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True North Archives - December 08, 2009
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Democrats: Bad for Jobs
By Rob Roper

At their first debate, all five Vermont Democratic gubernatorial candidates made one thing perfectly clear: If jobs, our economy and shoring up our social safety net are your top priorities, you shouldn’t vote for any of them in 2010.
"Scribblings": An Occasional Newsletter from the Legislature
By Rep. Thomas F. Koch, Barre Town

As the 2010 legislative session approaches, many people are asking what nationalhealth care reform will mean for Vermont.  The short answer is that nobody knows.  The House passed a bill last month, which has been described by some as "dead on arrival."  The Senate began debate on Majority Leader Reid’s bill this week.  After Senate debate (presuming that the bill passes, which is not a certainty), a House/Senate conference committee will hammer out a final version. Nobody knows what that might look like, and nobody knows whether it will pass. The effect of the bill on Vermont, then, is pure speculation.

Reciting What You Know Ain’t So
By Martin Harris

Contrary to Mark Twain’s famous comment --"It ain’t what you know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know [and say, I would add] that ain’t so"—the educator class has successfully repeated over recent decades many repeatedly disproven assertions, with no apparent ill effect on their own credibility standing, and no apparent good effect on either the educational achievement of their students or the cost-vs-benefit productivity analysis of their publicly funded enterprise. There’s been one, so far minor, negative effect on their industry --the loss of "market share" as parents opt to home-school their children or to enroll them in non-public alternatives, which set of decisions, in Vermont for example, is partially responsible for recent public school enrollment declines—but, more typically, their assertions have been accepted as the basis for school governance even though professional researchers have repeatedly proven them wrong. There are four major articles-of-faith guiding contemporary public ed –1. that smaller class sizes produce improvements in student achievement; 2. that spending on the special-ed end of the achievement spectrum deserves higher budget priority than spending on the gifted-and-talented end;  3. that pre-K classes in the Head Start model improve subsequent student achievement; and 4. that school district consolidation is the best way to save a lot of taxpayer money. You wouldn’t over-state by too much to call them The Four Horsemen of Educational Revelations.  All have been repeatedly discredited through professional statistical research, but I have enough column-inches here only for #4.

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"At bottom, and stripped of its carefully neutral phrases, the report is an educational program for a Socialist America."

--British socialist leader Harold J. Laski on a 1930’s report issued by the "Commission on Social Studies" of the American Historical Association.

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Food on the Table:
Why Twin States NH and VT Aren’t Identical
From the Valley News, December 5, 2009

Food insecurity varies from state to state, however, a fact that caught our attention because the problem appears much worse in Vermont than in New Hampshire. According to data collected from a representative sample of questionnaires, 12.1 percent of households in Vermont experienced food insecurity between 2006 and 2008, about the national average. In New Hampshire, by contrast, the proportion was 8.5 percent. ...

What accounts for these differences in two New England states that are similar in some other respects? Mark Nord, one of the authors of the USDA's food-security study, was unable to offer a definitive explanation, but he did give us some leads. Food insecurity, not surprisingly, is really just another name for economic insecurity, so differences in income and employment contribute to differences in the ability of households to provide adequate nutrition. But other factors also affect the prevalence of food insecurity, including housing costs and the state tax burden on low-income households.

By these measures, Vermont doesn't compare favorably. It is a low-wage state, where the median household income is substantially below that of New Hampshire. And there is more poverty -- 10.5 percent of the population between 2006 and 2008, compared with 7.6 percent in New Hampshire during that period.

Vermont's Utilities Stress Need for Nuclear Power
By Daniel Barlow, Times Argus, December 5, 2009

The hearing was scheduled to consider how Vermont would look without the Vernon nuclear power plant, which supplies about one-third of the state's electricity needs, in its energy portfolio.

But the two utilities dug their heels in and stressed in their testimony the need for Vermont Yankee's power beyond 2012, when its license expires, even if there is not a long-term agreement with them over exactly how much Vermonters would pay for that energy.

Property Tax Outlook...
Bad & Getting Worse
From Vermont Tiger, December 4, 2009

Tax Commissioner Westman’s December 1st letter with accompanying charts to the Legislature should come as no surprise to Vermont Tiger readers. Based on available projections for the Education Fund through FY12, the bottom line is simply this- if voters and/or the Legislature do nothing to reduce projected K-12 spending for FY11 and FY12, the average homestead property tax rate will increase over the next two years by no less than 20.7 % and the non-homestead property tax rate by no less than 7.7%.  Adding FY13 to the mix based on Westman’s letter, the homestead tax will increase by more than 25% and the non-homestead tax by more than 16%. As Vermonters pay approximately 84% of education property taxes (homestead + non-homestead), the prospect of these increases in property taxes is ominous indeed.

