October 19, 2002

Democrats Spin Vermont's Constitution

Peter Shumlin, candidate for Lt. Governor and vocal spokesman for the Democrats, continues his attempts to persuade voters and the people of Vermont that the Legislature should rubber stamp the candidate who receives the most votes in the election should none receive a majority (greater than 50%). Further, he states that if he finishes second or third in the race, he will not serve even if selected by the Legislature. That choice is his privilege.

However, for Mr. Shumlin to suggest that Mr. Dubie's and Mr. Pollina's character is faulty because they have not taken the same pledge is absurd. These men have every right to agree or not to serve if the Legislature must choose among the top three vote getters. Recently, Governor Dean also joined the Democratic chorus suggesting that all Legislators should agree in advance to vote an open ballot. Others argue the Legislative ballot must be secret based on law and precedent. I believe the Vermont constitution allows the Legislature to control the voting method.
Because the Democrats fear the Legislature will be in Republican hands, they are using these shenanigans to raise a fairness argument to influence Legislators before the election. Under Vermont's Constitution the Legislature will most likely select the Governor and Lieutenant Governor because no candidate is likely to receive a majority of the popular vote. Only because the Legislature may be in Republican hands, is the Democratic chorus singing this tune. If the Democrats were likely to be in the majority, they'd be silent.

Here's the constitutional provision.

The Vermont Constitution § 47. Election of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor and Treasurer

"The voters of each town shall, on the day of election for choosing Representatives to attend the General Assembly, bring in their votes for Governor, with the name fairly written, to the Constable, who shall seal them up, and write on them, Votes for Governor, and deliver them to the Representatives chosen to attend the General Assembly; and at the opening of the General Assembly, there shall be a committee appointed out of the Senate and House of Representatives, who, after being duly sworn to the faithful discharge of their trust, shall proceed to receive, sort, and count the votes for Governor, and declare the person who has the major part of the votes, to be Governor for the two years ensuing. The Lieutenant-Governor and the Treasurer shall be chosen in the manner above directed.

The votes for Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, and Treasurer, of the State, shall be sorted and counted, and the result declared, by a committee appointed by the Senate and House of Representatives.

If, at any time, there shall be no election, of Governor, Lieutenant-Governor, or Treasurer, of the State, the Senate and House of Representatives shall by a joint ballot, elect to fill the office, not filled as aforesaid, one of the three candidates for such office (if there be so many) for whom the greatest number of votes shall have been returned."

The Legislature should choose the man best qualified to serve as is their constitutional duty. Mr. Shumlin should endorse the prescribed constitutional method or work to change it if he disagrees.

October 18, 2002

North Korea's Big Bang

One more example of the failed diplomacy of the Clinton years. Here is a medieval country unable to feed its people. Another rogue state that must be dealt with puts a strain on the Bush people to work this one at the same time as Iraq. Will the third partner in the 'axis of evil,' Iran be next?
USA TODAY reports...
This is a government that in the 1980s blew up most of the South Korean Cabinet on a visit to Burma and was suspected in the bombing of a South Korean airliner. An estimated 2 million North Koreans died in the 1990s in a famine that was the result of failed economic policies, natural disasters and the leadership's unwillingness to seek foreign aid before it was too late. The regime's main source of hard currency has been the sale of ballistic missiles to unstable countries such as Pakistan and Iran.

October 17, 2002

Moats Misses the Mark

"Commentator David Moats reflects on self defense and the point at which the use of deadly force can be justified."
David Moats' thoughtful commentary connects the reader/listener with the notion of self defense in the sense or law enforcement and extends it to our nation's recently promulgated policy of justified preemptive strikes in the war on terrorism. He focuses on Saddam and Iraq as the specific threat to the US and others. However, his analogy is overly simplistic.

Certainly Saddam is a threat, but the real threat is the terrible weaponry that he may place in the hands of others who are capable of doing the dirty work. We saw the enormous remediation effort, the fear and deaths associated with the anthrax attack. Imagine the deaths and suffering if the WTC and Pentagon attacks were accompanied by a simultaneous smallpox bioterrorism attack.

