Latest Crystal Coast Tea Party News and Views

Thumbs_StickyBlock

Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriot groups   (Everyone is cordially invited to any of our meetings.  If you can, come an hour or so early to eat, chat, and get acquainted!):

MOREHEAD CITY GROUP, Weekly Meeting:   Every Tuesday @ 6 PM, Golden Corral in Morehead City, NC, on Arendell Street.

WEST CARTERET GROUP, Semi-monthly Meeting:   On the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays @ 6:30 PM, Ribeye’s Restaurant, Cape Carteret, NC.

JACKSONVILLE-ONSLOW TEA PARTY PATRIOTS:   Every Tuesday @ 7pm, Logan’s Roadhouse on Western Boulevard in Jacksonville.  For more information, contact ThomasHAustin@hotmail.com.


 

  

Hillary and Saul, sittin’ in a tree …

Alana Goodman of the Washington Free Beacon writes today about newly discovered letters exchanged between Hillary Rodham and Saul Alinsky in the late sixties and beyond.  The letters show that Hillary remained an acolyte of Alinsky’s at least into the mid-seventies, which calls into question the account in her autobiography (Living History) in which she says that she and Alinsky parted ways in 1969 when she turned down a job offer from him in favor of attending Yale Law School.

An interesting excerpt:

A 23-year-old Hillary Clinton was living in Berkeley, California, in the summer of 1971.  She was interning at the left-wing law firm Treuhaft, Walker and Burnstein, known for its radical politics and a client roster that included Black Panthers and other militants.

On July 8, 1971, Clinton reached out to Alinsky, then 62, in a letter sent via airmail, paid for with stamps featuring Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and marked “Personal.”

“Dear Saul,” she began.  “When is that new book [Rules for Radicals] coming out—or has it come and I somehow missed the fulfillment of Revelation?”

“I have just had my one-thousandth conversation about Reveille [for Radicals] and need some new material to throw at people,” she added, a reference to Alinsky’s 1946 book on his theories of community organizing.

The full Washington Free Beacon article, including copies of some of the letters between the two, is HERE.

And to supplement Goodman’s reportage, I recommend for further reading THIS article by Stanley Kurtz at the online National Review, in which he explains why this new information is vital in understanding how Hillary Clinton would govern if she were to become President.

  

Slimming Down for 2016

The 2016 field of Republican presidential aspirants may be crowded.  The online site for the Asbury Park, New Jersey newspaper is reporting that Chris Christie has lost 85 pounds, and I’ve noted that former Governor Mike Huckabee seems to be losing weight as well.  When a contender starts losing weight, it’s a sure sign that he or she is serious about running.

  

Hypocrisy, thy name is Barbara Boxer

Earlier this week, during Secretary of State John Kerry’s appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) took strong issue, albeit calmly, with Kerry’s insistence that President Obama can initiate his campaign against ISIS without a new war authorization from Congress.  Based on reporting by Pete Kasperowicz at The Blaze, here are some of Corker’s more strongly worded comments on the issue:

To say that you’re going to do this, regardless of what we say, you’re not going to ask for buy-in by the United States Senate or House of Representatives on behalf of the American people, in a conflict that you say is going to be multi-year, some people say a decade, taking us into another country with a different enemy, is exercising the worst judgement possible …

Corker essentially accused Kerry of claiming to want new authority, but at the same time being unwilling to actually work with Congress on new language, and said his comments show the administration is playing a “political game.”

“I’m disappointed that you as Secretary of State, after being chairman of this committee, after espousing the views that you’ve espoused in the past, our of convenience, and parsing legal words, would make the statement you just made,” Corker said.

Secretary Kerry took umbrage, of course, as did Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA).  Said Senator Boxer, a delicate flower she:

I think it is shocking and a sad state of affairs that we heard just now, such angry comments aimed at you, Mr. Secretary, and through you, at our president instead of at ISIS, a savage group who decapitated two Americans and have warned, and I quote, that their thirst for more American blood is right out there.

