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, Rucker Johns Restaurant, Emerald Isle, NC.

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


 

Laura Ingraham does a Call-In Interview of Taylor Griffin

On tax day, April 15th, conservative author, FoxNews contributor, and television personality Laura Ingraham conducted a call-in interview of Laura_Taylor3rd Congressional District candidate Taylor Griffin on her radio show.  She really put Griffin on the hot seat, boring in, pressing for examples of how his views differ from incumbent Walter Jones’, scrutinizing his every answer for nuance, particularly on his policy prescription for the illegal immigration problem.  The interview was lengthy, over seventeen minutes, but the immigration issue is discussed from about the 2:10 mark to 16:35 or so.  As readers will know from my post earlier this week, the CCTPP believes that Taylor Griffin is the candidate most closely aligned with our views.  Check out this audio if you want to know why.

Today is the 72nd Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid

Way back in the previous millenium, when I was a mere babe in arms, “airmen of the US Army Air Forces, led by Lieutenant Colonel James H. (Jimmy) Doolittle, carried the Battle of the Pacific to the heart of the Japanese empire with a surprising and daring raid on military targets at Tokyo, Yokohama, Yokosuka, Nagoya, and Kobe.  This heroic attack against these major cities was the result of coordination between the Army Air Forces and the US Navy, which carried the sixteen North DoolittleRaidersAmerican B-25 medium bombers aboard the carrier USS Hornet to within take-off distance of the Japanese Islands.”

Most of the brave men that were involved in that long-ago operation are dead now, but they should be remembered along with the millions of others who served in that conflict.

For details on the entire operation, there is THIS article at the website for the National Museum of the US Air Force.  For still more, there is also THIS New York Times article, and the official Doolittle Raid website is HERE.

A New Slant on the Bundy Situation — the Hage Affair

As most who have followed this story know, Cliven Bundy’s forebears settled the area where his ranch is sited in the 1880′s.  He claims that, although he may owe money for grazing rights to the land upon which his cattle were grazing, any such monies would be owed to the sovereign state of Nevada rather than to the Federal government.

The Washington Examiner has up an article written by Ron Arnold, in which he explains why Bundy’s notion may not be so crazy after all.  A brief excerpt:

Private rights in federal lands were recognized in an 1866 water law. It says, “… whenever, by priority of possession, rights to the use of water have vested and accrued, and the same are recognized and acknowledged by the local customs, laws, and the decisions of courts, the possessors and owners of such vested rights shall be maintained and protected in the same.”

For the full article, click HERE.

Obama Administration Hides the ObamaCare Ball

Remember back in the first month or so of the Obama Administration, when the President had the Commerce Department’s Census Bureau functions moved to the White House, to be overseen by his henceman Rahm Emanuel?  If not, you can refresh your memory HERE.

At first, it was thought to be all about micro-managing the 2010 national census, but it now looks as if another shoe has dropped.  The recently announced changes to how the Obama Administration’s Census Bureau will henceforth determine a count of the nation’s uninsured has dismayed many, and roused at least two pundits to commentary, as it is a painfully obvious attempt on the part of President Obama to prevent fact-checking on one of his fundamental contentions about the merits of the ACA, to wit, the declaration that it would greatly reduce the number of Americans who lack health insurance.  Obama wants to avoid the embarrassment of having the routine Census health insurance numbers give the lie to his promise.

Here is an excerpt from THIS piece on Obama’s executive order, by well known economics writer Megan McArdle:

I’m speechless.  Shocked.  Stunned.  Horrified.  Befuddled.  Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered, and dumbfounded.  It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now.

But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years?  The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.

Robert Pear also wrote a piece in the New York Times on this subject, and the full article is HERE.

A Pathetic Attempt To Re-Indict the Duke LaCrosse Players

When it was all over and the lawyers had wrapped up the case, Duke University was forced to cough up about twenty million dollars to compensate the members of the Duke LaCrosse Team for the outrageous behavior of Duke’s faculty and administration in the aftermath of Crystal Gail Mangum’s rape allegations in March of 2006.

Now comes author William Cohen with a new book that plays devil’s advocate, strongly suggesting that Mangum was telling the truth and that justice was ill-served by the time the whole affair ended.  Stuart Taylor, Jr., the book reviewer for the New Republic, has written an extensive review of the books numerous errors and fallacies.

I was living in Raleigh when this occurred, and took the same casual interest in the case as most who lived in the area.  Unlike most of the Duke faculty and administration, I was unpersuaded, from the outset, of Mangum’s story and of the guilt of the LaCrosse team members.  I remain so, and think that Cohen is using a bull**** alternate history to make a buck.  

For any among you who continue to have an interest in the case, Taylor’s book review is HERE.

More 47% Folks In The Wagon Than Ever Before

From a post this morning by Terry Jeffrey at CNSNews.com on further analysis of the updated Census:

Of the 103,087,000 full-time, year-round workers, 16,606,000 worked for the government.  That included 12,597,000 who worked for state and local government and 4,009,000 who worked for the federal government.

The 86,429,000 Americans who worked full-time, year-round in the private sector, included 77,392,000 employed as wage and salary workers for private-sector enterprises and 9,037,000 who worked for themselves.

and

In the last quarter of 2011, according to the Census Bureau, approximately 82,457,000 people lived in households where one or more people were on Medicaid.  49,073,000 lived in households were someone got food stamps.  23,228,000 lived in households where one or more got WIC.  20,223,000 lived in households where one or more got SSI.  13,433,000 lived in public or government-subsidized housing.  [ NOTE:  Totals to 188,414,000. ]

Of course, it stands to reason that some people lived in households that received more than one welfare benefit at a time.  To account for this, the Census Bureau published a neat composite statistic:  There were 108,592,000 people in the fourth quarter of 2011 who lived in a household that included people on “one or more means-tested programs.”

