Latest Crystal Coast Tea Party News and Views

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.

NOTE THAT MEETINGS ARE SUSPENDED UNTIL 01/06/2015.

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

NOTE THAT THE NEXT MEETING WILL BE ON DECEMBER 16th, BUT THE FOLLOWING MEETING WILL BE ON 01/06/2015.

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


 

Animated Views of the Venerable Colt Army M1911

The word venerable seems made to order for the M1911, Colt’s 1911 model semi-automatic pistol originally designed in 1911 by John ColtArmy1911Browning as a 45-caliber sidearm for the U.S. military.  It remained so for seventy-four years, until 1985, when it was replaced as the official military sidearm by the Beretta M9, my personal preference for a large-frame pistol.  Counting the examples manufactured for civilian use, for law enforcement, and for foreign governments, there have been around three million M1911 models produced.

What better example is there, then, for a high-quality animation illustrating all the inner workings of a semi-automatic pistol in operation?  None, I think, and after viewing the animation, you’ll agree.  Check it out, HERE, and for more on the M1911, the WikiPedia page is HERE.

The Malmedy Massacre at Three Score & Ten

This month marks the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge, the last major combat encounter in the European theater of World War II, and today marks the seventieth anniversary of one of the more heinous acts of the war, the Malmedy Massacre.

During the Battle, on the second day of the breakout by German troops through the Ardennes Forest, American soldiers of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion were captured by the German First SS Panzer Division near the town of Malmedy in Belgium.  The German offensive was begun during a period of weather so bad that all Allied aircraft were grounded, and the Germans were desperate to move quickly toward, and to recapture, the French port of Cherbourg while the Americans were without the close air support that could quickly destroy the German tanks.  They could therefore afford no delays in their advance, and POW’s are a hindrance on the battlefield.

There are several excellent accounts of the Malmedy Massacre, and the following is taken from the one maintained HERE at the History Place:

On the second day of the ‘Battle of the Bulge,’ a truck convoy of Battery B of the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion was intercepted southeast of Malmedy by a regiment of the 1st SS Panzer Division of the Leibstandarte-SS, under the command of 29 year old SS Lt. Col. Jochen Peiper.  His troops had earned the nickname “Blowtorch Battalion” after burning their way across Russia and had also been responsible for slaughtering civilians in two separate villages.

Upon sighting the trucks, the Panzer tanks opened fire and destroyed the lead vehicles.  This brought the [American] convoy to a halt while the deadly accurate tank fire continued.  The outgunned Americans abandoned their vehicles and surrendered.

The captured U.S. soldiers were herded into a nearby field.  An SS tank commander then ordered an SS private to shoot into the prisoners, setting off a wild killing spree as the SS opened fire with machine guns and pistols on the unarmed, terrified POWs.

Survivors were killed by a pistol shot to the head, in some cases by English speaking SS who walked among the victims asking if anyone was injured or needed help.  Those who responded were shot.  A total of 81 Americans were killed in the single worst atrocity against U.S. troops during World War II in Europe.

After the SS troops moved on, three survivors encountered a U.S. Army Colonel stationed at Malmedy and reported the massacre.  News quickly spread among U.S. troops that “Germans are shooting POWs.”  As a result, the troops became determined to hold the lines against the German advance until reinforcements could arrive.  Gen. Eisenhower was informed of the massacre.  War correspondents in the area also spread the news.

And from the U.S. Army archives, HERE, this excerpt from the account of a survivor, Ted Paluch of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania:

Having dismounted the vehicles and taking cover in ditches alongside the road, Paluch recognized the troops as members of the vaunted SS by the distinctive skull and crossbones and lightning insignia on their collars.  They represented the advance units of the 1st SS Panzer Division, known as Kampfgruppe (Attack Group) Peiper, after their leader, SS Lt. Col. Joachim Peiper, a highly decorated veteran of campaigns in France and Russia.

“There were three of them behind the tank; they came down, and we were in the ditch, a ditch that is up to my neck,” he related.  They pulled down the road here and lowered the tank gun on us, and what could you do?  We had carbines, so we just surrendered.”

Paluch related that the initial treatment at the hands of the SS gave no clues about what lay in store for the prisoners, and even offered an amusing recollection.  “They marched us up here to the crossroads, they searched us, they took anything of value, cigarettes, watches, and I had a pair of socks and they even took those,” he exclaimed incredulously.

Along with members of his unit and others caught off-guard at the crossroads, the group of prisoners was herded into a field at the crossroads to await their fate.  They had no warning of what would transpire next.

“Then one command car came up and took a couple shots, and every tank and halftrack that came around the corner shot into the group,” he said.  “I was real lucky, as I was in the front end and only got hit slightly, but I think when they came around they fired into the center of the group.”

Pausing to catch his breath, he glanced over his shoulder and hesitated, almost as if reliving the moment in slow motion, before beginning again.

“This was their front line over here at one of these houses, and then anyone that moaned, they came around and they shot.  I played dead and just lay there,” he said.

The Germans murdered eighty-one Americans that day.  After the war, the commander of the German First SS Panzer Division, SS Lieutenant Colonel Jochen Peiper, was caught along with most of his close subordinates.  They were tried and found guilty of war crimes by a military tribunal, but sadly, they were all released in the end. There was no justice for those eighty-one American soldiers, so the least we can do today is to remember.

