclear blackmail from the Islamic Republic." The paper's conclusion: "Washington might soon find that, with the proper inducements, it has a more receptive audience in Moscow than ever before."

But lost in Hillary's face-saving and the Times' naivete is the possibility that Russia doesn't fear the prospect of a nuclear Iran at all, but rather believes it would be in its long-term geopolitical interest.

A mix of incendiary rhetoric and feigned promises to help against Iran got Moscow what it wanted in the U.S.' scrapping of the proposed missile defense in Eastern Europe. But we're not getting reciprocal Russian help against the Iranian nuclear monster that Moscow is helping to build.

AP Sources: Afghan Commander Frets Over Corruption
By LARA JAKES, Associated Press Writer, October 13, 2009

Rampant government corruption may derail the fight against the Taliban and al-Qaida in Afghanistan even if as many as 80,000 additional U.S. troops are sent to the war, the top military commander there has concluded, according to U.S. officials briefed on his recommendations.

Al-Qaeda's Guerrilla Chief Lays Out Strategy
By Syed Saleem Shahzad, Asia Times, October 15, 2009

South Waziristan, at the crossroads with Afghanistan - A high-level meeting on October 9 at the presidential palace between Pakistan's civil and military leaders endorsed a military operation against the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda in the South Waziristan tribal area - termed by analysts as the mother of all regional conflicts.

At the same time, al-Qaeda is implementing its game plan in the South Asian war theater as a part of its broader campaign against American global hegemony that began with the attacks in the United States of September 11, 2001.

Is Obama Turning Us into the Next Evil Empire?
By Selwyn Duke, American Thinker, October 15, 2009

Yet Obama's actions cannot truly be appreciated without a bit more perspective. It's not just that he has adopted a policy that was unthinkable for most of America's history. There is something far more striking, far more telling and far more alarming: in the current Honduran situation, Zelaya is precisely the man the Soviet Union -- that evil empire -- would have sided with.

Now I want you to let that sink in for a moment . . . .

This reality merely illustrates the obvious in an emotionally gripping way. While Reagan opposed Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega by funding his anti-communist opponents, Obama sides with a reinvented Ortega in supporting Zelaya. In doing so, he also lines up with unrepentant communists, either in name or spirit, such as Chavez and Fidel Castro. Fine company you keep there, Mr. Obama.

U.S. Troop Funds Diverted to Pet Projects
Study finds $2.6 billion taken from guns and ammunition.
By Shaun Waterman, The Washington Times, October 15, 2009

Senators diverted $2.6 billion in funds in a defense spending bill to pet projects largely at the expense of accounts that pay for fuel, ammunition and training for U.S. troops, including those fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, according to an analysis.

Americans, In Reversal, Now Back Afghan Troop Surge
By Sean Higgins, Investor's Business Daily, October 13, 2009

As President Obama mulls the military's request for a big troop build-up in Afghanistan, Americans have swung in favor of such a move, according to a new IBD/TIPP Poll. The survey of 927 adults found that a plurality of 48% favors sending more troops and resources to Afghanistan. That's a sharp reversal from September, when Americans opposed the idea, 55%-35%.

Obama Poised to Cede US Sovereignty in Copenhagen, Claims British Lord Monckton
From "What’s Up With That?", October 16, 2009

Skimming through the treaty, I came across verification of Monckton’s assessment of the new entity’s purpose:

38. The scheme for the new institutional arrangement under the Convention will be based on three basic pillars: government; facilitative mechanism; and financial mechanism, and the basic organization of which will include the following:

World Government a) The government will be ruled by the COP with the support of a new subsidiary body on adaptation, and of an Executive Board responsible for the management of the new funds and the related facilitative processes and bodies. The current Convention secretariat will operate as such, as appropriate.

To Redistribute Wealth b) The Convention’s financial mechanism will include a multilateral climate change fund including five windows: (a) an Adaptation window, (b) a Compensation window, to address loss and damage from climate change impacts [read: the "climate debt" Monckton refers to], including insurance, rehabilitation and compensatory components, (c) a Technology window; (d) a Mitigation window; and (e) a REDD window, to support a multi-phases process for positive forest incentives relating to REDD actions.

With Enforcement Authority c) The Convention’s facilitative mechanism will include: (a) work programmes for adaptation and mitigation; (b) a long-term REDD process; © a short-term technology action plan; (d) an expert group on adaptation established by the subsidiary body on adaptation, and expert groups on mitigation, technologies and on monitoring, reporting and verification; and (e) an international registry for the monitoring, reporting and verification of compliance of emission reduction commitments, and the transfer of technical and financial resources from developed countries to developing countries. The secretariat will provide technical and administrative support, including a new centre for information exchange [read; enforcement].

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From Elsewhere

The New Counter Culture: Liberty
By James Hudnall, Big Hollywood, October 14, 2009

If the alleged comics of late night and cable have no imagination or guts, that’s where we come in. The new Counter Culture.

We, the artists who reject the politics of "the man," the propaganda of the state. We artists, writers and creative people who are tired of being pushed around and told what to do. Those of us who think everything is going wrong and it’s got to stop. We are using our art, our work, to show the folly of the ways of the "establishment". We’re finding plenty to mock and criticize. And we don’t need the approval of the "cool kids" who really aren’t. Not even remotely.

It’s not a conservative vs. lefty argument. It’s freedom lovers verses the statists. It’s liberty vs tyranny.

Healthcare and Catholics: True and False Arguments
By Samuel Gregg D.Phil., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, October 14, 2009

It might, however, be that these groups have a deeper concern: their realization that the days when American Catholic bishops could be relied upon to accept or advocate extension of the state’s participation in more-or-less any area of social and economic life are long gone.