Those 108,592,000 outnumbered the 86,429,000 full-time private-sector workers who inhabited the United States in 2012 by almost 1.3 to 1.

For all the gory details, go HERE.

More Volunteers Needed for the Carteret County VIP Effort

As some readers know, after the appearance at a recent CCTPP meeting by Jan Delancy, Director of the North Carolina Voter Integrity Project, I volunteered to head up an effort to do a preliminary analysis aimed at determining whether there was a significant voter fraud problem in Carteret County.  The first, automated, cut of the analysis is now done, and I need more volunteers to help apply human intelligence in order to complete the next step.

If you or anyone you know is interested in volunteering, send an e-mail to me at VMT@Salacia.com with the following information (“Me” is Verne Thompson, CCTPP Webmaster):

1]  Do you have a computer (desktop or laptop) that you can use for this effort?

2]  What is the computer’s Operating System (Windows-XP, Windows Vista, Windows-7, Windows-8)?  This is sometimes abbreviated to the term “OS Name”.

3]  Do you have an installed copy of Microsoft Excel?

4]  How much memory (RAM, or Random Access Memory) does your computer have?  This is also known by the term “Total Physical Memory”.

If you need help in answering questions #2 and #4, here is a convenient way to do so if you already have Microsoft Excel installed:

Begin by bringing up your Excel application.  Next, in the menu bar, click on “Help”.  Move down the selections shown in the drop-down box and click on “About Microsoft Office Excel”.  A dialogue box entitled “About Microsoft Excel” will come on-screen.  Then, in the lower right of the dialogue box, click the “System Info …” button, after which another dialogue box will appear, with “System Summary” as the default selection.

Within the “System Summary” panel, the information I will need is on your “OS Name” and “Total Physical Memory” lines.

My Assessment of the 3rd Congressional District Contenders

One week ago, I put up a post that enumerated much of the personal history, conservative credentials, and policy prescriptions of Taylor Griffin, who is one of the three candidates and a second challenger for North Carolina’s 3rd District Congressional seat currently held by Representative Walter B. Jones, Jr.

The third candidate (and second challenger) is Al Novenic.  Although Novenic has appeared before our group and seems like a likable guy, he is a political novice, and his ideology, though basically conservative, is heavily tinged with Populism.  For that reason, I believe him to be an unlikely contender and he will not be included in this assessment.

That leaves the incumbent, Walter B. Jones, Jr.  As many readers know, Jones first ran for office as a Democrat, following in the footsteps of his father, Walter B. Jones, Sr.  The younger Jones served in and was re-elected to Congress until he lost the 1992 Democratic primary election to Eva Clayton, who went on to win the general election, forcing Jones into a two-year hiatus.  In the run-up to the 1994 mid-term elections, astutely assessing the rising Gingrich-engineered wave that swept so many conservatives into the House of Representatives, Jones switched parties.  Running as a Republican, he was elected to the seat for North Carolina’s 3rd Congressional District, in which he will soon complete ten consecutive terms for a total of twenty years, and with no primary challenge in the first seven of those ten terms.  In fact, he has had a primary challenger only twice before, by Joe McLaughlin in 2008 and by Frank Palombo in 2012.  He is now, in 2014, being challenged for a third time by Griffin, who is Jones’ third primary challenger out of the last four election cycles.

Since Jones did not have any primary opposition in his first seven terms, and since primary challengers tend to appear when the voters are getting restless, it seems fair to ask why the Republican voters have become so dissatisfied with him in the last eight or so years.  What is different?

I suggest that the answer lies in Jones’ shifting ideology.  Although he seemed to be sufficiently conservative in the earlier years, he has gradually moved toward a more Libertarian view as opposed to a conservative Republican view.  To examine that process, let’s look first at the voting records.

MORE …

This Week’s CCTPP Meeting Highlights (04/08/2014)

This week’s meeting was well attended, but very short due to the necessity of many members needing to attend another meeting that began at 7pm.  Nevertheless, the members were able to hear again from Board of Education candidate Janiece Wall, and to get in some informative Q-&-A with her.

The highlights, according to my notes, recollections, and follow-up:

Mrs. Wall is opposed to Common Core, and is particularly opposed to the curriculum changes that will be a consequence of it’s implementation.

She said that she was concerned about the Carteret County Schools budget, and that she would delve into the system’s budgets in an effort to understand them and to glean cost savings therefrom.

Although she could not think of any specific instances or issues with which she has or would disagree with Superintendent Dan Novey, she declared her willingness to do so when necessary.

When I posed subsequent questions on the issues of tenure and salaries her responses were as follows, with my slight editing for brevity and clarity:

CCTPP-QUESTION:  We have been told that North Carolina is “46th in the nation” in teacher pay.  It is a misleading statistic, however, as … no adjustments are made for state and regional costs of living, for differences in benefits, or for miscellaneous supplements.  So the question is, do you believe that the teachers in Carteret County are underpaid?

JW-ANSWER:  Yes, I believe all competent teachers in NC are underpaid.  Teachers are expected to go beyond the classroom every day in their duties.  Some examples are lunch duty, bus duty (morning & afternoon), teacher’s meetings, seminars, and parent conferences (without any comp time being given).

CCTPP-QUESTION:  The NC General Assembly enacted legislation last year that included … an attempt at converting teacher remuneration to a more merit based system that offered … bonuses to higher-performing teachers.  A condition was that teachers would have to give up … the tenure system over a period of time.  The two questions I have are, first, do you consider tenure to be a vested property right of teachers who have been awarded it, and second, do you favor or oppose the abolition of teacher tenure?