CROmnibus Cliffnotes

With the 1,800 pages of the combination Continuing Resolution and Omnibus budget bill now passed by both houses of Congress and on President Obama’s desk for signing, it’s time to see what’s in it.  Conservative columnist Betsy McCaughey does an excellent job of boiling it down, HERE.  A taste:

Cromnibus is a monster to read.  Almost no one did.  They had no time.  Speaker Boehner broke his promise to give members at least 72 hours notice before voting, instead of ramming it down their throats, as he criticized his predecessor Nancy Pelosi for doing.  Taxpayers lost out in the rush.  It’s likely that the $1.1 trillion spending level negotiated last week is costlier than what the more conservative Congress taking charge in January would have agreed to.

Read the whole thing.

Will the V-280 be the V-22’s Little Brother?

Back in October, at the military blog DefenseTech, Kris Osborn reported that:

Bell Helicopter is beginning to manufacture parts for its new V-280 Valor tilt-rotor aircraft, a next-generation helicopter being developed as part of the Army’s Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator, or JMR TD program.  The program is an Army-led joint program designed to replace the Army’s current fleet of helicopters.

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Slated to fly by 2017, the V-280 is engineered to reach speed of 280 knots, achieve a combat range up to 800 nautical miles and perform in what’s called “high-hot” conditions — described as 95-degrees Fahrenheit and 6,000-feet.

The full article, HERE, includes much more information as well as an artist’s rendering of the aircraft.

The Consequences of Falling Oil Prices

The website that tracks the daily prices for the two main types of crude oil consumed in the United States is saying that the price of WTI is now at $59.95 per barrel.  As many readers will know, crude oil is priced in terms of 42-gallon barrels, and the main domestic price standard is for West Texas Intermediate (WTI), a type otherwise known as “light, sweet” crude oil.  An alternate standard is known as Brent Crude, which is the average price of oil pumped out of the fifteen oil fields in the North Sea.  The price of Brent Crude is typically a bit higher than WTI, as the price of extraction is higher for undersea deposits.

I posted before, HERE, about the problems that falling crude oil prices pose for fracking producers, and on the day of the post (October 10th) the WTI price was about $87/barrel.  At today’s $59.95/barrel, the per-gallon price of WTI crude is $1.43, and we’re now seeing $2.53 at the pump.  There are almost no fracking operations in the United States that can produce crude for $60/barrel, not even close.

The ramifications of this price drop will be many, and worldwide.  Some are writing that the implications for revenue to the Russian government may imperil the Putin regime.

Keith Naughton joins the fray with a piece at the Daily Caller about the effects on the already-wobbly Venezuelan government.  Writes Naughton:

For over 15 years Hugo Chavez and his successor Nicolas Maduro have pursued absurd socialist economic policies liberally mixed with heavy-handed repression, and an anti-American foreign policy.  Private property has been expropriated.  Political opponents have been harassed and jailed.  The crime rate is soared.  Essential items have disappeared from store shelves.  Maduro himself flat-out stole the last presidential election (of course the leftist leaders in Latin America just shrugged it off — showing yet again that the left only likes democracy when they win).

Now Venezuela is at the end of its financial rope.  Tens of billions of dollars in oil revenue have been wasted away and now that the price of oil has cratered, the country’s fiscal deficit is unsustainable.  Maduro is cutting spending, unloading debt at cut-rate prices, and arresting his political opponents.  Tension is rising between the armed forces and the Maduro’s Chavista paramilitary thugs.

The article goes on to list five ways in which a collapse of the Venezuelan economy and government would impact the United States and its allies.  Read the full article, HERE, to get the details of the five ways, and what the Obama administration is planning to do about the potential crisis.

Seattle Could Use A REALLY BIG Wrecker

The city of Seattle, Washington started a sixty-foot deep, two-mile long tunneling project one year ago as part of an effort to replace an aging TunnelMachineabove-ground roadway that runs through the heart of the city.  The machine purchased to do the job, built in Japan and nick-named Bertha, got about one thousand feet into the job before getting stuck.  And it is still stuck.  Engineers have not been able to extract or repair the 57-foot wide machine, and they recently realized that the earth above the tunnel is gradually settling.  There is, therefore, a very loud and collective “uh-oh” to be heard in the vicinity of Lake Union and the Space Needle.

The full article, from the online Popular Mechanics magazine, is HERE.

China’s New Boomers

Nope, not talking about “baby boomers”, I’m talking about nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines.  David Tweed has a post up on Bloomberg News with the details.  A key excerpt:

“For the first time in history, China’s nuclear arsenal will be invulnerable to a first strike,” said independent strategist Nicolas Giacometti, who has written analysis for The Diplomat and the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  “It’s the last leap toward China’s assured nuclear-retaliation capability.”

This new class of Chinese boomer will be equipped with twelve Chinese JL-2 missiles.  Tweed’s article continues:

The JL–2’s range of about 4,598 miles means China could conduct nuclear strikes against Alaska if it unleashed the missiles from waters near China; against Alaska and Hawaii if launched from waters south of Japan; against Alaska, Hawaii, and western continental U.S. if fired from waters west of Hawaii; and against all 50 U.S. states if launched from waters east of Hawaii, the report said.

