How to Diagram

Roll Call GraphicYour representatives in Montpelier are there to, as the name suggests, represent you in the capitol. Do your representatives’ votes represent how you would vote if you were in their place?

This collection of legislator roll call vote profiles is brought to you as an educational service by the Ethan Allen Institute (EAI).

In 2013-14, the Vermont State House of Representatives held over 160 roll call votes on a wide variety of issues. The Senate held over eighty. Some of those votes were for show (of the “who likes puppies?” variety), some were obscure and confusing, some were repetitive (there were several roll call votes on the Gas Tax Increase, for example, and for the sake of simplicity we chose one to feature just one), some were important and illuminating.

Opinions will vary on which votes fall into each category. The  votes presented here were selected because they are important based on the potential impact the legislation could or will, depending upon final passage, have on the lives of the citizens of Vermont. They are illuminating in the sense that they allow the citizen a clear picture of the direction his or her legislator is driving the state. And, finally, they were chosen because they fall within EAI’s free market, economic oriented mission as they pertain to individual liberty, limited government and the founding principles of our great nation.

2013-2014 Legislative Session

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Addison County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Bennington County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Caledonia County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Chittenden County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Essex-Orleans County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Franklin-Grand Isle County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Lamoille County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Orange County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Rutland County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Washington County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Windham County

13-14 Roll Call Profiles – Windsor County


Donate ButtonThe Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the Cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible. 

Donate Button

{ 0 comments }

Posted by Rob Roper

I was delighted a couple months back to see a report that everything we knew (or thought we knew) about high fat diets was wrong. Steak, eggs, butter, bacon et al have simply gotten an undeserved bad rap over the past thirty years. So, it turns out my lifetime of weak-willed caving to cravings for bacon cheeseburgers and my mom’s sausage & eggs turned out to be good for me. Hooray!

Lots of people see this as great, happy news. Time magazine trumpeted the revelations about bad food science, aided and abetted by the government policy and their “food pyramid,” behind the low fat craze from their latest cover. To atone for years of nagging, my dad (a decades long acolyte of the low-fat church) bought me a copy of Nina Teicholz’s book, The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet. Why were we all killing ourselves (literally it may prove) to down cardboard flavored and textured “food” with a forced smile and a sense of self-satisfaction? Tieicholz writes:

The hypothesis [of high fat diets being bad for us] became immortalized in the mammoth institutions of public health. And, the normally self-correcting mechanism of science, which involves constantly challenging ones own beliefs, was disabled. While good science should be ruled by skepticism and self-doubt, the field of nutrition has instead been shaped by passions verging on zealotry….

In other words, bad science became “settled” science.

Once ideas about fat and cholesterol became adopted by official institutions, even prominent experts in the field found it nearly impossible to challenge them….

In other words, bad science became politicized.

Researchers who persisted in their challenges found themselves cut off from grants, unable to rise in their professional societies, without invitations to serve on expert panels, and at a loss to find scientific journals that would publish their papers….

So, politics and big money had a stake in the status quo, and scientific community saw which side its whole grain bread was buttered (or rather smeared with some vegetable oil based spread) on, and real science took a back seat to the more lucrative pursuit of consensus politics and profiting from what amounts to mass fraud. As a result, we the people have been suffering with exploding rates of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

All of this reminds me of another controversial topic subject to scientific and popular groupthink despite the obvious failings of its theory: global warming. Or climate change, climate disruption, or whatever this week’s consensus term is? The theory of anthropogenic global warming has been seriously challenged of late.

Proponents of this “settled” science have predicted the polar cap would be gone by 2014. (It’s still there.) The oceans would be dead by 1998. (They’re not.) The UN promised in 2005 that there would be 50 million climate refugees escaping rising sea levels by the end of the decade. (Where are they?). We were warned to be on the lookout for increased hurricane activity. (We haven’t had a Category 3, 4, 5 hurricane make landfall in the U.S. since Wilma in 2005). And the big prediction – rising temperatures – well, over 95% of the predictor models have been proven wrong! A monkey throwing darts at a thermometer would be more accurate. CMIP5-90-models-global-Tsfc-vs-obs-thru-2013 The only thing that should be settled about this science is that something’s seriously wrong with it. And meanwhile, real science like the experiments of Henrick Svensmark are pointing more and more to solar activity as the primary driver of climate change – not man.