In part, this trend reflects the collapse over the past forty years of the knee-jerk association of Catholics with the Democratic Party. But it may also indicate that increasing numbers of Catholic bishops are tired of being presumed to adhere to any number of positions on prudential policy issues simply because one or more departments of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops happen to advocate a particular viewpoint.

Frankly, it’s a welcome development. First, it illustrates that more bishops are not going to be muzzled by a "conference line" (real or imagined) on prudential issues. Moreover, it suggests that, on truly prudential matters, faithful Catholics increasingly recognize they are entitled to reason their way through these subjects on the basis of Catholic principles and knowledge acquired from other sources, instead of being simply assumed to adhere to any number of (invariably left-liberal) positions on such questions.

War Between White House and Fox News Hots Up as Anita Dunn is Exposed as a Fan of Chairman Mao
By Stephanie Gutmann, Telegraph (UK), October 17, 2009

It’s not exactly a bloody horse head left in the bed overnight, but Fox News has sent a message it’s ready to play hardball with the White House Communications Director who says she’s going to treat Fox News "the way we treat an opponent" and not like an ordinary cable network. (See Toby Harnden’s post, "Barack Obama’s Silly Obsession with Fox News".)

Anita Dunn went on one of the Sunday talk shows last weekend to fulminate about Fox, calling it "a wing of the Republican Party" and "not a news organization in the sense that CNN is a news organization." By Thursday, researchers for Fox’s very popular Glenn Beck Show had unearthed video of Dunn giving an inspirational address last June to an audience of high school students in which she quotes from one of her "favorite political philosophers", one of the "two people she turns to most", who turns out to be Mao Tse-tung. By Friday, the clip had gone as viral as can be.

Related: White House Urges Other Networks to Disregard Fox News

‘Scientists’ Clinging to Faith in the Face of Reason
By Jack Kelly, Jewish World Review, October 14, 2009

But in the audience was Irish filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who asked him (Al Gore) about a 2007 finding by a British judge that "An Inconvenient Truth" is riddled with scientific errors. ...

There was a time when journalists applauded when one of their own spoke truth to power. But in the Society of Environmental Journalists, relevant facts must be suppressed if they clash with the party line. But reality is making it more difficult for journalists to protect Mr. Gore and other alarmists from scrutiny, and there are defections from the Praetorian Guard. As the Society of Environmental Journalists was silencing Mr. McAleer, Paul Hudson, climate correspondent for the once firmly alarmist BBC, was asking "What happened to global warming?"

Real Bottom Line Of Baucus' Reform Bill: Bigger Deficits, Higher Taxes — Or Both
By David Gratzer, Investor’s Business Daily, October 14, 2009

While much congressional negotiation lies ahead, this much is already clear: The health overhaul favored by Democrats will add to the deficit and almost surely result in big tax increases.

The Importance of Doug Hoffman
By Jeri Thompson, American Spectator, October 15, 2009

Hoffman represents conservatives' best chance to send a national message to the Republican Party that they are a force to be reckoned with, and that Hoffman appears to have the energy from the grassroots to pull off a win and help lay the groundwork for a successful 2010 election cycle. As one Hoffman supporter told me yesterday, "The feeling of momentum is palpable. The race is between Doug and the Democrat...we hope Dede won't be a spoiler for conservatives in this race."

The Worst Recession?
There has been a bigger setback since the '30s.
By Richard W. Rahn, The Washington Times, October 14, 2009

As can be seen in the accompanying chart, both President Reagan and President Obama inherited an economy suffering from a year of no growth, along with rising unemployment. (The numbers are almost identical.) But Mr. Reagan faced a far direr situation in that inflation was in the double digits and the prime interest rate was at 20 percent. In contrast, Mr. Obama inherited an economy in which inflation was falling (in fact, inflation has been close to zero for this year) and interest rates were very low. ...

President Obama has taken the polar opposite approach to President Reagan's to reignite the economic-growth engine. Reagan pushed for cuts in marginal tax rates to encourage people to work, save and invest in an effort to spur the supply side of the economy as well as the demand side. Mr. Obama has chosen only to greatly increase government spending in an attempt to increase demand while, at the same time, many of his new labor, environmental, energy and other regulations are impeding the supply side of the economy. ...

Once Reagan's tax cuts were largely phased in, the economy took off - it grew by 7.6 percent in 1984 alone.

Time for Inaction on Global Warming
Congress should consider the costs before passing "cap and trade."
By Pete Du Pont, Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2009

Boxer-Kerry would expand the control the government has over the American economy, businesses, and individuals. It would have little impact on reducing global warming but would significantly depress our economy. One wonders if the purpose of the Boxer-Kerry bill is really just to give the U.S. something to take to Copenhagen for the United Nation's Climate Change Conference in December.

Taking on the 'Democrat-Media Complex' 
By James Taranto, Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2009

Dressing up as a pimp and prostitute in order to seek Acorn's help in starting a child sex-slavery ring wasn't Andrew Breitbart's idea. But without the Internet entrepreneur's flair for publicity, the hidden-camera sting might not have produced such impressive results.

The Race Card, Football and Me
My critics would have you believe no conservative meets NFL 'standards.'
By Rush Limbaugh, Wall Street Journal, October 18, 2009

David Checketts, an investor and owner of sports teams, approached me in late May about investing in the St. Louis Rams football franchise. As a football fan, I was intrigued. I invited him to my home where we discussed it further. Even after informing him that some people might try to make an issue of my participation, Mr. Checketts said he didn't much care. I accepted his offer.

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