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True North Archives - December 19, 2006
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Featured Articles

To improve government, send the legislature home
By Mark Shepard

… I suggest that shortening the legislative session would indeed result in a new, and I believe more effective, approach to solving problems.… Sessions running five to six months prohibit many qualified people from bringing their real-life experiences to the legislature. It's nearly impossible for anybody with a regular job, a business or a young family to make such a time commitment…. – Mark Shepard is a State Senator representing Bennington County & Wilmington

Just Because It Is Pretty Doesn’t Make It Nice: The things I understand now that I am older
By James Ehlers

A visit to any newspaper editorial section will reveal the vitriol some of our neighbors direct at one other. Nasty, childish letters dominate subjects like wilderness and preservation, school budgets, "global warming," property taxes, and business development…. Seems like we could use less baby and more boom from our ruling generation. – James Ehlers is editor emeritus of Elk Publishing.

Give ‘em Snell: Reason Foundation Expert Testifies on Early Ed.
By Rob Roper

… Snell eviscerated the previous expert testimony by Steven Barnett of the National Institute of Early Educational Research (NIEER), describing his claims for long-term cost savings and academic successes through universal pre-k as, “Bait & Switch.” The reason, as Snell meticulously pointed out, is that none of the studies Barnett used to promote large scale, diverse, “universal” preschool programs were in any way, shape or form large-scale, diverse or universal…. – Rob Roper is State Director for FreedomWorks-Vermont and Editor of the Vermont Education Report

Vermont News

Vermont's apartment rents eat up more pay
By Dan McLean, Burlington Free Press Staff, December 13

What a Vermont household must earn to rent a two-bedroom apartment, including essential utilities, jumped 10.4 percent since last year to $15.34 per hour, or $31,897 annually, according to a national report released Tuesday…. According to the study, 49 percent of Vermont's 71,000 renters can't afford to live in a two-bedroom apartment, which rents for an average $797…. State and federal government must focus on creating more affordable housing and establish a stronger safety net, Mahnke said.

Editor’s Note: No, state and federal government must focus on policies that encourage and enable the private sector to produce higher paying jobs, while resisting the temptation to create a host of laws and regulations that drive up the cost of home construction. It would also help if they reduced Vermont’s sky high property taxes, a cost that landlords must inevitably pass on to the renters.

Towns have two years to determine old roads
AP, December 11

…But if the old road is on an official map and is found to pass through a property or even a house, it can make titles unclear and hamper property sales….Towns have until July 1, 2009 to determine if they want to keep the rights of way.

Black Activists Condemn Senator Leahy's Promise to Renew Judicial Obstruction
David Almasi, Project 21, December 14

…members of the Project 21 black leadership network are renewing their demand for fair and timely consideration of judicial nominees. "Senator Leahy's comments are disgraceful and hypocritical, but they are certainly not out of character," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie.  "For the past six years, Senator Leahy and his liberal colleagues have openly and shamelessly engaged in the obstruction, character assassination and abuse of their committee responsibilities with regard to judicial nominees…." There are currently 51 judicial vacancies, with 24 of these vacancies considered "judicial emergencies" due to a court's large caseload and extended vacancies….

Related Story: Leahy takes lead on Judiciary Committee
Burlington Free Press Editorial, December 17

In his new assignment as chairman of the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Patrick Leahy will have a prominent role in Americans' lives and liberty…. Leahy returns to the chairmanship, which he held briefly in 2001 to 2002, promising "an agenda of restoration, repair and renewal: Restoration of constitutional values and the rights of ordinary Americans. Repair of a broken oversight process and the return of accountability. And renewal of the public's right to know." [Bold & Italics Added]

Editor’s Note: In 1985, Senator Patrick Leahy, "…inadvertently disclosed a top secret communications intercept [regarding Arab terrorists who murdered US citizens] during a television interview." According to the San Diego Tribune, "The reports cost the life of at least one Egyptian operative. The Washington Times reported in July 1987 that Leahy leaked secret information about a 1986 covert operation. As a result,"Leaky" Leahy "voluntarily" resigned his seat on the Senate Intelligence Committee. But the full story of Leahy’s leaks, and their impact on lives and national security, remains CLASSIFIED.

So, if the Senator really is interested in a "renewal of the public’s right to know," perhaps he will start by demanding the declassification of reports detailing his own deadly mishandling of intelligence. .

