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True North Archives - December 25, 2007
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Misinformation taints Act 82
By Glenn Foster

Most of the negative talk regarding Act 82 (two-vote requirement for extraordinary school budget increases) has come from those associated with public education: union leadership, school administrators, teachers and school board members. It is interesting (if not disappointing) that those associated with educating our children have provided misleading information regarding Act 82. The voting requirement of Act 82 is quite simple. 

Two conditions must be met in order for a school district to fall under this requirement of Act 82: per-pupil spending increases by more than inflation plus one percentage point and the district spends more than the state average per pupil. The appalling "second vote" would be to approve spending above the inflation-plus-1 percent level. If the inflation rate is 4 percent and a district budget proposes a 5 percent increase, then the additional vote under Act 82 does not apply. If the district spends less than the state average per pupil and proposes an increase higher than 5 percent, then Act 82 does not apply.

A Dis-mass "present" from Peter Welch
By Rob Roper

Vermonters cherish our small communities and the togetherness they foster. Christmas, in many ways, plays an important role in keeping that community togetherness real. It helps tighten our bonds with neighbors with parties, school pageants, and church ceremonies. As family members and friends, Christmas brings our best qualities of charity, sharing, and thinking of others back to the surface where they belong. Christmas nourishes the soul of Vermont long past its date on the calendar. And, likewise, it also nourishes the belly. Ask any inn, restaurant or shop owner in Vermont if they recognize the importance of Christmas. For many, this is the most critical two weeks of the year. Christmas in Vermont – the quintessential New England experience – is a vital pillar supporting the "Vermont Brand." This is why Congressman Peter Welch’s (D-VT) December 11 refusal to support a House Resolution recognizing the importance of Christmas was so stunningly bizarre, insulting, and, what’s worse, totally unnecessary. 

No 14th Amendment in Vermont?
By Martin Harris

If things go as planned, a quite long-standing effort of a private-sector provider to sell a service –at-home nursing services, primarily-- into the health-care industry will soon be ended, and the non-profits can go back comfortably to their nobody-competes-with-us monopoly status. The presumptuous invader of exclusive quasi-governmental turf for these last 28 years has been Professional Nurses Service, and it has been cutting into the market share –no, make that official monopoly-- of VAHHA, the Vermont Association of Home Health Agencies. In sharp contrast to government’s hostile treatment of PNS stands the Montpelier program called Project Big Dog, whereby favored industries are showered with grants and loans, zoning changes and bridge promises to do just what PNS was prevented from doing: business in Vermont. The label Project Big Dog is Montpelier’s idea of a fun-loving play on words when referring to Husky Industries, which set up shop in Milton almost a decade ago. How these two entities have fared raises questions, if you’re Constitutionally-minded, about the equal treatment under the law provision of the Fourteenth Amendment. 

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Letter to the Editor

School Tax Relief Plan

Vermont’s public education costs are breaking the bank. Taxpayers are tapped out and need help. The Republican Party can provide that help. Consolidation does not help. It just makes a school system bigger and more bureaucratic. In any free market when a business with a better product at a lower price moves into the neighborhood, quality goes up and price goes down. 

Private schools, with their proven record of high quality at a reasonable price, given a level playing field including universal school choice, would cause the same improvement. Because Vermont’s private schools make up a small fraction of all schools, the change would occur slowly enough to allow our public schools plenty of time to improve without any harm done.

If Vermont’s Republican legislators really want to help taxpayers and improve the quality of public education, they can show it by introducing and openly supporting legislation that would allow fair competition between public and the better run private schools. Instead of sending taxpayer money directly to the public schools, this legislation could have the money go with the students to the schools of their choice. 

A halfway plan of public school choice would not work without the only component that would improve education, our private schools.

Those who say that we first need to elect a majority of Republicans to achieve this, miss the point. We’re not going to elect a majority of Republicans by simply saying, "we want lower taxes." Vermont’s taxpayers want to see action and a real plan that will lower our already too high taxes. 

Republicans need to introduce and strongly push for universal school choice and the removal of unnecessary state mandates. To convince voters how vital this issue is, such a plan must be part of the 2008 Republican Party Platform. 