The full article is HERE.

 

The X-37B

The U.S. Air Force has an un-manned mini-shuttle, and although no one admits to knowing what it is used for exactly, it apparently is very good at its mission.  From an article from earlier this week at the military blog Strategy Page:

A U.S. Air Force X-37B UOV (unmanned orbital vehicle) landed October 17th under software control after 675 days in orbit.  Previously an X-37B landed on June 16th 2012 after 469 days in orbit.  The first mission ended X37Bon December 3rd 2010 after 224 days in orbit.  The air force reports few details about the X-37B but has said it plans to launch another one in 2015.

The official endurance of the X-37B was originally about 280 days.  The real endurance appears to be nearly three times that.  The long endurance is largely because the X-37B carries a large solar panel, which is deployed from the cargo bay, unfolded and produces enough power to keep the X-37B up there for a long time.  The air force has not reported what the X-37B has been doing up there all this time.  The air force has revealed that it is designing an X-37C, which would be twice the size of the X-37B and able to carry up to six passengers.  Think of it as Space Shuttle Lite, but robotic and run by the military, not NASA.

The X-37B is a remotely controlled mini-Space Shuttle.  The space vehicle, according to amateur astronomers (who like to watch spy satellites as well), appears to be going through some tests.  The X-37B is believed to have a payload of about 227-300 kg (500-660 pounds).  The payload bay is 2.1×1.4 meters (7×4 feet).  As it returned to earth, it landed by itself (after being ordered to use a specific landing area.)  The X-37B weighs five tons, is nine meters (29 feet) long and has a wingspan of 4 meters (14 feet).  In contrast the Space Shuttle was 56 meters long, weighed 2,000 tons and had a payload of 24 tons.

The X-37B is a classified project, so not many additional details are available.  It’s been in development since 2000 but work was slowed down for a while because of lack of money.  Whatever the X-37B is now doing up there has been convincing enough to get Congress to spend over a billion dollars on it.  What makes the X-37B so useful is that it is very maneuverable, contains some internal sensors (as well as communications gear), and can carry mini-satellites, or additional sensors, in the payload bay.  Using a remotely controlled arm, the X-37B could refuel or repair other satellites.  But X-37B is a classified project, with little confirmed information about its payload or mission (other than testing the system on its first mission).  Future missions will involve intelligence work, and perhaps servicing existing spy satellites (which use up their fuel to change their orbits.)  The X-37B is believed capable of serving as a platform for attacks on enemy satellites in wartime.  It is believed that recent missions may have also involved testing new spy satellite components in space, where the harsh environment, especially the radiation, can have unpredictable effects on microelectronics.

The “blue yonder” gets wilder every year.

Boehner’s Strategy Between Now And Christmas

After achieving many big wins in the recent elections, Republicans are nevertheless having to make do with the forces they currently have in dealing with President Obama’s immigration transgressions before the new Congress takes office in January.  Their plan, explained succinctly by AP reporter David Espo at Yahoo News, is this:

The first is to approve symbolic legislation that declares Obama’s order to shield millions of immigrants from deportation to be “null and void and without legal effect.”  That was accomplished on Thursday on a vote of 219-197.

The second is to approve funding for the Department of Homeland Security through February or March without tying it to any immediate change in immigration policy, while also funding the rest of the government through the Sept. 30 end of the budget year.  Without action, most agencies will run out of money Thursday at midnight.

The third is to mount a fresh challenge to Obama’s immigration policy after the new, Republican-controlled Senate takes office in January.

The government will run out of funds on Thursday the 11th, and since the Congress, as usual, is scurrying to close out the lame duck session and get home for the holidays, part #2 may happen as soon as next week.  The text of the “cromnibus” budget bill (Part 2 in the sequence above) is expected to be made public today.  This bill combines eleven separate appropriations bills that will fund the bulk of the government through the end of the current Federal fiscal year (September 30, 2015), along with a continuing resolution that will provide funding to continue the operations of the Department of Homeland Security only until next spring, March or so.

Stay tuned.  And for the complete story written by Espo, click HERE.  For a more detailed perspective, also check out THIS article by Rebecca Shabad at TheHill.

I Liked Ike, Redux

Some time ago I posted THIS about the current attempts by Democrats to equate President Obama’s foreign policies to those of President Dwight Eisenhower.  Eisenhower is remembered more for his abilities as the commander of SHAFE (Supreme Headquarters of Allied Forces in Europe) during the latter part of World War II than for his abilities as President.  Nevertheless, he should be remembered for, as the current saying goes in Hollywood, “for the totality of his achievements”.

Although the Congress has sought to honor Eisenhower with a memorial in Washington since 1999, the effort has faltered due to the several ghastly architectural designs submitted and the Eisenhower family’s understandable objections to them.  To read the sad, and VERY EXPENSIVE account of the effort to date, check out THIS article by reporter Bruce Cole in the New Criterion.

James O’Keefe, You May Now Dance One Jig

As of about twenty minutes ago, the Associated Press is calling the Louisiana run-off election for Bill Cassidy, so Mary Landrieu is legislating on borrowed time.  Her defeat is bound to be an occasion of great satisfaction to James O’Keefe, as Landrieu is strongly suspected of encouraging the prosecutorial misconduct that O’Keefe and Company suffered at the hands of the Louisiana State Attorney’s Office.