So, why are people today, faced with the evidence of failed claims of the low-fat diet scientists, willing to admit that food science was bad, but are still so eager to cling to bad, politicized, theories on climate science that haven’t panned out at all? Isn’t the thought of living in a warm house, cheaply heated, in winter as appealing as swapping out plain oat bran for bacon and eggs for breakfast? Both, it appears, will lead to happier healthier lives.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

{ 0 comments }

Posted by John McClaughry

American Spectator reporter Jeffrey Lord has exposed what appears to be an alliance among the White House, Democratic members of Congress and the thousands of IRS employees, who are members of the far-left National Treasury Employees Union.

On March 31, 2010, the day before the Inspector General’s report says the Internal Revenue Service began its now notorious scheme to target tea party and conservative groups, the White House Visitors Log reveals that President Barack Obama met with IRS NTEU union boss Colleen Kelley.

Kelley has a long history of interaction with the Obama Administration, first meeting in the White House a mere ten days after Obama’s his first inauguration, which she described: “We are looking for a return to what we used to call partnership. I don’t really care what it’s called. For me, it’s about collaboration.”

IRS union-member employee political action committees financed Obama in both his presidential campaigns, plus many anti-Tea Party candidates. At the same time, in their official positions,  the NTEU members at the IRS  were blocking, auditing, and intimidating Tea Party and conservative groups. They were urged to do so by letters from a host of Congressional Democrats, including notably Rep. Peter Welch of Vermont.

Kelley pretty clearly viewed “collaboration” as the IRS hammering Obama’s political detractors.  You have to wonder how Welch, a longtime board member of the American Civil Liberties Union, could lower himself to urging the IRS to harass his political opposition.

- John McClaughry is founder and vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

{ 1 comment }

Please Help Us Fight Back!

***DONATE NOW***

The left-wing Netroots coalition has launched an effort to “take down” state-based, free-market think tanks like the Ethan Allen Institute. Arshad Hasan, a Vermont-based activist and Executive Director of ProgressNow, who led the Netroots planning session on the subject said:

Even a state as left-leaning as Vermont has to deal with our own
Ethan Allen Institute. We can’t achieve our policy objectives as
progressives because they are doing an excellent job.

Hasan went on to threaten, “The next step for us is to take down and dismantle this network of institutions that are state-based in each and every one of our states.” (You can hear the full recording of the Netroots strategy session HERE. EAI is prominently discussed in the opening 3 minutes.)
 
So, now more than ever the Ethan Allen Institute needs your help.
 
Your donation TODAY will show these left wing bullies that we refuse to be silenced by their anti-democratic, totalitarian tactics.
 
They don’t want to debate the issues. They don’t want to have an honest discussion of ideas. (They know they’d lose!) So, they resort to a “take down” tantrum.
 
Unfortunately, we need to take this seriously.  The Progressive coalition is extremely well funded has more heads than the mythological Hydra. Just in Vermont, VPIRG spends over a million dollars a year and employs 11 registered lobbyists. There is the Vermont Workers Center, fed by $100,000 checks that float down from national labor union coffers. There is Vermont Cares, Vermont Leads, the taxpayer funded Vermont Campaign for Health Care Security, Vermont Health Care for All, the Conservation Law Foundation, the Vermont State Labor Council, American Progress Now, and of course the Vermont-NEA.

We’ve proven that we can have an impact even against these odds, so now they want to take us out. 
 
Don’t let this unjust, un-American call to silence effective political opposition go unanswered. A donation of any amount will show that you stand with the Ethan Allen Institute, with freedom of speech, with campaigns of ideas, and against this brand of mean-spirited, infantile politics of “take down.”
 