JW-ANSWER:  I believe we can continue to reward great teachers with tenure while removing unqualified teachers from the classroom.  Tenure should be earned by the teacher and given as a reward for excellence in the classroom — not guaranteed to all teachers after a few years of service.  A new teacher in NC is not considered for tenure until she enters her fourth year of teaching.  During the first three years, a mentor is assigned to evaluate the teacher with an assessment tool provided by the State.  If during this time, the teacher does not meet the State standard, tenure should not be given.  If a teacher is given tenure and becomes complacent in the classroom, there are legal alternatives to terminate her contract.

This account will conclude the posts devoted to assessing the ideological alignment of the primary candidates with the values and preferences of the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots.  Our members will vote soon, and our selections will be named in about a week or so.

A final thanks is in order to all the candidates who were willing to appear at our group meetings to expose their personal backgrounds and policy beliefs to the scrutiny of our members.

Charlotte Observer / N-&-O / TWC Cave, Agree to add Mark Harris to Debater List

At approximately mid-afternoon, yesterday, the three co-sponsors of the scheduled April 23rd debate between the Republican candidates for the Hagan U.S. Senate seat announced that they had reconsidered and would include Mark Harris after all.

In related news, I was told today in a telephone call with a WRAL spokesperson that the debates would be broadcast live, which allayed my concern that they might tape and edit the debates in order to produce a later telecast that was biased toward Thom Tillis.

The debates will begin at 7pm, and will be viewable along the Crystal Coast on Time-Warner Cable Channels 14 and 200.  In addition, it may be streamed from the internet at TWCNews.com and newsobserver.com.

Schedule Set for 1st NC-GOP Senate Candidate Debate — But Is Harris Included? [ BUMPED ]

The Charlotte Observer has posted notice of the first scheduled debate between the primary candidates for the Republican nomination, all of whom hope to be the Republican challenger this fall to NC Senator Kay Hagan.  The debate, which is also co-sponsored by the Raleigh News-&-Observer and Time-Warner Cable News, is to be held April 23nd on the campus of Davidson College in Davidson, NC, about 20 miles north of Charlotte.  The line-up of debaters is to include Greg Brannon, Mark Harris, Heather Grant, and in the cow’s tail position, Thom Tillis.

The online notice, HERE, includes additional information to include the time and specific location for the debate, parking information, an online registration form, and a space for those who might wish to pose a question to one or more of the debaters.  Note that attendance is free, but attendees MUST PRE-REGISTER.

 

UPDATE

As you may have heard, one of the three sponsors for the debate, WRAL, has dismayed many conservatives by shutting candidate Mark Harris out of the debates on the grounds that, according to one of their polls, he had less than the requisite 7% share.  The Harris campaign is determined to get WRAL to reconsider, however, in light of the following:

1)  Candidate Harris has exceeded WRAL’s polling threshold three times since November 2013, most recently in March immediately following WRAL’s anchor poll.   
 
2)  Real Clear Politics averages every poll conducted for the race, and Harris finishes a close third in that average by just 2.7%.  And this is before any of Harris’ planned political advertising hits the media!
 
3)  Two polls since WRAL’s anchor poll show that Harris is the only candidate on the rise, while others are sitting stagnant or slipping.  In fact, the most recent polling shows Harris above WRAL’s threshold, and it was even conducted by the same polling firm, Survey USA.

I think it is likely that WRAL is excluding Mark Harris in order to help Thom Tillis get the requisite 40% share of the primary vote.  If you want to help persuade WRAL to reconsider their exclusion of Harris, here is the contact information:

Telephone the WRAL Assignment Desk:  919/ 821-8600
E-Mail them at AssignmentDesk@WRAL.com
Berate them on their Facebook page:  www.facebook.com/wraltv
And if you are a twit, tweet them at:  www.twitter.com/WRAL

Arise, tea partiers, and loudly voice your outrage at this transparent liberal attempt to sway the upcoming Republican primary election!  Also, pre-register for the debate if you think you would want to attend in the event that Mark Harris is one of the debaters.

FURTHER INFORMATION

I am not a twit, but I contacted WRAL by all the other three methods.  Below is the text of my e-mail message, Facebook post, and my telephone rant.  Feel free.

Dear WRAL Management:

You people should be ashamed of yourselves for so blatantly displaying your favoritism toward Thom Tillis by excluding Mark Harris from the April 22nd Senate primary debate.  Harris is a viable contender and  among the frontrunners, so you are excluding him in order to help Tillis reach the magic 40% vote total.  Your actions indicate a disgraceful bias, and you ought to reverse this decision.

If you telephone, state the subject matter (Exclusion of Candidate Mark Harris from the Senate Primary Debate) when the operator first answers.  She will immediately connect you to a recording.  After the recorded message is done, wait for the beep, then speak your piece.

Is This Why the Guvmint Needs All Those Guns & Ammo?

As regular readers will know, the graphic embedded in this post means that I consider it an example of the abuse of the government police power, either at the Federal, state, county, or municipal level of government.  If you read the material at the link, keep in mind that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is most likely correct, and justified, in their view that the Endangered Species Act warrants measures to protect the desert tortoise.  And they are probably also correct in their contention that western ranchers must pay fees in order to graze their cattle on Federal land.CopsAbusePower

What I find to be abhorrent, however, is the extreme and militarized actions taken by the BLM in enforcing their position against Clark County, Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, a man whom his neighbors, and most other people, would consider a law abiding citizen, not to mention the fact that this is a civil dispute that dates back almost two decades.

Consider this excerpt from an Infowars post, HERE, by Paul Watson:

None of the family members were armed, but as soon as Dave Bundy began filming the cattle in the distance, eleven BLM vehicles each with two agents arrived and surrounded him.  “They also had four snipers on the hill above us all trained on us.  We were doing nothing besides filming the area,” said Ryan Bundy.

and

When Dave Bundy didn’t immediately heed the warning and return to his vehicle, a dog was set on him and he was subsequently arrested.  “He was filming and talking on the phone, I don’t know to whom,” Ryan Bundy said.  “It happened pretty fast.  They came down on him hard and had a German Shepherd on him.  And then they took him.”

