North Archives - November 25, 2008
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for Change in Vermont
By James Ehlers
The Framers conceived and
JFK summarized: "the rights of man come not from the generosity of the
state, but from the hand of God." As with any right, there is responsibility.
A responsibility to provide for ourselves, assist family and friends and
even the stranger. A responsibility to God. If not God, then the dark days
of single digits will remind those who have not taken care to stock their
own cupboards. We ought take God’s hand now, lift ourselves and our neighbor
up, and bring a change to this long overdue season of our existence.
Cat May Look at a King
By Martin Harris
post-election WSJ essay, "Conservatism Isn’t Finished", argues that the
recent Donkey victory should not make liberals over-confident. He also
argues that "the culture wars have raged ever since 1968 because they help
Republicans win elections" and specifically ascribes to followers of the
Elephant eagerness for "a showdown between a folksy Middle America and
a snobbish liberal elite". Mr. Frank is not a plagiarist, but he certainly
is a historical revisionist, as even I, an amateur in such matters, can
easily document. Unlike Mr. Frank, who chooses to trace the culture wars
back only 40 years to a time of tie-dyed bra-burners and convention-crashers,
I trace it back to the Progressive Movement of the 1890’s, which asserted,
among other things, that it was the privilege and duty of the smarter and
superior 10 percent of the population to govern the dumber and inferior
90 percent, a notion which, on the global scale, was described by summer-Vermonter
Rudyard Kipling as "the white man’s burden" (1899) to civilize lesser beings
--"…your new-caught sullen peoples, half-devil and half-child…" around
the world, with or without their consent, cooperation, or gratitude
End-Point of a Cultural War Matters
By Mark Shepard
to conclude that cultural issues will fade to irrelevance requires a post-modern,
no-absolutes viewpoint and fails to consider just why America became stronger
following the earlier cultural wars Beinart sites. Without such consideration,
his suggestion – that similar economic election drivers will end the present
day cultural war – is either demonstrably incorrect or the American culture
itself is on a downward spiral. You cannot throw away the foundation of
America, without throwing away America.
Those earlier American cultural
wars ended with America, in many ways, more closely aligned to natural
law and our nation’s creed penned by Thomas Jefferson in the Declaration
of Independence: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men
are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain
unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit
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"If you analyze it I believe
the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. I think conservatism
is really a misnomer just as liberalism is a misnomer for the liberals–if
we were back in the days of the Revolution, so-called conservatives today
would be the Liberals and the liberals would be the Tories. The basis of
conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less centralized
authority or more individual freedom and this is a pretty general description
also of what libertarianism is."
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Give Grim Forecast for Vt.
From WCAX-TV, November 18,
Lawmakers on the Joint Fiscal
Committee listened, some seemingly frustrated and worried, as a state economist
delivered the news. "There have been truly seismic shifts in the economy,"
legislative economist Tom Kavet said. Kavet says income tax collections
will be down as unemployment rises. He predicts unemployment will top 7
percent by early 2010.
Until Proven Guilty
Caledonia Record Editorial,
November 21, 2008
On behalf of the Vermont
ACLU, Allen Gilbert questions a proposal by the Vermont Senate Judiciary
Committee, which has been working on legislation to rewrite criminal law
dealing with sex crimes and sex offenders. The proposal would change the
law to require the collection of DNA samples from people arraigned on felony
crimes, instead of just those convicted of felonies. The senate proposal
is in opposition to the fundamental guarantee in our system of justice
that a citizen is innocent until proven guilty.
Tightening Time For Towns
Caledonia Record Editorial,
November 18, 2008
The arguments against reductions
in funding operate on the assumption that every dollar of aid to a state
or to a town is essential and that it is impossible for the aid recipient
to cut even one dollar from a budget. The recipients argue they must make
up any shortfall. The arguments miss the point. A cut in federal spending
should send a message to the states to cut their own spending in response,
not increase state spending to make up for the lost federal share. When
Vermont cuts highway aid to towns, the message should be that towns should
cut their budgets by the same amount. Towns should respond by cutting the
town budget rather than increasing the local share.