Article on Zinni's speech skewed
Kenneth Ciongoli, Burlington Free Press Letter to the Editor
Thursday, December 14, 2006

Free Press readers were subjected to media spin, distortion, and bias at its worst in The Associated Press' review of Gen. Anthony Zinni's discussion in Montpelier ("Ex-commander finds fault in war effort," Dec. 7). I was there. The general gave an exquisite hour-long explanation of the historical forces that are responsible for contemporary "aberrant Islamic radicalism." The reporter cherry-picked two sentences, cumulatively 45 seconds in duration, and used them as his byline and his major conclusions to fortify his anti-administration prejudices.

Zinni largely avoided this rhetoric. He told the audience, at great length, that the west, America, this administration are not the definitive causes of Islamic radicalism. After 17 years in the Middle East he concluded that Islam is at war with itself, moderate vs. fundamentalist, Sunni vs. Shiite. He opined that if there were no Iraq conflict that we would still be faced with decades of Islamic instability, while they adjusted to modernity.

Zinni disagreed with the Iraq war, but declared, "we broke it, we own it." He thinks that we need more troops in Iraq and that a rapid withdrawal would be catastrophic. He disagreed with the changes that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld made to the armed services but clearly stated that Rumsfeld had the best interests of our country at heart and Zinni could not/would not fault him.

In a dinner conversation before the speech Zinni acknowledged that although he disagreed with the Iraq war, George W. Bush was a "decent, honest and honorable man." These sentiments influenced the substance and tone of his speech. The reporter's distortion is shameful.

Related: The article in question, by By David Gram of the Associated Press

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From Elsewhere

Report: U.S. Schools Not Making The Grade
CBS., Dec. 14, 2006

A bipartisan panel is warning that America's students are falling behind those in even some of the poorest countries…. Students from Asia to Europe outperform Americans on tests…. Emerging giants like India are churning out college graduates who often have more advanced skill sets than American graduates. Many go on to take U.S. jobs….The commission calls for a radical overhaul to stream all students to college. Public schools would no longer be run by local districts. Instead, schools could be managed by groups of teachers or private companies…. 

Related Story: To fix US schools, panel says, start over
By Amanda Paulson
The Christian Science Monitor, 12/15/06

What if the solution to American students' stagnant performance levels and the wide achievement gap between white and minority students wasn't more money, smaller schools, or any of the reforms proposed in recent years, but rather a new education system altogether?...


New push for 'fair trade' puts U.S. economy at risk
Democrats should resist pressure to kill deals with Peru, Colombia.
USA Today, Dec. 12, 2006

…with the Democrats getting ready to take over, labor groups are pressuring the incoming Democrats to take more draconian steps, particularly to defeat pending trade deals…. But if Democrats defeat trade agreements with Peru and Colombia, go after others in the pipeline, or fail to extend the authority for the president to negotiate such deals, those actions would be some of the most counterproductive gestures ever made in the name of political accommodation. The years since the passage of NAFTA in 1993, and a major multilateral trade accord in 1994, have seen very robust growth by almost any measure. About 17 million private-sector jobs have been created, personal income has nearly doubled and the Standard & Poor's index of 500 stocks has nearly tripled….

Did Rahm Emanuel lie about his knowledge of Mark Foley? Yes.
Sunday, December 10, 2006

At the height of the Mark Foley scandal in October -- when Democrats were pounding Denny Hastert and company on a daily basis for having taken no action despite knowing about the emails sent by Foley to at least one page (and for lying about their past knowledge) -- Democratic Congressman (and DCCC Chair) Rahm Emanuel went on ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (along with GOP Rep. Adam Putnam). I haven't been able to find a full transcript, but the full video is here, and this article provides an account of the segment....

A well-meaning end to discrimination
By Cathy Young
The Boston Globe, December 11, 2006

DEPENDING ON who you talk to, the passage of Proposal 2 in Michigan last month was either a great victory for freedom and equal rights or a disastrous setback for minorities and women. The ballot measure, known as the Michigan Civil Rights Initiative, attracted little national attention after 58 percent of voters approved it Nov. 7. Its language is simple: "The state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."...

Say no to AP’s shoddy work
By Jules Crittenden
Boston Herald City Editor, Sunday, December 3, 2006

If newspapers don’t have an alternative, readers do. It’s called the Internet. That’s why newspapers, if they don’t want to be dragged further into irrelevance and disrepute, have to tell The Associated Press they are dissatisfied with its product.

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