Here’s a video interview with O’Keefe on the subject, from earlier this week:

What the Numbers Say on Police Use of Force

It seems as if everyone from the excreable Al Sharpton to the President is inexhaustibly beating the drum of racial unrest in the wake of the events in Ferguson, Missouri and on Staten Island, NY.  So the article written by Steven Malanga, titled as above, and published earlier this week in City Journal, is timely.  From the article, these interesting excerpts:

What’s striking in the progression of these later studies is a steady decrease in the number of people having interactions with the police—from about 45 million in 2002 to 40 million in 2011—or from about 21 percent of the 16-and-older population to about 17 percent.  One clear reason for the decline has been the corresponding drop in crime: the number of people reporting crimes or other problems to the police fell by about 3.6 million from a peak in 2002.  More important, perhaps, was that reports of use of force by police also fell, from 664,000 in 2002 to 574,000 in a 2010 report.  Those declines occurred across all races.  The number of African-Americans reporting that police used force against them fell from 173,000 to 130,000.  Among whites, the number has dropped from a peak of 374,000 to 347,000.

and

… in the most recent survey, in 2011, 88.2 percent of those stopped by the police said they thought officers acted properly.  There were few significant distinctions by race.  Nearly 83 percent of African-Americans judged police behavior to be proper, for instance.  The study also asked citizens whether they thought the police had stopped them for a “legitimate” reason—and here the data on race is particularly interesting.  Some 80 percent of all drivers viewed their stops as legitimate, compared with 68 percent of African-Americans.  But the study also asked drivers to report the race of the officers who stopped them, and African-Americans were just as likely to say that stops initiated by white officers were legitimate as those initiated by black officers.  Similarly, white drivers saw no difference in how they were treated by white officers or black officers on this question.

I continue to believe that we must be ever vigilant against the abuse of police power, but the full article, HERE, contains a wealth of information, is enlightening, and is well worth reading.  Since it contains statistics drawn from Justice Department studies, you will realize that Eric Holder has no excuse for pretending that the police have a built-in antipathy toward black Americans.

Obama’s Turn

The current Drudge Report headline is that President Obama has been hospitalized for acid reflux.  As someone who suffered from the affliction for many years before the invention of stomach acid pump inhibiting drugs, I can emphasize and feel his pain.  On the other hand, since he has been the cause of so much heartburn for the American conservative citizenry for the past six-odd years, maybe the President is experiencing what some would call Karma.

The DoD 1033-Program Along the Crystal Coast

Back in November before the election, I attended a meeting of the Morehead-Beaufort NC Tea Party in order to hear the scheduled remarks of Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck.  In the Q-&-A session afterwards, as someone who has become increasingly concerned about the militarization of law enforcement in America, I asked Sheriff Buck to what degree his agency had become militarized, i.e., how much military style equipment had been acquired by the Sheriff’s Department during his tenure.  I was pleased to hear the Sheriff say that, beyond the standard firearms, bulletproof vests, and other essential equipment needed to protect the safety of his officers, he saw no reason to pursue any military-type equipment made available by the federal government.

Although my estimation of Sheriff Buck’s judgment went up a notch that evening, the same cannot be said for some of the other law enforcement agencies along the Crystal Coast.  After years of public clamor by folks who are as apprehensive as I about the aforementioned militarization, the Department of Defense has finally made public a detailed list of the military equipment given to law enforcement agencies all over America through the 1033 Program.  Below is a graphic depicting the goodies handed over to policing agencies along the Crystal Coast:

DoD-1033 Gifts on CC

Because of President Obama’s reaction to the events in Ferguson, Missouri and other similar events recently, I expect that he will soon direct the Pentagon to refuse equipment to law enforcement agencies that cannot show that their policing personnel are not racially representative in comparison to the surrounding community.  Congress has also become somewhat interested in the issue of police militarization.

To peruse the entire list, organized alphabetically by municipality within states, click HERE, and be prepared to wait awhile after you make your selection from the two state groupings.  And, if you are a Crystal Coast reader residing in one of the localities in the list above, you might want to ask why they need the firepower.

Louisiana State Senator Elbert L. Guillory — Part 1

Yesterday afternoon found me at Kings Restaurant in Kinston, NC.  I was there to see and hear Louisiana State Senator Elbert Lee Guillory, the man who’s television campaign ad (video HERE) on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy was considered one of the more effective ads of the recent campaign season.  Cassidy is now in a run-off election to unseat Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, the vote is tomorrow, and Cassidy is expected to win and therefore take the 54th Republican Senate seat in the new 144th Congress.  For his part, Senator Guillory joins a growing list of outstanding black conservative politicians like Tim Scott, Mia Love, Willie Talton, Wayne Shannon, Jennifer Carroll, Mike Hill, Allen West, Will Hurd, James White, and Boyd Rutherford, all of whom are serving, recently have served, or soon will serve in elective office at the state or federal level.

Guillory sports an impressive resume.  He is a graduate of J.S. Clark High School in Opelousas, Louisiana, where he still resides.  He received his B.A. from Virginia’s Norfolk State University, and his law degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey.  He has also attended New York Theological Seminary in New York City, although he did not graduate.  Something of a sportsman, he enjoys mountain climbing and scuba diving.