Vt. Turning a Blind Eye to Illegal Workers?
From WCAX-TV November 19,
"We had to do something because
we needed the help and we were pretty apprehensive about it," Rob Hunt
says. Hunt is a farmer in Addison milking about 210 cows. After his Vermont
worker left, he ran an ad for six months looking for help with no luck.
The hours are long; the work hard. Then he was told by another farmer about
Mama Nancy. "They said call this woman. Left a message on a machine; who
I was, what I wanted. And she calls back and leaves me a message on my
machine, 'I have three packages coming in the next week. If you're interested
call me back,'" Hunt recalls. Hunt says he'd rather hire Vermonters; there
are no language barriers, plus this is all illegal.
Proposes Gas-Tax Increase
By Peter Hirschfeld, Vermont
Press Bureau, Times Argus, November 20, 2008
Steep budgetary shortfalls
threaten to undermine the state's transportation system unless Vermont
levies a new tax on gasoline and diesel purchases, according to a report
issued by State Treasurer Jeb Spaulding.
Budget Numbers, New Thoughts
From Vermont Tiger, November
Vermont's tax structure relies
more and more on high income earners. 40% of the state's income tax
is paid by about 7,000 taxpayers who earn over $200,000 and 60% comes from
the 30,000 taxpayers who earn over $100,000. When they do well (as
they did from 2003-2006), the state coffers bulged. Now that capital
gains income and subchapter S income are in the tank, we're riding the
downward trajectory of rich people's income. Having a narrow
tax base is very dangerous, as we're now seeing.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Hit by Unprecedented Cyber Attack
From FOX News, November
The Pentagon has suffered
from a cyber attack so alarming that it has taken the unprecedented step
of banning the use of external hardware devices, such as flash drives and
DVD's, FOX News has learned.
Treaty a Win for Iraq and U.S.
By Amir Taheri, Family Security
Matters, November 22, 2008
The U.S. had two key objectives
* To dismantle what was left
of Saddam Hussein's war machine, ensuring that it wasn't rebuilt and used
against Iraq's neighbors or other nations.
* To restore to the people
of Iraq the power that had been confiscated from them by the Ba'athist
Both have been achieved,
ensuring a clear U.S. victory – although many in Washington seem to believe
that it would be impolite or impolitic to admit that. It is one of those
ironies of history that Barack Obama, who opposed toppling Saddam Hussein,
now inherits this victory.
America also benefits from
the fact that, by signing SOFA, it shows that it isn't a fickle friend
– that its commitment to allies isn't cast aside as a result of a change
at the White House.
By Phil Leggiere, Homeland
Security Insight & Analysis
Terrorist networks and organizations
have many "underground" means of financing themselves, from drug smuggling
to cybercrime. As challenging as these clandestine methods are to globally
eradicate, an equally vexing problem is how to shut-off jihadist funding
siphoned off from so-called "legitimate" charities.
Addressing that problem,
according to Tolga Koker Department of Economics and Carlos Yordan Department
of Political Science Drew University, means addressing the question of
why tens of thousands of Muslims who are not terrorists and often opposed
themselves to terrorism nonetheless support the work of charities that
support jihadist operations. Their new
paper , titled Microfinancing Terrorism: A Study in Al Qaeda Financing
Strategy, published Tuesday by the Social Science Research Network,
tries to do just that.
Grapples With Role for Islamic Justice
By Elaine Sciolino, New
York Times, November 18, 2008
The woman in black wanted
an Islamic divorce. She told the religious judge that her husband hit her,
cursed her and wanted her dead.
But her husband was opposed,
and the Islamic scholar adjudicating the case seemed determined to keep
the couple together. So, sensing defeat, she brought our her secret weapon:
In walked a bearded man in
long robes who described his son-in-law as a hot-tempered man who had duped
his daughter, evaded the police and humiliated his family.