Bill Day
Barre, VT


In this issue – What Did The Democrats Say About Iraq? ("That was Then")

"Without question, we need to disarm Saddam Hussein. He is a brutal, murderous dictator, leading an oppressive regime ... He presents a particularly grievous threat because he is so consistently prone to miscalculation ... And now he is miscalculating America's response to his continued deceit and his consistent grasp for weapons of mass destruction ... So the threat of Saddam Hussein with weapons of mass destruction is real..."    - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Jan. 23. 2003 Source

"I will be voting to give the President of the United States the authority to use force -- if necessary -- to disarm Saddam Hussein because I believe that a deadly arsenal of weapons of mass destruction in his hands is a real and grave threat to our security."    - Sen. John F. Kerry (D, MA), Oct. 9, 2002 Source

"One way or the other, we are determined to deny Iraq the capacity to develop weapons of mass destruction and the missiles to deliver them. That is our bottom line."   - President Clinton, Feb. 4, 1998 | Source

"If Saddam rejects peace and we have to use force, our purpose is clear. We want to seriously diminish the threat posed by Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program."    - President Bill Clinton, Feb. 17, 1998 | Source

"We must stop Saddam from ever again jeopardizing the stability and security of his neighbors with weapons of mass destruction."    - Madeline Albright, Feb 1, 1998 | Source

"He will use those weapons of mass destruction again, as he has ten times since 1983."    - Sandy Berger, Clinton National Security Adviser, Feb, 18, 1998 Source

"[W]e urge you, after consulting with Congress, and consistent with the U.S. Constitution and laws, to take necessary actions (including, if appropriate, air and missile strikes on suspect Iraqi sites) to respond effectively to the threat posed by Iraq's refusal to end its weapons of mass destruction programs." Letter to President Clinton from (D) Senators Carl Levin, Tom Daschle, John Kerry, others, Oct. 9, 1998 | Source

"Saddam Hussein has been engaged in the development of weapons of mass destruction technology which is a threat to countries in the region and he has made a mockery of the weapons inspection process."  - Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D, CA), Dec. 16, 1998 | Source

"Hussein has ... chosen to spend his money on building weapons of mass destruction and palaces for his cronies."   - Madeline Albright, Clinton Secretary of State, Nov. 10, 1999 | Source

"We begin with the common belief that Saddam Hussein is a tyrant and a threat to the peace and stability of the region. He has ignored the mandate of the United Nations and is building weapons of mass destruction and th! e means of delivering them."  - Sen. Carl Levin (D, MI), Sept. 19, 2002 | Source

"We know that he has stored secret supplies of biological and chemical weapons throughout his country."   - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"Iraq's search for weapons of mass destruction has proven impossible to deter and we should assume that it will continue for as long as Saddam is in power."   - Al Gore, Sept. 23, 2002 | Source

"We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction."  - Sen. Ted Kennedy (D, MA), Sept. 27, 2002 | Source

"The last UN weapons inspectors left Iraq in October of 1998. We are confident that Saddam Hussein retains some stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons, and that he has since embarked on a crash course to build up his chemical and biological warfare capabilities. Intelligence reports indicate that he is seeking nuclear weapons..."   - Sen. Robert Byrd (D, WV), Oct. 3, 2002 | Source

"There is unmistakable evidence that Saddam Hussein is working aggressively to develop nuclear weapons and will likely have nuclear weapons within the next five years ... We also should remember we have always underestimated the progress Saddam has made in development of weapons of mass destruction."   - Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D, WV), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"In the four years since the inspectors left, intelligence reports show that Saddam Hussein has worked to rebuild his chemical and biological weapons stock, his missile delivery capability, and his nuclear program. He has also given aid, comfort, and sanctuary to terrorists, including al Qaeda members ... It is clear, however, that if left unchecked, Saddam Hussein will continue to increase his capacity to wage biological and chemical warfare, and will keep trying to develop nuclear weapons."   - Sen. Hillary Clinton (D, NY), Oct 10, 2002 | Source