“I think it’s shocking.  I’m actually shaking and trembling.  This is not the time to show anger at the people who are working night and day, whether you agree with them or not, to protect our people.”

But almost eight years ago, in January of 2007 when Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice appeared before the same Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senator Boxer had a decidedly different view of what was “shocking” behavior on the part of a senator questioning a sitting Secretary of State.  Check out the video below, less than two minutes long.

For my money, implying that Secretary Rice could not empathize with the families of soldiers who were killed or wounded on the battlefield (paying the price) because she has no children of her own was inexcusably rude and insulting, far worse than anything Senator Bob Corker said to Secretary John Kerry.

  

Appeals Court Releases Voucher Money

Carolina Journal reported yesterday that the NC Court of Appeals:

… will allow nearly 1,900 students to get vouchers for the current school year while a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the fledgling Opportunity Scholarships is on appeal.  The appeals court on Friday issued an order putting on hold a separate ruling by Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood halting all disbursements of funds for the program after he declared the Opportunity Scholarships program unconstitutional.

The appeals court’s order releases scholarship funding for 1,878 applicants who accepted Opportunity Scholarships as of Aug. 21.  That means those students will be allowed to receive up to $4,200 each in vouchers from the state to pay toward their tuition at a private school.

The rest of Hobgood’s order on the distribution of any other funds remains in effect, the appeals court order says.

The full article can be seen HERE.

  

Senate Bill 3 Strikes Again

The mandates contained in Senate Bill 3, the NC Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard enacted in 2007, have prompted another North Carolina energy company to make a new commitment to a foolish solar energy investment that ratepayers will eventually have to fund.

The announcement by Duke Energy was reported yesterday in an article published in NC Tech News, from which I have selected this excerpt:

Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today announced a $500 million commitment to a major expansion of solar power in North Carolina.  This culminates the company’s request for proposals (RFP) issued in February 2014 for new solar capacity.  It will help Duke Energy further its commitment to renewable energy, diversify its energy portfolio and meet North Carolina’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard (REPS).  It also provides customers greater access to renewable energy in a cost-effective manner.  The company will acquire and construct three solar facilities – totaling 128 megawatts (MW) of capacity – including the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility east of the Mississippi River.  The three facilities will be located in Bladen, Duplin, and Wilson counties.

Duke Energy also signed power-purchase agreements with five new solar projects in the state, representing 150 MW of capacity.  Together, the eight projects will have a capacity of 278 MW.  The $500 million commitment includes the investment in the three facilities and the value of the five long-term power-purchase contracts.

“This is Duke Energy’s largest single announcement for solar power and represents a 60 percent increase in the amount of solar power for our North Carolina customers,” said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president, Distributed Energy Resources.  “We are bringing large amounts of renewable energy onto our system in the most cost-effective way possible.”

For those so inclined, the full article is HERE.  Others may be interested to know that the planned “largest solar photovoltaic facility east of the Mississippi River” refers to a facility to be built near Warsaw.

And finally, there is THIS related news on the USDA’s federal loan guarantees being issued for 22 solar projects within North Carolina’s borders.

  

Doctors and Generals agree: Sending US soldiers to Africa to fight Ebola a Bad Idea

As most readers will know, about a week ago President Obama announced his intention to deploy about 3,000 American soldiers to Liberia to help manage that country’s Ebola outbreak.  If that struck you Troops4Ebolaas a mis-use of the U.S. military, you are not alone.  Chelsea Schilling of World News Daily reports these reactions:

Dr. Jane Orient, executive director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, has warned that the U.S. must “treat Ebola as a wake-up call.”

“What African troops are doing is shooting people who cross borders or violate quarantine,” Orient told WND, reacting to news of the U.S. troop deployment.  “Is that what we plan to support?”  She added, “Africans are already very suspicious of us.  How will they react to an army setting up hospitals?”