In today's news we learn that North Korea has admitted secretly devloping nuclear weapons. Clearly, rogue states must not be allowed to continue these efforts. Diplomacy should be the first option for prevention, but these villianous leaders of nations and terrorists must be on notice that the US will, with good cause and accurate intelligence, strike first. Our announced willingness to preemptively destroy weapons threatening thousands or millions of deaths is the only sensible policy for our nation in this era.

Just as the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction in the Cold War was nuts on its face, we made it work when the weapons were in the hands of two nations. That has changed. Now that WMD may be in many untrustworthy hands, preemption is essential. When to exercise the policy is the point where I agree with Mr. Moats. Thankfully the Bush administration and our Congress recently asserted their best judgement on this matter. Mr. Moats appears to disagree without quite saying so.

We should never take destructive military actions hastily, but Mr. Moats' analogy of a man with a knife or a policeman preventing crime only in immediate self defense minimizes the complexity of the present world and the risks to our nation. Evil people bent on wanton destruction of life must be on notice that we will act against their threat.

Our nation's preemption policy is correct for these perilous times and the Bush administration is acting wisely to use it, if necessary.

October 14, 2002

Follow the (Oil) Money

From the Economist we have the reason France and Russia oppose a tough stance with Saddam. If they agree to an invasion they believe their oil contracts are at risk should 'regime change' be in the offing. Could be, but dealing with the devil has its downside as well as upside.

"...Mr Hussein is also dangling drilling and service contracts. A few months ago, a Turkish firm cut a deal to drill in the north of Iraq. More recently, a team from Tatneft, an oil contractor from the Russian republic of Tatarstan, arrived to drill the first of what may be over 70 wells. That deal, believed to be the biggest for several years, is part of a much broader relationship that Mr Hussein has cultivated with Russian firms. Some industry insiders reckon that Zarubezhneft, the Russian firm for which Tatneft is working, may have secured oil concessions worth up to $90 billion.

The big prize is control of the country's oil reserves. UN sanctions forbid foreigners from investing in the oilfields. But that has not stopped firms rushing to sign contracts in the hope of exploiting fields when sanctions are lifted. Mr Hussein has long been handing out concessions to big firms from politically important countries. France's Total, for example, holds rights to potentially huge reserves in the country. The national oil companies of China and India (not hitherto regarded as oil powerhouses) have also been given slices of the pie. Even Royal Dutch/Shell has signed a deal with Mr Hussein....)

October 8, 2002

Smallpox Threat

[10/8/2002 5:33:01 PM | Dave Usher]
If Iraq has smallpox stocks, the world is not safe. Why would the US spend the money to quickly create enough smallpox vaccine for every American, if we didn't have a very good intelligence that smallpox could be made availalble to terrorists, probably by Iraq? Why have we not prepared large amounts of other vaccines for other diseases that present a terrorist threat? This possibility/liklihood may explain Bush's urgency for action against Iraq.

October 7, 2002

No Peace in Israel and Palestine

The depth of animosity and the splintered Palestinian factions offer little hope for peace. Pessimism mounts in me that any solution can be found to this conflict. The best hope for the present is to contain it.

Gun battles left at least two people dead in Gaza City after about 20 armed militants posing as Palestinian policemen ambushed and killed a senior security official.
The killing of riot police chief Rajah Abu Lehiya took place on Monday morning as the Gaza Strip was in uproar following a major Israeli incursion into the Palestinian-controlled town of Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

Palestinian police statement

Colonel Abu Lehiya's life was known to have been under threat since his forces broke up a pro-Osama bin Laden rally in Gaza a year ago, killing at least two supporters of the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

October 6, 2002

Friedman Rallies The Dems

Ah, well said, Mr. Friedman. But the reality here is the Democrats have no credible national leadership the American people will believe. I'd have to think hard to name one Democratic statesman... Jimmy Carter, perhaps. Today's "D" leadership are all politicians... spin, spin, spin.

