April 17th, 2007

Coulter Strikes Out With Mr. Belvedere; Finally Snags Date With Jimmie Walker

by Philip Baruth

Sorry, didn’t mean to ruin your day. But VDB has responsibilities, not all of them pleasant. One of those less attractive chores, of course, is tracking the ominous, creep-show movements of pundit Ann Coulter.

coulter, j.j. walker

Here Coulter poses with one-time television phenom J. J. “Dyn-O-Mite!” Walker. We don’t have any comment, really.

Just had to share, the way you wake up in a cold sweat and tell your wife a bad dream.

April 17th, 2007

The VPR Brunch: Hummels 4 BigTime

by Philip Baruth

Vermont Public Radio began a new tradition last year, and it’s rapidly replaced St. Patrick’s Day as our favorite minor holiday of the year — the VPR Commentator Brunch. It’s held down in Killington, according to the classic formula: good food, good people, good fun.

vdb and daniloff

VDB and fellow commentator/blogger Caleb Daniloff. High-tech photo by Mark Vogelzang.

Of course, you sing for your supper. This year the assignment was this: a commentary of about a minute in length. A prose haiku, on the topic of “Common Ground.”

Of course, we couldn’t help but take that slightly ironically, and stretch the time-frame just a bit. The piece follows. Many thanks to the staff at VPR. Brilliantly done.

* * *

Hummels 4 BigTime

If you’ve ever collected rare Hummel porcelein figurines, you know that over time they become as dear to you as your own children. And when you find that you have to sell one of your children over the internet — well, it eats you up inside.

But with the price of gas hovering around 18$ a gallon, my wife and I finally had to bite the bullet and auction off the most precious Hummel in our collection: a 32-inch version of the “The Happy Wanderer” with almost no crazing in the glaze.

It was worth every penny of $29,000, but we needed cash fast, so we put it on Ebay for 20. And got a bite that same afternoon: a guy based in D.C. who called himself “Hummels 4 BigTime.”

Now, as we got chatting over email during the sale, it turns out that the guy is Dick Cheney, and he’s as serious about Hummels as it’s humanly possible to be. Really, he already has a mint condition jumbo-sized “Happy Wanderer,” but he’s buying up all the others to try to increase its value.

In fact, when he receives ours in the mail, he plans to take it out into his garage at the Vice Presidential residence, put it in a Hefty bag, and bust it into a million pieces with a hammer.

Which isn’t exactly the fate you’d wish for one of your children — even one you’ve just sold over the internet — but even so, I can’t begin to describe how nice Dick was about the whole deal.

My wife and I came away from it full of hope somehow, hope that maybe the Internet was the key to bringing this crazy world of ours together again. Not a red state, or a blue state, but a virtual state, where we Americans can all of us find our virtue again, somehow.

April 17th, 2007

Isn’t “Affordability Tour” Really An Oxymoron, When You Think About It?

by Philip Baruth

This past Friday, we were discussing the Vermont Leadership Institute’s latest fundraising brainstorm: a closed raffle for a new Prius, 1000 tickets maximum, $100 a piece. And we were lamenting the fact that even with those sweet odds, it’s a relatively short list in Vermont who could afford to get in on the fun.

the prius

Well, let’s not forget one name on that list: Jim Douglas.

Over at the Prog Blog, Representative Chris Pearson has some handy figures about the Governor’s salary:

“I was surprised to see Governor Douglas’ scheduled increase. In 2004 he was earning just over $133,000. He’s ticked along with a steady increase and now he’s landing at $150,000. Time to stop the affordability tour?

“I gather we’re in the habit of boosting the Executive Branch and exempt state employees (commissioners, secretaries, and others generally at the top of the pay scale) at the same rate as rank and file workers. But it’s a percentage increase. Getting a 4% raise when you earn $35,000 is nice. Who couldn’t do with an extra $1,400?

“But if you’re earning $100,000, 4% delivers more. And it just keeps on compounding.”

And as you and I both know, $150,000 a year will buy a lot of recreational boating.

dubie, douglas, baked, fishing

Pearson’s solution? Hold the Governor’s raise to the same rate as the “level-funded” General Fund: 1%. Especially in a year when “Juvenile Reparative Justice Boards took a whack, as did State Aide for the Blind & Disabled.”

Well worth a read. And to make it easier for you, we’ll be carrying the Prog Blog on the sideboard for easy reference. They do good work over there.

