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.

WEST CARTERET GROUP, Semi-monthly Meeting:   On the 1st & 3rd Tuesdays @ 7 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.


 

Encouraging ObamaCare Ruling from the DC Circuit

A three-judge panel of the liberal DC Circuit Court of Appeals, which is headquartered in Washington, D.C., has ruled that the Federal exchanges that were set up by the Feds to service those states that refused to set up their own state ObamaCare exchanges (such as North Carolina) are issuing illegal subsidies to policyholders because the ObamaCare legislation clearly delineates state exchanges as the portals for obtaining health insurance coverage through the health care law.

The ruling, in a case known as Halbig v. Burwell, was by a 2-1 majority.  The Obama administration is now likely to ask for an en banc hearing, in which the full DC Circuit will review the case again and make a final ruling for the court.  If the administration does not prevail in the en banc hearing, the next stop will be the Supreme Court.

The Federal exchanges offer health insurance in 36 states, mostly through the online portal, HealthCare.gov.  On average, health insurance obtained via the federal exchanges are offered with a 76% subsidy in taxpayer funds.  Currently, of the eight million persons signed up for ObamaCare, slightly more than two-thirds of them signed up through the Federal HealthCare.gov portal.  If, and I emphasize IF, the en banc court and SCOTUS validate the panel’s ruling, this two-thirds would be denied subsidies, their premiums would jump 76%, and the vast majority would find the coverage unaffordable and drop out.

If that should come to pass, the Obama administration would probably try to exercise the maximum degree of pressure and coercion to get the 36 abstaining states to create their own exchanges.

Kay Hagan, Penny-Focused and Pound Foolish

You may have heard that NC Senator Kay Hagan is running for re-election this fall.  In an obvious ploy to curry favor with one of the most liberal demographics, single women, a statement came from Senator Hagan in which she said that:

she is hopeful a federal bill requiring employers to offer contraception in their insurance plans can be resurrected in the U.S. Senate — despite a Supreme Court decision partially rejecting such coverage.

Hagan has no problem with a trillion dollars of spending on ObamaCare, but she gags at requiring women to buy their own contraception meds?  Anyhoo, of the bill Hagan refers to, the article goes on to say this:

The bill is meant to offset the Supreme Court’s decision last month involving the Hobby Lobby arts and crafts company.  The court’s ruling allowed some religiously oriented businesses to opt out of the federal health care law’s requirement that contraception coverage be provided to workers at no extra charge.

Birth control is used by women for a variety of reasons outside of planning pregnancy, including preventative care for ovarian cancer and other diseases, Hagan said.  “Employers who make their employees pay out-of-pocket for contraceptives just aren’t imposing their personal beliefs,” she said.  “They’re also making it much more difficult for women to access important, potentially lifesaving medical prescriptions and medical treatment.”  [ my boldface added. ]

Aww, c’mon, Kay.  My expenditures for my birth control meds, so far, have come to exactly zero.  However, I have read at multiple sources that women can easily purchase them for about $9 per month.  Nine bucks.  Nine bucks per month seems pretty reasonable to me, about the same as I would pay for a manly meal at McDonalds.

But if the poor womenfolk can’t shoulder this modest economic load, I am confident that they can always shanghai the necessary funds from their guys’ wallets.  I believe this because, soon after they became available, back in the early sixties, I drove my then-girlfriend to the clinic to get a prescription, and then to the drugstore to get the birth control pills.  I can’t say that I remember which of us paid, but I know that I would have been deliriously happy to pay if that was what it took in exchange for the piece of mind that the pills gave us both.

The full article, from the Greensboro News & Record, is HERE.

Behind the success of Iron Dome

We have all seen and read much lately about the great success the Iron Dome system has proved to be in protecting Israel from HAMAS rocketry.  The folks at the military blog Strategy Page put up an article last week that goes into quite a bit of detail about the system, it’s effectiveness, it’s costs, and the frantic efforts of the Israelis to get more batteries up and running when they first learned of the impending attacks.

An excerpt:

The latest war with Hamas began on July 7th as Hamas ceased even pretending to halt the rocket attacks (by non-Hamas Islamic terrorists) on Israel coming out of Gaza.  Hamas began firing a lot more rockets and the seven Iron Dome batteries in service were the primary defense against a rocket hitting an inhabited area.  One additional battery had already been delivered but was not activated yet.  [The] Israelis wanted more Iron Dome batteries, so the air force and the manufacturers went to work.  Inventory was checked and it was found that there was enough equipment in stock (newly manufactured, used for development work or almost completed) to quickly equip two more batteries.  Because there were already seven batteries active and personnel had been selected, trained, and assembled for the new eighth battery, it was calculated that by prying away a few key people from each of the eight existing batteries, activating reservists with Iron Dome experience, using some contractor personnel (civilians who had worked on Iron Dome even if they had not done so while in the military), and calling in some military personnel with similar skills (maintenance, operations) to those used by Iran Dome crews … [more could be put online].  By speeding up the training and certification of the eighth battery as well as the newly formed two batteries, all could be in action soon (as in a week or less).  The eighth and ninth batteries went online by the 11th and the tenth battery was active by the 15th.  Military and contractor personnel, instructors, and the new crews had to work round the clock for over a week to make it happen.

and

So far Iron Dome has shot down 85 percent of the rockets it calculated were headed for a populated area. The Tamir missiles used by Iron Dome weigh 90 kg and have a range of 70 kilometers against rockets, mortar shells, and artillery shells up to 155mm.  Iron Dome can also shoot down aircraft and helicopters (up to 10 kilometers/32,000 feet altitude).  Iron Dome is the principal defense against short range rockets fired from Gaza or Lebanon.  Work is underway to increase Iron Dome range from 70 to over 200 kilometers.

