North Archives - December 31, 2007
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Big VPIRG Climate Scare
By John McClaughry
December 4 Vermonters were treated to a well- orchestrated media event
designed to terrify them into endorsing a very expensive special interest
policy agenda. The occasion was the release of a new report by the Vermont
Public Interest Group (VPIRG) claiming that "global warming will substantially
increase the odds of extreme precipitation. scientists predict that warming
temperatures will increase the frequency of major storm with heavy rainfall
or snowfall." ... To their credit, the Vermont news media (Free Press,
Vermont Press Bureau, WCAX) sought out some expert opinion. Andy Nash,
the National Weather Service lead meteorologist at Burlington, was clearly
not buying the VPIRG climate fright. The Free Press reported Nash
as observing cautiously that the data could be artifacts of the natural
variability of the weather. WCAX quoted Nash as saying that the report
does not present new data and raises more questions than it answers. This
won't be the last time that enviro organizations pump up an enviro-scare
to promote their political agenda. Vermonters need to greet these continual
revelations with a lot of skepticism.
Special Education Bridge to Nowhere
By Curtis Hier
recent study by the Joint Fiscal Office on our tax burden in Vermont reminds
me of another JFO study done a few years ago. In 2001, the JFO was put
in charge of studying special education costs. It enlisted a working group
that included special educators, professional disability advocates, and
the "Big Three" of the education lobby — including, of course, Joel Cook
of the Vermont-NEA. Given the makeup of the working group, it should not
be a surprise that the study identified growing costs that were beyond
anybody's control, and it recommended that the problem be studied further.
Herein lies the problem of special education cost containment. Those who
potentially have the answers to the problem of spending are the stakeholders
who benefit from the spending.
By Martin Harris
since, the higher elevations of the Appalachians have been home to retirees
and trust-funders: even to day, mega-mansions are being built, some in
gated communities, some not, in places like North Carolina’s Blowing Rock,
(not even an incorporated village) an hour’s drive north of Asheville,
or Henderson County, an hour’s drive south. Henderson County is particularly
interesting because it demonstrates that you don’t need a rail baron’s
extraordinary wealth to sustain a local economy on the basis of passive
income; the non-working segments of the upper middle class, retirees and
trust-funders, can do it on their own, just fine. Indeed, further north
where the Appalachians fade away into such insignificant bumps as western
Vermont’s Mt. Philo, the same sort of economic base is gaining strength,
both political and economic, and even though it’s not yet socially acceptable
to recognize the phenomenon in speech or print, it’s by far the fastest-growing
(as I have documented in earlier columns on this subject) the most vibrant,
healthiest, and brightest-future sector of the rapidly-changing Vermont
# # #
"If you analyze it,
I believe the very heart and soul of conservatism is libertarianism. The
basis of conservatism is a desire for less government interference or less
centralized authority or more individual freedom - and this is a pretty
general description also of what libertarianism is. I think that libertarianism
and conservatism are traveling the same path." -- Ronald Reagan
"If we would delete
the ultimate objective of establishing a global system from the Haj rituals,
the remainder would be deeds devoid of a soul." --Iranian President
(Editor’s note: by "global
system", he is referring to a global government under Islamic Law)
# # #
Weekly News Round-Up
Mix CO2, water; heat with sun. Stir gently and drive on, Dude.
December 29, 2007
Imagine internal combustion
as a reversible process. If CO2
could be recycled into fuel, how would the ever-diligent bureaucrats
calculate the emissions of my truck? As crazy as this sounds, a report
from Electronic Engineering Times says scientists at Sandia National
Laboratories are building a system for synthesizing fuel. The system will
harness sunlight to reverse the process of combustion. The reactor would
use reclaimed carbon dioxide emissions to create renewable synthetic fuel
by combining the CO2 with water.