April 16th, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Now More Than Ever, John McCain is The New Bob Dole

by Philip Baruth

VDB has a friend in Colorado, a man who shall remain nameless, but let’s go ahead and call him “Rick.” Okay, that’s really his name. But we’re never ever coming up off his last name.

time coverAnd there’s an excellent reason for that: Rick is connected in various ways to various governmental organizations that make secrecy an integral part of their brand identity.

But we can tell you this: a few weeks back, we received perhaps the shortest and most cryptic communication yet from the generic email account Rick favors.

It was very brief, no salutation, no closing, no signature. Just a single declarative sentence of seven words.

And the words were these: “John McCain is the new Bob Dole.

Of course the sentence made quick, intuitive sense: John McCain, like Bob Dole, is taking his last run up the presidential mountain in his 70’s, and he’s beginning to seem even older. If elected in 2008, McCain will be the oldest man ever to serve as President, and he looks older than J. Howard Marshall these days.

But it’s more than just age, of course. There’s the increasingly public sense that McCain just doesn’t have his heart in it, this time out.

Gone forever are the heady months of the 2000 campaign, when McCain’s eyes seemed perpetually to be either winking or twinkling. Gone too is his ability to speak political boilerplate, and yet invest it somehow with ironic sub-text.

johnny mac

When McCain speaks now, there is a plodding, mechanical quality to the words, as though this last run at the White House is the final mile of a 50K marathon — a more or less joyless attempt to complete a race begun so long ago, and in such a different frame of mind, that winning and losing have lost their clarity as respective concepts.

And that plodding quality is what has given McCain’s recent Iraq gaffe such legs.

In case you missed it, McCain — who has become the willing face of Bush’s “Surge” in Iraq — argued in a conversation with Bill Bennet that the media were exaggerating the security problems in the Iraqi capitol.

“There are neighborhoods in Baghdad where you and I could walk through those neighborhoods today,” McCain told Bennet, adding that General Petraeus “goes out there almost every day in an unarmed Humvee.”

McCain was immediately lampooned, and rightly so.

And the old McCain would have rolled with the punch, and turned it into a punch line.

But not today’s McCain. No, because this John McCain is the new Bob Dole. And McCain did precisely what Bob Dole would have done: try to one-up the media, and then screw up even more spectacularly.

With the cameras rolling.

Bend It Like Bob:
Slowly, Slowly, and Ultimately Missing Altogether

One of the classic moments of the ’96 Presidential campaign was Bob Dole’s highly-staged assault on Hollywood. Dole’s handler Scott Reed knew that Hollywood (and so-called “heroin chic”) was a hot-button issue with conservatives, and so he had Dole rail conspicuously against Hollywood’s “nightmares of depravity.”

doleAnd the reviews of the speech were excellent — until a reporter asked Dole if he had actually watched any of the movies he had just condemned.

And of course he hadn’t.

For which Dole was immediately lampooned.

And so several days later, the Dole campaign announced its response: Dole would actually go to a movie theater, and view a movie! Reed and other Dole aides could hardly restrain their high-fives. What moxie! What flexibility! Seeing a movie would cast Dole as a regular guy, and the campaign itself as a step ahead.

But Bob Dole was, inevitably, Bob Dole: he walked in without paying, sat uncomfortably through the feature, Independence Day, and began to blather immediately upon leaving the theater: “Liked it. Good movie. America wins. Take the kids,” all this with a thumb of approval thrust into the air.

And Dole proved spectacularly unprepared when reporters asked why Independence Day — full of violence, including the famous scene of the White House itself being blown to smithereens — was suitable family fare.

Again Bob Dole was lampooned, and again rightly so.

And apparently John McCain learned his lesson well, because after he was lampooned for claiming that Baghdad was safe enough for a stroll, his response was pure Dole: he decided to actually go for a stroll in a Baghdad market! What moxie! What flexibility!

Of course, in order to accomplish The Stroll, McCain was forced to enlist some help from the US military: namely, 100 soldiers, bomb-sniffers, armored vehicles, two Apache gunships overhead, etc. The market itself had to be cleared, searched and closed to traffic.

johnny mac looks like a fool

And of course those extraordinary precautions, taken to demonstrate an ordinary level of security, became the story.

And McCain was lampooned. He tried, in a last-ditch maneuver, to blame The Stroll’s crushing blanket of security on a skittish General Petraeus — arguing that he himself would have been just fine strolling without an escort — but by then he couldn’t be heard over the laughter.