Hamas has already (in 2012 and 2014) tried to defeat Iron Dome by firing a lot of long range missiles simultaneously at a few cities.  In theory this could overwhelm one or two Iron Dome batteries.  But Israel is able to keep 24/7 UAV watch on Gaza and spot attempts at large scale simultaneous launchers.  This enables Israel to bomb or shell many of the launch sites.  This results in many rockets [being] destroyed on the ground or launching erratically, and [then] landing within Gaza or nowhere near where they were aimed.  Because Iron Dome can track hundreds of incoming missiles, quickly plot their trajectory and likely landing spot, and ignore the majority that will not land near people, Hamas needs to put hundreds of larger (long range) missiles into the air at the same time to be sure of causing lots of Israeli casualties.  So far Hamas has … been unable to get enough rockets into the air at the same time to make this work.

Much more to read, HERE.

State Insurance Commissioner Goodwin on Insurance Law

Did you know that NC law allows an insurance company to send you a homeowner insurance bill for up to 250% more than the maximum rate set by the Insurance Rate Bureau?  ‘Tis true, acknowledges NC State Insurance Commissioner Wayne Goodwin in this WRAL article, which airs the outrage felt by some NC homeowners who have recently been on the receiving end of such bills.

Read the whole article, HERE, as it’s an eye-opener.

Coming Not-So-Soon To a Burglar Near You

Below is the full text of an article that appeared a few months ago on the military blog Defense Tech, an article entitled “Scientists Develop Night Vision Contact Lens”:

Troops might be able to replace those heavy night vision goggles strapped to their helmets and replace them with contact lenses.  The University of Michigan has developed a prototype contact lens that enhances night vision by placing a thin strip of graphene between layers of glass.  The graphene — a form of carbon — reacts to photons, which makes dark images look brighter.

The development of the lens still has quite a ways to go before soldiers can scrap those heavy goggles.  Right now the graphene only absorbs 2.3 percent of the light.  Those percentages have to rise before true night vision can be achieved.

Ted Norris and Zhaohui Zhong of Michigan’s College of Engineering are the ones who have developed the prototype.  This technology is not limited to a contact lens.  The developers said the graphene could be incorporated into windshields and amplify night vision while driving.  According to reports, the U.S. Army has already shown interest in the technology.

HAMAS tries to forge it’s version of MSNBC

Headquartered in Washington, DC, the non-profit 501(c)(3) Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an organization founded in the late 1990s with the objective of monitoring and reporting to the Western world, in English, reports from Middle Eastern media outlets that were originally published in the Persian, Turkish, Pashto, Arabic, or Urdu languages.

Late last week, MEMRI reported on some guidelines that HAMAS had issued via their website to activist social media users/reporters operating out of the Gaza Strip, where the Israeli Defense Forces are now working to demolish the HAMAS rocketry and tunnel structures.  According to the MEMRI translations, the website “… has instructed activists on social media websites, particularly Facebook, to correct some of the commonly used terms as they cover the aggression taking place in the Gaza Strip.  The following Information Department video calls on all activists to use the proper terminology, in order to play their part in strengthening the home front and in properly conveying information worldwide.”

And what would constitute the “proper terminology”, you may wonder.  Well:

Anyone killed or martyred is to be called a civilian from Gaza or Palestine, before we talk about his status in jihad or his military rank.  Don’t forget to always add ‘innocent civilian’ or ‘innocent citizen’ in your description of those killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza.

Begin [your reports of] news of resistance actions with the phrase ‘In response to the cruel Israeli attack,’ and conclude with the phrase ‘This many people have been martyred since Israel launched its aggression against Gaza.’  Be sure to always perpetuate the principle of ‘the role of the occupation is attack, and we in Palestine are fulfilling [the role of] the reaction.’

Beware of spreading rumors from Israeli spokesmen, particularly those that harm the home front.  Be wary regarding accepting the occupation’s version [of events].  You must always cast doubts on this [version], disprove it, and treat it as false.

Avoid publishing pictures of rockets fired into Israel from [Gaza] city centers.  This [would] provide a pretext for attacking residential areas in the Gaza Strip.  Do not publish or share photos or video clips showing rocket launching sites or the movement of resistance [forces] in Gaza.

To the administrators of news pages on Facebook: Do not publish close-ups of masked men with heavy weapons, so that your page will not be shut down [by Facebook] on the claim that you are inciting violence.  In your coverage, be sure that you say: ‘The locally manufactured shells fired by the resistance are a natural response to the Israeli occupation that deliberately fires rockets against civilians in the West Bank and Gaza’…

Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton, move over.  When it comes to slanting the news, there’s a new contender in town.

The MEMRI post is HERE, by way of Scott Johnson at PowerLine.

NC Senate to change local Sales Tax options, Crowdfunding?

Laura Leslie of WRAL news is reporting on some draft changes that the NC Senate’s Finance Committee has made to House Bill 1224, changes that may help the Carteret County Commissioners address the County’s need for options to deal with local dredging costs.