"We are in possession of what I think to be compelling evidence that Saddam Hussein has, and has had for a number of years, a developing capacity for the production and storage of weapons of mass destruction."   - Sen. Bob Graham (D, FL), Dec. 8, 2002 | Source

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Vermont Weekly News Round-Up

Study Gives Vermont Worst Economic Rating
Darren Perron, WCAX-TV, December 17, 2007

Which state has the worst economic rating in the country? According to the American Legislative Exchange Council-- Vermont does. A new report puts the Green Mountain State dead last in a ranking of all 50 states. According to the report, it's because Vermont has some of the highest taxes in the country-- personal income, business, estate and property taxes. In addition, the ALEC cites a high minimum wage and rising workers comp costs. The study looked at 16 variables that impact the migration of people and investment capital. Just last week, more than 130 learned that they'd be losing their jobs when Qimonda announced it was moving its Williston operations to North Carolina. But economist Art Woolf says the new study won't impact new businesses or the expansion of existing businesses. He says it simply points out the obvious. 

Saying You'll Reduce CO2 Doesn't Make It So
From, December 19, 2007

The next time somebody/anybody proposes some new law in the name of reducing CO2 emissions they might want to pause and consider this:

The Kyoto treaty was agreed upon in late 1997 and countries started signing and ratifying it in 1998.  A list of countries and their carbon dioxide emissions due to consumption of fossil fuels is available from the U.S. government. If we look at that data and compare 2004 (latest year for which data is available) to 1997 (last year before the Kyoto treaty was signed), we find the following:

     Emissions worldwide increased 18.0%.
     Emissions from countries that signed the treaty increased 21.1%.
     Emissions from non-signers increased 10.0%.
     Emissions from the U.S. increased 6.6%.

In fact, emissions from the U.S. grew slower than those of over 75% of the countries that signed Kyoto. Below are the growth rates of carbon dioxide emissions, from 1997 to 2004, for a few selected countries, all Kyoto signers.  (Remember, the comparative number for the U.S. is 6.6%.)

     Maldives, 252%.
     Sudan, 142%.
     China, 55%.
     Luxembourg, 43%
     Iran, 39%.
     Iceland, 29%.
     Norway, 24%.
     Russia, 16%.
     Italy, 16%.
     Finland, 15%.
     Mexico, 11%.
     Japan, 11%.
     Canada, 8.8%.

EAI Urges Bush Administration Not to Issue Carbon Dioxide Emission Standards for New Vehicles
From The Ethan Allen Institute

The Ethan Allen Institute has joined with nineteen other organizations to urge the Bush Administration not to issue EPA carbon dioxide emission standards for new vehicles.

The December 17 letter, initiated by the Competitive Enterprise Institute, argues that "such EPA action will likely have grave consequences that extend far beyond motor vehicles. The end result may well be an unimaginably broad and devastating energy-suppression program, with massive job losses and skyrocketing increases in consumer prices."

The letter is another round in the conflict initiated by environmental organizations – plus fourteen states including Vermont – in the case of Massachusetts v. EPA, decided by the U.S. Supreme Court on April 2, 2007. 

In that case, a five-member majority of the Court directed EPA to either issue carbon dioxide emission regulations for new vehicles, or explain why such an action was impractical or unwise. The Court’s opinion held that because of its effect as a "greenhouse gas", carbon dioxide is a major cause of global warming, and if left unchecked by government regulations, global warming could at some future time cause rising sea levels and longer summers, etc. that could endanger human "health and welfare."

The Court’s majority reached this conclusion in spite of the fact that at no time since enactment of the Clean Air Act in 1970 has Congress ever declared carbon dioxide to be a covered "pollutant", and on at least two occasions has explicitly rejected amendments to require such a declaration.

The letter points out that an EPA finding that carbon dioxide is a "pollutant" that must be regulated will trigger enforcement of severe regulatory mandates, such as the Prevention of Significant Deterioration rules and National Ambient Air Quality Standards.

"The construction delays, economic uncertainty, paperwork burdens, and engineering expenses this could impose on hundreds of thousands of small establishments for no measurable environmental benefit boggles the mind, "the letter stated. "It would give anti-growth litigation groups a bottomless well of excuses for demanding ever more onerous restrictions on energy production and use."