Freep Home Run # 2

Today, the Burlington Free Press editorializes...

Is the Vermont-National Education Association a subsidiary of the Democratic Party, or is the Democratic Party a handmaiden for the Vermont- National Education Association? That question is raised by the teachers union's endorsement of candidates running from Chittenden County for the Vermont Legislature in the November elections. Of 43 House and Senate seats, the Vermont-NEA recommended 39 Democrats and four Progressives. Not one Republican was on the list; not a single GOP candidate is considered a "friend of education" by the Vermont-NEA.

While they have every right to endorse who they choose, here's unionism at its worst! Way to go, Freep!! You've called the NEA to task on this absurd, blatant partisanship, giving credence to the term 'tax and spend liberals". This is way 'over the top.' The VT-NEA clearly demonstrates the union is not a friend of education, not interested in reform, especially school choice. We can no longer afford the NEA as we cannot afford the tax burden of Act 60 and the dramatic rise in spending since its enactment. Because the surpluses have morphed to deficits, we can't afford Act 60 in its present form.

Let's see how the new nurses' union at FAHC behaves. How is it possible for them to advocate for reduced health care costs. Will they eventually endorse candidates who support cost reduction??

BFP Editorial Hits Home RunToday

Three cheers for the Freep editorial board today. Taking the position, backed by research, that the self esteem movement is "psychobabble," the writers have hit the mark. The shallow values ensconced within the self-esteem movement do not a successful, happy, contented person make. A few years ago Bill Bennet authored a small book titled The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories. Here, the values are identified that really matter in a healthy society and in the life of an individual . Among them are self-discipline, compassion, responsibility, friendship, work, courage, perseverance, honesty, loyalty and faith. Clear positions are refreshing in Freep editorials that have moved toward the middle-of-the road on important issues. The editors speaking out about the myths and untruths of contemporary thinking is long overdue. More, please!
File the self-esteem movement under the category of debunked psychobabble. The tendency in recent years to blame everything from poor academic performance to violent crime on low self-worth has been convincingly refuted by recent research.

Part of the problem is that American society often promotes a false definition of self- worth. Rather than identify themselves through such old-fashioned concepts as virtue, character and religious faith, many Americans base their self-image on their physical attractiveness, career status or financial wealth. Since those factors are notoriously fleeting, the loss of external standards of self-esteem often contributes to depression and other psychological complaints.

October 5, 2002

Talk, talk, talk Update

The Burlington Free Press reports that E. Ready paid the personal part of her outrageous cell phone bill in May 2002 AFTER Mr. Dessureau's inquiry. Now, do you suppose she delayed 15 months to reimburse her personal calls because her credit cards had maxed out again? This woman is a disgrace to the office. Let's take action to unelect her soon.

October 4, 2002

Talk, talk, talk

Can you believe this? Vermont's State Auditor blames a bad cell phone plan for her outrageous (I like that word. Learned it from listening to Mr. Sanders rail against most anything he disagreed with all these years.) calling habits ($500/month over 16 months). I wonder whan she paid for the personal calls, before or after Mr. Dessureau’s inquiry surfaced our Auditor's behavior? The 'crime' of this is she'll likely be re-elected. Oh Vermont, when will we wake up?

Ready said, "My problem was that we were on a bad cell phone plan and I did not know it until Mr. Dessureau’s requests. I should have seen the bill but I didn't. Our usage was $8,395, $2,298 of which were personal calls for which I reimbursed the state."

Insanity Reigns

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Philip Morris Cos., the No. 1 cigarette maker, was ordered Friday to pay a record $28 billion to a 64-year-old woman with lung cancer who blamed her tobacco addiction on the company's failure to warn her of the risks of smoking.

The train is off the tracks and the conductors, i.e.,the jury, are all nuts in this case. How can it be possible in anyone's wildest imagination that any damage award could be $28B in an individual tobacco case? What industry is next? Guns, automobiles, food. People who do stupid things don't deserve damages for the consequences of their actions. Hot coffee at McDonald's, anyone?