Orient called the planned U.S. deployment a “dubious mission,” warning that the nightmarish scenario could bring Ebola to America.  “There is definitely a risk,” she said.  “It seems irresponsible to send more people there when the ones already there are having trouble leaving.  Probably anyone who has been exposed should be quarantined for 25 days since the last exposure.”

Orient echoed the concerns of Elaine Donelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, who told WND, “I’m just appalled.  Judging from this, the United States seems to have a very confused vision of what ‘national security’ means.”

“But whether 3,000 American troops should be sent into that area of the world to deal with that problem, I do not see the justification,” Donelly said.  “Surely there are alternatives in the international health-care networks.”

WND also reported when retired Lt. Gen. William G. Boykin charged that sending American troops to combat Ebola in Liberia is “an absolute misuse of the U.S. military.”

The complete article is HERE.  And in related news, there is THIS detailed article on the severity of the problem in neighboring Sierra Leone.

  

Why does the ATF want to know if a Gun Buyer is Hispanic?

Earlier this week, Kelly Riddell of the Washington Times reported on a little-noticed change, dating back to early 2012, in which the Obama administration’s ATF changed the 4473 form to require a gun buyer to declare whether or not he/she was Hispanic.  For decades, the form has included a block in which the buyer was to declare their race, but the requirement for self-identification as to Hispanic origins is relatively new.

Some excerpts from Riddell’s article:

Requiring the race and ethnic information of gun buyers is not required by federal law and provides little law enforcement value, legal experts say.  And gun industry officials worry about how the information is being used and whether it constitutes an unnecessary intrusion on privacy.

“This issue concerns me deeply because, first, it’s offensive, and, secondly, there’s no need for it,” said Evan Nappen, a private practice firearms lawyer in New Jersey.  “If there’s no need for an amendment, then there’s usually a political reason for the change.  What this indicates is it was done for political reasons, not law enforcement reasons.”

and

During the time ATF revised its 4473 form to include Hispanic or Latino as an ethnicity, the Obama administration was building gun control cases by saying U.S. firearms dealers were supplying Mexican gangs with weapons and that violence related to the sales was seeping across the border.

In March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Mexico City and gave a speech against American gun stores and owners — blaming them for the drug cartels’ violence.  Mrs. Clinton subsequently told CBS News that “90 percent” of the “guns that are used by the drug cartels against the police and military” actually “come from America.”

About a week later, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. made the same points at a gun trafficking conference outside of Mexico City.  In April, the president himself flew down to Mexico to inform President Felipe Calderon that Mr. Holder was going to review U.S. law enforcement operations, according to a 2011 report by the American Thinker.

This political worldview may have fueled decision-making at ATF, Mr. Nappen suggests.

and

Although gun advocates speculate on the reasoning behind changing the form, on one thing they are clear: Requiring ethnicity and race to purchase a gun is a clear government overstep, violating Second Amendment rights.

For the full article, click HERE.

  

Hobgood Strikes Again, but Roy Cooper Steps Up

The News-&-Observer put up a piece yesterday detailing the ruling of Judge Robert Hobgood on the school voucher case:

Superior Court Judge Robert Hobgood ruled on Thursday that a 2013 law to use public money for tuition at private and religious schools violates the North Carolina constitution.

Then later in the article, this response from NC Attorney General Roy Cooper:

N.C. Attorney General Roy Cooper, a Democrat who has raised concerns about parts of the Republican legislative agenda, quickly announced plans for his office to appeal, according to Noelle Talley, his spokeswoman.

“Our attorneys believe that this is a constitutional issue that must be decided by the appellate courts,” Talley said in a statement shortly after the ruling.

The full article is HERE.

  

More Chinese Provocations in the South China Sea

In a report from late Thursday by Bill Gertz in the Washington Free Beacon, it seems that the Chinese are continuing, even accelerating, their provocative reactions to the US military presence in the South China Sea.  From the article:

The P-8, a new, militarized Boeing-737 anti-submarine warfare aircraft, was conducting routine surveillance of the Chinese coast over the East China Sea on Monday when the incident occurred, said U.S. defense officials familiar with reports of the encounter.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool had no immediate comment but said he would provide “an explanation of the event” on Friday.  The defense officials said the Chinese Su-27 interceptor jet flew within 50 feet of the P-8 and then carried out a barrel roll over the top of the aircraft—a move described by officials as dangerous and meant to threaten the surveillance aircraft.