During the Vietnam War he served in the U.S. Navy, finishing his undergraduate degree before being honorably discharged.  He was then accepted into and graduated from Rutgers University School of Law.  He subsequently served on the faculty of Rutgers Law, and as the Executive Director of the Maryland Commission on Human Rights.  He has been a practicing attorney, General Counsel for Global Construction Co., and the Supervising Attorney for the Arcadiana Legal Service Project.  He was elected to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame for his work in law and government.

Senator Guillory, now seventy years of age, has served in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Senate, and was twice named Legislator of the year during his first six years of service.  Although Guillory has two years remaining on his term in the Louisiana Senate, he has already announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor in the State’s 2016 election.  For much more on the Senator’s accomplishments, visit his website at www.ElbertGuillory.com.

The Senator spoke for over one-half hour in total.  Although I videotaped all 39 minutes, in order to reduce the length of the video for this site I have broken it up into two parts.  The first segment, below, is for the Senator’s prepared remarks, and it runs about 11-minutes.

The second segment, consisting of the period devoted to questions and answers (Q-&-A), runs about 28 minutes and will appear in a separate post sometime in the next few days.

For much more information on Senator Guillory, I recommend his website and his WikiPedia page, HERE.  In addition, THIS is the link to the write-up of the event in the Kinston Free Press.

Of Filibusters and CBO Directors

This post concerns two of the many issues that will be before the new 114th Congress that takes office in January.  Both are, and should be, of considerable interest to conservatives, as the decisions made in connection with the issues will have a lasting impact.

First, there is the issue of the person who heads the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO Director.  The current Director is an Obama appointee who also served the Clinton administration.  His name is Doug Elmendorf, and he is apparently well thought of in economic academia.  However, the CBO is supposed to be a non-partisan servant of the Congress, and there are many Republicans who believe that the CBO’s failure to fully inform the Congress of the true costs attached to President Obama’s PPACA program is evidence of partisanship.  I would have to agree with them, and so I think a change is in order.  When the new Congress takes office, Elmendorf will have served six years.  The Republican majority should replace him with someone who can be relied upon to deliver accurate cost projections for the programs that Congress proposes in the future.  For a more informed perspective on this issue from National Review’s John Fund, click HERE.

Second, there is the issue of the filibuster.  As readers will remember, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid carried out an underhanded parlimentarian maneuver just over one year ago to change the Senate’s rules regarding the confirmation of any Presidential nominations other than nominees to the Supreme Court.  Instead of requiring confirmation by a 60-vote majority, Reid’s revision reduced the necessary vote to only 51 senators.  Traditionally, the Senate re-affirms or changes it’s rules at the beginning of a new Congress, so if the new Republican majority wants to reinstate the 60-vote threshold it now has the opportunity.  However, it appears that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and others in the Senate no longer have the enthusiasm for the 60-vote rule that they had a year ago.  Here is an excerpt from THIS informative Politico article, written by Manu Raju and published on Wednesday of this week:

McConnell would have two options to change rules.  He would need 67 votes on the floor, meaning he’d need at least 13 Democrats to join his caucus, which is expected to have 54 members in the new Congress starting next month.  But Democrats have overwhelmingly supported weakening the filibuster rules, so it’s unlikely there are 13 Democrats who would be willing to raise the threshold back to 60.

McConnell could also attempt to move on a straight party-line vote by invoking the “nuclear option,” an arcane and rarely used procedure to change Senate rules by just a simple majority of senators, rather than 67 votes.  But McConnell has constantly berated Reid for using the nuclear option, contending Reid “broke” the Senate rules to weaken the filibuster.

Moreover, if McConnell were to employ the nuclear option, it could give future majorities even more incentive to use the tactic to further weaken the filibuster — potentially going to the most extreme step of allowing legislation to advance by simple majority support.  As a result, many Republicans are skittish about invoking the nuclear option to change the filibuster back to a 60-vote threshold.

For more on this issue, check out THIS article by PowerLine’s Paul Mirengoff, and for more on the history of Senator Harry Reid’s hypocracy, check out THIS article by Alexander Bolton, writing for the political blog The Hill.

 

 

Chinese Economy bigger than U.S.? Not so fast.

Earlier in the week a new assessment of international economies was released by the World Bank’s ICP, or International Comparison Program, and China was said to have come out on top.  But the people at MarketWatch are saying, HERE, that the ICP was doin’ it wrong, and that it will be a decade, more or less, for China to surpass the United States economy.  The article is brief, so read the whole thing.

Dorian Johnson’s tale of the Encounter in Ferguson

Although we are all hoping that the unrest revolving around the shooting in Ferguson will soon subside, some may still be interested in the details.  The following is an excerpt from an article posted today by Paul Cassell at the Volokh Conspiracy law blog, the most detailed article that I have seen on the subject.  It focuses on the testimony of Michael Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, who was the man walking with Brown when the encounter began, and the apparent source of the “Hands up, don’t shoot” meme:

In short, Dorian Johnson’s story is not only implausible on critical issues, but also fails to match the physical evidence.  In that respect, Johnson’s version clearly contrasts with Wilson’s testimony and, for example, Witness 10′s corroborating testimony.  A reader interested in all the facts can make up his own mind.  But to my mind, the evidence show that Johnson’s “hands up, don’t shoot” story is just that — a story made up by Dorian Johnson to obscure what really happened … and to transform his friend from a villain into a victim.