Thank you for this show of support. 

Robert Roper
President, Ethan Allen Institute



Donate to EAI

CLICK to donate on line, or send a check to:
Ethan Allen Institute
P.O. Box 543
Montpelier, VT 05601

Levels of membership include: Member: $50 – $99. 
Supporter: $100-$499. 
Sustaining: $500-$999. 
Sponsor: $1000
and above.

EAI is a 501c(3) nonprofit, educational organization that neither solicits nor accepts government funding. Contributions are TAX DEDUCTIBLE for businesses and individuals.

Thank you!

 

{ 0 comments }

By John J. Metzler

UNITED NATIONS—It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the handover for the next FIFA World Cup football tournament in Russia as well as his participation in the Summit of the BRIC economic powers, the real story was the largely overlooked wraparound of his Latin American charm offensive. Here’s the background.

Cuba

Before flying to Brazil for the football final match and the FIFA handover for the 2018 World Cup, Putin first stopped in Cuba to renew the spark of the old cold war alliance between Castro’s communists and the Soviet Union.  While Russia’s political system has witnessed significant change since 1991 following the formal collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba remains in a kind of tropical torpor time warp.  The Castro brothers still run the island but the revolutionary zeal is long gone replaced by debt, corruption, and poverty. 

When Vladimir Putin met with both the current ruler Raul Castro and the retired “comandante” Fidel, he brought a pragmatism back to the once comradely Cuban/Russian relationship.  Energy rich Russia has forgiven $30 billion in Cuban debt; an extraordinary 90% sum for the dead broke Caribbean island.  Realistically Russia knew the debt would never be repaid, so why not write it off, but for a price?

While in Cuba, Putin scored some significant under the radar gains.  New ground facilities for the Russian GLONASS satellite navigational system, (sounds very James Bond) which will in theory compete with coverage for American GPS satellites.  More importantly, the Russians are revamping the Lourdes electronic listening center outside Havana. During Cold War times, the Lourdes facility hosted 3,000 Russians involved in massive electronic eves dropping on the USA.   It closed in 2001.

Given its relative proximity, Lourdes can serve as an electronic vacuum for intelligence gathering from the southern USA a mere 155 miles away.

Nicaragua

After his Cuban visit, Putin’s party made an unexpected diversion to Managua, Nicaragua.  The surprise stop, the first ever by a Russian president, was apparently the idea of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.  While former comradely ties between the ruling Sandinistas (they’re back in power too) and the Soviets were close, the relationship has lapsed.  This was a good time to catch up.  President Daniel Ortega (remember him?) called Putin’s visit “A Ray of Light!

Why Nicaragua?  There’s renewed interest in building a new cross Central American canal to compete with the American built canal in Panama.   While Russia is not in on the plans per se, a mysterious Chinese company HKND has announced plans for a $50 billion project starting later this year.   Historically while all these new canal stories need more than a grain of good Caribbean sea salt, there’s little doubt that Moscow looks towards Nicaragua as a reliable regional foothold.

Nicaragua after all, has supported Moscow’s actions in Ukraine and let’s not forget in Georgia during the 2008 conflict as well.  The leftwing Managua government is one of a few countries who diplomatically recognize two separatist rump-regimes set up by Russia after the Georgia war.  

Argentina

Then on to Argentina literally on the eve of the country’s World Cup showdown!   
Putin exclaimed, “today, Argentina is one of Russia’s key strategic partners in Latin America, the UN and the G20. Our approaches to the key issues in global politics are either similar or identical.”  Indeed President Christina Kirchner’s government has been supportive of Russia’s controversial moves in Crimea earlier this year. 

Important nuclear deals were signed with Russia’s atomic energy corporation Rosatom to become involved in the construction of Argentina’s Atucha 3 nuclear power plant.  Significantly on the political front, Putin roiled the South Atlantic waters by offering diplomatic support for the Argentine government’s campaign  to open direct negotiations with Britain over the future of the disputed Falkland islands/Malvinas.  