It was the second threatening encounter of a U.S. surveillance aircraft this year.  In April, a Russian Su-27 flew within 100 feet of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft during another dangerous intercept over waters north of Japan.

One defense official said the Pentagon’s failure to produce a tough response to the April event likely spurred the Chinese to conduct the similar threatening intercept on Monday.

Chinese military officials have said they oppose all U.S. electronic surveillance flights and described ship-based monitoring of their facilities and territory an encroachment of sovereignty.  U.S. military officials have said the monitoring is carried within international airspace and thus does not violate international or Chinese law.

Is it too early to be describing the South China Sea as a “powderkeg”?  View the full piece, HERE.

  

Yep, the Bergdahl Swap was Illegal

Per a piece from earlier today by reporter Joel Gehrke of National Review, the US Governmental Account Office (GAO) has pronounced the Bergdahl swap to be illegal.  Here is the majority of the text from the article:

President Obama violated a “clear and unambiguous” law when he released five Guantanamo Bay detainees in exchange for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, the Government Accountability Office reported Thursday.

“[The Department of Defense] violated section 8111 because it did not notify the relevant congressional committees at least 30 days in advance of the transfer,” the GAO report said.  “In addition, because DOD used appropriated funds to carry out the transfer when no money was available for that purpose, DOD violated the Antideficiency Act.  The Antideficiency Act prohibits federal agencies from incurring obligations exceeding an amount available in an appropriation.”

The GAO rejected the idea that the action was legal and sidestepped the Obama team’s suggestion that the law is unconstitutional.

I assume heads will soon be rolling.  The full article, only one paragraph longer than the above, is HERE.

  

New development in NC Board Of Dental Examiners vs. FTC

Back in late January, I put up a post (HERE) on the Federal Trade Commission’s anti-trust suit against the NC Board of Dental Examiners, in which I mused that the case might end up in SCOTUS, the Supreme Court of the United States.

Well, it has.  But, although SCOTUS has accepted the case, it will not be heard until the next term.  However, two groups have already filed briefs with the court in support of the FTC’s side of the argument.  Here’s an excerpt that encapsulates the essence of the argument put forth by the FTC:

The central legal question in this case is whether the North Carolina State Board of Dental Examiners – which consists almost entirely of licensed dentists selected by other licensed dentists – should be entitled to the benefit of state-action immunity against federal antitrust laws.  Amici contend that the answer to that question must turn not only on legal principles, but also on the best available social-science evidence regarding the way that occupational-licensing boards like North Carolina’s operate in the real world.  As this brief will explain, in the real world, occupational-licensing boards routinely use government power to promote the private financial interests of their own members and licensees, rather than to promote any legitimate government interests.  The evidence for this conclusion is supplied by a branch of economics known as “public choice economics.”  Public choice economics is the application of economic theory to study the causes and effects of government actions.  Public choice economics has been widely and successfully used to explain and predict the forces that lead to the enactment of occupational-licensing laws and the behavior of occupational-licensing boards.  A central finding of this research is that when self-interested economic actors – such as licensed dentists – are given the power to influence or, as in this case, actually write the rules by which others will compete with them, they behave as self-interested private actors, rather than as stewards of the public interest.

For those who may wish to delve further into the arguments presented in these briefs, click HERE for the brief filed by the Institute of Justice, and HERE for the one filed by the Antitrust Scholars group.

And in a related bit, there is hair-braiding, which in NC and many other states, also requires occupational licensing.  Click HERE for an example from Mississippi.

