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True North Archives - November 03, 2009
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The New Solar Electricity Ripoff
By John McClaughry

One of the most intense concerns of the enviro-laden majority party in recent legislatures has been to find some invisible way of subsidizing its favorite corporate welfare recipient, "renewable energy".

The 2005 legislature created a "Clean Energy Development Fund" to make grants and loans to qualified wind, solar, biomass, methane, small hydro and other renewable energy promoters. The solons funded it by socking Vermont Yankee to the tune of $28 million, in return for permitting the nuclear plant to store spent fuel rods in concrete casks on its own property.

But that wasn't enough. The follow-on idea is called SPEED. It requires electric utilities to purchase up to 50Mw of wind, solar and methane-generated electricity at shockingly high rates.

What Montpelier and Burlington Can Teach Us About Healthcare
By Rob Roper

P.J. O'Rourke couldn't have been more right when he said, "Giving money and power to politicians is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys." This hypothesis is proving itself in Burlington and Montpelier as the mayors of those cities, Democrat Mary Hooper and Progressive Bob Kiss, deal with scandals involving fiscal incompetence and questionable ethics that will cost their constituents dearly.

The Higgins Principle
By Martin Harris

In mid-October, the Rutland Herald reported with obvious delight that "Vermont’s students are at the top of the class" in math, according to this year’s federal NAEP tests of 4th and 8th graders, placing behind only New Hampshire and Massachusetts in numerical proficiency. Education Commissioner Vilaseca was equally jubilant, calling his students "well-performing", the same self-congratulatory wording quoted in the Herald as used by Rutland Superintendent Moran and Barstow Principal Prescott. What they curiously didn’t mention was the percentage of their young charges actually scoring "proficient". That number is 51%. The other 49% didn’t achieve the "ability to function at grade level" measure, and are less-than-proficient in math. When you add in the other disciplines –reading, science, history, and so on-- the overall proficiency accomplishment of the public schools is in the 30-to-40% range.

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"Ever since I arrived to a state of manhood, I have felt a sincere passion for liberty. The history of nations doomed to perpetual slavery, in consequence of yielding up to tyrants their natural born liberties, I read with a sort of philosophical horror; so that the first systematical and bloody attempt at Lexington, to enslave America, thoroughly electrified my mind, and fully determined me to take part with my country."

--Ethan Allan as quoted in "In the name of the Great Jehovah and the Continental Congress!"

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

From Vermont Tiger, October 31, 2009

Considering the fact that elected officials may or may not want BT troubles to impact re-election chances, as the Freeps effectively discusses here, it's quite possible that Burlington's elected leadership purposefully looked askance at BT's financial problems.  What will never be discussed is whether or not the creation of BT was a wise idea in the first place, considering the fact that other providers for the same service already exist.  This is the same discussion happening at the national level, where government has decided it needs to introduce "competition" into a market that already has thousands of competitors.  The histories of government-mandated, government-controlled entities is already disastrous - and we now have an example of it right here on our doorstep.

Court Reorganization Misguided
Caledonia Record Editorial, October 30, 2009

Efforts to reorganize the state's court system are headed in the wrong direction. Preliminary recommendations from the Commission on Judicial Operation include eliminating the judicial function of assistant judges, known also as side judges.

Side judges are the only elected judges in the state's court system. The judges are elected by county voters. Among their duties are the creation and oversight of the county budget and the assessment of county taxes.

Side judges sit alongside the presiding judge in non-jury civil trials in Caledonia Superior Court. They take the place of the jury and decide the facts of a case while the presiding judge, always an attorney, applies the law to the facts and reaches a decision.

Dangerous Addiction?
From Vermont Tiger, October 28, 2009

I was leafing through a publisher's catalogue and found a book review with this quote by Robert Costanza, a professor of ecological economics at UVM:

Overcoming our addiction to economic growth is one of the most important challenges for the 21st century. Peter Victor’s masterful summary of the history and fallacies of this particularly pervasive and increasingly dangerous addiction will be a great help in getting over it.

An online dictionary defines addiction as:

compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal; broadly : persistent compulsive use of a substance known by the user to be harmful.

Does Professor Costanza really think that the beneficiaries of economic growth know it to be harmful to themselves?  Or is it just Professor Costanza who thinks economic growth is harmful to all of us?  And does he really believe that economic growth is like heroin?  I thought it was pretty bizarre when President Bush called for an end to our "addiction to oil," and this is equally bizarre to me.