And then, just today, Rick’s cryptic note came into final focus: the McCain campaign announced an endorsement by the ancient and heartless Henry Kissinger, a man who was losing wars when McCain was still married to his first wife.

Rick must have known it was coming.

And McCain trotted this endorsement out with a great flourish, for all the world as though this were something positive. Forget that, according to Bob Woodward’s State of Denial, Kissinger has been advising Bush and Cheney to hold out for “total victory” in Iraq since 2004.

Forget that Kissinger has now apparently changed his mind, whimsically enough, arguing recently that victory is “no longer possible.”

McCain was still determined to sell the endorsement, joylessly, one foot in front of the other. But no one was having any of it.

Because that’s the thing about Bob Doles, new or old: by definition, no one’s buying.

[This piece ran first in the Vermont Guardian.]

Late Update, Monday 10:39 am:

Anyone who thinks that executing a triple-reverse pander on the Iraq War would be too much even for McCain — given the way he’s velcroed himself to the Surge policy — is deeply mistaken.

In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend, McCain laid out his method for ultimately getting right with voters prior to the ‘08 ballot: “[McCain] said that if the Bush administration’s plan had not produced visible signs of progress by the time a McCain presidency began, he might be forced — if only by the will of public opinion — to end American involvement in Iraq.”

Everyone clear on that? In other words, McCain intends to argue, from this point forward, that if the Surge is working, he was right all along. If it’s not, he’ll listen to the Will of the People, and bring the troops home.

And therefore there’s really no difference between a John McCain and anyone else on the issue.

Moxie, indeed.

April 13th, 2007

VT Leadership Institute’s Got Your Prius

by Philip Baruth

Like every good-hearted non-profit in the state of Vermont, the Vermont Leadership Institute needs money. In this case, they need it to train the next generation of leaders, the people who will take us to the next level in business, government, education, health care, and media.

Super-wonks, in a word.

the prius

But you know the drill: there are so many causes, so little time. And in Vermont, so little money to go around. You think you’re broke?

Try VDB’s life: 14 car seats in the last 8 years.

So VLI decided to toss in a sweetener: a chance to win a Toyota Prius. A donation of $100 enters you in a closed raffle, with 1000 tickets maximum.

In other words, your hundred bucks gets you 1 in a 1000 odds on winning one of the sharpest and most environmentally friendly rides going. Try asking for those odds down at your local Powerball vendor.

And of course, VLI might not move all of the tickets (God forbid). But that would sweeten the odds still further for those who did manage to buy in.

Just a word to those who have the means, and a soft spot in their hearts for the next generation. And if you win, and you got a kid, VDB’s got a nice selection of gently-used carseats.

April 12th, 2007

From the Be Careful What You Ask For Files: VDB Taken Gently But Firmly To Task

by Philip Baruth

This morning we made readers a proposition: send us diaries and posts about your favorite candidates, and we’ll use them to counterpoint our own unabashedly strong preference for Barack Obama.

In particular, we asked for fans of John Edwards to step up. We published a post fairly critical of the Senator on Monday, and we were looking to offer a little equal time.

john edwards, thinking about how to spank McCain

And it wasn’t two hours before VDB-reader Kathy wrote in, very gently and politely ripping us a new one, as the saying has it.

And so we now humbly yield the floor.


Dear VDB,

On the Edwards piece, I think perhaps you’re putting your own values on the Edwards. I happen to agree with you on a personal level — were I or my partner faced with cancer that had spread to the bone, I would be home smelling the flowers with my beloved, not engaged in something that guarantees nearly complete separation from my family.

However, that may not be their thing. Maybe it’s Elizabeth Edwards’ fondest dream that her man become president. It could be she is pushing him; it could be they share a passion for the White House and all it means.

She may have said, “Look, if my chances of dying in five years are greater than they are that I will live, I want to go out knowing that we gave our all to a shot at the White House.”

Your piece on this issue is a good example, in my mind, of why digging around in people’s personal lives with regards to what kind of leader they might prove to be is often misguided.

What if the press had done that with Martin Luther King? The man was a terrible womanizer.

Far be it from me to defend that kind of behaviour. But what if we had been deprived of what he had to offer because, as happened with Bill Clinton, the country had become obsessed with how Martin and Cora dealt with his infidelities?

That’s their business, as was Bill and Hillary’s nightmare in the wake of Monica.

Examples of this abound, as you well know — JFK springs to mind. If I thought about it for another second, so would many others. In my opinion, there is no black and white answer to how to proceed on this front.