The full article can be read HERE.

Highlights of Tuesday’s CCTPP Meeting

At the meeting held last Tuesday, November 25th, the discussion was lively concerning the options that had been identified by Carteret County staff to implement the recommendations of the Springsted Corporation in their Compensation Study (earlier post HERE.)  Most of the attendees felt that the cost of even the least costly option was still too high considering the state of the economy in general, and the dismal prospects for County revenues in particular.  Since no consensus emerged from the discussions, members were left to their own devices for making their views known to the Commissioners.

After the discussions had concluded, a digital projector was set up and the 45-minute “Rocky Mountain Heist” video (below) was shown.  The video is narrated by Michelle Malkin, who previously lived in California before moving with her husband and kids to Colorado several years ago.  The video highlights the process by which four super-wealthy Colorado Democrats were able, by the end of the 2012 election cycle, to elect a Democratic Governor and a Democratic legislature (yes, both houses) in a state that just a few years ago was firmly red.

For those who were unable to attend the meeting, here’s the video:

The Plymouth Colony – Communism’s First Foothold in America

We are amidst the Thanksgiving holidays once again, and time for our annual object lesson in how the concept of private property rights, the linchpin of capitalism, acts to ensure the greatest degree of prosperity for all.  Tom Bethell explained it very well in his essay from early 1999 entitled “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims”, an essay adapted from his book The Noblest Triumph.  To set the stage, here are a few paragraphs from his essay:

The Pilgrims knew about the early disasters at Jamestown, but the more adventurous among them were willing to hazard the Atlantic anyway.  First, however, they sent two emissaries, John Carver and Robert Cushman, from Leyden to London to seek permission to found a plantation.  This was granted, but finding investors was a problem.  Eventually Carver and Cushman found an investment syndicate headed by a London ironmonger named Thomas Weston.  Weston and his fifty-odd investors were taking a big risk in putting up the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money.  The big losses in Jamestown had scared off most “venture capital” in London.

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Eventually, however, Carver and Cushman did accept terms stipulating that at the end of seven years everything would be divided equally between investors and colonists …

The colonists hoped that the houses they built would be exempt from the division of wealth at the end of seven years; in addition, they sought two days a week in which to work on their own “particular” plots (much as collective farmers later had their own private plots in the Soviet Union).  The Pilgrims would thereby avoid servitude.  But the investors refused to allow these loopholes, undoubtedly worried that if the Pilgrims—three thousand miles away and beyond the reach of supervision—owned their own houses and plots, the investors would find it difficult to collect their due.  How could they be sure that the faraway colonists would spend their days working for the company if they were allowed to become private owners?  With such an arrangement, rational colonists would work little on “company time,” reserving their best efforts for their own gardens and houses.  Such private wealth would be exempt when the shareholders were paid off.  Only by insisting that all accumulated wealth was to be “common wealth,” or placed in a common pool, could the investors feel reassured that the colonists would be working to benefit everyone, including themselves.

Read the whole thing, HERE, and withhold the pumpkin pie from the kids until they read it as well.

The Carteret Commissioners take on the Springsted Study

Tomorrow morning, the Carteret County Commissioners will hold a special session beginning at 8:30am in the usual meeting room for the purpose of further deliberations on the Compensation Study done by the Springsted Corporation, and on Springsted’s recommendations for revising the County’s employee compensation policies.

At this point, there are four options before the Commissioners.  In the following options list, the term “SAFE Minimum Level” refers to the levels that are believed to be comparable to the compensation being paid in neighboring counties based on the Springsted survey.

1]  Moving the salary of most employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level, expected to cost the County about $1,007,952.  Employees who are already being paid above the minimum would be unaffected.

2]  Moving the salary of all employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level or to a level that is 2% above their current salary, whichever is greater, expected to cost the County about $1,158,071.

3]  Moving the salary of all employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level plus an additional one/half percent of their current salary for each year of service, expected to cost the County about $1,667,450.

4]  Moving the salary of all employees up to 110% of the SAFE Minimum Level plus an additional one/half percent of their current salary for each year of service, expected to cost the County about $3,389,367.

Over the weekend I read the Springsted report and several related documents, and some of my conclusions will be presented at the CCTPP meeting tonight.  If you are interested in this issue, please try to attend.

If time permits, we will also show the “Rocky Mountain Heist” video at tonight’s meeting.  For the trailer and more on this 45-minute video, click HERE.

The CCTPP Lending Library

The books in the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots library have now been inventoried and put up on a separate page, the first sub-menu item under the menu category of “Education”.  Any of the books may be borrowed by anyone on our membership list (verified by a listed e-mail address), or by anyone who comes to one of our meetings with the intent to become a member.  Delivery, however, may only be done in person to someone attending one of our weekly meetings.

Donations to the library are always welcome.  Future additions to the library will be noted in a post to this page.

On the Crimean Border, Putin Rattles the Nuclear Sabre

As I have written previously, HERE, Russian President Putin views the incorporation of the western Ukraine as a key part of his long-range plan to gather many of the former Soviet satellite states around the motherland once more.  Like many others, I also think that he recognizes the weakness of President Obama, and will therefore press his territorial ambitions before the end of Obama’s term.