  

Some Useful Information for College Frosh

For those who have one or more college freshpersons (frosh) in the family, Rose-Helen Graham has written an interesting piece about how a student can best organize their course work to facilitate their collegiate goals.  As one would expect, it helps to have a goal worked out before the college course work commences, or soon thereafter.  Here’s an excerpt, in which she describes her use of online sources that provide detailed information, not only about the courses, but about the competence of the various professors and their grade distribution patterns:

… Each provides feedback from previous students on individual professors and the classes they teach.  Each delivers the content in a slightly different manner, and some sites include additional tools designed to promote student “success.”  My go-to source for student-written evaluations is Rate My Professors; however, I do use UNC Blinkness and Koofers as comparative sources if I feel that I need further reviews.

Rate My Professors:  The [RTM] site is easy to navigate.  To get started one only needs to select the state and school of interest.  From there it becomes as simple as searching by the professor’s last name or department to access comments and ratings left by other users.  [The site] uses a numerical rating system (1-5, one being the lowest and 5 being the highest) to rate professors on overall quality, helpfulness, clarity, easiness, and even “hotness.”  These ratings are accompanied by reviewers’ comments about specific courses.  I enjoy this site because the content is displayed in an extremely user-friendly layout.  Because Rate My Professors is one of the more well-known professor review sites, has multiple ratings on most professors, making it easy to compare student experiences and discern serious reviews from those which are pointless.

UNC Blinkness:  This site is less easy to read.  It can be useful in the few instances when Rate My Professors does not provide enough (or good enough) reviews on a professor.  Other useful features provided by Blinkness include average class size and the “overall grading history” of each course.  The overall grading history is displayed by a grade distribution chart, which purports to give the percentage of each letter grade given by that professor.  Going a step further, Blinkness also provides students with a list entitled “Most A’s Classes at UNC.”  This list details the course name, percentage of As given in the past for that course, and the average class size.  The list currently contains 195 courses, with the percentage of As being at least 95 percent.

Koofers (UNC):  The reviews on Koofers are also a helpful supplement to those provided on Rate My Professor.  In addition to general comments on courses and professors, it provides details on grade distribution, the difficulty and number of exams, quizzes, projects, and homework assigned, as well as any textbooks used and whether or not the professor chooses to curve final grades.

The fourth site I use is MyEdu:  MyEdu is a wonderful tool when it comes to planning class schedules.  I can create a calendar that allows me to see if the classes I want fit into my schedule and make changes if they don’t.  It also provides the average GPA grade that previous students received from the course.  After a student creates a schedule on MyEdu, the website automatically generates an estimated average overall semester GPA based on the data collected from previous years.

Ms. Graham’s article contains other interesting material on how to balance college course work to gain the most from the time spent getting a college education.  The full article is HERE.

  

X-47B Carrier Test Flights Successfully Completed

Over the weekend, another phase of testing for aircraft carrier operations was completed for the Navy’s jet powered stealth drone, the X-47B.  The tests were conducted in the Atlantic Ocean off the entrance to Chesapeake Bay from the nuclear powered carrier Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).  From the Navy’s official spokesman:

“Today we showed that the X-47B could take off, land and fly in the carrier pattern with manned aircraft while maintaining normal flight deck operations,” Capt. said Beau Duarte, program manager for the Navy’s unmanned carrier aviation office, in a statement.  “This is key for the future carrier air wing.”

The full article, HERE, also includes a great video of the X-47B being launched from the ship using it’s steam catapult.

  

America’s Weather Satellites on Life Support?

Could be, according to an article published late last week at the Popular Mechanics website.  A telling excerpt:

To pull together your five-day forecast, meteorologists rely on two types of satellites.  The first sits 22,000 miles up, capturing basic information on a fixed location.  The second orbits the poles, 500 miles up, filling in crucial image gaps and, more important, providing essential information about cloud formation, surface temperatures, and atmospheric conditions—the data that help us know where a storm is heading and how big it will be when it gets there.