VTrans, NYDOT Abandon Chipman's Point as Site for Temporary Bridge
From, October 30, 2009

New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Secretary David Dill today announced that the states will not explore the crossing between Putnam, Washington County, New York, and Chipman’s Point, Addison County, Vermont, as a potential temporary bridge site. The states also advised motorists, pedestrians and boaters to avoid the closed Lake Champlain Bridge as a safety hazard.

Magic Act
From Vermont Tiger, October 27, 2009

Emerson Lynn's (typically) insightful essay on the looming crackup in the state's unemployment trust fund gets to the nub of the problem.  Which is  ... that without an increase in the tax on employers or a reduction in benefits to the unemployed – or some combination of both – the fund goes broke and the state goes deeply into debt.  And to delay action makes the problem worse.

State Auditor Offers Help for Schools
By Cristina Kumka, Rutland Herald, October 26, 2009

State Auditor Tom Salmon is vowing to use a first-ever information inventory of the state's schools to help them work together and save money.

Salmon, a school teacher in Los Angeles for 10 years, and his "independent, objective" office of eight auditors and two support staff sent a survey earlier this month to the state's 62 supervisory unions to gather information on a range of services shared by schools — from food contracts to buses to autism projects.

The goal: Start a conversation on how to share services, stop duplication and cut costs based on fact rather than emotion, Salmon said.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Pakistan's Army an Ally Against Taliban
By Peter Worthington, Toronto Sun, October 30, 2009

What has always made the war in Afghanistan especially hazardous, is not the warlike independence and xenophobia of Afghans, but that Pakistan has long been a refuge for Taliban fighters.

That may be changing, now that the Pakistani Taliban (similar but different from the Afghan version) have decided they want to overthrow the existing government and take charge.

Pyongyang Puzzles: Blaming America First – Again (Part One of Two)
By Peter Huessy, Family Security Matters, November 2, 2009

Whatever track the new administration takes with North Korea, it should start with an appreciation of exactly what kind of regime we are dealing with, what its objectives are, and whether we should continue to accept the template that sees the West and particularly the United States as the prime culprit in the tensions created by Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

In much analysis of the problem, there are loud echoes of the "Blame America First" catechism so well explained by our former Ambassador to the UN, the late Jeanne Kirkpatrick. Having now acceded to power, the very Americans many so frequently blamed for the tyrannies in Pyongyang and Tehran are now the folks they see in the mirror every morning. Now, if they continue with the same worn-out analysis, they will have no one else to blame, except for themselves.

Preparing for Iranian Hegemony in the Middle East
By Gary H. Johnson, Jr., American Thinker, October 19, 2009

Following the first official U.S. diplomatic effort with Iran on October 1, a few Westerners realized that Iranian hegemony in the Middle East was virtually assured by the Geneva P5 plus 1 sit-down.  Iran had proven itself a rational actor on the geopolitical stage by simply passing a letter to the Council on Foreign Relations to be handed to President Obama's foreign policy team in early September.  In that letter, Iran agreed to assume the role of a regional superpower through a process of engagement.  The fact that Iran's new nuclear facility near Qom was not a bombshell in the international community indicated that the world readily accepted Iran's rejection of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Regime's rules in defiance of the sanctions it was facing from the international community.  In so doing, Iran beat Western leaders to the nuclear punch, agreed to set up token inspections, and set the world on a new axis.

It was not surprising, to me, then, when I saw a recent cover for Newsweek:  AFTER IRAN GETS THE BOMB It Won't Be The End Of The World...  It surprised me even less to see the name Fareed Zakaria in the vortex of a mushroom cloud under the title.   What did surprise me, however, was Zakaria's confident assertion that Iran's historic role in the region was "as a crossroads of commerce and capitalism."  Really?  When did that happen?  I could have sworn that capitalism required individual liberty.

Turkey: An Ally No More
By Daniel Pipes, Jerusalem Post, October 28, 2009

Toward that end, Muslim Mafia shows how CAIR has assiduously sought to penetrate U.S. decision-making circles, mounting successful influence operations against the executive, congressional and judicial branches. Its agents have been: included in official outreach efforts to the Muslim American community; selected by the State Department to represent the United States to foreign Muslim populations through government –underwritten speakers programs overseas; tapped to provide "sensitivity training" to the FBI and other law enforcement organizations; and prominently involved in legal proceedings advancing Shariah's supremacist program.

Imam Killed in FBI Shootout Sat on Board of Muslim Lobby Group MANA
By David J. Rusin, Islamist Watch, October 29, 2009

Luqman Ameen Abdullah, the head of Detroit's Masjid al-Haqq, was killed during an FBI raid on October 28 as he engaged federal agents in a gun battle. Prosecutors call Abdullah "a highly placed leader of a nationwide radical fundamentalist Sunni group." Several other men were arrested on "charges including conspiracy, receipt of stolen goods, and firearms offenses."

