Commentary: Shout-downs place democracy in peril

For years, public demonstrations on issues ranging from abortion to climate change have been commonplace in Vermont, signs of a healthy civil discourse. But some demonstrations have taken a more sinister tone of late, undermining the foundations of our democracy.

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Looting as Prelude to Revolution

Reporter Natalie Escobar offered an interesting news report for National Public Radio on August 31. It went like this: “In the past months of demonstrations for Black lives, there has been a lot of hand-wringing about looting...Just this week, rioters have burned buildings and looted stores in Kenosha, Wisconsin., following the police shooting of Jacob Blake, to which Wisconsin Sen. Ron Johnson has said: ‘Peaceful protesting is a constitutionally protected form of free speech. Rioting is not.’ “

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Commentary: What’s In the Global Warming Solutions Act?

The legislature returned in late August to tie up the loose ends of the 2020 session, and one of those loose ends is the Global Warming Solutions Act (GWSA).

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12 Things Americans Consider to Be Bigger Problems than Climate Change

According to a recent Gallup poll, climate change is far down the list of America’s "most important problem" we're facing.

In April, 45% Americans believed – “Coronavirus/Diseases” was the biggest problem facing the country, followed by “the Government/Poor Leadership” at 20%.  In June, Government/Poor Leadership edged out Coronavirus/Disease 21% to 20%. Then Government/Poor Leadership returned to second place in July, taking in 23% of the vote, exceeded again by Coronavirus/Disease at 30%.

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More California blackouts, foreshadowed for Vermont?

In my commentary last week, I pointed out that Vermont is heading down the road toward California-style electric blackouts.

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How Jim Condos’ Vote-By-Mail Scheme Could Make You a Felon

If you changed residences at any point in the past, and there is a possibility that you remain on the voter checklist somewhere where you no longer reside, here’s a potential “mail-in-voting” scenario you should be aware of.

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Commentary: Renewable Energy and Blackouts

California has just suffered electrical blackouts affecting over 200,000 people, and there will be more to come on hot summer evenings. Why? Because California has become infatuated with subsidizing solar and wind powered electricity, which disappears when the sun goes down and the wind stops. Vermont is heading down that same mistaken path.

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Americans are more likely to wear masks than Europeans and Canadians

The American media’s narrative the past few months has been “Wearing a mask in other countries is nearly unanimous. But Americans are too selfish to wear a mask for stopping COVID-19 transmission.”

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California Heat Wave/Black Outs Highlight Flawed “Green” Policies

California is suffering a major heatwave with temperatures coming in at significantly over 100 degrees. Compounding the danger is the unfortunate reality that California’s electricity capacity – arguably the most “green” in the nation – can’t handle the demand needed to run the air conditioning. California Governor Gavin Newsom admitted that California’s extreme shift to renewable energy sources is at the root of the current crisis.

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Bill McKibben on the Pandemic, VTDigger, and Vermont’s Deplorables

Here’s a recent comment by Middlebury College’s enviro activist in residence Bill McKibben, which makes an interesting point.

“The pandemic has also been hard on [Vermont’s] newspapers, which have been curtailing editions and laying off staff. But Vermont is also lucky to have two more-or-less statewide independent media outlets: the entirely Web-based VTDigger and the Burlington-based alternative weekly Seven Days.”

“Both have done something unusual and useful during the pandemic: they have shut down their comments sections. They did it to make sure that people weren’t spreading bad information about public health, but the secondary effect has been to isolate the small number of soreheads and malcontents who monopolize such venues.” That reminds you of Hillary Clinton’s characterization of her detractors as “Deplorables”, doesn’t it?

In the case of VTDigger, which I readily admit performs a valuable service for the state, I did a quick analysis of the first ten comments posted on the report of  the July Senate passage of the Global Warming Solutions Act. Seven commenters were opposed to that bill, and three were supportive. I added up the positive and negative responses, and found that the opposition prevailed by a ratio of 1058 to 103 (91% opposed).

Two weeks later VT Digger discontinued comments on the dubious grounds that it took too much staff time to moderate them. In my view, it’s more plausible that they got tired of publicizing the views of McKibben’s soreheads and malcontents who opposed the Digger-favored climate agenda.

John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute.

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