North Archives - December 16, 2008
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Vermont Yankee Off the Island
By John McClaughry
money from Entergy is a familiar game in Montpelier. In 2003 the legislature
shook the company down for $9 million in return for the state’s non-objection
to increasing the plant’s electricity output. Two years later it extracted
another $28 million in return for state permission to store its oldest
and least radioactive spent fuel rods in dry casks instead of in a water
It’s highly likely that in
addition to continuing favorable power rates after 2012, the legislative
leadership will "ask" Entergy to pay dearly to avoid a political death
This is not quite the same
as a corrupt Governor selling an appointment to a vacant U.S. Senate seat,
but it falls under the same broad heading.
‘em and Weep
By Martin Harris
that context, two recent news articles appearing almost simultaneously,
recently, drew my attention. One was a write-up of a recently released
report on contemporary public education by the advocacy group Strong American
Schools entitled "Diploma to Nowhere" which I read in a monthly called
School Reform News. The subject was also covered by the wire services in
their releases to major newspapers across the nation. The other was a lengthy
op-ed by former IBM CEO Louis Gerstner, more recently the head of another
advocacy group called "The Teaching Commission" , in The Wall Street Journal,
in which he sets forth his five measures for improving publication. The
two fit together because the first describes how remedial college education
–making up for what the K-12 effort doesn’t accomplish with its young charges—now
applies to a full third of all college freshmen; while the second offers
specific remedies for that failure to produce adequate results. Read both
and weep, you might agree, is an understandable taxpayer reaction: after
all, it’s been 25 years since the first of such study-and-recommend reports
(A Nation at Risk, 1983) was published, and the public-education-productivity
situation has since worsened, rather than improved. In 1983, for example,
a third of all college students didn’t need remedial high-school-level
courses. I won’t even mention the changes in property tax levels (for school
By Tom Wilson
There is no place more estranged
from the hardscrabble character of its frontier roots than new Vermont.
The old Vermonter was an utter free thinker, an ultimate separatist: he
wouldn't be a churchman or a Yorker or Hampshireman; he was so republican
he wouldn't even be a colonist. The Republic of Vermont refused to join
the Union until 1791. Yet he marched in more numbers per capita from the
Eden of his own conscience into the Civil War than from any other northern
state. But not because he was such a Unionist. No, he marched against royalism
and elitism, the roots of slavery. As Ethan Allen once said, "the gods
of the valley are not the gods of the hills."
Our freedom is ephemeral.
Now there is a enough usurpation afoot to raise the dead, let alone the
taciturn. We are now slaves to debt, some of which we stupidly incurred,
but soon we'll all be Atlas, impossibly trying to carry it all, staggering,
as the monied elites laugh their way to perfect power.
We'll have no voice, no rights, no recourse; to the megalomania of the
new royalty, we're already cattle, their human resource.
# # #
"Really new trails
are rarely blazed in the great academies. The confining walls of
conformist dogma are too dominating. To think originally, you must
go forth into the wilderness."
--S. Warren Carey (Australian
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Parents Want Holidays Back In School
From WCAX-TV, December 9,
The debate over what constitutes
a religious celebration in schools has parents in Benson fired up. More
than two dozen parents packed the Benson Village School board meeting,
Tuesday night, complaining that their children are banned from making any
reference to Christmas in the classroom. The parents say that their school
has been singled out, and that its policy about holiday references in school
has gotten to the point of being ridiculous.
Ranks Low in a Nationwide Survey of Internet Speeds
By Joel Banner Baird, Free
Press Staff December 9, 2008
Vermont appeared near the
bottom of a nationwide ranking of Internet speeds this month — but the
study’s sponsor cautions against drawing any quick conclusions. Only Wyoming,
Hawaii and New Mexico rank below the Green Mountain State in the survey
conducted by PCMag.com, an established purveyor of computing trends.
Raid Or Not To Raid The Education Fund?
Caledonia Record Editorial
December 12, 2008
The political leadership
of both major parties is clearly thinking about raiding the Education Fund
to help reduce the huge revenues shortfall they expect in the 2009 budget
and the even larger shortfall they expect in 2010. Their ruminations are
all about whether or not to appropriate (misappropriate?) the $20 million
surplus in this year's education tax revenues.