When Dave Bundy’s father Cliven attempted to contact emergency response in both Mesquite and for Metro in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of his son, he was told to, “get off the phone or he would be arrested,” according to Ryan Bundy.

This episide has been the subject of much local media attention, so for more detail and background information, check out THIS local Nevada newspaper account, or THIS account from the newspaper in nearby St. George, Utah.

Affirmative Action in Higher Education: How Do We Stand?

The SCOTUS is currently considering the merits of last fall’s arguments before the court in Fisher versus University of Texas, a new case centered on the reverse discrimination that results from collegiate affirmative action policies.  Journalist Gail Heriot has written an informative article on the case and on the nation’s experience with the long-term effects of such policies.  According to Heriot, there is:

… mounting empirical evidence that race preferences are doing more harm than good — even for their supposed beneficiaries.  If this evidence is correct, we now have fewer African-American physicians, scientists, and engineers than we would have had using race-neutral admissions policies.  We have fewer college professors and lawyers, too. Put more bluntly, affirmative action has backfired.

Her article goes on to explore the reasons behind the reality of affirmative action failure, including the problem of “mis-match”.  Her entire National Affairs article, HERE, is lengthy but well worth reading.  And for more, consider THIS article (in PDF format) that Thomas Sowell wrote thirty-eight years ago, in which he came to essentially the same conclusion about the merits of affirmative action.

“Acts of Love” and other Rubbish from Jeb Bush

Tell you what.  The dentist says my son needs braces, and since straight teeth will help him advance in the world as an adult, I steal your wallet and use your cash and credit card to pre-pay for the dental work.  That would be okay with you, right, ’cause the crime was motivated by an “act of love”?

Or maybe my wife is extremely depressed because we can’t afford to replace the automatic dishwasher that conked out last fall, so I sneak into your yard in the wee small hours of the morning to cut the copper coils out of your HVAC system, then sell the copper to get money to buy her a spiffy new Whirlpool.  You would be willing to sweat it out this summer, right, knowing that your discomfort was in support of an “act of love”?Illegal_Immigrants_2

No less ridiculous was this rationale offered yesterday by former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, a possible Presidential candidate, now pathetically kissing up to the Hispanic community in hopes of cornering their votes:

Yes, they broke the law, but it’s not a felony. It’s an act of love.  It’s an act of commitment to your family.  I honestly think that that is a different kind of crime that there should be a price paid, but it shouldn’t rile people up that people are actually coming to this country to provide for their families.

But does Bush really want our votes, at least for his own candidacy?  Political pundit Mickey Kaus says no, that Jeb is just being “John Alden” to Marco Rubio’s “Miles Standish”:

He’s not running, but he’s making space for Marco Rubio.  Look at it this way: The GOP establishment is desperate to suppress Tea Party conservatives and also obtain the immigration amnesty they believe will win Latinos and relieve them of the need to do too much rethinking in other areas.  P.S.: The need to rehabilitate Rubio–-which means avoiding a big immigration fight, at least in 2015 and 2016–-would be one more reason the GOP establishment might feel it’s now-or-never for passing an immigration reform bill.  That would help explain the increasingly desperate and sneaky (but possible successful) efforts to keep amnesty alive.

Jeb Bush, also a Common Core supporter by the way, has said that he will make a decision on whether he will be a candidate in the 2016 Presidential race by the end of this year.  But if he does, he can forget about getting my vote.

Senate Intelligence Report: Torture didn’t lead to bin Laden. Jose Rodriguez says different. [BUMPED]

Earlier this week I posted the paragraph below under a title that was comprised of the first sentence in the current title.

That’s the title of THIS piece from Bradley Klapper of the Associated Press.  However, the article does not reveal what I think is a critical question when evaluating the conclusion of the Senate Intelligence Committee:  How many of the fifteen Committee members were Democrats, how many were Republicans, and how did each member vote on the conclusions in the report and in the 400-page summary, which is to be released today?

To clarify, the Senate Intelligence Committee  is composed of eight Democrats and seven Republicans.

 

UPDATE

Jose A. Rodriguez Jr. is the former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and the author of “Hard Measures: How Aggressive CIA Actions After 9/11 Saved American Lives.”  Appearing as a piece on the editorial page of the Washington Post, Rodriguez has written a rebuttal to the Associated Press article cited in my first post, referred to above.  The entire text of his rebuttal is reprinted below:

People might think it is wrong for me to condemn a report I haven’t read.  But since the report condemns a program I ran, I think I have justification.

On Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify and release hundreds of pages of its report on U.S. terrorist interrogation practices.  Certain senators have proclaimed how devastating the findings are, saying the CIA’s program was unproductive, badly managed and misleadingly sold.  Unlike the committee’s staff, I don’t have to examine the program through a rearview mirror.  I was responsible for administering it, and I know that it produced critical intelligence that helped decimate al-Qaeda and save American lives.

The committee’s staff members started with a conclusion in 2009 and have chased supportive evidence ever since.  They never spoke to me or other top CIA leaders involved in the program, or let us see the report.  Without reviewing it, I cannot offer a detailed rebuttal.  But there are things the public should consider.

The first is context.  The detention and interrogation program was not built in a vacuum.  It was created in the months after September 11, 2001, when nearly 3,000 men, women, and children were murdered.  It was constructed shortly after Richard Reid narrowly missed bringing down an airliner with explosives hidden in his shoes.  It continued while U.S. intelligence learned that rogue Pakistani scientists had met with Osama bin Laden to discuss the possibility of creating crude nuclear devices.