The judge promptly reversed
himself and recommended divorce.
This is Islamic justice,
British style. Despite a raucous national debate over the limits of religious
tolerance and the pre-eminence of British law, the tenets of Shariah,
or Islamic law, are increasingly being applied to everyday life in cities
across the country.
Produces Enough Uranium to Build Nuclear Weapon
From FOX News, November
Iran has now produced roughly
enough uranium to make a single nuclear bomb, according to atomic experts
analyzing the latest report from the U.N. nuclear watchdog agency, The
New York Times reported Wednesday.
Qaeda’s Message: We Will Not Stop Waging Jihad with Obama in the White
By Dr. Walid Phares, Family
Security Matters, November 22, 2008
While observers waited for
the release of the "official" al Qaeda position on the election of Barack
Obama as the next President of the United States, seasoned experts on the
Jihadist movement had little doubt about the substance of the main message.
As I have outlined in my appearances on Arabic television channels since
November 4th, Osama bin Laden or his second in command, was expected to
declare that their "Jihad" will continue despite the election of an African-American
president and despite Obama’s intention to withdraw from Iraq. Ayman al-Zawahiri
lived up to expectations on Wednesday in his latest message to his supporters
and his enemies. His message? Even if the war ends in Iraq, the global
war will continue everywhere.
# # #
Prevent Bubbles, Restrain the Fed
By Gerald P. O'Driscoll
Jr., Cato Institute, November 17, 2008
To avoid such a fate, Mr.
Obama needs to stop the next asset bubble from being inflated by imposing
a commodity standard on the Fed. A commodity standard (such as a gold standard)
imposes discipline on a central bank because it forces it to acquire commodity
reserves in order to increase the money supply. Today the government can
inflate asset bubbles without paying a cost for it because the currency
isn't linked to the price of a commodity.
With a commodity standard
in place, the government would also have price signals that would alert
it to the formation of a bubble. Why? Because the price of the commodity
would be continuously traded in spot and futures markets. Excessive easing
by the Fed would be signaled by rising prices for the commodity. In recent
years, Fed officials have claimed that they cannot know when an asset bubble
is developing. With a commodity standard in place, it would be clear to
anyone watching spot markets whether a bubble is forming. What's more,
if Fed officials ignored price signals, outflows of commodity reserves
would force them to act against the bubble.
The point is not to deflate
asset bubbles, but to avoid them in the first place. Imposing a commodity
standard is a practical response to the repeated failures of central banks
to maintain sound money and financial stability. What would be impractical
is to believe that the next time central banks will get it right on their
Max and the Meltdown
From The Wall Street Journal,
November 20, 2008
What really went missing
through the subprime mortgage years were the three Rs: responsibility,
restraint and remorse. They are the ballast that stabilizes two better-known
Rs from the world of free markets: risk and reward.
Responsibility and restraint
are moral sentiments. Remorse is a product of conscience. None of these
grow on trees. Each must be learned, taught, passed down. And so we come
back to the disappearance of "Merry Christmas."
It has been my view that
the steady secularizing and insistent effort at dereligioning America has
been dangerous. That danger flashed red in the fall into subprime personal
behavior by borrowers and bankers, who after all are just people. Northerners
and atheists who vilify Southern evangelicals are throwing out nurturers
of useful virtue with the bathwater of obnoxious political opinions.
of Sunspot Involvement in Climate Change Compelling
From Engineering News
Over the last few years,
the evidence that sunspots on our sun are directly related to climate change
on earth has been steadily increasing. ... The correlation for this effect,
going back thousands of years, is good, remarkably so. Scientifically,
this looks believable, and it is consistent with the theory and observation.