Scott Kicks Off Campaign for Lt. Governor:
Pitches fiscal restraint, blue-collar background
By Peter Hirschfeld Times Argus, December 2, 2009

Branding himself as a proud fiscal conservative in touch with the needs of work-a-day Vermonters, Sen. Phil Scott officially entered the race for lieutenant governor Tuesday night inside a hotel ballroom packed with applauding supporters.

The Day Of Reckoning
Caledonia Record Editorial, December 5, 2009

Vermont has been on a financial and political toboggan for a generation. At first, it seemed just a liberal joyride with little risk anticipated from what seemed a tame hill. But, a bit more than 10 years ago, the toboggan started going faster and the hill got steep. Now, our joyride has picked up ruinous speed, and the hill has become nearly vertical. We are out of control and gaining speed every day.

We could spend the rest of this page naming the fiscal irresponsibilities that have ruled Montpelier for far more than a decade, things like forgiving 60 percent of Vermonters their true property taxes by basing them on their income instead of the value of their property and making the rest of us pay their taxes; or refusing to address the way we fund education, even though its cost, already unsustainable, is spiraling upward and out of control; or squandering the federal stimulus money that will disappear soon by using it to hide a growing deficit that will not disappear soon, but will continue to grow exponentially.

That's not the point of this editorial comment, though. The point is, just as Education Commissioner Armando Vilasecca said, the day of reckoning is here.

NY, VT Officials to Discuss Demolition, Replacement of Champlain Bridge
From Vermont Business Magazine, December 4, 2009

NYSDOT Acting Commissioner Stanley Gee and Vermont Agency of Transportation (VTrans) Secretary David Dill have announced that, in order to expedite progress on demolishing the current Lake Champlain Bridge and designing its replacement, the states will hold a series of meetings to present plans and options to the public throughout the day on Saturday, December 12, at LaChute Hall, 132 Montcalm Street, in Ticonderoga, New York.  Vermont Public Radio has reported that the federal agency responsible for approving the demolition is expected to do so Monday. Officials want to demolish the bridge as soon as possible, perhaps by the middle of next week, before winter sets in to move the process ahead as quickly as possible.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

What Do FSM Experts Think About Afghan Speech?
From the FSM National Security Team, December 2, 2009

President Obama's presentation was lackluster. The troop surge is welcome to anyone who wants to see an end to Afghan violence - but Obama's going to stick to his rash pre-election pledge. The troops will come home in July of 2011, before the next election. This will not guarantee long-term security. For Afghans who want to live in lasting peace, it insults them. The Taliban will vacation in the hills, drinking goats' milk and idling the time away till the troops are gone, then descend upon Kabul like a whirlwind of death.

Obama admits that "our security is at stake in Afghanistan and Pakistan," yet gives a deadline for disengagement. Short-term solutions never strengthen global security.

The Taliban's Response to Obama Afghanistan Policy
By Jane Jamison, American Thinker, December 5, 2009

President Obama's speech this week to the nation about his "plan" for the war in Afghanistan doesn't please very many in this country. Apparently, it doesn't impress the enemy either.

It took a day to get the translation done, but the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (the Taliban) now has a response. It is a warning for America: Get ready to die.

Terror Trial Truth-Telling: Rallying to Keep 9/11 Killers Out of Civilian Courts
From the New York Daily News, December 5, 2009

The fight to persuade President Obama to forget about trying the 9/11 masterminds in federal court takes to the street today with a rally in Foley Square.

Led by Debra Burlingame, sister of Charles (Chic) Burlingame, who died piloting American Airlines Flight 77, protesters will begin the arduous, vital work of building political support for a presidential change of mind.

One Year of Jihad in America
By Christopher Holton, Family Security Matters, December 2, 2009

There is mounting evidence that the global Jihadist insurgency is fully entrenched in the United States After the Fort Hood massacre news services seem divided between those hell-bent-for-leather on denying that the Fort Hood massacre was a case of anything other than a persecuted loner "snapping" and those who proclaimed it the first "terrorist" attack on U.S. soil since September 11th.

This focus is wrong. Fort Hood was an act of Jihad and that's really all that matters: It is essential that we find out how extensive Nidal Malik Hasan's ties to other Jihadists were. Of this there can be no doubt.