When we captured high-ranking al-Qaeda operative Abu Zubaida in 2002, we knew he could help us track down other terrorists and might provide information to allow us to stop another attack.  Those who suggest we should have questioned him more gently have never felt the burden of protecting innocent lives.

Second is effectiveness.  I don’t know what the committee thinks it found in the files, but I know what I saw in real time: a program that provided critical information about the operations and leadership of al-Qaeda.  Intelligence work is like doing a thousand-piece jigsaw puzzle without the picture on the box top and with millions of extra pieces.  The committee staff started with the box top, the pieces in place, and pronounced the puzzle a snap.

The interrogation program was not flawless.  But we identified and rectified our mistakes and, where appropriate, reported suspected wrongdoing to the Justice Department.

Third is authority.  This program was approved at the highest levels of the government, judged legal by the Justice Department and regularly briefed to the leaders of our congressional oversight committees.  There was never any effort to mislead the administration or Congress about the program.  In 2006, then-CIA Director Michael Hayden expanded those fully briefed on the program to include all members of the intelligence oversight committees.  It is a travesty that these efforts at transparency are now branded insufficient and misleading.

When portions of the report are released, I hope the CIA’s response, pointing out its flawed analysis, is also made public.  But before anything is released, authorities must ensure that we don’t make the job of my successors, who are trying to prevent future terrorist attacks, any harder.

Nancy Pelosi once insisted that she had never had a briefing on the CIA’s interrogation program.  The Obama White House insisted that the Benghazi attacks were a mindless reaction to an internet movie.  The Senate, and the Senate Intelligence Committee, are both still firmly in the grip of the President’s party.  You be the judge of who to believe on this issue.

A Brief Recap of the regularly scheduled Morehead City CCTPP Meeting of April 1, 2014: Part 3 of 3 (Taylor Griffin)

The Morehead City faction of the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots held their regular weekly meeting Tuesday evening.  The agenda was packed, and the meeting room was near full with a couple of dozen members in attendance, all of whom were attentive to each of the scheduled speakers.  Since there was considerable interlocution with all three candidates for office during the meeting, this recapitulation will be broken into three posts, one each to address the policies and performance of each candidate.  

Third up was Taylor Griffin, who is also, like Al Novenic, a third candidate and a second challenger for North Carolina’s 3rd District Congressional seat currently held by Representative Walter Jones.  Griffin presented no prepared remarks, as this was his third appearance before a meeting of the CCTPP, and he is already known to the members as a man who presents as a more consistently conservative candidate than incumbent Jones.  In his previous visits, he has stated his support for and his belief in a smaller government, less federal spending, small business and the free market, tax simplification with lower marginal rates, defeating the liberal assaults on the Second Amendment, a strong military, and a cautious and piecemeal approach to the problem of illegal immigration, an approach that leaves no room whatsoever for a blanket amnesty.

This appearance was for the purpose of addressing any and all questions that the attending members might have about him, his experience in Washington, his associations, and his policy positions and prescriptions.  The following summarizes the questions asked and the responses given, in no particular order.

On the list of the usual suspects was the subject of ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION.  Griffin admits that it is a sticky issue, as there is a genuine need for the type of low skilled, low paid labor that illegal immigrants are thought to satisfy, including many jobs in NC’s agricultural sector and elsewhere.  A related problem is that, in exchange for any proposals the Republicans might offer to improve border security or to otherwise dis-incentivize more illegal immigration, the Democrats in Congress will demand a pathway to citizenship for those illegals already in the country.

Candidate Griffin believes that a pathway to citizenship would likely result in Democratic electoral majorities for decades to come, and that conservatives must not allow the amnesty / pathway scenario to further advance in Congress.  The most realistic approach for Republicans, he asserts, must be to:

1]  Secure the border by a combination of high-tech methods and equipment coupled with Border Patrol boots on the ground.  This will not be easy, and there will be funding issues, but it is vital.

2]  Strengthen the E-Verify system and it’s participation rate by making it easier for small employers to use, and by enforcing the penalties against those employers who willfully avoid it’s use.

3]  Reduce the dis-incentives to work in our current unemployment benefit and welfare benefit structure.

Griffin was also asked to elaborate on his RELEVANT EXPERIENCE AND QUALIFICATIONS, so:

1]  he began by confirming that, after college (at Appalachian State) he had worked first in the office of NC Senator Jesse Helms, then in the administration of President George W. Bush in the White House and later in the Treasury Department.  While at Treasury, he also spent time working on developing measures to track and disrupt terrorist funding sources.

2]  In 2008 he moved on to work with the campaign staff for Senator John McCain’s bid for the presidency.  Soon after Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was named as McCain’s VP pick, Griffin was one of the staffers assigned to the tasks of helping Governor Palin deal with the media and fend off the efforts of her adversaries in Alaska to bring her to heel by means of frivolous lawsuits.

3]  In 2010 he co-founded Hamilton Place Strategies (HPS), a public policy consulting firm in Washington, DC.  HPS was a small business which eventually grew to having about twenty employees and a payroll to match.  After selling his share in the firm, he moved back to North Carolina, and now lives in New Bern.

4]  In a follow-up query, Griffin was asked about whether he had ever been a lobbyist.  Griffin said he had not, and that he thinks that rumor may have gotten started because, back in 2010, on behalf of Hamilton Place Strategies, he had filled out the registration form that the Federal government requires of lobbyists.  He had done so out of caution, just in case the Feds were to misconstrue any of his consulting activities to be lobbying.  The firm, he says, never earned a dime for any lobbying activities.

The next question related to Griffin’s views on recent INSIDER TRADING scandals, to which he replied that he thought the laws against it should be made stronger by amending the STOCK Act of 2012 to address the problem of short sales by members of Congress, to expand the disclosure requirements, and to make the penalties for shadow trading more serious.