According to the Moscow Times, Argentina will allow the state-owned international news channel RT (Russia Today) to broadcast its Spanish language service alongside local TV channels.  

Brazil

At the high profile BRIC summit (Brazil, Russia, India, China) of the world’s largest emerging markets, members pressed ahead with creation of a  $150 billion bank and reserve fund.  The BRICS’s have tried to balance their global economic clout with growing political power.  Putin stated,  “Thanks to Russia’s and China’s firm stance in the UN Security Council, supported by other BRIC’s members, we have managed to prevent an international invasion in Syria.” 

Putin is filling a power vacuum created by Washington’s perceived weakness and yawning political ambivalence towards Latin America.  But has Putin “scored his own goal” with his support of separatists in Ukraine likely responsible for downing the MH-17 commercial aircraft?

*****************
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues. He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations; Germany, Korea, China (2104).  

{ 0 comments }

by John McClaughry

Vermonters are upset about rising  education property taxes. “Governance reform”  (consolidation) is not a solution. Competition and choice is.

John McClaughry

Vermonters moan about their steadily rising education property taxes, especially as the number of students continually decreases. Rarely do citizens focus clearly on the causes of rising school taxes, and the possible solutions.  That is, in part, because the “education stakeholders” are ever alert to control the agenda for “reform”.

Their time-worn offering this year was “governance reform”.  That means grouping towns into large “Regional Education Districts”, at first through incentives, then later by state mandate.  This legislation collapsed in the final days of the 2014 session, in part because the House leadership realized that members who voted for it might not do so well with their voters this November.

But the Regional Educational Districts bill will certainly be back in 2015. Like regional waste management districts, REDs will be governed by… well, nobody really knows who governs such districts. It won’t be town voters, because the RED won’t belong to them. It will “belong” to the Agency of Education, their superintendents,  and of course the Vermont-NEA, well organized across district lines. And, interestingly, even the backers of REDs shy away from promising that consolidation will reduce anybody’s property tax burden.

The most obvious reason why education costs are rising faster than Washington devalues the dollar is that government monopolies, financed by taxpayers and facing little or no competitive pressure, bulk up with regulations and bureaucracy that keeps creating more things for itself to do, regardless of whether it improves the output of well-educated young people.

Vermonters should be asking “Can’t we find a better model that gives children more value from a given amount of tax dollars?”

Consider the contrasting model of, of all places, the District of Columbia. DC has 113 public schools and 107 public charter schools. It also has an Opportunity Scholarship Program sending 1,556 low income students, almost entirely minorities, to 54 public and non-public (including faith-based) independent schools. The OSP program remains small because of the bitter opposition of the Obama administration and the teachers’ union, because it gives low-income parents genuine choice.

Far more important are DC’s public charter schools, which compete for publicly financed students. These range from the seven campuses of the academically-focused Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) to African-American and Latino-themed schools to schools focusing on arts and music.

Three years ago my grandson, now 16, and his parents spent a day at a DC school fair where dozens of traditional and charter schools made their pitches to recruit eighth graders. They selected the School Without Walls charter school, which offers college classes and an Associate degree from adjacent George Washington University, along with the charter school diploma.

In New York City, the AFT teachers union has thrown up every obstacle it can find to prevent charter school competition with traditional (unionized) public schools. But in DC, and in Houston and San Jose, creative partnerships are emerging.

The students at DC’s homegrown Achievement Prep are outpacing its competitors in Ward 8 by as much as 40 points on the DC assessment exams. The charter school is negotiating to take over and operate a failing public school. When was the last time you heard of a Vermont public school being merged or going out of business for poor performance? Probably once (Winhall).

Vermont is one of only eight states that have never had charter school legislation.  The legislature created a charter school study committee in 2001. Gov. Howard Dean was at the time an outspoken opponent of the charter school idea. He named enough Vermont-NEA representatives to the committee to cause it to reject charter schools on a 7-4 vote.