EAI President John McClaughry said "it is clear that the enviro groups, aided and abetted by Vermont Attorney General Bill Sorrel, are using the excuse of ‘global warming’ to gain full control of our energy-dependent economy. It would be a tragedy if this administration caved in and accommodated them."

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s independent free market public policy education organization.

The letter and its signers are available here.

Funding Debate Goes On
From the Eagle Times, December 20, 2007

Vermont and New Hampshire have bandied about different ideas since the dawn of time, or at least since property tax bills started to get high enough to prompt voters to find ways to lessen the bites taken out of their wallets. One state says adequate, the other says equal, but the bottom line is any system is destined not to go more than a year or two without tweaking, some major, some minor. You can't please everyone, especially when it comes to school funding.

Higher spending in the face of flat or declining enrollments is one problem. People buying properties and driving up their values, forcing other properties higher while doing the same to tax bills, is another. Unfunded mandates, maintaining aging buildings and higher fuel and health care costs also jack up the pressure on budgets. 

Local school boards are going through their budget deliberations now. They will feature the same complaints about lack of support from the state, and don't expect that to change. Ever. Vermont will hack away at Act 82 until something new is passed. Again. New Hampshire will wait and see if its state supreme court will flex its collective muscle. Again.

Just When Things Were Looking Up
From, December 21, 2007

Just when I was beginning to believe Vermont was going to turn around by leveraging its 'green' credentials I find out that 'green' isn't hip anymore. It turns out a whole lot of scientist just went before Congress to dispute global warming. It starting to look like the tide is turning and we haven't even figured out how to make a buck yet. The pace of change is dizzying. First it was cooling, then is was warming, now its not changing at all. How can a planned economy keep up with such a maddening pace?

How The Other Half Lives
Caledonian Record Editorial, December 18, 2007

Vermont holds the distinction of having the highest four year public institution costs in the United States. The in state tuition cost at UVM is $20,050 with in state tuition at Lyndon, Johnson and Castleton set at $14,464. Nationally, the average four-year public university tuition cost is $13,589. The average private four-year tuition cost is $32,302.

Those Vermont students who are having a hard time figuring out how to pay for four years at UVM may want to consider going to Harvard, a more affordable option for most Vermont families. There is no reason to believe the state Legislature is going to provide any extra money to the state's university or its colleges and an annual lament heard every year in the Legislature's stingy approach to higher education. In short, it's likely that going to school in Vermont is going to get harder, not easier in the years ahead. For those who have decided to give Harvard a try, now comes the harder part. Getting accepted at Harvard requires some evidence of perspiration and inspiration on the high school level, but it won't cost much to apply.

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Freedom Under Fire:
The Global War on Terrorism

Hezbollah: Signs of a Sophisticated Intelligence Apparatus
By Fred Burton and Scott Stewart, STRATFOR (Strategic Forecasting, Inc.), December 12, 2007

On Dec. 4, Samar Spinelli, a U.S. Marine captain, pleaded guilty in U.S. district court in Detroit to conspiring to commit citizenship and passport fraud. By pleading guilty, Spinelli admitted to having conspired with her former roommate, Nada Nadim Prouty, to fraudulently obtain U.S. citizenship. Prouty, a former FBI agent and CIA case officer, pleaded guilty in the same court in November to accessing a federal computer system to obtain information about the Lebanese-based militant group Hezbollah and conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government, among other charges. Spinelli's other former roommate, Elfat El Aouar -- Prouty's sister -- is serving an 18-month prison sentence for tax evasion. All three women were born in Lebanon.

The evidence, allegations and related cases suggest that Hezbollah has established a sophisticated intelligence apparatus that reaches into the United States. Moreover, it is possible -- though certainly not proven -- that Spinelli and Prouty used their positions in government agencies to provide Hezbollah with sensitive information. If these women were indeed Hezbollah plants, the magnitude of the information they provided to Hezbollah and Iran could be similar in importance to the information Robert Hanssen provided to the Soviets and Russians -- and the damage could prove to be just as great.