Developer Barred from Neighborhood Planning Meeting
By John Briggs, Burlington
Free Press, December 26, 2007
A local developer was barred
last week by a neighborhood activist from attending a meeting at Heineberg
Senior Center. The developer said the meeting appeared to be a Neighborhood
Planning Assembly meeting. The activist said it wasn't. The activist, Lea
Terhune, who lives on Appletree Point Lane in the New North End, is one
of a number of people opposed to a proposed development of a senior housing
complex on 16 acres close to her house. She has described the project as
one that would "warehouse (seniors) in a swamp."
Bill Niquette of Infill Development
Group filed an application with the city Dec. 7 describing the 256-unit
project. He said he saw Terhune's notice of the Dec. 17 meeting advertised
on the Internet Front Porch Forum -- a Web site that has a number of neighborhood-based
forums for Burlington. Niquette said the notice seemed to be an announcement
of a Neighborhood Planning Assembly meeting where his proposal was one
of the topics.
Complicated for the Likes of You
From VermontTiger.com, December
In a supervisory union just
a wee bit to the south of mine, there was a meeting recently whose
minutes reflect a very astute question from a member of the public.
The minutes say: "A question arose whether a comparison could be made regarding
Central Office costs, as compared with another supervisory union of similar
Bingo! That's called
benchmarking. Businesses do it. My organization has been promoting
EXACTLY that. This watchful citizen should have felt proud.
But no doubt the answer left the questioner feeling deflated. "This would
be difficult to compare," came the reply, "as there are too many variables
Senator Dangerfield At It Again
Caledonian Record Editorial,
December 27, 2007
The Rodney Dangerfield of
the U.S. Senate, aka Vermont's own Senator Patrick Leahy, is at it again.
This time, Vermont's senior U.S. Senator, frustrated that he doesn't get
any respect from the National Football League, has decided to bully NFL
Commissioner Roger Goodell by threatening to hold antitrust hearings in
the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Phones Slow Growing Up
From WCAX-TV, December
The kids who communicate
the most, the 'high communicators' we call them, are the ones who are least
autonomous, least likely to be self-regulating academically and the most
likely to have high parental regulation," Hofer said. Hofer calls it an
"electronic tether" and says the study proves that cell phones actually
delay adulthood in college students. The 2,000-plus students completed
online surveys, revealing not only how often they talked to their parents
but also what those conversations were about. And Hofer says it's the content
rather than the frequency of conversations that's the real problem.
"Some of the parents who
call a lot, there's a high sense of control, high sense of conflict with
the students," she said. "Parents are micro-managing their kids' lives
and I think technology makes that more possible than in the past."
But former student Elena
Kennedy says students are also to blame. "I think the students are just
as responsible as the parents are," she said. "Students are reaching out
to their parents, students are asking for their parents to continue regulating
their lives just as much as parents are coming down on their students."
From VermontTiger.com, December
preacher from the Church of the Status Quo climbs into the pulpit this
Sunday morning to lecture Governor Douglas about his nasty habit of bashing
Vermont. In particular, for pointing out that
"... we are chasing young people out of the state with our high taxes."
Repent, Jim. least there
should come to be a
"perception ... that Vermont is not business-friendly, in part because
our state's chief executive won't stop telling people that's the case."
And Lo, look to thy neighbors
in Rhode Island, in Maine, in Massachusetts, and yea, even unto New Hampshire
and see that they, too, are losing sheep from their flocks. This
plague falls not on Vermont alone. And, so on. With lots of the kind
of stuff that makes one nod off during the middle of sermons and commencement
speeches and Sunday morning editorials.
# # #
Global War on Terrorism
A Global Assessment of the Confrontation
Phares, American Thinker, December 29, 2007
The conflict we call the
War on Terror still continues at the end of 2007 and all indications are
that its battlefields are expected to spread further, and escalate, in
the upcoming year.
The following is a global
assessment of the confrontation that has taken place since 2001, though
the systematic war waged by the Jihadi forces against democracies and the
free world began at least a decade before 9/11. This evaluation isn't comprehensive
or definitive, but a collection of observations related to major benchmarks,
directions and projections.
America satisfies a domestic agenda.