The teachers union militantly opposes any option for a student to escape unionized public schools for non-union alternative schools of any kind. (Dean has more recently been quoted favorably on the subject, now that he doesn’t need Vermont-NEA votes.)

Are charter schools practical in a rural state like Vermont, and would they reduce the school property tax burden? That would depend on the details, which vary dramatically among the charter states.  It’s likely that a well-designed charter law would at least flatten out the spending curve, which would be a welcome achievement. An even more welcome achievement would be universal parental choice, for which charter schools would likely increase political support.

Charter schools would be another step toward educational opportunity based not on government-run regional education monopolies, but on genuine parental choice among many varied public and independent providers. That is the way toward better educational value for fewer taxpayer dollars.

- John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute (www.ethanallen.org).


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

{ 0 comments }

Posted by Chris Campion

The Vermont Department of Labor periodically publishes short-term employment projections, to highlight where the employment growth sectors are likely to be in Vermont, and includes an industry breakdown as well.  Since Peter Shumlin likes to tout economic data as evidence that Vermont is a “great” place for jobs, let’s let his words do the talking:

“With the second lowest unemployment rate in the country, we need to make sure people know that we have great jobs in Vermont – and lots of them,” the Governor said at a news conference at the Keurig Green Mountain, Inc. Beverage Technology Center in Waterbury.

Well.  Peter happily ignores the raft of other information at his fingertips regarding Vermont’s employment outlook, because it might demonstrate a certain lack of greatness for Vermonters seeking to work and live here.

What jobs will have the most openings, based on the Dept. of Labor’s statistics?  Rankings are based on the total number of expected openings in 2015:

Peter's Economic Growth Legacy

Peter’s Economic Growth Legacy

Cashiers.  Retail.  Fast food.  Waiters and Waitresses.  The only occupation in the top ten that requires a college degree is #6, Registered Nurses, which means we have population growth in hospitals, not economic growth.  Personal care aides is growing because of Vermont’s demographics, which features not a youthful and vibrant dominant cohort, buying homes and starting families, but rather the largest growth sector is in retirees – a fact that also helps keep our workforce participation rate low, which has the political benefit of making the unemployment rate artificially low.

Shumlin can tour the state and tell reporters that Vermont’s a great place to work, but that’s so unabashedly untrue as to barely pass the laugh test.  Vermont’s native college-educated graduates leave the state at record levels.  Why?  Take a look at the list of projected occupational growth rates in the chart above and you’ll understand why.  Peter understands that too, which is why he never gets into specifics, other than to tout the one or two companies that are doing well, and have a public presence.  But even companies like Keurig/Green Mountain aren’t growing their footprint here, and in fact their next plant will be built in Georgia – the state, not the Vermont town – as that company expands into cold beverages.

As Peter said, “we have great jobs in Vermont – and lots of them”.  Really?  How’s the 11-30 ranking looking?

11-30 on the "great" list.

The reality is that the state’s largest private-sector industry is tourism, followed closely by retail, and neither industry is known for high-paying jobs.  What does not dominate the job scene are manufacturing, technical, financial, or other traditionally higher-paying occupations.    If you leave Chittenden County, the job conditions just get worse.  Compare the income and population growth numbers between Chittenden County and Rutland County, or the fact that Rutland County has 50% more residents over the age of 65 than Chittenden County does (as just one example) and the picture that emerges is not one of a vibrant and growing Vermont economy.  It is quite the opposite, but these numbers are not the things you’ll hear spoken into a microphone when Shumlin is in public.

Oh, and the BEA ranks Vermont 50th for Total Personal Income.  Dead.  Last.  Even with a 33% increase in personal current transfer payments from 2003 to 2013 (which includes “Government payments to individuals includes retirement and disability insurance benefits, medical benefits (mainly Medicare and Medicaid), income maintenance benefits, unemployment insurance compensation, veterans benefits, and Federal education and training assistance.”) .  Which means we have the fewest dollars, nationally, in income.

Peter's fine work on display here.