An excerpt:

The new version of House Bill 1224 would still cap local sales taxes at 2.5 percent.  But it deletes a proposal to force counties to choose between funding education or transit through additional taxes.  Most counties would have as much or more flexibility to raise sales taxes with voter approval under the new version as they do under current law.  It would allow counties to raise local sales taxes up to a quarter-percent for “general purposes,” rather than solely for education or transportation.

For the tax-and-spenders, however, the new flexibility was not enough.

Johanna Reese with the NC Association of County Commissioners thanked Senate leaders for removing the “either/or” sales tax funding restriction, but said the cap is still a concern for her group.

Erin Wynia with the N.C. League of Municipalities urged lawmakers again to study the proposal over the interim.  “We don’t believe this bill goes far enough in giving local communities the flexibility to decide what’s best for them,” she said.   

And, as to the crowdfunding provisions:

The new version of the bill also includes the crowdfunding provision that passed the House last year.  It would allow North Carolina companies to solicit up to $1 million a year in small investments – up to $2000 -  from state residents.  [NC Senate sponsor Rick Gunn, R-Alamance] said it would be “an appropriate tool” for the state to use to encourage start-ups, tech firms, and enterpreneurs.

The Senate Finance Committee is expected to vote on the changes later this week, after which, presumably, the House will be asked to concur.  For the full WRAL article, click HERE.

New WikiLeaks documents validate the Bush/Cheney view

The editors of the military blog Strategy Page are reporting, HERE, on some new evidence revealed as a result of WikiLeaks, this time dealing with the extent of the Iraqi chemical weapons program (aka WMD) prior to the US invasion in 2003.

From the article:

… these documents deal with the evidence of chemical weapons U.S. troops found in Iraq after 2003.  This is all part of an ongoing, largely ideological, media battle over exactly what happened to Iraqi chemical weapons after 1991.  Up until early 2003, the conventional wisdom was that Saddam had chemical weapons, and just would not give them up.  Some thought Saddam’s strategy was dumb.  All he had to do was let the UN inspectors do their job and get Iraqi out from under the embargo.  All Saddam had to do was destroy all his chemical weapons …

What no one brought up was what Saddam was actually doing.  He was pretending to have chemical weapons in order to keep the Iranians at bay.  Horrendous casualties from Iraqi chemical weapons had forced the Iranians to end the 1980s war in an ignominious (for the Iranians) draw.  In 2003 the Iranians still wanted Saddam’s head on a pike, and Saddam saw his imaginary chemical weapons as a primary defense against Iranian attack.

This deception was not revealed until after Saddam was out of power and some of his key aides could talk.  Saddam kept the real situation (no real chemical weapons programs) secret even from most of his closest aides and military commanders.  Saddam trusted very few people.

and

Between the time of his capture (December 2003) and execution three years later Saddam was interrogated extensively about the 39 years he ruled Iraq and especially about his WMD (Weapons of Mass Destruction) programs.  He freely admitted his chemical weapons deception but by then many in the West were obsessed with the idea that the United States had invented the myth of an Iraqi chemical weapons program to justify the invasion of Iraq.  Actually, Saddam invented that myth and most intel analysts, journalists and just about everyone else believed it until 2003.  This is a matter of public record.  When the post 2003 search for the chemical weapons program came up empty many pundits and journalists seized on the idea that there was a secret conspiracy involved and that the CIA and other intelligence agencies must have known about the Saddam scam.  There has never been any proof of this conspiracy, but it has attracted many believers.

So there.  Now, everyone go apologize to Dick Cheney and George W. Bush.

Lois Lerner’s Poor Little Hard Disk Drive

In an article by Bernie Becker on The Hill blog, he reveals that IRS officials have now confirmed, under oath, the assertions made about Lerner’s hard disk drive (HDD) by IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in his testimony before Congress last month.

Not much is new in the article, except for the fact that Lerner apparently never had a desktop computer at the IRS.  The HDD in question was in a laptop, which I never understood before now.  The drive crashed in 2011 and was deemed by the IRS tech crew to be unrecoverable, after which it was subjected to magnetic deguassing and then shredded.  For a typical consumer, this would constitute extreme overkill, but the IRS alleges that it is a routine procedure when a HDD may contain confidential taxpayer information.

The full article is HERE, but it does not address the more important issue of the e-mail servers to which Lerner’s laptop were connected.

An End Run on Comprehensive Immigration Reform?

I have cautioned before, on this blog and elsewhere, on the danger of allowing an immigration reform bill from the House of Representatives to proceed to a reconciliation conference with the Senate’s 1198-page “Gang Of Eight” bill (S-744), which they passed on 06/27/2013.  Now, two prominent trackers of immigration issues are warning of another stealth effort on behalf immigration reform advocates, this one centered around the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act, passed in 2008 and often cited as the Wilberforce Act.

First, from a piece HERE by Breitbart reporter Matthew Boyle, which features the analysis of NumbersUSA‘s immigration reform expert Rosemary Jenks.  Said Jenks:

“It is just ridiculous to assume that changing this law that affects less than 20 percent of all the illegals coming across the border right now is going to fix the problem.”

“If it goes through the House first, it will be conferenced in the Senate.  Think about what that means.  I cannot imagine why people don’t get this.  McCain and Graham and Schumer are talking in the pages of the New York Times about how they will attach part or all of their bill to whatever comes through on this. …  This is why the whole idea that you can do targeted policy changes is ludicrous.”