By Leon Aron, The Wall Street
Journal, December 26, 2007
Creating a sense of a besieged
fortress at a time of domestic political uncertainty or economic downturn
to rally the people around the Kremlin and, more importantly, its current
occupant, is part and parcel of the Soviet ideological tradition, which
this regime seems increasingly to admire.
So between now and at least
next spring, Russian foreign policy is likely to be almost entirely subservient
to the Putin's regime's authoritarian, ambitious and dicey agenda. This
will likely result in more nasty rhetoric from the Kremlin and further
damage relations with the West, and the U.S. in particular.
Bhutto: Killed by the real Pakistan
By Andrew C. McCarthy, National
Review, December 27, 2007
The real Pakistan is a breeding
ground of Islamic holy war where, for about half the population, the only
thing more intolerable than Western democracy is the prospect of a faux
democracy led by a woman — indeed, a product of feudal Pakistani privilege
and secular Western breeding whose father, President Zulfiquar Ali Bhutto,
had been branded
as an enemy of Islam by influential Muslim clerics in the early 1970s.
The real Pakistan is a place
where the intelligence services are salted with Islamic fundamentalists:
jihadist sympathizers who, during the 1980s, steered hundreds of millions
in U.S. aid for the anti-Soviet mujahideen to the most anti-Western Afghan
fighters — warlords like Gilbuddin Hekmatyar whose Arab allies included
bin Laden and Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman, the stalwarts of today’s global
jihad against America.
The real Pakistan is a place
where the military, ineffective and half-hearted though it is in combating
Islamic terror, is the thin line between today’s boiling pot and what tomorrow
is more likely to be a jihadist nuclear power than a Western-style democracy.
the Foggy Bottom of the Iraq Story
By Michael Ledeen, The New
York Sun, December 27, 2007
Washington Post provided a luminously clear picture last week of the ongoing,
enormously important, battle over the "meaning" of events in the Middle
East war, including its own efforts.
Wednesday, December 19 tucked away on the fourteenth page of the front
sections, the Post reported the Pentagon's analysis of the recent stunning
decrease in attacks against Coalition Forces and Iraqis. Did it mean that
Iran — widely viewed as a prime mover in support of terrorist groups in
Iraq — had voluntarily cut back on its aggressive role in the war? Or did
it mean that security forces in Iraq had put the terrorists on the defensive,
made their lives more difficult, and thus blocked many of their efforts?
Pentagon report has concluded that Iran continues to provide money, training,
and weapons to Shiite militias in Iraq, although U.S. commanders previously
stated that attacks using lethal bombs linked to Iran have fallen in recent
has been no identified decrease in Iranian training and funding of illegal
Shi'a militias in Iraq," the report, released yesterday, said. ...
apparently did not sit well, either at Foggy Bottom or over on 15th Street,
where the Postniks conduct their operations. They struck back on the front
page on Sunday with an interview with the State Department's senior top
official on Iraq, David Satterfield:
"The Iranian government has
decided 'at the most senior levels' to rein in the violent Shiite militias
it supports in Iraq, a move reflected in a sharp decrease in sophisticated
roadside bomb attacks over the past several months ...
Profession of Death
By Barry Rubin, The Jerusalem
Post, December 31, 2007
Much will be said about Benazir
Bhutto's assassination; little will be understood about what it truly means.
I'm not speaking here about Pakistan, of course, as important as that country
is, but rather the lesson - as if we needed any more - for that broad Middle
East which begins in Pakistan and ends on the Atlantic Ocean coast.
The following is a true story.
Back in 1946, an American diplomat asked an Iranian editor why his newspaper
angrily criticized the United States but never the Soviet Union. The Iranian
said it was obvious. "The Russians," he said, "they kill people."
A dozen years earlier, in
1933, Iraqi official Sami Shawkat gave a talk which became one of the most
famous texts of Arab nationalism. "There is something more important than
money and learning for preserving the honor of a nation and for keeping
humiliation at bay," he stated. "That is strength... strength, as I use
the word here, means to excel in the Profession of Death."