About his view on TAX REFORM, Griffin said that he favors a simplified tax structure that does not distort the economy in the way that ethanol subsidies and most other green energy preferences do.  He also advocates for lower marginal rates, both for individuals and corporations, and for policies that could entice corporations to bring their monetary profits and reserves back into the U.S. where they could be available to help capitalize our economy.

On his SUPPORT FOR THE MILITARY, he promised to equal or exceed the support attributed to Representative Walter Jones on military issues, and even drew the questioner’s attention to an instance in which Jones’ voting had been inconsistent with his rhetoric on the issue.

On FOREIGN AID, candidate Griffin believes that there is some room for cuts to the foreign aid budget, but since expenditures are only $37-billion out of a budget in excess of $3,400-billion, it is not our most pressing fiscal problem.  He added, however, that he was, unlike President Obama, a strong supporter of Israel and would usually be in their corner when it came to dealing with the Palestinians and other adversaries in the Middle East.  Moreover, he thinks that the Israel portion of our foreign aid budget is justified.

Asked about his view of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) regulatory activism during the Obama administration, Griffin stated that he opposes much of their agenda, particularly their regulations dealing with carbon (cap-&-trade) and carbon gases (carbon dioxide), and would work to constrain the agency’s regulatory excesses.

Asked also about his view of certain NSA activities authorized under the Patriot Act, Griffin affirmed that it is necessary for the Feds to have access to telecommunication meta-data in order to thwart or pursue terrorists, but that the government need not have custody of the records.  Also, he thinks it imperative that there be independent oversight of the NSA’s access to the data.

Chairman Bob Cavanaugh asked Griffin what COMMITTEE ASSIGNMENTS he would pursue if elected, and Griffin responded that he would most want to be on the House Armed Services and Marine Fisheries committees.

For additional information, readers may wish to visit Taylor Griffin’s website, HERE.

Is Mark Harris Gaining Ground with the Tea Party?

On March 13, Mark Harris spoke before the Carteret County Republican Men’s Club to pitch his suitability to be the new junior Senator from North Carolina.  I was in attendance, and posted THIS account the next day briefly outlining my favorable impression of him.  Also, about three weeks ago I posted THIS link to the lengthy interview that Brant Clifton (of The Daily Haymaker) did with Mark Harris.

Earlier this week, the Republican NC-GOP Senate hopeful appeared before the Caldwell County Tea Party to present his case to them.  He won a great many of them over, apparently, but you can judge the tone of the News-Topic article, HERE, for yourself.

Greg Brannon Is Still Giving It His Best Effort

In spite of the negative publicity associated with the recent civil trail verdict against him, Republican NC-GOP primary candidate Dr. Greg Brannon of Cary is still in there pitching.  Underscoring his continuing committment to the challenge of winning the Senate seat held at present by Kay Hagan, Dr. Brannon gave THIS revealing interview to AP reporter Gary Robertson earlier this week.  A comprehensive article, and worth reading.

The only leading candidate for the GOP Senate primary nomination that has not been seen yet in Carteret County is Heather Grant, a medical professional from Wilkesboro who describes herself as being more in accord with Greg Brannon’s views than any of the other primary candidates.  We will have an opportunity to hear from her at the Crystal Coast Republican Men’s Club meeting of April 10th.  Check the Events List on the right sidebar of the Home page for details, and click HERE to read a recent article on Mrs. Grant from WRAL.com.  And for much more on her, go to her website, HERE.

A Brief Recap of the regularly scheduled Morehead City CCTPP Meeting of April 1, 2014: Part 2 of 3 (Blake Beadle)

The Morehead City faction of the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots held their regular weekly meeting Tuesday evening.  The agenda was packed, and the meeting room was near full with a couple of dozen members in attendance, all of whom were attentive to each of the scheduled speakers.  Since there was considerable interlocution with all three candidates for office during the meeting, this recapitulation will be broken into three posts, one each to address the policies and performance of each candidate.  

Second up was Blake Beadle, one of the three Republican candidates for the Carteret County Board of Education seat given up by Vice Chairwoman Cathy Neagle.  (We have heard already from fellow Republican candidate Randy Steele, and we are scheduled to have the third Republican candidate, Janiece Wall, return to our meeting next week on April 8th.)  Mr. Beadle grew up in Hubert, just west of Swansboro, and attended school there.  He graduated from high school in Maryland, then furthered his education at Cape Fear Community College and UNC-Wilmington.  He graduated from UNC-W after meeting his future wife, Millie Grady, who is a native of Carteret County.  He later worked in Washington, DC, for a time before moving back to Carteret County.

Mr. Beadle began his prepared remarks by noting that North Carolina ranks 46th in the nation in teacher pay, from which I infer that he believes some redress is in order.  He went on to talk about some of his special interests as regards the county’s BOE fiscal policies, including his interest in leasing rather than purchasing of some durable equipment, and the development of Key Performance Indicators (KPI) to enable cost savings in the portion of the system budget that is not allocated to teacher remuneration.

He supports the eventual elimination of teacher tenure, but thinks that greater financial incentives should be offered to teachers in order to compensate them for giving it up.  He supports vouchers, charter schools, and home schooling as alternatives to the status quo.  He describes himself as being conflicted on the issue of Common Core, as he thinks the adoption of national standards will help students, now and in the future, by enabling them to better cope with the increased mobility that our population is experiencing.  He notes, however, that there are drawbacks to Common Core, and in his view the undesirable curriculum controls and dictates for the Math and Language Arts subjects are foremost among them.