Those polar-orbiting satellites, a primary and its backup, are the ones in crisis.  The primary satellite—a short-term pathfinder built to test emerging technologies—was never really intended for use.  Its backup isn’t much better: an aging satellite with failing sensors that passed its predicted life expectancy last year.  We would send up a replacement now, but it’s still being built.  When it is ready, should it survive launch, it could take until as late as 2018 to transmit usable data.  Which means that, depending on when our current satellites stop working, the U.S. could be without crucial data for years.  That’s worse than inconvenient.  It could cost us trillions of dollars, and hundreds, if not thousands, of lives. 

Check out the full article, HERE.

  

NC’s Voter ID Will Govern the 2014 Fall Election

The Federal court for North Carolina’s Middle District ruled on Friday that the NC Voter ID law will remain in effect for the upcoming November elections.  The suit brought against North Carolina and Governor McCrory by the US Department of Justice, the NC-NAACP, the NC League of Women Voters, and various religious groups is to be heard in Federal court sometime in July of 2015, but the Justice Department, the NC-NAACP, and their allies wanted the court to enjoin the implementation of the new law so that it’s provisions would not be in effect until the trial ended.

From the text of the Court’s opinion, HERE, the core ruling:

After careful consideration, the court concludes that Defendants’ motion for judgment on the pleadings should be denied in its entirety.  Plaintiffs’ complaints state plausible claims upon which relief can be granted and should be permitted to proceed in the litigation.  However, a preliminary injunction is an extraordinary remedy to be granted in this circuit only upon a “clear showing” of entitlement.  After thorough review of the record, the court finds that as to two challenged provisions of SL 2013-381, Plaintiffs have not made a clear showing they are likely to succeed on the merits of the underlying legal claims.  As to the remaining provisions, the court finds that even assuming Plaintiffs are likely to succeed on the merits, they have not demonstrated they are likely to suffer irreparable harm – a necessary prerequisite for preliminary relief – before trial in the absence of an injunction.  Consequently, the motions for preliminary injunction and the United States’ request for federal observers will be denied.

Sweet.  For more commentary on this opinion, check out THIS post at PJ-Tatler.

  

Brainstorming Ways To Isolate the Gaza Strip

Back on July 25th, I posted about the efforts of the Israeli Defense Forces (HERE) to find and destroy the numerous cross-border HAMAS tunnel system.  In that post, I advocated for some sort of “no-mans land” perimeter around Gaza on which Israel could install tunneling detection equipment such as vibration detectors, ground imaging radar, or other technologies.

This morning, in THIS interview with the Jerusalem Post, Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni discusses similar options with reporters Gil Hoffman and Julie Steigerwald.  Some excerpts:

Israel is considering physically separating itself from the Gaza Strip, using some sort of underground barrier to ward off remaining threats from Hamas, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni said Monday.  Speaking on Army Radio, Livni responded to criticism that Israel was taken by surprise by the vastness of the network of Hamas tunnels from Gaza into Israel.  She revealed that creative ideas were being considered to counteract the threat when Operation Protective Edge concludes.

“There are ways of doing it [separating Gaza from Israel],” she said.  “The [barrier] may not need to be visible from above ground.  There are of course also technological means that are being checked that could be effective.”

and

A source close to Livni said did not know which barrier Livni preferred.  She said she was not aware of whether Livni favored building a moat between Israel and Gaza.

A moat?  Hadn’t really considered that one, but now that I do, the idea sorta grabs me.  A moat.  Yeah, that’s the ticket, a moat, with acid instead of water, and acid-resistant dragons!  And snakes!

  

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down, or Nuttin’?

Some readers may have noticed that, beginning on the first day of this month, each post on this page, as well as all the older posts, has two icons appended to the bottom right of the text.  The icons represent the options each reader now has for voting, thumbs up or thumbs down, on each post.  Readers are encouraged to use the voting icons, keeping in mind that their vote should be an expression of whether they felt the post was worth reading, i.e., was interesting, informative, or both.  If it was neither, a thumbs-down would be in order.  If the reader is ambivalent about the post, then no rating should be given.  Readers are also welcome and encouraged to rate previous posts, as far back as they wish to go.

