North Archives - December 21, 2010
| Editorial | News & Views
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Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).
A Laboratory for What Kind of Change?
In short, Vermont has already
served as a "laboratory for change" in dealing with the problems surrounding
the health insurance industry and that change has not been for the good.
In spite of serving as a model on how not to reform our health care system,
our political leaders are once again offering up Vermont as a model for
reform while not even acknowledging our previous failure. Just like the
last "model for reform" that we served as, this model involves a greater
role for the government in solving a problem it helped to create. What
is it they say about the definition of insanity as "trying the same thing
over again and expecting different results"?
LIBS WHO STOLE CHRISTMAS
Rob Roper (with respect to Dr. Seuss)
The Libs, with their feet
all ice cold in the snow,
Stood puzzling and puzzling:
"How could it be so?"
Of course, they learned
nothing. The Libs showed persistence.
"Santa’s factory we’ll regulate
out of existence!"
"We’ll tax Santa’s sleigh,
and unionize elves!"
Which is just what they
... until 2012.
Kilowatt at Home in IN and Not in VT
By Martin Harris
officially-approved phrase for relations and compatibility between the
regulators and the regulated in the utility sector is "regulatory climate",
and -no surprise- some States have a better (in the objective view of industry
observers) climate than others. The recently-defunct industry print monthly,
Energy User News, typically used its last page for a spreadsheet presenting
all the statistical data for all the major players on both sides, and always
had a column for each State’s grade for Regulatory Climate. In recent decades,
Vermont’s grade went from C to D during the period from the pre-natal years
of Vermont Yankee to its impending license-renewal denial, while Indiana
typically posted a B for attributes the score-keepers describe as "reasonableness,
predictability, and transparency of regulatory actions". I might add "sense
of humor". Today there’s a new scoreboard, Utility Regulatory Environment,
posted in the pages of "Utility Forecaster", an investor-oriented newsletter
published monthly by Roger Conrad.
As a special service of True
North and the Defenders Council of Vermont for our Returning Veterans,
we have done some research and found an online employment and social networking
site to help those returning Patriots who are seeking employment and have
a desire to network with other returning Patriots. The first group is a
social network that is dedicated to providing a "fresh approach to transition
from military to civilian life". The group is called "My Vetwork"
and can be accessed here. There
is another group called "Hire Patriots" which is an employment network
for people looking to hire veterans and for veterans looking for work.
This site can be accessed here.
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to rule is the mother of heresies."
– St. John Chrysostom
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Weekly News Round-Up
By Art Woolf, Vermont Tiger,
December 17 2010
But the main issue I want
to raise is both Senator Sanders and Rep. Welch's concern that "our children
and grandchildren" will have to pay off the extra $801 billion debt we
are now going to incur. That's only true if those children and grandchildren
The middle and lower class--the
bottom 40% of the household income distribution--pay
zero percent of all federal income taxes. That's zero as
in nought, nil, none, nada, 0. And the next 20% of the households
in the U.S. pay 5% of all the taxes, and hence 5% of that $801 billion.
Peter Shumlin will Save Vermont Yankee
By Dan Yurman, Idaho Samizdat:
Nuke Notes, December 18 2010
Several people have sent
comments suggesting the if the current or future owner(s) of Vermont Yankee
made a substantial contribution to the Vermont Clean
Energy Development Fund, on order of several $millions,
that would appease Gov-elect Shumlin.
This sounds at first like
a bribe. In in Germany Chancellor Angela Merkel imposed a 50% profits tax
on the nation's 17 operating nuclear reactors to generate about $2.3 billion
annually for renewable technologies.
This is a proposal for piracy
operating under the delusion that solar energy makes any sense in Vermont,
which has the same lousy winters as Germany in terms of days of sunshine.
Bernie Sanders Running for President?
By Tom Evslin, Vermont Tiger,
December 15 2010
Even prior to Senator Sander's
(I-VT) recent talkathon, one of the sharpest political operatives I know
told me that Sanders might be preparing to run for President – probably
as an independent. He has been commanding national media coverage, first
with his reactions to disclosures, which he helped force the Federal Reserve
to make, of blatant
conflicts of interest in the awarding of TARP funds to banks
whose CEOs were on the board of the NY Fed and then with his marathon rant
against the tax compromise. And now there's a Sanders
for President website.