There is one fact that neither
the governor nor the Legislature should allow themselves to forget or to
gloss over when they are about to make the grab. The Education Fund surplus
is the result of Vermonters being over-taxed to fund the schools, i.e.
it came out of our pockets under a false rubric. It should never be appropriated
(misappropriated?) for any other use than to fund education or to be returned
to us, the taxpayers.
Statutes Title 16, Chapter 133 § 4025 (d): "Upon
withdrawal of funds from the education fund for any purpose other than
those authorized by this section, chapter 135 of Title 32 (education property
tax) is repealed."
to Leave South Burlington
From WCAX-TV, December 9,
A South Burlington-based
manufacturing company will be closing its doors after 23 years in Vermont.
Tri-Tech USA specializes in advanced metal working and also produces commercial
grade mobile kitchens for the military. The company is moving its operations
to South Carolina. 30 people work at the South Burlington plant. Most of
the company's customers are in New England. No word yet on whether the
Vermont employees will be offered jobs in South Carolina.
From Vermont Tiger December
In every community, a public
relations campaign is being waged by school officials to beat Act 82.
What exactly do they have to beat? Well, they have to avoid the second
vote if they can. Win it if they must. Nobody knows for sure
yet who is going to be covered by the two-votes thing, because the numbers
aren't available yet. So just in case they might be covered by it,
school officials will keep reminding voters what a bad law Act 82 is.
Maybe that'll help that second vote get passed. ...
And my favorite? "Act
82 solved a problem that basically didn't exist." How could a short
sentence like this produce two such assaults on logic? Yes, there
is a problem. And, no, Act 82 doesn't even begin to solve it.
There's much more work to be done on education finance reform.
NEA Lawyer Joel Cook disparages the "two vote mandate" (pdf, on
Failure At Verbal Legerdemain
Caledonia Record Editorial,
December 10, 2008
Gov. Douglas, pro tem Sen.
Peter Shumlin, then-Speaker of the House Rep. Gaye Symington, and everybody
else who valued political survival over falling on their swords, did everything
but swear an oath not to raise taxes. That was not hard for Gov. Douglas.
He is very far from a tax-and-spend nanny-statist. But it was almost impossible
for the far left, which is addicted to expensive entitlements that can
be sustained only by new or increased taxes.
Enter a term that appeared
to rescue the addicts without seeming to raise taxes. The term is "surcharge."
Both Shumlin and Symington (and half a dozen others) jumped on it as a
way to raise public money without raising taxes.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
By Ralph Peters, The New
York Post, December 12, 2008
WARNINGS about the foreign
challenges the Obama administration will face early on focus on the usual
suspects - al Qaeda, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Russia and, not least,
the global solvency crisis. While each of these issues demands serious
attention, the crises abroad that shocked, consumed or defined a succession
of presidencies came "out of the blue."
Russian War on Words
William D. Zeranski American
Thinker December 09, 2008
Word games can't reverse
the economic disaster caused by the Russian-Georgian War but all the same,
authorities are moving against news outlets not following the government's
script. Of course, state-controlled television networks have already
complied, but "authorities have begun scouring Web sites and newspapers
for evidence of content that they believe could incite panic in a nation
already on edge about its economic plight."
When the Catholics
and Muslims got together.
By John F. Cullinan, National
Review, November 26, 2008
Similarly troubling is this
blithe assertion: "Certainly we cannot claim that violence is the monopoly
of only one religion." Whatever this claim’s historical or theoretical
merits, religiously-inspired violence today is not a Christian phenomenon,
nor does holy war play any role whatsoever in modern Christian thought
Finally, there are Nasr’s
unfortunate and offensive remarks to the media belittling the immense suffering
of Christian minorities and Christian converts from Islam: "The difficulties
of these Christians are nothing in comparison with what Muslim peoples
have suffered over the centuries at the hands of Christians, and today
especially at the hands of Israel and the United States."
None of these inaccurate
and provocative claims was matched by similar comments from the Catholic
side. But they’re a useful reality check and fair measure of the difficulty
of arriving at a true meeting of the minds.
Steps in the Indo-Pakistani Crisis
By George Friedman, Strategic
Forecasters, December 8, 2008
In an interview published
this Sunday in The New York Times, we laid out a potential scenario for
the current Indo-Pakistani crisis. We began with an Indian strike on Pakistan,
precipitating a withdrawal of Pakistani troops from the Afghan border,
resulting in intensified Taliban activity along the border and a deterioration
in the U.S. position in Afghanistan, all culminating in an emboldened Iran.
The scenario is not unlikely, assuming India chooses to strike.