  

What is crude, but sweet, and with a lightness of being?

No, not me, silly, but thanks just the same.  I’m actually referring to the crude oil being extracted from the Bakken reserves in North Dakota and elsewhere along the Canadian border by means of hydraulic fracking.

The left in our country vehemently opposes any explorations by American oil companies aimed at expanding the proven petroleum reserves in the United States, any improvements in extraction technology that will tend to produce more oil more cheaply, and the creation of any infrastructure (such as a new pipeline) that will expedite the movement of that crude oil to the epicenter of U.S. refining capacity.  Consequently, in order to diminish the perceived value of the newly proven reserves, they denigrate the quality of the petroleum being pumped out of the Bakken formation at every turn.

However, Tessa Sandstrom is setting the record straight.  Ms. Sandstrom is Communications Manager for the North Dakota Petroleum Council and an expert on all things Bakken.  Earlier this week, she wrote an interesting and enlightening article to dispell many of the myths that have been spreading about Bakken Crude.  The article is HERE.

  

ObamaCare Auto-Renewals Becoming Problematic

Over the weekend, the Associated Press put up an article on the Newsday website, HERE, about the growing apprehension of “industry officials” and other health care administrative experts on the efficacy of the ObamaCare mechanism for correctly calculating the subsidies when automatically renewing health care policies.  If the calculations result in a premium amount that is too low, consumers will get a rude awakening when their actual premium bills start coming in from the health insurance companies.  Conversely, if the amount is too high, they may owe a refund to the IRS later.

From the article:

“It was our preference for [the Obama administration] to have the capacity to update people’s subsidy information, but they haven’t been able to get that built,” said Brendan Buck, a spokesman for the industry trade group America’s Health Insurance Plans.

But, wonder of wonders, it appears that it will not work that smoothly:

First, financial aid is partly based on premiums for a current benchmark plan in the community where the consumer lives.  Because more plans are joining the market and insurers are submitting entirely new bids for 2015, the benchmark in many communities will be different.

Second, financial aid is also based on household income.  If your income goes down, you are entitled to a bigger health insurance tax credit.  If it goes up, you get less.  The 2014 amounts could well be out of date and incorrect for many people.  Financial assistance is also affected by age, family size and where people live.

And that doesn’t get into another motivation for consumers to shop around: Premiums and choices for 2015 are changing, so your current plan may no longer be a good deal.  “Just continuing in the same plan with the same credit is not going to be the optimal outcome for most people,” said Judy Solomon of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which advocates for low-income people.  “Your 2014 credit is going to be lower in most cases, and in some cases it could be too high.”

About 8 in 10 of those who signed up for private coverage under the health care law are getting financial aid.  In the 36 states served by the federal insurance exchange, the tax credits average $264 a month, reducing the average monthly premium of $346 to just $82. … But the subsidy scheme created by Congress to keep premiums affordable has so many moving parts that it’s turning out to be difficult for the government to administer.

Open enrollment for 2015 begins on November 15th, about a week after the fall elections, and it will close about one month later.  During this brief period, health care consumers who already have a policy will need to renew or make changes to their policies in order to avoid a break in coverage on January 1st.

  

One-Third of Americans facing Debt Collectors

In yet another aspect of the Obama non-recovery, the Urban Institute has released a new study showing that, even though the debt patterns are shifting, over 35% of Americans have debts so far in arrears that the debts have been turned over to debt collection agencies.

From the article:

Health care-related bills account for 37.9 percent of the debts collected, according to a new report commissioned by the Association of Credit and Collection Professionals. Student loan debt represents another 25.2 percent and credit cards make up 10.1 percent, with the rest of the collections going for local governments, retailers, telecoms and utilities.

The delinquent debt is overwhelmingly concentrated in Southern and Western states. Texas cities have a large share of their populations being reported to collection agencies: Dallas (44.3 percent); El Paso (44.4 percent), Houston (43.7 percent), McAllen (51.7 percent) and San Antonio (44.5 percent).