In contrast, the argument
that man-made carbon dioxide (CO2) is causing warming does not fit the
facts at all. Firstly, there was no industrial CO2 produced in vast quantities
when the Roman Warming period occurred, or when the Medieval Warming period
occurred. Both are well documented in various archives, such as the historical
Blinked: Fiscally Conservative Republicans Were Lost at Sea in the Panic
By David Weigel, Reason
Online, December 2008
In late September, a White
House economist arrived at Norquist's salon to sell a proposed $700 billion
bailout of Wall Street firms whose investments in worthless mortgage-backed
securities had sparked an international financial crisis. In a tense meeting,
the president's emissary was turned into a piñata. Pro-market activists
and economists with decades of experience battered him with questions,
asking whether the administration was putting an end to capitalism as we
knew it. The White House's economist responded coolly. Did these people
really want to do nothing in the face of the great 2008 meltdown?
In the end, what fiscal conservatives
wanted didn't turn out to matter much. As the Wall Street vapors scrambled
every aspect of the 2008 presidential campaign and of George W. Bush's
final days in office, no one was as angry as D.C.'s dwindling number of
libertarians. They pointed out that Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson's
plan involved a massive takeover of private firms and (in its original
draft) unchecked executive power. They invoked previous examples of government
meddling worsening crises, in the 1930s and the '70s. But as Washington
faced the greatest economic panic in a generation, adherents of free markets
were spectators in a debate between moderate interventionists and radical
By Paul M. Weyrich, American
Conservative Union, November 19, 2008
I did not see a way out of
this situation until I interviewed Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell
(R-Ken) on the "Right Hour" program on the Right Talk Radio Network. McConnell
pointed to the record of the Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts.
In ruling after ruling the court is suspicious of any legislation which
tries to limit political free speech and our First Amendment rights. McConnell
has been the plaintiff in the most important cases before the court. He
believes that with a few more rulings and McCain-Feingold Campaign Finance
Reform will belong to the ashbin of history.
I had not considered the
Supreme Court’s role in the Fairness Doctrine. There is little doubt that
if the Fairness Doctrine is re-instated by congress it immediately will
attract many free-speech lawsuits. Seldom is it that a United States Senator
says anything to cheer me up. Congratulations, Mitch McConnell. You managed
to just do that.
What You Wish For… Net Neutrality is Pandora’s Box
From How to Save the USA,
November 20, 2008
Net Neutrality is a trendy,
feel good internet cause. The gist of it is that some Internet Service
providers want to be able to throttle certain kinds of network traffic
to prevent things like Bit Torrent piracy from choking off other customers
like small business and grandmothers doing family tree research. Blog posts
talking about protecting the sacred, free nature of the internet from evil
corporations make the front page of Digg almost every day.
It certainly feels right,
doesn’t it? Keep things "neutral." Keep those big evil companies out of
the internet. All we need is the government to step in and… wait a second.
I found a catch.
When has the government ever
managed to make anything more free?
of Left’s “Fairness” Doctrine Push
From The Media Research
Center, November, 2008
talk radio hosts often warned during the campaign that free speech could
be trampled by an all-Democratic majority, the broadcast networks have
failed to react to this dangerous threat to the First Amendment. A review
shows the broadcast networks — whose affiliates could also be regulated
— have failed to run even a single story mentioning the push for a new
Fairness Doctrine. The most recent mention of the Fairness Doctrine was
on May 30, 2007, when in an interview on CBS’s The Early Show, Al Gore
bizarrely called it a “protection” that was removed during the Reagan years.
Our Public Schools Need
By Terry M. Moe, The Wall
Street Journal, November 24, 2008
Democrats are fervent supporters
of public education, and the party genuinely wants to help disadvantaged
kids stuck in bad schools. But it resists bold action. It is immobilized.
Impotent. The explanation lies in its longstanding alliance with the teachers'
unions -- which, with more than three million members, tons of money and
legions of activists, are among the most powerful groups in American politics.
The Democrats benefit enormously from all this firepower, and they know
what they need to do to keep it. They need to stay inside the box.
for Change in Education?
Sidwell Choice: The Obama family leads by example
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