In other words, Shumlin’s legacy is of decreasing opportunity, reduced incomes, and demographic and economic trendlines all heading in the wrong direction.  This is what he’s going to hang his hat on when he runs for a vacant US Senate seat.  The more Vermonters realize what Shumlin’s really been responsible for, the more likely their economic opportunity improves – but until that time, we will be on the receiving end of more of the same.

 

{ 1 comment }

The Ethan Allen Institute
in partnership with
Americans for Prosperity – New Hampshire
and the Friedman Foundation
present

A Celebration of Milton Friedman and
School Choice

Milton Friedman

Thursday, July 31, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm
at the Windjammer
1076 Williston Rd., South Burlington, VT

The Program will include

Nathan Benefield
of the Friedman Foundation

Rob Roper
of the Ethan Allen Institute will unveil our latest report
School Choice in Vermont:
A 150-year old system that leads to a brighter future

H’ordeuvres and Bar Service provided

This event is free and open to the public, but space is limited,
so please reserve your spot now!
CLICK HERE TO REGISTER

Milton Friedman was one of the nation’s foremost advocates for school choice.
Join us as we celebrate his life and legacy for school children on what would have been his 102nd birthday. Have a great meal and learn more about the growing School Choice movement in Vermont really is all about.

{ 0 comments }

Posted by Rob Roper

While Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is pushing a $1.3 trillion carbon tax for the United States, Australia is repealing its own national carbon tax, put in place in 2011. Australian Prime Minister, Tony Abbott, described the law in the Wall Street Journal as, “…a useless destructive tax which damaged jobs, which hurt families’ cost of living and which didn’t actually help the environment….”

Repeal of the tax will save Australians and estimated AU$9 billion a year, AU$500 per person.

When the law passed, proponents predicted it would create a stronger economy and spark new jobs in clean industries. It didn’t happen. They also hoped the law would be a learning experience for the rest of the world. Let’s hope that is the case.

- Rob Roper is president of the Ethan Allen Institute


The Ethan Allen Institute is a 501c3 non profit organization dedicated to promoting liberty and free market solutions for Vermont. We are supported by small, local donors such as yourself. Join the cause. Be part of the solution! JOIN HERE! Contributions are tax deductible.

 

 

{ 0 comments }

By John J. Metzler

New York—A 22 year old Florida man sets off a suicide bomb in Syria.  Seven Dutch jihadis are killed in combat with Syrian army units.  A Frenchman, just returned from Syria, kills four people at a Jewish museum in Brussels.

Those are some of the shocking stories which emerge from the civil war in Syria which has now spilled over into Iraq, as radicalized Muslim extremists leave the USA, Britain, and Europe to pursue a religious and ideologically driven jihad in the cauldron of the Middle East.  The ranks of these foreign fighters have grown to at least 7,000 according to U.S. intelligence officials.  

Many of these fighters have been inspired and loosely linked by social media as well as many radical mosques, especially in Britain and France. 

At issue is not simply that these volunteers are fighting abroad under dubious circumstances, but more troublesome, upon their return from Syria, will many of them become ticking time bombs throughout  American and European cities?  We are not talking simply about political radicalization, but specific military and terror skill sets which can lie dormant or possibly be triggered by events or by design. 

Britain’s MI 6 security agency says that as many as 300 of these foreign fighters may have already returned to the United Kingdom from Middle East warzones. 

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said the Syrian conflict had “turned into a cradle of violent extremism,” that could threaten Western countries when fighters return home. 

Responding to the growing threat the French government has proposed six-month travel bans on certain individuals going to Syria.  It’s estimated that two or three French citizens leave daily to join radical Islamist groups overseas. 

Even Al-Qaida terrorists have been wary of the hyper-radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a signature movement of choice for many of the radicals. 