IMHO Vermont Senator Sanders
is more likely to run for President in 2012 than former Vermont Governor
Howard Dean. An independent run would be consistent with Bernie Sanders'
history even before he became one of just two independents currently in
the US Senate and, according
to Wikipedia, the first person elected to the Senate who
identifies himself as a socialist. To Sander's advantage, he is often underestimated.
Schools Face Budget Cut Proposal Deadline
By John Curran, Boston.com,
December 15 2010
Agonizing over their decisions
to the end, Vermont school district officials faced a Wednesday deadline
for submitting budget proposals to meet $23 million in savings sought by
a state budget-cutting program, with some failing to meet the "voluntary"
"Our homework was turned
in on time, it's just not the homework the state wanted," said Jeanne Collins,
superintendent of schools in Burlington.
It's not what many school
officials, teachers and parents want, either. But state government's deteriorating
fiscal condition and pressures from recession-induced cutbacks prompted
the adoption by lawmakers last year of the Challenges for Change program.
It was aimed at helping cope with spiraling state revenues caused by the
recession, and earmarked $23 million of savings in education.
By John Primmer, Vermont
Tiger, December 9 2010
A Vermonter’s breast swells
with pride at seeing our junior Senator take to the Senate floor to deliver
several hours of calm, reasoned disquisition on this proposition: We
Must Pitchfork Employers, Smite the Successful, and Escalate the Class
War Among All Of Our Citizens, Even at the Cost of Raising Taxes on 100%
of American Taxpayers and Curtailing Extended Unemployment Relief for 10%
of the American Work Force.
of Vermont National Guard Troops Return Home
From Fox 44 News
The last big group of Vermont
National Guard troops, who served a year-long tour of duty in Afghanistan,
returned home to see their families Thursday.
Two airplanes carrying 300
soldiers touched down after noon. National Guard Major General Michael
Dubie, Vermont's Governor Jim Douglas and Lt. Governor Brian Dubie greeted
the troops when they stepped off the plane.
A few dozen of their peers
were there to welcome them home too, including Sgt. Reuben Oullette.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
Sounds the Alarm on China, Does the U.S. Hear It?
By William R. Hawkins, Family
Security Matters, December 20 2010
Japan has published its 2010
Defense White Paper. Minister of Defense Toshimi Kitazawa states
in his introduction, "The security environment surrounding Japan is growing
increasingly severe, as evidenced by North Korea's nuclear and missile
issues, the modernization of China's armed forces, and the intensification
of military activities by China and Russia." Tokyo has island territorial
disputes with both Beijing and Moscow, and major military maneuvers were
held by China and Russia during the summer. In response, the United States
and Japan held joint exercises in the Sea of Japan to demonstrate the continued
vitality of their 50 year alliance. The white paper notes the "Number of
disputes in the so-called 'gray zones' (confrontations over territory,
sovereignty and economic interests which have not escalated into wars)
is on the increase."
While a violent and unstable
North Korea is the most immediate threat in the region, Tokyo sees the
rise of China as the greater long term challenge. In the paper's survey
of the security environment, it states, "China, a major political and economic
power with important clout, is gaining confidence in the international
community and demonstrating a more proactive stance....China is increasing
its activities in waters close to Japan. The lack of transparency in its
national defense policies, and the military activities are a matter of
concern for the region and the international community, including Japan,
and need to be carefully analyzed."
New Korean War Would Be Devastating, but It Could Happen
By Joseph Shuman, AOL News,
December 15 2010
There would be no winner
if war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.
But more than 57 years after
the armistice suspended open hostilities between the U.S.-allied Republic
of Korea in the south and the Chinese-backed Democratic People's Republic
in the north, their border remains trip-wire tense. And both sides are
braced for a return to conflict, however unlikely, that would kill millions
of people and resonate economically and politically across the globe.
Using Western Mosques to Plot Terrorism?
By Erick Stakelbeck, Family
Security Matters, December 17 2010
In the latest episode of
the Stakelbeck on Terror show (watch
here), I sat down with a former member of Iran's powerful and
fearsome Revolutionary Guard Corps.
In our exclusive interview,
Reza Khalili shared inside information from his years working for the Guards--a
group that recently vowed
to murder American generals. He was able to infiltrate the organization
as a double agent working for the CIA and details his experiences in the
fascinating new book, A
Time to Betray.