Almost half of Las Vegas residents- many of whom bore the brunt of the housing bust that sparked the recession- have debt in collections. Other Southern cities have a disproportionate number of their people facing debt collectors, including Orlando and Jacksonville, Florida; Memphis, Tennessee; Columbia, South Carolina; and Jackson, Mississippi.

Among the primary factors producing the trends in these areas are low-paying jobs in the construction and services sectors, along with higher than average populations of retirees living on fixed incomes.

The full article is HERE.

  

New Court-Ordered IRS Testimony on Lerner’s HDD

Josh Hicks, a reporter for the Washington Post, wrote a new piece late last week about the court-ordered filings of under-oath statements by two IRS officials on the subject of Lois Lerner’s computers and her HDD crash.  The statements were mandated by the presiding judge as a consequence of the lawsuit filed by the conservative group True The Vote.

Although it now appears that Lerner had both a desktop computer and a laptop at her workstation, it was the laptop drive that crashed.  However, the fact that she also had a desktop means that there may have been e-mail messages stored on it as well.

  

Money and Votes: The Michelle Nunn Strategy

Get money from the Jews, the Asians, and the LGBTs, and get votes from the Blacks and Hispanics.  In a nutshell, that is the campaign strategy from Georgia’s Michelle Nunn, who, much like our own Senator Kay Hagan, is a liberal female Democrat Senate candidate seeking election (or re-election in Hagan’s case) in a red state that turns more blue as you move inward from it’s coastline toward and beyond it’s capital city.  Nunn’s strategy, drafted last December and subsequently leaked, is a summary of the advice given her and her campaign staff by a number of Democratic pollsters, strategists, fundraisers, and consultants.  Although the strategy document was supposed to remain confidential, National Review reporter Eliana Johnson outlines the details in full, HERE.

  

Cellphones will now be more “portable” than ever

On Friday, The U.S. House of Representatives joined the Senate in passage of the “Unlocking Consumer Choice and Wireless Competition Act”, a lengthy moniker that translates into a law that enables cellphone owners to buy cellular phone service without having to buy the cellphone itself from the cellular phone service provider.

President Obama is expected to sign the bill, and if he does, this will be a good thing for consumers.  When it becomes effective, cellphone service providers will be required to unlock your cellphone upon request, thereby allowing you to shop for cellphone services using an existing phone.  This will increase competition between service providers, and should lower rates over the long term.

The announcement, from Senator Patrick Leahy’s office, is HERE.

  

Three Cheers for Senator Rand Paul

Civil asset seizure by Federal and State law enforcement agencies has been, in recent decades, all to often followed by a declaration of forfeiture by the government, from which the owner of the property usually has no recourse. To his credit, Senator Rand Paul realizes that this practice is a violation of the Fifth Amendment’s “No person shall … be deprived of … property … nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation” clause, and he has taken action to do something to rectify the situation.

According to an article in Friday’s Washington Post by Radley Balko:

Sen. Rand Paul yesterday introduced S. 2644, the FAIR (Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration) Act, which would protect the rights of citizens and restore the Fifth Amendment’s role in seizing property without due process of law.  Under current law, law enforcement agencies may take property suspected of involvement in crime without ever charging, let alone convicting, the property owner.  In addition, state agencies routinely use federal asset forfeiture laws; ignoring state regulations to confiscate and receive financial proceeds from forfeited property.

The FAIR Act would change federal law and protect the rights of property owners by requiring that the government prove its case with clear and convincing evidence before forfeiting seized property.

The details, HERE, are worth reading.

  

CCTPP Meeting of Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Attending our meeting earlier this week was former 3rd District Congressional Candidate Taylor Griffin, who brought along Mike MikeRobinsonRobinson, a candidate on the November ballot for the North Carolina Supreme Court.  Robinson, pictured at right, spent some time elaborating on his conservative judicial principles, after which he took questions from the attending Tea Partiers.  For readers interested in more information about Robinson, the URL for his website is www.VoteMikeRobinson.com.