In the current issue of the online Financial Times, Gideon Rachman has up an article about the escalations in recent months of Russian rhetoric as regards their nuclear capabilities.  He also quotes the current commander of European NATO forces, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, as saying that Putin’s military had moved to the Crimea “forces that are capable of being nuclear”.

From his article, this telling excerpt:

Last week, Pravda – the Soviet mouthpiece during the cold war – ran an article headlined, “Russia Prepares Nuclear Surprise for Nato”.  It crowed that Russia has parity with the US in strategic nuclear weapons and boasted: “As for tactical nuclear weapons, the superiority of modern-day Russia over Nato is even stronger.  The Americans are well aware of this.  They were convinced before that Russia would never rise again.  Now it is too late.”

The recent elections in the U.S. have drawn attention away from the situation in the Ukraine, but it is by no means resolved.

For the entire article, click HERE.

NC/VA Mid-Term Turnout: The Bannock Street Project

Michael Bennet is the junior Senator from Colorado.  He became Senator after being appointed by the Colorado governor to serve out the remainder of Ken Salazar’s term after Salazar resigned to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior.  Bennet was then elected to a six-year term on his own merits during the 2010 mid-term election, which many have characterized as one of the first big tests of the Democrats’ so-called “Blueprint” for turning redstate Colorado into bluestate Colorado.  Bennet’s 2010 election effort was run out of a building on Bannock Street in Denver, Colorado, so the application of the successful Colorado Blueprint to the key battleground states in 2014 became known as the Bannock Street Project.  For the 2014 mid-terms, the Democrats identified ten battleground states on which to focus the Bannock Street Project’s $60M strategy.  Those ten were Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan, Montana, and West Virginia.

It seems to be a matter of opinion as to whether the Bannock Street Project was a success.  In light of the many victories for Republican candidates, it would seem to be an obvious failure.  But for Nate Cohn, about whom I have posted previously, HERE, the coin has two sides.  In his November 14th postmortum at The Upshot, his NYT political blog, Cohn gleans insights from comparing the election results in two neighboring states, North Carolina and Virginia.  Writes Cohn:

The preliminary and qualified answer is that the Democratic field effort was probably a success.  An analysis of precinct and county-level returns, supported by exit polls and limited voter file data, suggests that the turnout in key Senate battlegrounds was generally more favorable for Democrats than it was in 2010.  When it wasn’t, the Democratic turnout still seemed impressive when compared with the states where they did not make significant investments, like Virginia or Maryland.

North Carolina has 100 counties, and Virginia, our neighbor to the north, has 95.  With the possible exception of the area just south of Washington, D.C., our income and ethnic demographics are also somewhat comparable.  Cohn continues:

Perhaps the most compelling comparison is between Virginia and North Carolina.  The two states are demographically similar, and both had close contests.  But Democrats invested heavily in field efforts in North Carolina, while they made little or no effort in Virginia, which was not thought to be competitive.  Better still for our analysis, the states also have significant precinct-level data from this year and 2012.

and

Since 2010, turnout increased by 14 percent in North Carolina counties that voted for President Obama, but just 4 percent in counties that voted for Mitt Romney.  In Virginia, turnout fell by 4 percent in Obama counties, but 2 percent in Romney counties.

Note that in the graphic below, based on the U.S. Election Atlas site run by David Leip, the last off-year election in Virginia was the gubernatorial race of 2013.  Also, North Carolina counties are depicted in purple, while Virginia counties are shown in green.

NC-VA_Turnout_1

There are many lessons to be learned from the recent election results.  But, in our joyful gratification for the Republican gains, we must not forget that they can be transitory.  We cannot let up.  If anything, we must redouble our efforts for 2016.

For more on the Bannock Street Project, check out THIS article from earlier this year by Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly.

Ribbing the 2014 Election Losers & Serving Notice for 2016

Like me, there are those of you who do not subscribe to the Carteret News-Times.  You therefore may have missed the advertisement below, printed in yesterday’s Sunday edition.

CarteretDemocratRIP_Final

The ad was intended as a bit of fun, but with a serious message; the CCTPP is preparing to do all we can to continue our efforts to inform and educate the Carteret County voters over the next two years, with the objective of repeating our success in helping to elect conservative candidates in the 2016 general election.  Please join us.

New Congresspersons Learn The Ropes

In January, the U.S. House of Representatives will seat 41 new Republicans and 17 new Democrats.  The Senate will seat 12, 11 of them Republicans.  As I write this post, many of those 70 newbies will be either in Washington or making plans to be, as they all have an orientation process to go through.  The following excerpt is from a New York Times article on that process:

There is no instruction manual for serving in Congress, but Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and House majority leader, did send his newly elected Republican colleagues a 125-page spiral-bound document called “Hit the Ground Running” that offers advice on hiring a chief of staff and opening district offices, and a helpful list of orientation “dos and don’ts.”

For more details on the orientation process and insights into the arrangements made by some individuals, click HERE.  For some readers, however, the article may be behind a paywall.