Certainly some personal activities should be exposed when a person is running for public office (or simply because they’ve been discovered): child molesters, abusers, drug addicts (but because an addiction could have serious consequences on judgement and probably involves criminal activity — not for any moral reason) and more, I’m sure.

The judgement of whether a candidate’s personal behaviour should be made public is one to be made by mature, even, can I say it? WISE journalists.

There are few of those to be had, although, Dear Mr. Baruth, I do count you among the few, even if I think you erred in this case.

I say let the Edwards’ decide their own personal and, no doubt, very painful course themselves. Leave it to them. I would even suggest an apology to Mr. Edwards, so inappropriate do I consider such noodling on this issue.

I know many people say, you run for public office, your life just became public, but I think that is a destructive approach to covering politics.

Thanks for reading. And please keep up the great blog!

— Kathy

April 11th, 2007

Don’t Forget Tonight’s Monthly V4O Meeting; And You Too Can Bloviate On VDB

by Philip Baruth

First things first: Vermonters for Obama holds its April meeting tonight at the Euro Cafe on lower Main, downtown Burlington. We’re talking six o’clock sharp. Less a meeting than a gathering of intriguing people who thus far like what Obama has to say.

And who like the occasional slice of baklava. Enough said.


Email on the Edwards piece has been brisk. And one thing we glean from it is that folks would occasionally like other views, positive takes, on other progressive candidates.

So here is a standing offer: write us a killer diary about your current candidate, or send a killer photo, and we’ll consider it for VDB. Preference always given for the well-written, the stylishly phrased; high points also for personal accounts of actual meetings, close encounters of the profound or awkward kind.

For instance, given that we published a somewhat negative piece about Edwards earlier this week, we’re particularly interested right now in offering soapbox time to a hardcore Edwardian.

Think it over. But since today is April meeting day for V4O, we can only run with a diary of Obama’s recent visit to Keeene. Text here is by Colin Seifer of Keene, NH, a freshman at Keene High School. (Photo by his talented and doting grandmother, Charlene Wakefield.)

Obama Comes to Keene

We are a country capable of doing great things, but to do so we need a leader who cares about helping those who truly need help, rather than those who already have the means to help themselves.

obama in keene

As Barack Obama stated at one point in his speech, for many years now we have been voting for what we believe to be the lesser of two evils. We need a leader who actually deserves the title of President.

We need a person who can not only deliver what we need, but can get others excited about it and willing to help. Barack Obama is an incredible leader. He can inspire an entire crowd and help them to become more aware of our current political state in just a few minutes. In addition to this, he is excellent at speaking to the people and bringing them together.

It was a great honor to be able to meet this outstanding man in person, and to be able to see for myself just how sincere he is when he says that he has the nation’s best interests in mind.

He takes every question seriously, and considers it carefully. He is not, however, above making a joke or two. At one point during his speech he was asked a question about whether he was planning on adopting a dog, and when he answered, he spoke both sincerely and humorously.

Barack Obama is both a great man, and a great leader, and I believe that he would make an incredible

— Colin Seifer

April 10th, 2007

Another Sign of a Low Job-Approval Rating

by Philip Baruth

Roving VDB-photojournalist Don Shall doesn’t just cover the Green Mountain State. Far from it: he’s an ever-present force for digital justice, wherever in these fifty states he may be needed. And in addition, he scours the internet for just the right image to send just the right message at just the right moment.

Don sends the following snap from Chicago, via Democratic Underground:

chicago, chicago

Now that’s what VDB calls a “Stormy, husky, brawling, City of the Big Shoulders.”

April 10th, 2007

The Piece I Never Wrote About Edwards

by Philip Baruth

Last February, early 2006, John Edwards came to Ira Allen Chapel, at the University of Vermont. Edwards was the keynote speaker for an amazing one-day conference on poverty, put together by Matt Dunne, who was running for Lieutenant Governor at the time.

And I couldn’t have been more excited to see the guy.

edwards, in his element

When Edwards got the Vice Presidential nod in 2004, I was all but jumping up and down. He seemed to me precisely what Kerry needed at the time. Edwards was youth and energy, and his biography — always articulated in a rich Southern accent — made him an instant Everyman.

This wasn’t just a winning ticket. Screw two terms. This was a lock on the next sixteen years. And then came Election Night. Then came Ohio. And that was the end of that dream.

So I hadn’t thought much about Edwards until that afternoon in 2006, sitting in a pew in Ira Allen Chapel.