What, you might ask, was
Shawkat's own profession? He was director-general of Iraq's Ministry of
Education. This was how young people were to be taught and directed; this
is where Saddam Hussein came from. Seventy-five years later, the subsequent
history of Iraq and the rest of the Arab world shows just how well Shawkat
did his job.
September 11 in the United
States; the Bali bombing for Australia; the tube bombing for Britain; the
commuter train bombing for Spain, these were all merely byproducts of this
pathology. The pathology in question is not Western policy toward the Middle
East but rather Middle Eastern policy toward the Middle East.
WHEN I read Shawkat's words
as a student, the phrase "profession of death," which gave his article
its title, struck me as a pun. On one hand, the word "profession" meant
"career." To be a killer - note well that Shawkat was not talking specifically
about soldiers, those who fight, but rather those who murder - was the
highest calling of all. It was more important than being a teacher, who
forms character; more important than being a businessperson, who enriches
his country; more important than being a doctor who preserves the life
A Decisive Year
From The Surfing Conservative,
December 30, 2007
Well, 2007 is all but over.
We've seen many important developments this year. The most important development
of the year was by far President Bush's surge of troops to Iraq, led by
General Patraeus, which turned the tide in Iraq, despite all the naysayers
in the media and Congress. Insurgent violence in December was 60 percent
lower than a year earlier. US casualties have dropped dramatically. Iraqis
are returning rather than leaving. Businesses are open in Baghdad. Al-Qa'ida
has been driven from its sanctuary in Al Anbar province. A dramatic turn
of events to be sure.
But, 2008 looks to be a very
decisive year both here in the US and abroad. Many things hang in the balance
that will determine the course of events in many places of importance,
especially with regard to the global War on Terror. Here are some of the
most salient issues that will be decided, one way or another, next year.
# # #
Voice for Freedom
By Matthew Kaminski, The
Wall Street Journal, December 29, 2007
Can radio change the world?
It used to. On the walls at Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty here hang pictures
of Solidarity rallies in Poland and a smiling Vaclav Havel. The message
isn't subtle or inaccurate: This legendary U.S.-funded broadcaster helped
win the Cold War.
The glory days are past at
RFE/RL, and for American public diplomacy as a whole. After the fall of
the Berlin Wall, when history ended and freedom triumphed (or so it seemed),
Munich-based RFE/RL landed on the chopping block. It was saved, on a threadbare
budget, partly thanks to then Czech President Havel. In gratitude, he offered
cheaper digs in a communist-era eyesore here in Prague that previously
housed the Czechoslovak Parliament. Yet in the public mind, the station
founded in 1950 by the likes of George Kennan and John Foster Dulles might
as well be gone. "We're trying to revive it," says Jeffrey Gedmin, the
broadcaster's new president. Doing that, and making the station a valued
tool of U.S. foreign policy again, won't be easy.
Great Fall of China
Beijing isn't the
giant we thought it was
By Walter Russell Mead,
The Los Angeles Times, December 30, 2007
The most important story
to come out of Washington recently had nothing to do with the endless presidential
campaign. And although the media largely ignored it, the story changes
the world. The story's unlikely source was the staid World Bank, which
published updated statistics on the economic output of 146 countries. China's
economy, said the bank, is smaller than it thought.
China, it turns out, isn't
a $10-trillion economy on the brink of catching up with the United States.
It is a $6-trillion economy, less than half our size. For the foreseeable
future, China will have far less money to spend on its military and will
face much deeper social and economic problems at home than experts previously
Father of Postmodernism and Anti-rationalism—Part 3
By Reginald Firehammer,
"Custom, then, is the
great guide of human life. It is that principle alone which renders
our experience useful to us, and makes us expect, for the future, a similar
train of events with those which have appeared in the past. Without the
influence of custom, we should be entirely ignorant of every matter of
fact beyond what is immediately present to the memory and senses. We should
never know how to adjust means to ends, or to employ our natural powers
in the production of any effect. There would be an end at once of all action,
as well as of the chief part of speculation." [All emphasis mine.]