Immigration Reform: Money Talks

Yesterday, the New York Times published an article written by their reporter Julia Preston, in which she identifies the main funders of the push in recent years for “comprehensive immigration reform”, also known as amnesty.  It is a good article, but it may be behind a paywall Illegal_Immigrants_2for most readers.  Hence my extensive excerpting, beginning with this:

Over the past decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally.

<snip>

The philanthropies focused on a dozen regional immigrant rights organizations that make up the backbone of the movement.  They also supported Latino service organizations like NCLR, also known as the National Council of La Raza, and legal groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and the National Immigration Law Center.

<snip>

The Ford Foundation already had a decades-long track record of funding nonprofit organizations aiding immigrants.  In 2003 Ford and Carnegie joined with several other donors to create an unusual collaborative fund to augment support for local groups.  Since then, Carnegie has given about $100 million for immigration initiatives, all in conventional charitable donations, including millions to help legal immigrants become American citizens.

The Open Society Foundations of Mr. Soros, an immigrant born in Hungary, have invested about $76 million in the past decade under the rubric of immigrant rights, according to Archana Sahgal, a program officer.

The Atlantic Philanthropies were founded by Charles Feeney, an Irish-American billionaire who built his fortune with a chain of duty-free shops.  Atlantic has given nearly $69 million in 72 immigration grants in the last decade.

By the way, it you click on any of the three links above to the latino immigration support sites (NCLR, MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center), you will probably see where some small portion of that $300M went.  These sites are well designed and pretty slick.

While it is good to know who the opposition is, we should not let these “big money” numbers diminish our committment to blocking any immigration legislation that includes an amnesty.  Remember, the recent election results showed clearly that the big money does not always prevail.

Count Me In

Dan Way of the John Locke Foundation put up a piece yesterday at the online Carolina Journal about the results of a telephone poll taken on the Wednesday and Thursday after Election Day.  Here are the first three paragraphs from the article:

More than half of North Carolina voters and 70 percent of Republicans would be less likely to re-elect Gov. Pat McCrory if he supported the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a poll released today by the Foundation for Government Accountability.

“I think there are huge political consequences for Medicaid expansion that no one is talking about that this poll reveals,” said Christie Herrera, a senior fellow at FGA, a free-market research and advocacy organization based in Florida.

“The more that North Carolinians know about Medicaid expansion the less they like it,” she said, noting that voters also indicate they would be less likely to re-elect state representatives who support the expansion under Obamacare of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.

And this, from later in the article:

Opposition to expanding Medicaid rose to 68.12 percent when respondents were told expansion would require $716 billion in cuts from seniors’ Medicare benefits; 67.13 percent were opposed after learning it would result in funding cuts to education, roads, and public safety; and 44.16 percent opposed it simply when they were told expansion was a key part of Obamacare.

Count me as being among the 70% of Republican voters who favor a primary challenge to the Governor if he were to lead an effort to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.

The whole article, worth reading, is HERE.

Dan Sullivan is the new Senator from Alaska

The Associated Press reports this morning, HERE, that the Alaska state board of elections has now counted enough absentee and early votes to have established a mathematical certainty that Republican challenger SmileyFace1Dan Sullivan is the winner in the closely contested race with Democratic incumbent Mark Begich.  Sullivan will therefore become the new junior Senator from Alaska after the swearing-in ceremonies in January, bringing the Republican majority in the Senate to 53-47.  And if, as expected, the winner of the December run-off election in Louisiana between Republican challenger Bill Cassidy and incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu goes to Cassidy, the final tally will be 54/46.

Senior U.S. Navy Officer relieved over China Assessment

As regular readers will know, I have written often about the activities and putative intentions of China with respect to the South China Sea.  One of those posts from last February, HERE, was about the assessments of a U.S. Navy Senior Intelligence Officer, Captain James Fanell, in regard to the specific objectives behind China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise, which took place in November, 2013.

Captain Fanell’s official title is (or was) Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence & Information Operations (PACFLEET), and his assessment was formally presented to an annual conference in San Diego of the senior members of the American military naval forces as well as naval contractors.  The theme for the 2014 conference, known as the 2014 Western Conference & Exposition (WEST-2014), was “Shaping the Maritime Strategy: How Do We Make It Work?”.  Also on the conference panel alongside Captain Fanell was Rear Admiral James Foggo, the Navy’s Chief of Operations, Plans, & Strategy.

Now comes word, via the Navy Times, that Captain Fanell has been relieved of his post by Admiral Harry Harris, apparently over the candor he displayed in his remarks at the West-2014 conference.  It seems that the Pentagon brass, and presumably the U.S. State Department, feel that his assessment of China’s intentions threaten the relationship between the U.S. and China at a time when the Obama administration is trying to engage China.

The Navy Times article is HERE, and for good measure, the WikiPedia page for the “Senkaku Islands dispute” is HERE.  And, in case any reader wonders why I attach such importance to developments in the South China Sea, it is because the Senkaku Islands, as well as many other disputed islands in the region, are currently regarded as Japanese territory and are thus included in the United States’ mutual defense treaty with Japan.  In other words, if China tries to take any of these islands by force, the U.S. is obligated to provide military assistance to Japan.

Previous posts on the situation in the South China Sea and on other matters related to U.S. military interests may be assessed by clicking on the “Military Affairs” sub-category (under the “Issues” category) from the sidebar to the right (only on the website’s Home page).