Second, from a piece HERE by Mickey Kaus, which also draws off the comments by Rosemary Jenks, this excerpt:

Could the Wilberforce Fix be another way to trigger a Senate-House conference — a conference where amnesty-supporter Harry Reid and amnesty supporter John Boehner would predictably stack with … amnesty supporters?  There are plenty of reasons to be suspicious.  Boehner’s so-called working group to deal with the Southern crisis is stacked with Republicans … who have been ready to cut a grand legalization bargain in the past.  And Boehner’s moving very quickly — it’s almost as if he wants to get a bill to the Senate before amnesty opponents wake up and realize what’s happening.

The genius of this plan would be that conservatives are so exercised by the massive border breach that they would demand the action [amending the Wilberforce Act] that would lead to their ultimate defeat.

A reconciliation conference triggered by ANY legislative initiative in the House related to immigration could end up with disastrous results.  We are better off to just grit our teeth and wait until January of 2015 to even consider trying to remedy the border situation, since our prospects for getting control of the Senate would make all the difference in the world.

A Happy Prediction, but NC doesn’t contribute

The Washington Post’s Elections Lab project attempts to analyze the prospects for future elections.  Less than a week ago they posted their latest prognostications for the 2014 fall elections in the U.S. House and Senate.  I was encouraged to see that they are now forecasting the continuing Republican control of the House as a near certainty, and the takeover of the Senate (52/48) as an 86% likelihood.  On the downside, North Carolina does not contribute to the projected happiness, as they believe Kay Hagan to be the probable winner in our Senate race.

The WaPo Elections Lab site is HERE, including a lovely graphic showing their projections by state.  Note the distinction between their prediction certainty categories of “likely” versus “leaning”.

Now, how’s about approving that Keystone Pipeline?

Laura Barron-Lopez is reporting at The Hill that the Department of the Interior has now given the go-ahead for acoustic sounding equipment to be used for oil and gas exploration on the Atlantic seaboard.  The news, reported HERE, seems to be a promising development in the efforts to find oil and gas deposits offshore as well as inland.  Here in North Carolina, the recent discoveries are all in the Sandhills region, but many experts believe that even larger reservoirs are to be found offshore.

Massie Makes An Effort

According to a report from Moriah Costa of Reuters news service, a Republican member of Congress has poked the District Of Columbia hornet’s nest by introducing legislation that would nullify the District’s draconian firearms laws.  The legislation was in the form of an amendment to the current spending bill that is intended to support the local D.C. government.  An excerpt:

A 2008 Supreme Court decision struck down the district’s ban on handgun possession.  Residents now must register handguns every three years, complete a safety course and be fingerprinted and photographed.

The amendment sponsored by Republican Thomas Massie of Kentucky would do away with those provisions.  In a statement, Massie criticized Washington gun laws as harassment of law-abiding citizens.

The bill will now go to the Senate where the offending provision will no doubt be deleted.  But at least Massie tried.  For the full article, click HERE.


 

And in a somewhat related Second Amendment legislation development, Democratic freshman Representative Robin Kelly of Illinois has introduced a bill to restrict the advertising of firearms to those under 18 years of age.  According to this WaPo article, the bill would:

    • prohibit the use of cartoon characters in firearms marketing;
    • prohibit branding of firearms products on tee-shirts and hats;
    • require warning labels on any firearms products specifically designed and marketed to children.

This last would presumably include such products as the Crickett and Chipmunk lines of 22-caliber rifles from Keystone, some of which are offered with pink stocks.

Constitutional law professor Eugene Volokh has some thoughts, HERE, on Representative Kelly’s bill.

The other Albert Einstein

For some reason I no longer can remember, I recently thought of the comedian Harry Einstein, a somewhat popular figure in the radio days of the late 1940s, as was my favorite, Fanny Brice as “Baby Snooks”.  I was a kid then, and he stuck in my mind mainly because he took the stage name of “ParkYaKarkus“, which I thought was funny.  Parkyakarkus had three children, all boys.  One of the boys was Bob Einstein, who took the stage name of “Super-Dave” Osborne.  Another was a writer, Charles, and the third was, yep, Albert, who eventually became a successful actor/writer on his own, but thinking that his real name might cause confusion with the well-known scientist, he early on adopted the stage name Albert Brooks.

Parkyakarkus was also remembered as being one of the relatively few entertainment figures who died while performing, having suffered a massive heart attack at the age of 54 while participating in a Friar’s Roast of Desi Arnez and Lucille Ball in Beverly Hills, CA.

First, Obama Phones, now, Obama Sneakers

Dennis Michael has up a post, HERE, at the website DMLDaily.com that includes the image below, as well as a few others.  Apparently, some border patrol agents are saying that some of the illegal immigrant kids are wearing these shoes.  But, when you think about it, the appropriate footwear would be … sneakers.

Obama_Sneakers

Netanyahu’s Coalition Threatened over Gaza Attacks

UPDATE

The Times of Israel, HERE, and Bloomberg News, HERE, are both reporting that Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, ostensibly in a move to placate Avigdor Lieberman and the members of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beiteinu party, has ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to ramp up the intensity of their military strikes at targets in the Gaza Strip.  Some sources are also reporting that Netanyahu has hinted at the possibility of boots on the ground.  The graphic below, from the Times Of Israel piece, shows the types of missiles being fired by Hamas and their penetration into Israel.