Mr. Beadle also promised that, if elected, some portion of his compensation for serving on the Board would be devoted to establishing three High School level scholarships in the County for the promotion of learning in the vocational, educational, and culinary fields.  For further information, readers are encouraged to visit Mr. Beadle’s “Blake For Education” website, HERE.

Were Our Efforts For Naught? Maybe Not!

PowerLine Co-blogger Paul Mirengoff notes today that the volume of comments in opposition to the proposed IRS regulatory constraints on organizations that have or sought tax-exempt status under Section 501(c)(4) have forced a reconsideration.  An excerpt:

I don’t know whether the criticisms have been heard by the IRS but their weight has been felt.  Today IRS Commissioner Koskinen told an audience at the National Press Club that his agency is unlikely to finalize the proposed regulations this year.

Koskinen said:

During the comment period, which ended in February, we received more than 150,000 comments.  That’s a record for an IRS rulemaking comment period.  In fact, if you take all the comments on all Treasury and IRS draft proposals over the last seven years and double that number, you come close to the number of comments we are now beginning to review and analyze.

It’s going to take us a while to sort through all those comments, hold a public hearing, possibly repropose a draft regulation and get more public comments.  This means that it is unlikely we will be able to complete this process before the end of the year.

Great news, if true, because putting off the implementation of the proposal until next year means that there is a greater probability that a larger Republican presence in Congress might kill them altogether.

We should all recognize that this result is largely due to the efforts of Washington DC attorney Cleta Mitchell, and to all the conservative and Tea Party groups around the country that raised such holy hell about the proposal.  Including us, the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots.

Sec’y of State Kerry Gets No Love From the Palestinians

It seems that the foolish Obama/Kerry gambit to bring peace to the Middle East has gone down in flames, preventing the further consideration, fortunately, of an even more foolish offer to release Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard in an attempt to entice the Netanyahu government into rolling over and exposing their under-belly to the Palestinians.

At the online New York Post, John Podhoretz has up an opinion piece about the debacle.  From the article, this key portion:

On Tuesday, the Palestinians took eight months of relentless work by Kerry and threw it in the garbage.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas announced he will seek membership for “Palestine” in various international forums and treaties as the equivalent of a sovereign nation.

That move violates the central concept of the so-called “two-state solution,” according to which the Israelis and Palestinians need to come to mutual agreement on the borders of a Palestinian state.

In response, Kerry canceled his bazillionth trip to the region.  And yet he couldn’t admit what the cancellation implicitly acknowledged.

“It is completely premature tonight to draw any kind of judgment, certainly any final judgment,” Kerry said.  “The important thing is to keep the process moving and find a way to see whether the parties are prepared to move forward.”

To borrow one of President Obama’s favorite expressions, let’s be clear:  the Palestinians do not really want peace.  The Palestinians do not REALLY WANT peace.  The Palestinians DO NOT REALLY WANT PEACE.  So why don’t we just quit wasting our time with this b/s, already?

It has been said before that by the time Obama leaves office the perception that his presidency was as inept as was Jimmy Carter’s will be seen as a “best case” scenario.  This episode will only fuel that flame.  

For the full article, click HERE.

A Brief Recap of the regularly scheduled Morehead City CCTPP Meeting of April 1, 2014: Part 1 of 3 (Al Novenic)

The Morehead City faction of the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots held their regular meeting last night.  The agenda was packed, and the meeting room was near full with a couple of dozen members in attendance, all of whom were attentive to each of the scheduled speakers.  Since there was considerable interlocution with all three candidates for office during the meeting, this recapitulation will be broken into three posts, one each to address the policies and performance of each candidate.  

First up was Al Novenic, the third candidate and the second challenger for North Carolina’s 3rd District Congressional seat currently held by Representative Walter Jones.  Mr. Novenic, also known by the nickname “Big Al” (website with several position papers and videos is HERE), is a retired Marine First Sergeant who currently has a real estate operation in the Jacksonville area.  His wife Tina came with him, and assisted his presentation by disseminating a few hand-outs to the members.

Mr. Novenic is a strong speaker with a notably forthright presence, and he did not hesitate to answer all of the questions put to him during the meeting.  Indeed, he and his wife stayed to the end of the meeting in order to discuss his views with interested members.

He characterized himself as a strong supporter of the Second Amendment, and as to the nation’s economy, he favors a flatter tax structure (with a maximum rate of maybe 15%) that would shift business-friendly tax policies away from large corporations and toward small business.  He believes that the federal budget could be significantly reduced if the tax code were to be scrutinized for unjustifiable loopholes, and if our welfare entitlement system was reformed to reduce or eliminate many of the more abused elements.

As a realtor, he strongly favors proactive measures to shore up the housing market, saying that the housing sector is “the number one job creator in the country.”  In addition, when asked what congressional committee assignments he would pursue if elected, he named the Armed Services Committee, the Marine Fisheries Committee, and the Agriculture Committee.

As noted in the preceding paragraph, Novenic has numerous policy position papers, essays, and videos on his website that further detail his views, and I would urge interested viewers to check out the site.  The link is in the second paragraph, above, and HERE.

NC-BOE Finds 35,000 Incidences of 2012 Double-Voting

Seems that Jay Delancy is definitely on to something.  Here is the complete text of Andrew Johnson’s article at the online National Review:

North Carolina’s Board of Elections found that tens of thousands of registered voters from the state have personal information matching that of registered voters in other states, and appear to have voted in states other than North Carolina in 2012.  In some cases, votes were cast under names of individuals who had passed away before Election Day.

The review searched databases in 27 other states and 101 million voter records for information such as matching names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers.

The review found that 35,570 North Carolina voters from 2012 shared the same first names, last names, and dates of birth with individuals who voted in other states.  Another 765 Tar Heel State residents who voted in 2012 had the the same names, birthdays, and final four digits of a Social Security number as voters elsewhere.