Al-Qaeda Spiritual Leader Recants
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, December 20, 2007

A senior al-Qaeda theologian has changed his tune and is calling on al-Qaeda members to put down their arms.... Al-Qaeda's destruction in Iraq must have really unnerved the leadership. Along with Zawahri's unreal pronouncement last week that the British "fled" Iraq and that the jihadis were winning there (a view shared by perhaps no one else in the world except Harry Reid), it appears that the organization is losing it. What effect this will have on al-Qaeda rank and file is uncertain. But it is a sign that whatever we're doing to combat the terrorists is working. 

Is Muqtada al-Sadr Giving Up?
By Rick Moran, The American Thinker, December 20, 2007

If he has, it may be the most significant development of all in the recent string of successes being enjoyed by the coalition and the Iraqi government. Al-Sadr is actually considering extending the cease-fire his militia has been following since last August.... The potential for civil war was always greatest in the south where the two sides squared off in a deadly contest for control. But with much of the Badr Organization joining the police and army (another problem that must be dealt with separately) and the Mahdi's backing down, the prospects for a successful transition to peace in Iraq just jumped significantly.

Islam for Dummies
From Investor's Business Daily, December 20, 2007

 Washington-based CAIR is calling on Muslims to sponsor copies of the $20 guide for local media "to help improve coverage of Islam in the American news media." CAIR, which seeks to mainstream Islam in America, is worried about polls showing a majority of Americans associating Islam with violence and intolerance. Its propaganda campaign, backed by Arab governments tied to 9/11, isn't working. It's sad commentary when you can't get better press from today's newsrooms, which are already so culturally sensitive they won't even publish newsworthy cartoons for fear of offending Muslims.

The Bomb, Iran's Mullahs, and Doomsday
By Amil Imani, Freedom of Iran, December 16, 2007

Mr. President, in addition to the comforting NIE report (which was incidentally ordered by your adoring fans, Congress Democrats), you probably want to hear the dissenters and the skeptics before impulsively singing the praise of the mullahs, as Jimmy Carter did, or hastily launching a re-enactment of " Shock and Awe," this time on Iran. Prudence demands that you, as our President, make your decision on the basis of facts, first and foremost, and then weigh the opinions, conjectures, and advice of others. You need to do the same with the report. Don’t let the medium, the clever packaging of the report, become or even obscure the message. Once you do that, you will find an awful lot of troubling issues.

Islam: Not Just Another Religion
By Janet Levy, The American Thinker, December 16, 2007

Worldwide, Islamic fundamentalists continue to make inroads into Western culture, political structures and in the economic system, while, at the same time, insisting on severe and outrageous punishments for even minor violations of sharia or Islamic law.  It is unprecedented that a minority group that freely immigrated to the United States and Europe of its own accord is now endeavoring to overhaul Western civilization to its Koran-dictated, specifications. The West, particularly America, has a tradition of welcoming people from other cultures and practitioners of different religions. However, immigrants have always assimilated and strengthened American society rather than demand that we adopt their ways at the expense of our own.

Many Westerners, who worship at the altar of multiculturalism and erroneously believe that Islam is just another faith, fail to understand the inherent cultural and political dangers of a religion that is a consummate ideology for the faithful. Unwitting Westerners write off barbaric punishments as mere cultural differences, enthusiastically embrace blatant acts of appeasement and readily respond to demands for special privileges and allowances never before conferred on other groups.

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From Elsewhere

U.S. Senate Report: Over 400 Prominent Scientists Disputed Man-Made Global Warming Claims in 2007
Senate Report Debunks "Consensus"
From The U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, December 20 2007

Over 400 prominent scientists from more than two dozen countries recently voiced significant objections to major aspects of the so-called "consensus" on man-made global warming. These scientists, many of whom are current and former participants in the UN IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change), criticized the climate claims made by the UN IPCC and former Vice President Al Gore. The new report issued by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee's office of the GOP Ranking Member details the views of the scientists, the overwhelming majority of whom spoke out in 2007. 