Hamas_Rocketry

ORIGINAL POST

Reporter Robert Tait has up an article at the online London Telegraph newspaper outlining the current state of the dispute between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli Foreign Minister and the leader of one of Israel’s many political parties, the Yisrael Beiteinu.  Lieberman is an outspoken advocate of more extensive reprisals against the Hamas element in Gaza that is responsible for the recent wave of rocket attacks, a wave that closely paralleled the discovery of the bodies of three murdered Israeli teenagers.

An excerpt from Tait’s article:

Mr. Lieberman – an uneasy ally of Mr Netanyahu who is also believed to covet his job – clashed with the prime minister after publicly reiterating his belief that Israel should stage a military takeover of Gaza in response to a recent hail of missile fire from the territory.  He has been backed by Naftali Bennett, leader of the far-Right Jewish Home party and another rival of the prime minister, who said that Israeli restraint in the face of the rocket fire “was not power”.

While Israel has met the rocket fire with raids against militant targets most nights for the past few weeks, Mr Netanyahu and Moshe Ya’alon, his defence minister, have opposed getting involved in a wider confrontation.

For the full article, click HERE.

Maliki, the Iraqi Albatross

Ali Khedery is a stellar young American, a 2003 graduate of the University of Texas at Austin, with a major in Government, History, and Economics and an emphasis on international law and politics.  During his senior year, he was a Fellow in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s Council on Science and Biotechnology Development.  Soon after graduation he went to work for Exxon-Mobile as a negotiator of their contracts with the Iraqi Kurds for oil exploration rights in the region, then later joined Dragoman Partners, a Middle East consulting firm.  Fluent in Arabic, he also has a history that includes quite a bit of government service in Iraq, serving there in various capacities for the bulk of the Bush administration.  From the website of Dragoman Partners:

Khedery also served as special assistant to five American ambassadors in Iraq and as senior adviser to three four-star commanders of U.S. Central Command, the authority which oversees operations in 20 nations from Egypt to Pakistan.  Khedery was the longest continuously-serving American official in Iraq; a member of the U.S. government’s Senior Executive Service; and recipient of the Secretary of Defense’s Medal for Exceptional Public Service, the Secretary of State’s Tribute, and the Joint Civilian Service Achievement Medal for his contributions to American national security.

All of the foregoing is prelude to my recommendation of his current piece in the Washington Post, HERE, in which he explains in detail how the Bush and Obama administration’s persistence in allying themselves with Iraqi President Nouri al-Maliki has been a significant factor in how we got into the predicament in which we now find ourselves.

After helping to bring him to power in 2006, I argued in 2010 that Maliki had to go. I felt guilty lobbying against [Maliki], but this was not personal.  Vital U.S. interests were on the line.  Thousands of American and Iraqi lives had been lost and trillions of dollars had been spent to help advance our national security, not the ambitions of one man or one party.  The constitutional process had to be safeguarded, and we needed a sophisticated, unifying, economics-minded leader to rebuild Iraq after the security-focused Maliki crushed the militias and al-Qaeda.

and

Desperate to avert calamity, I used every bit of my political capital to arrange a meeting for Jeffrey and Antony Blinken, [Vice-President Joe] Biden’s national security adviser and senior Iraq aide, with one of Iraq’s top grand ayatollahs.  Using uncharacteristically blunt language, the Shiite cleric said he believed that Ayad Allawi, who had served as an interim prime minister in 2004-05, and Abdul Mahdi were the only Shiite leaders capable of uniting Iraq.  Maliki, he said, was the prime minister of the Dawa party, not of Iraq, and would drive the country to ruin.

I strongly recommend a read of the entire article for a better understanding of how the Iraqi deterioration has progressed.

Of down-time, drop-bys, & OTRs: the POTUS daily Schedule

Earlier today, Oliver Knox of Yahoo News posted an article that offers considerable insight and detail about the President’s daily calendar and how it is determined.  It’s an interesting look into the mechanics of methodologies that recent administration’s have devised to keep track of everything, as the President’s schedule is often maintained even down to five-minute blocks of time.

An excerpt:

In the Bush era, every Cabinet officer got personal face time with the president at least twice a year, for half an hour. Those who failed to get to the point quickly, a former aide recalled, would face a warning from the president: “You’re losing altitude and air speed.”

George W. Bush, an erstwhile ANG jet pilot, using an aviation metaphor.  For the full article, click HERE.

Beaufort July 4th Parade, on July 5th

Because of the incertainty of how Hurricane Arthur would affect the Friday morning weather, the parade officials postponed the parade for 24-hours.  So, all the floats queued up on Front Street during the mid-morning hours of Saturday amid blue skies and perfect weather.  There was a good crowd, and the CCTPP members sitting on our float (pictured below while waiting in the queue) dispensed a lot of candy to the kids.  From the fixed kiosk on Courthouse Square, Diane also dispensed miniature flags and pocket constitutions.

Beaufort_July4thParade_CCTPP_Float

Here’s hoping next year’s parade goes off as scheduled, with even bigger crowds.