By then it was clear that Edwards was gunning for the nomination in his own right this time around; he had spent more time in Iowa than anyone else, beginning within weeks of the defeat in November.

But before launching into his modified stump speech, Edwards addressed his wife’s health. Elizabeth Edwards was then completing treatments for her first bout with breast cancer. The campaign had waited until a few days after Election Day in 2004 to announce that diagnosis, which seemed a bit strategic but not suspiciously so.

But Edwards informed all of us in the Chapel that his wife was doing very well, and that she sent her regards, and her thanks for the ground-swell of support nationwide.

And then Edwards did something that rubbed me the wrong way: he began to describe his travels across America since the last election, dwelling on the many places he had gone, the many impoverished Americans he had seen and heard, the many audiences he had addressed on the subject of poverty.

And as he described his restless movement across the map of America, I grew more uncomfortable, because he seemed to have no idea that the first picture he had presented of himself — the caring husband of a woman with life-threatening cancer — was at least partially overshadowed, even contradicted by the second — that of a man obsessed with winning the next election, even if that meant little or no down-time between elections.

I didn’t write about the Edwards visit at the time, which was strange; when Barack Obama came, I wrote several long detailed posts about it. I wrote a similar long post about Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. when he passed through Vermont.

But somehow when Edwards left the state, I liked him less than before he arrived. I trusted him less.

And the crux of that trust deficit was his response to his wife’s breast cancer.

It may be an utterly unfair judgment; it may be both untrue and ungenerous.

But that is what I felt, and whenever I talked presidential contenders from that day forward, I told the story of that afternoon to make my point about Edwards.

So when Edwards scheduled a press conference to discuss changes in his wife’s condition last month, I read the accounts of it with an admittedly jaundiced eye. And again, to be honest, I didn’t like what I saw. Elizabeth Edwards not only had a recurrence of cancer; her doctors had now diagnosed it as “treatable but not curable.”

Yet Edwards declared that not only would his second run for the White House go on, it would go on “stronger than before.”

And he framed the choice before him in a way that seemed to border on the disingenuous: “You can go cower in the corner and hide or you can go out there and stand up for what you believe in. We have no intentions of cowering in the corner.”

Surely there was a middle ground between “cowering” and conducting a 24-hour, 7-days a week high-pressure — and increasingly long-shot — bid for the Presidency.

Yes, Elizabeth Edwards herself seemed very much to want to continue campaigning. Yes, doctors came on television to declare that her diagnosis would not strictly prohibit her from actively aiding the campaign.

But other than open warfare, there is no more stressful environment than a Presidential campaign. Period. And even a sympathetic media scrum remains a media scrum. Period. People eat poorly on the campaign trail; their stomach is perpetually in knots. And if they are the spouse of the candidate, they understand that they will see their husband or wife almost not at all.

No one will ever be able to convince me it is a good or healthy place for a person to cope with radiation, chemotherapy and intimations of mortality.

In short, it wasn’t about what Elizabeth wanted. I would have liked — as a voter, as a person, as a husband, maybe as a father — to see some evidence that Edwards was willing to place his wife’s health on a par with his race for the White House.

He has always been a candidate short on resume, and long on expectations; there is no reason why he couldn’t have returned to the game 5 or 10 years down the road, both stronger and wiser.

john edwards, thinking about how to spank McCain

The national press has more or less decided to give Edwards a pass on the way he has handled this new cancer crisis. And I would like to do the same. But I had strong doubts about the way he handled this issue the last time around, and I’ve found this second time that my heart won’t let me let it go.

Edwards says he can’t drop out because the things he’s fighting for are too important, but let’s say what needs saying: John Edwards isn’t offering anything to America that America can’t wait to possess. He is just a man, after all, a man who would be President.

And America is lousy with men and women who would be President, this time of year.

[This piece ran first in the Vermont Guardian.]

April 7th, 2007

Virgin Islands “Diploma Mill” Implodes; Fragments Fall Across Vermont, New York

by Philip Baruth

Let’s go to the Virgin Islands, shall we?

Because that’s where today’s story started breaking, way back in mid-February. And a very strange little story it is, too, one involving tropical beaches, diploma mills, Vermont addresses and lonely post office boxes at the Mailboxes, Etc. on St. Croix.

virgin islands

Not to mention the wretched mess that is No Child Left Behind.

Back in February a very enterprising reporter at the Virgin Islands Daily News — one Ian Morrison — was reporting on an issue that must have seemed eye-glazingly dull at the time: the acute problem the Virgin Islands was having meeting the NCLB requirement that all teachers be “highly qualified.”