Islamist Terrorist Plots in Great Britain: Uncovering the Global Network
By Ted R. Bromund and Morgan Roach, The Heritage Foundation, October 26, 2009

Data on major Islamist terrorist plots in Britain reveal a physical and ideological terrorism pipeline between Britain and Pakistan. At least 27 of 87 convicted individuals were trained or sought training in Pakistan or Afghanistan. Homegrown Islamism is also a major threat: 18 individuals received terrorist training in Britain. Britain and the U.S. need to fight and win both the counterterrorism war and the broader war of ideas. This will require fighting Islamism both in Afghanistan and at home, continuing and expanding cooperation in intelligence and homeland security, and opposing the Lisbon Treaty and other European Union initiatives that would undermine Britain’s ability to control its own borders.

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From Elsewhere

A 1,990-Page Medical Monstrosity
From Investor’s Business Daily, October 29, 2009

Medical Care: Speaker Nancy Pelosi's cry in unveiling the House's massive reform bill might as well have been "Viva la health care revolution!" America never voted for change like this.

Just as most congressional Democrats refused to listen to the angry public at town halls in the summer, Speaker Pelosi was not interested in ordinary Americans attending the outdoor rally on the West Front of the Capitol, where she and her fellow House Democrats rolled out their 1,990-page monster health reform bill on Thursday.

YouTube recorded someone not on the RSVP list being refused entry and asking a staffer why the announcement of legislation that will radically affect the lives of all Americans isn't open to the public. "Because that's how we're handling this event," she told him.

Hoffman's Party
From Investor’s Business Daily, October 28, 2009

The Washington and media elites say Reaganism is finished as a political force. A citizen politician bucking the Republican Party establishment is proving them wrong — in of all places liberal New York.

Democrats See a Positive in a Bad Economy
By Robert Pear, Investor’s Business Daily, October 24, 2009

The bad economy is good for President Obama and Democrats as they try to reinvent the health care system with scant Republican support.

That is the conclusion of many Congressional Democrats, who say that economic insecurity and high unemployment stoke public support for their proposals to guarantee insurance for millions of Americans.

Public Schools Flunk the Test on Black Males
By Anthony B. Bradley Ph.D., Acton Institute for Religion and Liberty, October 28th, 2009

Do at-risk black males need to be emancipated en masse from America’s public school complex? A new study released about high school dropout and incarceration rates among blacks raises the question. Nearly 23 percent of all American black men ages 16 to 24 who have dropped out of high school are in jail, prison, or a juvenile justice institution, according to a new report from the Center for Labor Markets at Northeastern University, "Consequences of Dropping Out of High School."

Things Look Gloomy for Long Term
By Irwin Stelzer, Hudson Institute, October 30, 2009

First Amendment: Diversity czar Mark Lloyd's FCC votes Thursday on the issue of net neutrality. Advertised as providing access to all, it will do to the information superhighway what Lloyd proposed for talk radio.

The Public Option Opt-Out Is No Panacea
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Hudson Institute, October 29, 2009

Pity poor Harry Reid. The Senate Majority Leader has been grappling with the challenge of combining the two Senate health care plans into one, legislation that must also be palatable to Democrats in the House of Representatives.

Mr. Reid's compromise is a bill with a public plan that allows individual states to opt out. That puts him squarely in the liberal camp, because few states end up opting out of federal benefits, however hard their initial resolve. The question is whether he can carry the votes of all senators of his own party and muster the 60 ayes needed to block a filibuster.

There are just 60 senators in the Democratic caucus, and Joe Lieberman (Connecticut), Ben Nelson (Nebraska), Blanche Lincoln (Arkansas), Evan Bayh (Indiana) and Mary Landrieu (Louisiana) are said to be especially wary of any form of public option. Mr. Lieberman has even threatened a filibuster.

The Malpractice Problem
We can't have health care reform without tort reform.
By Stanley Goldfarb, M.D., associate dean of clinical education at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Weekly Standard, October 29, 2009 

The current malpractice system has contributed to an overall health care system that is inefficient. The large awards to a few have contributed to the unsustainable costs for many. This should not persist.

Silencing Voices for School Choice
Attorney General Eric Holder tries to kill a TV ad supporting D.C. school vouchers. 
by Sheryl Henderson Blunt, Weekly Standard, October 27, 2009

President Obama isn't taking kindly to a television ad that criticizes his opposition to a popular scholarship program for poor children, and his administration wants the ad pulled. Former D.C. Councilmember Kevin Chavous of D.C. Children First said October 16 that U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had recently approached him and told him to kill the ad.

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