Wishful Thinking, Biased Reporting Endanger Rifqa Bary
By Pamela Geller, American Thinker, December 5, 2009

Rifqa's close friend and another convert from Islam to Christianity, Jamal Jivanjee, adds: "As Meredith Heagney is the main reporter assigned to the Rifqa Bary story, I have read several articles that Ms. Heagney has written about the case previously. Each time I read her account of Rifqa's situation, I come away amazed at her 'selective' use of pertinent information that she includes in her articles. I am beginning to wonder if this is more than just simple oversight. I am convinced that Meredith's oversight reveals at best a hidden bias against Rifqa Bary, and at worst a deliberate attempt to deceive the public in Central Ohio. This latest article was unfortunately no exception."

The media is against her. Child Services is against her. Her own family is against her -- and eagerly awaiting her return to their clutches.

Who will stand for Rifqa Bary?

America's First Islamic College?
By Stephen Schwartz and Irfan al-Alawi, American Thinker, December 6, 2009

Who would imagine that a convert to Islam calling himself Hamza Yusuf Hanson, living in the San Francisco Bay Area and in his late '40s, would be listed as number 38 among the "Top 50 Muslims in the World" by a leading government body in Jordan? Or that the same Hanson would have announced recently, in grandiose terms, the prospective launch of an American Islamic institution of higher education to be called Zaytuna College, and aimed at becoming a "Muslim Georgetown" in academic prestige?

"Shaykh Hamza," as he prefers to be known, achieved so high a rank among the "Top 50 Muslims" thanks to an inventory produced by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre in Amman, in cooperation with Georgetown University's Prince Alwaleed bin Talal Center for Muslim-Christian Understanding (ACMCU). The full, illustrated catalogue is titled, "The Muslim 500" and may be perused online by clicking here. It was edited by two Georgetown faculty members: the notoriously Saudophilic Islamic studies professor and ACMCU Founding Director John L. Esposito, and Islamic studies professor Ibrahim Kalin. Kalin was recently described in Today's Zaman, organ of the Islamist Fethullah Gülen movement, as the "chief foreign policy adviser" to Turkey's prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, leader of the "soft fundamentalist" Justice and Development party, or AKP. ...

"Shaykh Hamza" was long known as one of the most outspoken Muslim radicals in America. Two days before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, Hanson, speaking in Southern California, declared that America stood "condemned" and "unfortunately has a great, great tribulation coming to it." This diatribe, reported in The Washington Post on October 2, 2001, was delivered at a benefit dinner for the prominent black nationalist known in the 1960s as H. Rap Brown, and later as Jamil Abdullah Al-Amin, who is now serving a life term without parole at the U.S. federal prison in Florence, Colorado, for murdering a police officer in Georgia (among other charges). The dinner was advertised on an Islamist website,

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From Elsewhere

A Good Jobs Report
Courtesy of Our Mostly Free-Market Private Sector
By Larry Kudlow, National Review, December 4, 2009

Even with massive tax, spending, and regulatory threats facing the economy, our mostly free-market private sector is generating economic recovery. Led by a profitable and productive business sector, today’s jobs report for November registered only an 11,000 decline in nonfarm payrolls, the smallest loss in two years. The unemployment rate dropped to 10 percent from 10.2 percent, the first two-tenths decline in that measure since September 2006 (when it fell to 4.5 percent from 4.7 percent).

What the Tea Party Movement Means for Conservatives
By Sal Russo, Human Events, December 01, 2009

As I have travelled across the country on the Tea Party Express buses, I have been struck by the similarity to the early days of Ronald Reagan.  The explosion of interest by every-day Americans in taking their country back, as well as the biased mainstream media trying to portray conservatives as crackpots, is all hauntingly familiar.

Scientific One-Sidedness on Global Warming
By Herbert London, Family Security Matters, December 2, 2009

It is becoming increasingly apparent that the "inconvenient truth" of global warming may be less true than Al Gore will admit. Public confidence in the arbiters of climate science has been shaken by a leaked e-mail and document scandal which suggests that scientific consensus on global warming is not what it is cracked up to be.

Apparently those who do not share the prevailing consensus were excluded from publishing in the major journals of the climate research community. One climatologist, Mike Hulme, at the University of East Anglia from which e-mails were lifted said, "It is possible that some areas of climate science has become too partisan, too centralized. The tribalism that some of the leaked e-mails display is something more usually associated with social organization within primitive cultures; it is not attractive when we find it at work inside science."