Perhaps the most stunning
revelation to come out of our interview was Reza's admission that Iran
uses mosques in Europe and the U.S to plot, finance, recruit and train
for terrorism. Reza was personally involved in some of these operations
while working for Iran in the Muslim communities of Europe. Given the current
controversies that are raging over proposed mega-mosques, not only at Ground
Zero but across
America's heartland, Reza's insights are vitally important.
there be a Tet Offensive in Afghanistan?
By George F. Will, The Washington
Post, December 15 2010
The Taliban is culturally
primitive, so any sign of tactical sophistication is unsettling. Although
it is unlikely that the Taliban leadership has as nuanced an understanding
of the importance and dynamics of American public opinion in wartime as
North Vietnam's leadership did, Taliban leaders surely know that North
Vietnam won the Vietnam War not in Vietnam but in America.
And they surely know the
role played by North Vietnam's February 1968 Tet Offensive. Although U.S.
forces thoroughly defeated the enemy, the American public,
seeing only chaos and the prospect of many more years of it, turned decisively
against the war.
Might the Taliban's tactics,
techniques and procedures (in military argot, TTP) make possible a spike
in violence in some way comparable to Tet in its impact on American opinion?
No one knows this, or how another attack on America, perhaps launched from
Yemen, might affect public support for what are explained as prophylactic
operations in Afghanistan.
and the Cartel Wars in 2010
By Scott Stewart, Strategic
Forecasters, December 16 2010
In 2010, the cartel
wars in Mexico have produced unprecedented levels of violence throughout
the country. No longer concentrated in just a few states, the violence
has spread all across the northern tier of border states and along much
of both the east and west coasts of Mexico. This year’s drug-related homicides
have surpassed 11,000, an increase of more than 4,400 deaths from 2009
and more than double the death toll in 2008.
News: Mexico Border Prison Break
More Than140 Criminals
From Family Security Matters,
December 18 2010
More than 140 criminals escaped
from a prison in Nuevo Laredo, in Tamaulipas state, Mexico,
yesterday evening. They left by a main entrance of the prison, highlighting
the poor security of Mexico’s jails. The head of the jail, Jesus Horacio
Sepulveda, has also disappeared. Whether he was in collusion with the convicts
who escaped, or if he was taken as a hostage, is unclear....
What should be worrying for
Americans is the proximity of this jail to the border, close to Laredo
in Texas. Cross-border
crime is common. The image above shows a house in Laredo Nuevo
whose outer wall is pock-marked with bullet holes. Many of those who escaped
in drug gangs. The prison holds 1,000 inmates, with the majority
incarcerated for crimes connected with drug running and kidnapping.
# # #
Giving Begins with the Local Church
By Jordan Ballor, The Acton
Institute for Religion and Liberty, December 15 2010
It’s the season for giving—not
only to friends and relatives but to charitable causes and non-profits
as well. There are two trends of special concern as we look at where tax-deductible
charitable dollars are going at the end of the year. The first is that
even though charitable giving has
declined nationwide during the Great Recession, the amount of
funding to church and other religious and faith-based organizations increased.
Although people are giving less overall, religious charities are seeing
greater donations. But this makes the second trend even more striking:
while "church" and "religious organizations" are getting a larger share
of a smaller pie, local congregations are seeing donations decline.
This is the basic picture
we get from "The
State of Church Giving," a study released earlier this year
by Empty Tomb, Inc., which looked at numbers for 2008 in its twentieth
annual report. Sylvia Ronsvalle, executive vice president of Empty Tomb,
says that the 2008 data "suggests it’s possible that fewer people are seeing
churches as the primary conduit for meeting the larger (charitable and
evangelistic) need." For various reasons, people seem to increasingly view
places other than their local congregations as the place where their charitable
dollars ought to go.
Europe Bring the U.S. Down?
By Diana Furchtgott-Roth,
The Hudson Institute, December 16 2010
Just as the American economy
appears to be improving, with higher sales and production, it risks being
dragged under by Europe. On Wednesday Moody's announced that it might downgrade
Spain's credit rating. Riots have reached Britain from Greece and France
in a reaction to austerity measures taken to cut budgets and services and
to whittle down mountains of debt.
American Enterprise Institute
resident fellow Desmond Lachman asks "Can the Euro Survive?" in a paper
published by Britain's Legatum Institute, a free-market think tank. He
argues that Europe's problems far exceed ours and are worsened by the common
currency, the Euro, which will eventually have to unravel.
Obamacare Is Unconstitutional, Why Aren’t Medicare & Medicaid?