“Fewer than half of the territory’s teachers are certified,” Morrison noted, “putting the department years behind the rest of the United States in meeting the ‘highly qualified’ requirements of No Child Left Behind.”

Now, the University of the Virgin Islands — an institution duly accredited by the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools — was already attempting to meet the heavy demand. But officials in the territory’s Education Department and on its Board of Education were antsy enough about the issue to try a quicker way.

A much quicker way.

Education Commissioner Lauren Larsen decided to accredit a very small, very odd, and previously unacceptable operation: the International Graduate Center.

Main Office? Rutland, Vermont, 05701.

IGC was attractive in one regard: it could theoretically put degrees in the hands of its students much faster than the University of the Virgin Islands. IGC’s programs were all online, with the exception of a two-week residency on the Islands.

And IGC gave “Life Experience credits” — up to nine credits for work or other non-academic past experience.

Of course, as Morrison was to document, IGC was an odd choice in other regards.

First, IGC had no facilities, but borrowed classroom space for residencies, and rented a mailbox at the local St. Croix Mailboxes, Etc. to serve as its “instructional office.” It had no full-time employees. This IGC administrators chalked up to the beauty of the internet; since the vast majority of its instruction occurred online, they had no need of infrastructure.

But then there was the problem of the Virgin Islands business license — International Graduate Center didn’t have one.

Neither did they have any proof of incorporation in the Islands. And they were charging residents almost four times as much per credit hour as the accredited University they were looking to supplant.

Morrison’s article on IGC created a firestorm. The upshot? Last Tuesday, the Governor of the Virgin Islands stepped in personally:

“Gov. John deJongh Jr. issued an order Tuesday to Acting Education Commissioner Lauren Larsen to rescind the V.I. Education Department’s accreditation of an online business that has the earmarks of a diploma mill.”

The Vermont Connections

According to Morrison, the International Graduate Center is actually an updated version of a diploma mill closed down several years ago: Berne University.

“As is the case with International Graduate Center, Berne University operated as a distance learning institution with two-week to four-week summer programs on St. Kitts. It claimed to have offices in Basseterre, St. Kitts, and in Wolfeboro Falls, N.H.

“Berne’s location on St. Kitts was a post office box. The summer residency classes were on the campus of Clarence Fitzroy Bryant College in Basseterre.”

When St. Kitts withdrew its stamp of approval last year, Berne University went bankrupt.

But in its relatively short life-span, the Berne operation was tagged as a potentially fraudulent operation in more than one state. Four states list it as a suspected diploma mill, and today attempting to use a Berne degree to attain employment is actually a crime in Oregon. (IGC is now listed in a good number of data bases as well, from Oregon to Texas.)

And, of course, a goodly number of the Berne administrators and faculty appear prominently on the faculty and staff of International Graduate Center.

David Gibson, current President of IGC, taught for the Berne program; IGC’s vice president for academic affairs, Charles Knisley, was Berne’s director of academic technologies and student support.

Back here in Vermont, Knisley is currently principal of Rutland Intermediate School. Gibson participates in a host of educational programs integrated with any number of institutions statewide, from UVM’s Global Challenge to the Vermont Institutes in Montpelier.

Gibson and Knisley both spoke with Morrison; both deny the diploma-mill allegations, although Knisley admits that the Berne debacle left a “bad taste” in his mouth. But one has to wonder, if the taste were really so bad, why open a new operation so very similar to the old?

And of course the connections don’t stop there.

A small handful of students — no doubt operating in good faith — have already completed or nearly completed their IGC degrees, and begun the process of building professional lives around those credentials.

Another Rutland City principal was apparently working toward a Ph.D with International Graduate Center. IGC degrees have helped to secure teaching jobs at several institutions of higher learning, both in Vermont (Johnson State) and in New York (SUNY Cortland).

And the connections stretch all the way to the Department of Defense, if you can believe it.

Apparently, the Department of Defense gives Teacher of the Year awards for instructors working on military bases or with DOD populations. Mildred J. Prince — a teacher in Puerto Rico and one of the 2005 honorees — received her Master’s Degree from Berne University, and is currently working on her Ph.D. through the International Graduate Center.

Now that’s highly qualified.

Late Update, Sunday, April 8, 10:59 am:

The Virgin Islands is clearly not content with simply pulling IGC’s accreditation: they’re moving quickly to criminalize operations like it.

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