Islamic Terrorists Search for the Untraceable Bomb

Con Coughlin writes at the online London Telegraph about Ibrahim al-Asiri, a leading light in today’s world of Islamic terrorism, who is considered by many to be their foremost bomb designer.  Al-Asiri seems to lend new emphasis to the word “fanatic”, if this excerpt is any indicator:

Asiri’s fanaticism is such that he even blew up his own brother, Abdullah, in a failed attempt to assassinate Saudi Arabia’s head of security.  Asiri built a device that was concealed in his brother’s rectum and detonated by remote control from a mobile phone.  Abdullah was killed instantly, although the Saudi official suffered only minor injuries.

Intelligence officials believe Asiri is now trying to develop a device that will escape detection by even the most sophisticated scanning equipment.  His latest technique is to use an explosive known as pentaerythritol tetranitrate, or PETN, which has no odour, and therefore foils sniffer dogs and X-ray machines.

Am I the only one who wonders what the odds are of these cellphone detonators being triggered by some guy who dials a wrong number?  (Feel free to make up your own punchline.)  Anyhoo, the full article, fairly short, is HERE.

Grand Illusions

I first heard of the phrase “Grand Illusion” when the broker informed me that it was the name of the vessel that I was about to look at while I was boat shopping in Fort Lauderdale in the spring of 1995.  I later learned that it was the English translation of a reference to the 1937 French war movie “La Grande Illusion”, which many film critics rank as among the top 100 of the twentieth century.

Soon thereafter I bought the boat, a 41-foot aft cabin trawler yacht, but since I did not care for the name (or the French either, for that matter), I quickly arranged for a sign painter to replace it with “Salacia”, the name of King Neptune’s wife in Roman mythology.

I thought of the phrase again while reading CUNY professor Stanley Renshon’s new article at Commentary Magazine entitled “In Search Of Greatness”, in which he attempts an early assessment of how President Obama will eventually be treated by presidential historians.  I won’t link to the article because I don’t actually think it is very good.  However, I was struck by Renshon’s aggregation of some quotes by Obama himself as well as his couterie of sycophants.  Examples:

Obama’s transformational ambitions for greatness were aided and abetted by a senior staff that reinforced his enormous self-confidence and his view of himself as a historic figure.  One of the president’s senior aides told a reporter for the Washington Post, “He’s playing chess in a town full of checkers players.”  Another, Valerie Jarrett, said, “He knows exactly how smart he is…He knows how perceptive he is,” and what’s more, “I think that he has never really been challenged intellectually.”

and

His chief political adviser David Axelrod said of working with Obama: “It’s like you are carrying this priceless porcelain vase through a crowd of people and you don’t want to be the guy who drops it and breaks it.”

Having to constantly wade through all this bullshit probably would make it “hard to be humble”, as songwriter Mac Davis once said in a lyric, because Obama himself obviously bought into it:

At one point during his first presidential campaign, Obama asserted that in picking a vice-presidential nominee, he didn’t have to worry about foreign-policy experience because “foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain.”  Asked after the presidential campaign about the best advice he had received while running, he replied, “Well, I have to say it was the advice that I gave to myself.”  In July of 2007, he told a group of fundraisers, “I’m the best retail politician in America.”  In early 2007, when Obama interviewed his campaign’s future political director, Patrick Gaspard, he told him: “I think that I’m a better speechwriter than my speechwriters.  I know more about policies on any particular issue than my policy directors.”

Yet he was elected.  Twice!  Mainstream Media bias is a topic for another day, but it is difficult to understand how, in a country with more print and televisions media outlets per capita than any other, we can have so many LIVs (low-information voters).  Nevertheless, I think that the LIVs were a significant factor in bringing us, as a nation, so low.

U.S. Army brass wants a Big-Iron on their hip

Nearly a half-century ago, the non-automotive, non-female thing I lusted after most was a Browning Hi-Power 9mm semi-automatic piston.  However, it remained my favorite only until Beretta starting manufacturing the P9, which had a magazine capacity of 16 rounds when the Browning’s was only 13.  And, I once owned a Beretta P9, the civilian version of the Army’s current M9 sidearm.  I liked the weapon a lot, but today’s US Army … not so much, according to THIS article from Fox News.  

According to an Army spokesman, Daryl Easlick from Fort Benning:

Soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan have complained that the 9mm round is not powerful enough to be effective in combat.  “The 9mm doesn’t score high with soldier feedback,” said Easlick, explaining that the Army, and the other services, want a round that will have better terminal effects — or cause more damage — when it hits enemy combatants.  “We have to do better than our current 9mm.”

Auto and motorcycle racers have a saying, “there’s no substitute for cubic inches”, and in firearms terms, I think that would roughly translate to “there’s no substitute for big calibers”.  However, with an internal combustion engine, technological sophistication can stand-in to a degree for cubic inches.  In the same vein for firearms, caliber is not the last word in stopping power.  And herein lies what may be the biggest factor in the Army’s perception of the 9mm cartridge as being inadequate as a “manstopper”.  So long as the military is bound by the Geneva convention that precludes anything but jacketed ball ammunition, even a .45 is not going to be much better.  Put another way, I would put a 9mm hollow-point up against a .45 jacketed ball round any day for rapidly calming an enemy berserko.

And another thing.  If they go back to the .45-ACP or another .45 round, will that not pose a hardship for the female soldiers that have to carry and shoot it?  Maybe I’m being too critical here, but this seems to be a boondoggle in the making.

