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True North Archives - December 21, 2010
Radio | Editorial | News & Views

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Radio archives are here! Use the controls on our radio archive page to listen to past shows of note (archived shows are available for a limited time only). True North airs daily between 11:00 am - 12:00 noon on Radio Vermont's WDEV, AM 550 & FM 96.1, and on WTWK, 1070 AM (Burlington).

Featured Articles

Vermont: A Laboratory for What Kind of Change?
By Robert Maynard

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"?

Rob Roper photoBy 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 tried...
... until 2012.

Reddy Kilowatt at Home in IN and Not in VT
By Martin Harris

Martin Harris photoThe 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.

*Welcome Home Veterans*

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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"The desire to rule is the mother of heresies." 
– St. John Chrysostom
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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Who Pays?
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 are rich. 

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.

Why 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.

Is 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.

Vermont Schools Face Budget Cut Proposal Deadline
By John Curran,, 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" goals.

"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.

Flogging the Rich
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.

Hundreds 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.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Japan 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."

A 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.

Iran 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.

Could 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.

Mexico 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.

Breaking News: Mexico Border Prison Break
More Than140 Criminals Escape.
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 were active in drug gangs. The prison holds 1,000 inmates, with the majority incarcerated for crimes connected with drug running and kidnapping.

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From Elsewhere

Christian 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.

Will 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.

If 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 legal reasoning.

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.

When 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. 

The Ethanol Idiocy that Will Not Die
Bipartisan common 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.

Taxpayers 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."

Related: Letting Americans Keep Their Own Money = 'Holiday Gift' from Congress

The 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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