New Documents Reveal: White House, NEA Had Big Plans in Motion Before Being Exposed
By Patrick Courrielche, Big Hollywood, December 1, 2009

Readers of Big Hollywood may recall an article published in late August entitled "National Endowment for the Art of Persuasion?" that described an August 10th conference call organized by the White House, the NEA, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. As stated during the conference call, the goal was to bring together a group of pro-Obama artists to push the President and his agenda, with United We Serve as the first proposed effort. During the call, Yosi Sergant, then Communications Director for the NEA, encouraged artists to create art on the vehemently debated issues of health care, energy, and the environment.

In the newly obtained documents, Nell Abernathy, a representative of The Corporation, is shown providing the handpicked moderator a list of "concrete asks" to be emailed to the call participants following the conference call. The first concrete ask in the document [document 1] included volunteering on issues that were closely related to legislation being vehemently debated nationally:

"Serve in your community. You are probably already working to improve health care or green a neighborhood. Reach out to friends, colleagues and fans to serve with you. Ask five to pledge to serve with you."

Health Care Reform and Cap-and-Trade legislation were both being intensely debated in Congress in August, causing town hall meetings at the time to go nuclear over the proposed health-care legislation. Democrats were widely viewed as losing the debate. Asking a stacked group of pro-Obama art activists to address these issues could only lead to policy advocacy – and it did, as we have shown (here & here).

Stunning New ACORN Revelations: Shifting Public Money to Elect Progressives, NY Times Cover-up
From The Lid, December 2, 2009

Yesterday the Republicans on the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a forum to discuss ACORN and urge the Attorney General to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the Democratic Party's favorite criminal enterprise.

Congressmen Smith and Issa presented documentation indicating that ACORN already transferred many of its resources to several other left-wing advocacy and political groups including several chapters of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and possibly Data and Field Services, the Working Families Party, Change to Win and the Council for Unity, and others. Anita Moncrief, former ACORN employee told the panel the organization continually got federal block grants but did not use the grants for helping the poor as promised. Rather, ACORN "used the money to fund the political machine." Poverty is big business for ACORN....

On October 21, 2009, Strom was set to come to Washington to meet me and to receive from me proof of contact between ACORN and staff of the Obama campaign. By this time, I no longer trusted her as I had earlier and would only give the proof to her in person. I had provided Strom with the list of donors from the Obama and Clinton second quarter donor list as well a DNC, DSCC and Kerry donor lists prior to her scheduled visit. That day, Strom reported to me via a voice mail that her editors at the New York Times told her to "stand down." In a subsequent telephone conversation that day Strom told me that it was not the policy of the New York Times to print a story that close to the election that could be considered a "game changer" for either side.

Republicans Winning Recruiting Battle
From Politico, December 1, 2009

Cook Political Report House analyst David Wasserman notes a telling indicator that the political environment in 2010 is shaping up to be favorable for Republicans: Several Democratic candidates have decided to drop out of tough races, while Democratic members of Congress who rarely face serious challenges are finding themselves with their toughest re-elections in years.

Climategate: Science Is Dying
By Daniel Henninger, The Wall Street Journal, December 7, 2009

The East Anglians' mistreatment of scientists who challenged global warming's claims—plotting to shut them up and shut down their ability to publish—evokes the attempt to silence Galileo. The exchanges between Penn State's Michael Mann and East Anglia CRU director Phil Jones sound like Father Firenzuola, the Commissary-General of the Inquisition. For three centuries Galileo has symbolized dissent in science. In our time, most scientists outside this circle have kept silent as their climatologist fellows, helped by the cardinals of the press, mocked and ostracized scientists who questioned this grand theory of global doom.

Related: Scientists Behaving Badly

NPR Reporter Pressured over Fox Role
By Josh Gerstein, Politico, December 7, 2009

Executives at National Public Radio recently asked the network’s top political correspondent, Mara Liasson, to reconsider her regular appearances on Fox News because of what they perceived as the network’s political bias...

Healthcare and Tort Reform
By James R. Copland, Director, Center for Legal Policy, Manhattan Institute, December 1, 2009

Although tort reform is broadly popular - fully 83 percent of Americans want any healthcare reform to address medical-malpractice litigation - the trial bar simply injects too much cash into federal campaigns to make it feasible for reformers to attack its interests.

Related: Now We Have Proof: NEA Is the Largest Political Spender in America

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