Billings, Montana, Gazette leads the way.

A President’s approval and disapproval numbers are said to be “upside down” when the percentage of the citizenry that disapproves of him exceeds the percentage that approve of him.  President Obama has been in this inverted posture for weeks now (about 55/45), so long that some of the mainstream media fringe elements have begun to acknowledge the crescendo made by the scales falling from the eyes of so many American liberals.

And, as the title says, the Gazette from Billings, Montana leads the way, with THIS short editorial.  I guess all the pioneers are not yet gone from Montana.

What will Obama’s Hobby Lobby Exec-Order Look Like?

As most readers will have learned by now courtesy of the mainstream and cable news media, the Supreme Court has again crafted a narrow ruling on an ObamaCare issue, this one the mandate on employers to fund certain contraceptive measures that they may find objectionable on religious grounds.

So, if Obama picks up his pen to deal with this setback to the grand design of the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act, what will his prescription look like?

At the law blog The Volokh Conspiracy, contributer Jonathan Adler has a post up that takes an educated guess.  A key excerpt:

The easiest and most rapid response would be for the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide objecting for-profit employers with the same accommodation offered to religious institutions.  Indeed, the very existence of this accommodation undermined the administration’s position before the Supreme Court, as it was hard to simultaneously argue that there was no less restrictive way to provide access to contraception while providing just such an alternative to religious institutions.  Expanding the accommodation would be relatively easy, and could be done quickly through an interim final regulation.

The accommodation offered to religious institutions shifts the obligation to pay for contraception coverage from the employer to the insurer.  This may well satisfy many objecting employers, but it might not work for all of them.  First, some employers self-insure, making insurer and employer one and the same.  Second, some Catholic institutions object to the accommodation because it requires them to sign a form and interact with the insurer to facilitate the required contraception coverage.

As to requiring the insurers to pay, many pundits have already pointed out that this would be a distinction without a difference, as the insurer would simply pass on the associated cost to the employer through the insurance premiums.  And in fact, this reality is likely to be addressed by SCOTUS in the Little Sisters Of The Poor cases (non-profit organizations), which will be decided next year.

Adler goes on:

A more direct way to enhance contraception coverage would be for the federal government to provide such coverage directly.  Yet while Congress could authorize such a program, it is not clear that HHS has the authority to take this step on its own.  I am not aware of any provision in the PPACA or other law that would authorize appropriations for this purpose.  Of course, were HHS to try and take such a step unilaterally, it’s not clear who would have standing to challenge the move.

A final step the administration could take would be to enhance access to contraception by making all forms of oral contraception available over-the-counter without a prescription …

For the complete post, click HERE.

Lice, Scabies, Measles, Chicken Pox, and Strep Throat

There is so much press now being given to the Obama-created crisis of sick illegal immigrant children being sent all over America by the HHS “brown shirts” that I hesitate to add another word.  However, I think THIS article by Todd Starnes of Fox News is worth posting, as it contains comments from an actual medical worker who was in the Lackland AFB camp.  An excerpt:

The sources said workers were guarded by a security force from the Baptist Family & Children’s Services, which the Department of Health and Human Services hired to run the Lackland Camp.  The sources say security forces called themselves the “Brown Shirts.”

“It was a very submissive atmosphere,” the counselor said. “Once you stepped onto the grounds, you abided by their laws – the Brown Shirt laws.”  She said the workers were stripped of their cellphones and other communication devices.  Anyone caught with a phone was immediately fired.

and

The nurse told me she became especially alarmed because their files indicated the children had been transported to Lackland on domestic charter buses and airplanes.

“That’s what alerted me,” she said.  “Oh, my God.  They’re flying these kids around.  Nobody knows that these children have scabies and lice.  To tell you the truth, there’s no way to control it.”

Click the link above to read the whole disgusting thing.

The Latest Outrage from Eric Holder

Call me crazy, but I have thought for decades that there was merit in the idea of a constitutional amendment declaring English to be the official language of the United States, and including language to shield any individual or business from being sued for requiring their employees to speak English only in the workplace.

Now, but not for the first time at the Justice Department, Attorney General Eric Holder has diverted some of the minions who usually work on suing Arizona to a new task, filing civil lawsuits against American corporations that require their employees to speak English.  The Judicial Watch blog has the story, and this is an excerpt:

Under President Obama the EEOC has taken a number of unprecedented actions to protect foreigners in the workplace, including illegal immigrants.  In 2009 the agency issued a controversial order making a workplace English rule illegal.  The directive came after the EEOC bullied a national healthcare firm to pay nearly half a million dollars to settle a discrimination lawsuit in which the government alleged that Hispanic workers were punished for speaking Spanish.

The agency has been on a roll ever since, taking legal action against businesses across the country accusing them of everything from discriminating against minorities for running criminal background and credit checks to discriminating against Muslims for not allowing hijabs on the job.  The criminal background and credit checks disproportionately exclude blacks from hire, according to EEOC lawsuits against several companies.  Businesses that forbid Muslim women from wearing a hijab at work violate religious rights guaranteed under the nation’s civil rights laws even when all head coverings are banned for all employees, the EEOC asserts

Check out the Judicial Watch article, HERE, and be sure to click on the links.  If you overlook them, you can also view the earlier case from 2009 on workplace English-only rules HERE, and the one in which Holder maintains that running criminal background checks discriminates again black Americans HERE.