By John R. Graham, The National
Review, December 15 2010
People are often shocked
to learn that Social Security and Medicare are not "entitlements" at all.
Congress could pass a law stopping all Social Security and Medicare payments
tomorrow, and no citizen would have a legal claim against the government
based on how much payroll tax he or she had paid into the so-called "Trust
Fund." Because Medicaid is financed by general tax revenue, its constitutionality
under the general-welfare clause is even more secure, according to current
For a non-lawyer, the distinction
is silly. The stated goals of all three programs — Medicaid, Medicare,
and Obamacare — are to lay paving stones on the path to so-called "universal"
coverage. The Founding Fathers had no notion of government-run health care,
so they would surely find it absurd that 20th and 21st-century jurisprudence
allowed that Congress can tax Jack to pay for Jill’s health insurance,
and tax Jill to pay for Jack’s health insurance, but cannot tax Jack to
pay for Jack’s (or Jill to pay for Jill’s) health insurance.
In a sane world, this matter
would have to be resolved in one direction or the other. As an advocate
of individual choice, I’d hope the Virginia ruling stands up, but also
that its shock-wave crashes up against Medicare and Medicaid. But I wouldn’t
be too confident.
The Money Runs Out
By John Hayward, Human Events,
December 16 2010
Claiming that massive deficits
can be addressed by tax increases is the last, desperate attempt of cornered
socialists to shift responsibility for their failures to faceless class
enemies. It is the stern insistence by government that all of its
problems can be laid at the feet of the private sector. The minimum
threshold for membership in the Evil Rich keeps plummeting, which is another
way of saying that more of the public is failing to live up to the expectations
of the State.
Here is the truth socialists
attempt to cover with that illusion: the U.S. national debt is currently
$13.8 trillion, while our annual Gross Domestic Product is $14.6 trillion.
That means you would have to seize nearly the entire economic output of
the nation to pay off the debt. The unfunded liabilities of Social
Security and Medicare approach the GDP of the entire planet.
The current federal budget
deficit is $1.3 trillion dollars. The top 1% of income earners had
a total adjusted gross income of about $1.6 trillion. It would be
necessary to confiscate nearly all of their income to pay off the
deficit. These are the "greedy" folks Democrats claim are the only
ones who deserve tax hikes at the moment. They already pay 38% of
all income taxes.
Ethanol Idiocy that Will Not Die
sense is no match for the inertia of a government subsidy.
By Rich Lowry, The National
Review, December 14 2010
When Al Gore drops an environmental
fad, it has truly reached its expiration date. In his wisdom, the Goracle
recently acknowledged what almost all disinterested observers concluded
long ago: Ethanol is a fraud. It has no environmental benefits, and harmful
side effects. The subsidies that support its use are an object lesson in
the incorrigibility of Washington’s gross special-interest politics. It
is the monster that ate America’s corn crop.
Got a Big Christmas Present Yesterday, but It Wasn’t the Tax Bill
By Daniel J. Mitchell, The
Cato Institute, December 17 2010
There’s a lot of attention
being paid to yesterday’s landslide vote in the House to prevent a big
tax increase next year. If you’re a glass-half-full optimist, you will
be celebrating the good news for taxpayers. If
you’re a glass-half-empty pessimist, you will be angry because
the bill also contains provisions to increase the burden of government
spending as well as some utterly corrupt tax loopholes added to the legislation
so politicians could get campaign cash from special interest groups.
If you want some unambiguously
good news, however, ignore the tax deal and celebrate the fact that Senator
Harry Reid had to give up his attempt to enact a pork-filled, $1 trillion-plus
spending bill. This "omnibus appropriation" not only had an enormous price
tag, it also contained about 6,500 earmarks. As I
explained in the New York Post yesterday, earmarks are "special
provisions inserted on behalf of lobbyists to benefit special interests.
The lobbyists get big fees, the interest groups get handouts and the politicians
get rewarded with contributions from both. It’s a win-win-win for everyone
— except the taxpayers who finance this carousel of corruption."
Americans Keep Their Own Money = 'Holiday Gift' from Congress
FCC's Threat to Internet Freedom
By Robert M. McDowell, Wall
Street Journal, December 19, 2010
On this winter solstice,
we will witness jaw-dropping interventionist chutzpah as the FCC bypasses
branches of our government in the dogged pursuit of needless and harmful
regulation. The darkest day of the year may end up marking the beginning
of a long winter's night for Internet freedom.
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