It may not be immediately
apparent to you in what form this terrible concept is today corrupting
every aspect of Western Civilization, culture, and society. It is used
in the argument, there are no absolute values or principles, there are
only customs and every culture and society has different ones, therefore,
there is no set of customs that is better than another—this is the root
of multiculturalism. Another form of this same mistake is the so-called
cultural hegemony of Gramsci and the cultural Marxists.
in the Blue House
By John Gizzi, Human Events,
December 26, 2007
After more than a generation
of presidents who were either career politicians or retired generals, South
Korea for the first time turned to a product of the corporate world as
its leader. Raised by a poor Christian family, Lee earned money for commercial
high school and Korea University as a popcorn salesman and garbage collector.
Starting at an entry level job in Hyundai Construction and Engineering,
he rose to become its CEO at age 36, took a company that had 90 employees
when he started there to one with 160,000 when he retired 27 years later
to go into politics.
Like Mitt Romney, he is a
product of the corporate world who became a multi-millionaire before running
for office. Like Mike Huckabee, Lee connects with lower-income and blue
collar voters by recalling and never forgetting his humble origins. And
he even has a bit of the television star image of Fred Thompson: a popular
Korean TV series in the 1990’s, Time of Ambition, portrayed Lee as a hero.
In short, were Lee an American
politician, he would almost surely be a conservative Republican. And, in
the mold of French President Nicholas Sarkozy, the new South Korean President
has made no secret of his admiration for America and his desire to be different
from a predecessor who more often than not was chilly toward George W.
Bush’s White House.
By Deroy Murdock, National
Review, December 27, 2007
The God-O-Rama that the Republican
presidential campaign has become has eclipsed the GOP’s signature issue:
Taxes. Assuming life still matters here on Earth, not just in the hereafter,
it might be useful before balloting begins to evaluate the top three GOP
candidates and their executive tax records.
Message to Iowa Voters
From YouTube Video
But, most of all, I think
I know how to talk to the American people about the opposition and the
danger their victory would pose to the principles we hold dear. You know
in the last debate -- when I was asked the biggest problem with American
education -- I had a ready answer: "The NEA." By which I meant the National
Education Association -- that highly politicized, Washington-based union
that is a hindrance to students as well as to the teachers it claims to
But you know the NEA is not
the only problem. Just like its education policy, the Democratic party's
foreign policy is heavily influenced by another left-of-center pressure
group -- Move On.org which implied that our leading general in Iraq betrayed
us, that tells our men and women in uniform that the war they are fighting
is lost, and then tries to cut off funds for our troops in the field.
And its social policy is
heavily determined by the radically secularist ACLU -- which tries to take
God out of the public square and leaps to the legal defense of our Nation's
You know, when I'm asked
which of the current group of Democratic candidates I prefer to run against,
I always say it really doesn't matter. Because these days all those candidates,
all the Democratic leaders, are one and the same. They’re all NEA, Move
On.org, ACLU, Michael Moore Democrats. They’ve allowed these radicals to
take control of their party and dictate their course.
So this election is important
not just to enact our conservative principles. This election is important
to salvage the once-great political party from the grip of extremism and
shake it back to its senses. It's time to give not just Republicans but
independents and, yes, good Democrats a chance to call a halt to the leftward
lurch of the once proud party of working people.
Defends Hiring Conservative Kristol
By Michael Calderone, Politico,
December 29, 2007
The New York Times’ hiring
of Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol to write for its op-ed page caused
a frenzy in the liberal blogosphere Friday night, with threats of canceling
subscriptions and claims that the Gray Lady had been hijacked by neo-cons.
But Times editorial page editor Andy Rosenthal sees things differently.
...“People who don’t want to hear what their ideological opponents have
to say are making a gigantic mistake,” Rosenthal said.
Much at Stake in Election
By David Broder, Washington
Post/Indy Star, December 31, 2007
When all the fun and games
are finished, Americans will be choosing a president for a dangerous time
in a world that has more shocks to administer. I hope some of the folks
in Iowa and New Hampshire are thinking about that.
# # #