Our argument that India is
likely to strike focused, among other points, on the
weakness of the current Indian government and how it is likely to fall
under pressure from the opposition and the public if
it does not act decisively. An unnamed Turkish diplomat involved in
trying to mediate the dispute has argued that saving a government is not
a good reason to go to war. That is a good argument, except that in this
case, not saving the government is unlikely to prevent a war, either.
Modern-day Islamist Inquisition?
By Walid Phares, American
Thinker, December 09, 2008
The Organization of Islamic
Conference (OIC), an association of the world's Islamic states, is pushing
the United Nations to outlaw "defamation" of religion in general, and of
one religion in particular.
Has Proof ISI Trained Mumbai Attackers: Sources
By Nidhi Razdan, New Delhi
Television, December 04, 2008
More than a week after the
Mumbai attack, sources have told NDTV that India has proof that the ISI
mastermined the Mumbai attack. Sources in fact say that they are 100% certain
that the attack was authorised by Pakistan's intelligence agency. They
say the attack was very well organised, with sophisticated equipment and
# # #
Me for Job Losses
By C. Edmund Wright, American
Thinker, December 11, 2008
Let me attempt to help out
these "curious capitalists" (though I am still skeptical that anyone working
for CNN or Time is either curious or a capitalist). I caused part
of this job loss and I know precisely why; the election. The results portend
big trouble for small business.
The job destruction process
has started. We are about 20% of the way through our ramp down process
and on schedule to complete the shut down by spring 2009. Watch the financial
news and you will see continued job cuts each month. We are not alone in
our strategy. Far from it. Atlas has shrugged all over the country.
Blowback: More Than 650 International Scientists Dissent Over Man-Made
Global Warming Claims
By Marc Morano, U.S. Senate
Committee on Environment & Public Works, December 10, 2008
The UN global warming conference
currently underway in Poland is about to face a serious challenge from
over 650 dissenting scientists from around the globe who are criticizing
the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore.
Set for release this week, a newly updated U.S. Senate Minority Report
features the dissenting voices of over 650 international scientists, many
current and former UN IPCC scientists, who have now turned against the
UN. The report has added about 250 scientists (and growing) in 2008 to
400 scientists who spoke out in 2007. The over 650 dissenting scientists
are more than 12
times the number of UN scientists (52) who authored the media hyped
IPCC 2007 Summary for Policymakers.
Companies Voting With Their Feet
From Investor's Business
Daily, December 12, 2008
Another day, another
oil company fleeing the country. No, this isn't Ecuador, the banana republic
that just defaulted on its debt after chasing out investors. It's the United
States, and what we're seeing is self-defense.
Party Scandal: How High Will It Go?
By Rick Moran, American
Thinker, December 10, 2008
The big news, of course,
is the governor's attempt to sell the senate seat of Barack Obama. Incredibly,
it appears that he tried to get the best deal by shopping the seat to as
many as 7 potential candidates -- including, indirectly, Barack Obama.
Cannon of Cannonfire details the offer to an unnamed high level Obama
advisor (evidence suggests it is newly-designated chief of staff Rahm Emanuel).
Blagojevich was pushing what Cannon calls "a wacky scheme" where the governor
would take over control of a not for profit group -- a 501c(4) --
set up by Warren Buffet and Bill Gates (who would act at the behest of
Obama) in exchange for appointing Obama's choice for the senate seat --
his longtime friend and advisor Valerie Jarrett.
Coalition Offers Proposals for A New Thrift Culture (pdf)
From the Institute for American
Overindebtedness has become
an American way of life. A groundbreaking report from a broad coalition
of American leaders is now calling for institutional and cultural changes
to address today’s debt culture. The report proposes 5 major objectives
and 19 specific initiatives to create a new thrift culture that would
promote savings and sustainability.
Codes Limit Campus Freedom
By Ray Nothstine, Acton
Institute for Religion and Liberty, December 3, 2008
On college campuses during
the late 1960s and early 1970s, it was students who embodied campus radicalism.
Today some administrators practice a brand of radicalism intent on punishing
students who dissent from the ideology of the campus power structure. In
their book, The Shadow University: The Betrayal of Liberty on America’s
Campuses, authors Alan Charles Kors and Harvey A. Silverglate declare,
"In a nation whose future depends upon an education in freedom, colleges
and universities are teaching the values of censorship, self-censorship,
and self-righteous abuse of power."
# # #