UN Moving to Derail Fraud Investigations
By Ed Lasky, The American Thinker, December 21, 2007

The UN bureaucracy has once again acted to insulate itself from punishment for engaging in fraud that has cost the UN (and America, since America by far is the largest contributor to the United Nations) hundreds of millions of dollars. Buried in today's New York Times paper is article by Warren Hoge (who wrote a glowing book on former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan -under whose reign this fraud-  and the related oil-for-food scandal happened) titled "U.N. Body Plans to End Investigation of Contracts". This is a rather anodyne headline for fraud that costs hundreds of millions of dollars*. 

Hume, Father of Postmodernism and Anti-rationalism—Part 2
By Reginald Firehammer, The Automist

It is not necessary to dissect all of Hume's errors with regard to cause, but some of them have had important unfortunate influences on the future of philosophy. It is not so much the particular philosophical errors in Hume that are of primary importance, but the aspects of those errors that amount to an assault on the human mind and man's capacity to rationally comprehend reality. Remembering Hume stated, "all reasonings concerning matter of fact seem to be founded on the relation of Cause and Effect; by means of that relation alone we can go beyond the evidence of our memory and senses," he proceeds to use his absurd view of causation to prove cause can never be discovered: "The mind can never possibly find the effect in the supposed cause, by the most accurate scrutiny and examination. For the effect is totally different from the cause, and consequently can never be discovered in it. Motion in the second Billiard-ball is a quite distinct event from motion in the first; nor is there anything in the one to suggest the smallest hint of the other." 

His explanation of why we then "believe" in cause and effect may seem like nothing more than a silly innocent mistake, but it is far from innocent. According to Hume, our belief in cause and effect is nothing more than a habit. "It appears, then, that this idea of a necessary connexion among events arises from a number of similar instances which occur of the constant conjunction of these events; nor can that idea ever be suggested by any one of these instances, surveyed in all possible lights and positions. But there is nothing in a number of instances, different from every single instance, which is supposed to be exactly similar; except only, that after a repetition of similar instances, the mind is carried by habit, upon the appearance of one event, to expect its usual attendant, and to believe that it will exist." [Emphasis mine.] 

Based on this seemingly innocuous mistaken conclusion, Hume introduces two of the worst concepts ever to infect philosophy, concepts which are having a profound destructive effect on all of Western society and culture today. Those two concepts will be introduced in the third part of this article.

The Energy Bill: The Death of Small Government Conservatives
By Martha Zoller, Human Events, December 21, 2007

"Pelosi: ‘This is a choice between yesterday and tomorrow’: Energy bill promises to change how we live." Headline from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Wednesday, December 19th. I don’t know about you but I’ve had about enough of government changing the way I live.  From the moment I get up in the morning, until I go to sleep at night, the government is in my life and now they want to tell me what kind of light bulbs to use and what kind of car to drive and what kind of fuel to use. 

To make it worse, the candidates on both sides, except for Fred Thompson, have rolled over to the church of Global Warming and that’s in this bill, too. I interviewed Sen. Johnny Isakson regarding the Global Warming mantra in the energy bill.  He said, "It depends on whether you mean global warming as science or as politics." Many conservatives, including me, have a knee-jerk reaction to the words, global warming and when you couple that with the words, energy bill -- it makes us shudder.

Prius Outdoes Hummer in Environmental Damage
By Chris Demorro, Central Connecticut State University Recorder

The Toyota Prius has become the flagship car for those in our society so environmentally conscious that they are willing to spend a premium to show the world how much they care. Unfortunately for them, their ultimate ‘green car’ is the source of some of the worst pollution in North America; it takes more combined energy per Prius to produce than a Hummer. 

Good News For the GOP
By Rich Galen,, December 19, 2007

There has been very good news for the GOP over the past few weeks, which has gone unnoticed in the laser focus on the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary. You may have noted a recurring theme in the Popular Press: How the disillusion, disappointment, disenchantment and dissatisfaction among Republican voters with the GOP is likely to lead to the end of the Republican Party as we know it. The PP looks at the five major candidates in the Republican Presidential race being within 10-or-so percentage points of one another as evidence that Republican voters don't like any of them. How about this as an alternative theory: ANY of the five will be acceptable to the overwhelming percentage of Republican voters in a race for President against Hillary.

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