Veteran’s Admin. Employees reassigned to ObamaCare

The blog Truth Revolt has up an in-depth article on the news that, since they had so little to do on behalf of veteran’s, the Obama administration decided to reassign some VA employees to help the HHS with processing ObamaCare applications.  The post, HERE,  includes some of the transcript from the whistleblower’s appearance on Neil Cavuto’s cable television show.

CALL TO ACTION on Pending NC Gun Legislation — UPDATED

This call to action relates to a Second Amendment issue.  It came to my attention first via an e-mail alert from Grassroots North Carolina (GRNC), and concerns pending NC General Assembly legislation that will make the penalties more severe for carrying a firearm into a space, public or private, in which they are prohibited.  As most will know, such spaces typically include most buildings owned by the Federal, state, county, or municipal governments, as well as any privately owned building or open space on which the owner has posted a sign advising the public that concealed or open carry is not allowed.  In addition, in many instances, the prohibition extends to the building’s parking lot or parking structure, even when the prohibiting sign is not visible until the individual enters the adjacent building.

Unfortunately, some folks will occasionally violate the law unintentionally regardless of whether they have a valid CCL.  In recognition of this, the original CCL legislation made a first offense a Class 2 misdemeanor, and the subsequent offenses a Class 1 felony.  The revised penalties, incorporated at the last minute by the NC-House, make the first offense a Class A1 misdemeanor, and subsequent offenses a Class H felony.

The GRNC alert did not give much in the way of detail, but this afternoon Paul Valone, who heads up Grassroots North Carolina, was kind enough to fill in some gaps for me.  The essence of it is — JAIL TIME!  The original Class 2 misdemeanor did not involve jail time, but the proposed change to a Class A1 misdemeanor may very possibly mean jail time for granny if she fails to lock her glove box when her pistol is inside!

It is not clear at the moment, but it looks as if this started out as a omnibus (everything but the kitchen sink) Senate bill that went to the House, where the objectionable amendments were added.  Representative Larry Pittman tried to add an amendment that would have nullified the penalty escalations, but his amendment was defeated (and Pat McElraft voted to defeat it).  The House went on to pass the bill with the stronger penalties (and McElraft voted for it), and it has now moved to the Senate.  The Senate will vote first on the amendments that the House made to the bill, then on the revised bill a few days later.

What we must do now is to let our NC-Senators know that we do not want the Senate to agree to these penalty escalations that were incorporated by the House at the last minute.  Since the Senate may vote as early as Wednesday, please contact your Senator immediately, by e-mail and/or phone, to say some variation of this:

Please Do Not Approve The House Amendments to SB-594

Please do not vote to approve the provisions added by the House to SB-594, the “Omnibus Justice Amendments”, as the provisions include harsher penalties for violated the prohibited spaces measures in North Carolina’s concealed and open firearms carrying statutes.  I ask you to act so that inadvertent, first time violations do not result in well-meaning citizens becoming eligible for jail time upon conviction.

Thanks for your attention to this constituent contact.

Name, address, etc..

Senator Norm Sanderson’s e-mail is Norman.Sanderson@ncleg.net, and his office phone number is 919/733-5706.  I think it would also be helpful if Representative McElraft were copied on any e-mail messages that are sent.  Her e-mail address is PatM@ncleg.net.

Please respond to this call to action, and if you wish, you may also copy me on any e-mail messages with the address VMT@Salacia.com.

 

1st UPDATE

I sent Senator Sanderson an e-mail, and followed by calling to leave a message on his Raleigh office phone.  When I hung up a couple of minutes ago, his message box was NOT YET FULL.  Get cracking, tea partiers.

 

2nd UPDATE

When I briefed the members attending our Tuesday night meeting on this issue, some wanted to know who among the General Assembly legislators was responsible for initiating this new penalty provision in the House and/or Senate bills.  As it happens, the folks at GRNC have put up an informative timeline, HERE, which I would commend to all who value common sense gun laws.  And it is NOT TOO LATE to let your voice be heard.  If you haven’t done so, send your elected representatives in the House and Senate an e-mail message to communicate your views.

Pat, Pat, Say It Ain’t So

As I remarked at our CCTPP meeting in Morehead City tonight, some members have heard me say lately that I think our Representative Pat McElraft has cast some votes that are not consistent with Tea Party principles, and at least two of them were cast in the last two weeks.  However, I have also said that I think we should remember that Representative McElraft owes some deference to Representative Thom Tillis (who is continuing in his final term as Speaker of the House), since Tillis appointed her as Chairman of the Appropriations Committee (budget committee) for the short session.  Stated plainly, if Tillis strongly supports a bill, then it would be prudent if Rep. McElraft would support it as well.

That said, House committee chairmen serve at the pleasure of the Speaker.  Since Tillis will not be Speaker in the next session of the General Assembly, there is a good chance that McElraft will be displaced by whomever the new Speaker favors.  Therefore, I think it is fair to ask now long Representative McElraft’s gratitude should persist, especially when it constrains her to vote against the interests of the people in Carteret and Craven counties who worked so hard for her re-election.

Obviously, I am giving Representative McElraft the benefit of the doubt in postulating a scenario in which she acts in accord with Tillis’ leanings rather than her own.  Frankly, I hope that to be the case.  If not, then we conservatives may have misjudged her ideological inclinations.