Besides the ideological and religious magnetism of fighting in the Middle East, the practical transport access is not too complicated.  Most militants fly to Turkey along with a huge tourist surge.  The Turkish Islamic/lite government in the meantime has played fast and loose with allowing all sorts and stripes of rebels and dissidents slip over its porous border with Syria.  Among  the “moderate” rebel groups staging from Turkey, there’s also a pipeline for the fanatics.  

But here’s the real problem.  Contrary to many hardline jihadis from Afghanistan, Pakistan or Yemen, these militants don’t carry “red flagged” passports but rather hold American, Belgian, British, French or German passports.  Easy unhindered access inside the 28-member European Union is guaranteed by the Schengen Agreements allowing for free movement among member states.  So once such a citizen re-enters the European Union, he is then free to move and mingle throughout the region without any passport controls, except for the United Kingdom. 

Equally a EU passport holder from France, Belgium or Germany has visa free access to the USA.   While the free movement is a boom for trade, tourism and commerce among countries, it allows for the easier travel of many such foreign fighters.

EU Interior Ministries are keenly aware of this unlocked back door.  Equally U.S. Homeland security is ramping up surveillance of many European origin flights to the USA in light of this reality. 

Evoking the “International Brigades” of the Spanish Civil war (1936-1939), these foreign fighters are driven by ideological zeal, to fight for the “cause.”   The American “Lincoln Brigade” was composed largely of leftists and communists.  A similar political strand was true with many of the British, French and German communists who fought in Spain.   The International Brigades were powered by an  commitment to “fight fascism,” supporting the Spanish Republic against General Franco’s  insurgent nationalists, who were  backed by fascist Germany and Italy. 

Syria’s International Brigades are significantly different in many ways; these are hardened religious zealots, many of them converted to Islam, whose “cause” is to establish an Islamic Caliphate in the Middle East.  Syria’s secular regime is supported by Russia.  The cause here is both the cult of violence and to spread radical Islam. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human rights, over 170,000 people have been killed in the conflict thus far. Of 45,000 rebels killed, 15,000 are foreign, mostly Arab fighters, but many indeed are Western.

Lamentably, the unintended consequences of the so-called Arab Spring, coupled with the Obama Administration’s strategic ineptitude, are starkly obvious from Libya to the Levant and into Iraq.  

The black flag of jihad now flies over parts of Syria and Iraq.  When shall some of its foreign zealots return home?

*****************
John J. Metzler is a United Nations correspondent covering diplomatic and defense issues.  He is the author of Divided Dynamism The Diplomacy of Separated Nations; Germany, Korea, China (2014).

{ 0 comments }

McClaughry in NRO Online – The First Single-Payer Domino

July 15, 2014

If the health-care experiment fails in Vermont, it would send shock waves nationwide. By John McClaughry, National Review Online, July 15, 2014 As Obamacare, beset with calamities, enters its fourth year, the cerulean-blue state of Vermont is well into its fourth year of preparing to astonish America by installing Canadian-style single-payer health care. To understand the [...]

Read the full article →

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.
Read more...

Latest News

7-25-14 – Bacon Cheeseburgers and Global Warming

Posted by Rob Roper I was delighted a couple months back to see a report that everything we knew (or thought we knew) about high fat diets was...

7-24-14 – IRS Link to White House

Posted by John McClaughry American Spectator reporter Jeffrey Lord has exposed what appears to be an alliance among the White House, Democratic members of Congress and the thousands of...

EAI Is Under Left-Wing Attack for “Doing an Excellent Job”

Please Help Us Fight Back! ***DONATE NOW*** The left-wing Netroots coalition has launched an effort to “take down” state-based, free-market think tanks like the Ethan Allen Institute. Arshad...

7-23-14 – Putin’s Latin American Charm Offensive 

By John J. Metzler UNITED NATIONS—It’s been a momentous week for Russian President Vladimir Putin.  While the major media focused on his trip to Brazil to accept the...

Commentary: School Consolidation, Charters, and Choice

by John McClaughry Vermonters are upset about rising  education property taxes. “Governance reform”  (consolidation) is not a solution. Competition and choice is. Vermonters moan about their steadily rising...

Video