Meanwhile, the election board’s executive director, Kim Westbrook, told lawmakers that 81 deceased North Carolinians apparently voted in 2012 as well.  While some appear to have submitted absentee ballots prior to their death, she said “there are between 40 and 50 who had died at a time that that’s not possible.”

Westbrook offered a series of proposals for the state to consider to better secure its voting practices and reduce fraud, including on-site digital face-recognition or electronic-signature technology.

For more detail, also check out THIS article from WRAL.com, in Raleigh.

A Busy CCTPP Meeting Set For Tuesday Night

As can be seen on the Events List (at right in the sidebar), our next BlakeBeadle2regularly scheduled meeting is Tuesday evening at the Golden Corral in Morehead City.  We are scheduled to have the following speakers:

Blake Beadle (at right) is the candidate running for the Carteret County Board of Education seat vacated by Mike Mansfield, as Mansfield is now running for County Commissioner.

Al Novinec (at left, below) is the third candidate in the primary race to be the Republican nominee for the North Carolina 3rd BigAl_NovinecCongressional District seat in congress.  The other two are the incumbent, Walter Jones, and Taylor Griffin.

Taylor Griffin (not pictured) is also scheduled to be at the meeting, not so much to speak, but since the primary is only five weeks hence, to answer any lingering questions that our attendees may have on his policy positions or his ideological philosophy.

As an additional attraction, the Golden Corral will prepare, as a one-time special treat not seen on their regular menu, the delicious Haggis Hoagie with Iguana Liver Pate’.  Don’t miss it!

An NRA for Ka-nife Owners

I welcome this development and have for a long time, ever since Mrs. Saunders confiscated my high-quality German-made switchblade in the seventh grade.  Darned ole’ busybody.  I paid five bucks for that knife, and it was the envy of every other boy on the schoolyard.

Below is the full text from the article that appeared on Brietbart:

With gun control defeated in 2013 and unlikely to make any headway with the 2014 elections, forcing Democrats to tack to the center, many citizens are lining up to push back laws restricting knife ownership.

The battle is being led by Knife Rights, an organization Doug Ritter founded in 2006 after realizing “there was not an NRA for knife owners.”

According to KnifeRights.org, Ritter has already succeeded in seeing “knife preemption laws” enacted in Arizona, Utah, New Hampshire, Georgia, Kansas, and Alaska.

Moreover, the National Journal reports that a knife bill which repeals the carrying and sale of switchblade knives has been passed in Tennessee, and Governor Bill Haslam (R) is expected to sign it.

The bill repeals the state’s ban on switchblade knives and the 4-inch blade limit heretofore placed on knives carried by those “with intent to go armed.”  The legislation “also preempts any city or town ordinance that regulates knives.”

NRA executive vice president Wayne LaPierre fully supports the work of Knife Rights, calling them “the premier grassroots organization protecting our right to own knives.”  He adds: “Those who love freedom need Knife Rights.”

And yes, there is a Second Amendment issue here.  After all, the one-armed, gun averse folks among us have the right to concealed carry also, don’t they?

SWAT Team Raids Suburban Family Home Over Teenager’s Science Project

On the morning of April 20, 2012, Bob Harte woke up to pounding at his door.  He answered the door to find a fully-armed team of SWAT officers from the Sheriff’s Office in Johnson County, Kansas. The officers pushed CopsAbusePowerHarte to the floor of his home, then gathered his wife, his 13yo son, and his 7yo daughter together and sat them on the living room couch before commencing a two-hour raid of the residence, all the while with cop cars and flashing blue lights filling his yard and rousing his community.

The deputies refused to tell Harte why they were searching his home until they had completed the raid, but as they were leaving they told him they were searching for narcotics. They found none, and left him a receipt stating that there were “No items taken.”  In order to allay the natural suspicions of his neighbors at seeing a SWAT team raid on his home, Bob Harte had to take this receipt around to show his neighbors in order to prove that he and his family were not criminals.

The Harte’s, two former CIA employees with no criminal records, wanted to know how they had been selected for the raid, but the County officials would not tell them.  So they filed suit, eventually spending $25,000 dollars to find out, because they felt, as I do, as you would, that the public has an interest in knowing whether law enforcement raids of residential properties are based on a well-founded allegation of wrong-doing, validated by the careful scrutiny of the magistrates or judges who sign the authorizing warrants.

For more on this episode and it’s aftermath, check out THIS article at Yahoo News, and THIS article from local Kansas City television station KSHB (which includes a video), and THIS article from Opposing Views, an independent media site based in Los Angeles.

My purpose in posting about such occurances as this one is that I think that law enforcement in the United States is becoming too militarized, and that magistrates and judges are all too often derelict in their duty to clearly identify a legitimate “probable cause” before signing warrants for searches, particularly of residential properties.  However, I also acknowledge that LEO’s have a vested interest in trying to employ overwhelming force when they have a realistic expectation of armed resistance.  So, HERE is another perspective, more fair and balanced.

Really? A “Profile In Courage” or an “Act Of Betrayal”?

Former President George Hiram Walker Bush (Bush-41) is being given a Profile In Courage Award by the JFK Presidential Library Foundation for his capitulation to the Democrats in the 1990 Congress, in which he agreed to raising tax rates as a part of that year’s budget deal.  There are at least two things about this that are of note:

  1. The first is the irony of being given an award for raising taxes by the Presidential Library Foundation of the President that urged onto Congress the largest reduction in marginal income tax rates in the last half-century.
  2. The second is that Bush-41′s son George W. Bush, who became President in his own right (Bush-43) has acknowledged his opinion, to many of his friends in private, that the single biggest factor in the failure of his father to win re-election against Bill Clinton in 1992 was his father’s betrayal of his “read my lips, no new taxes” pledge during the 1988 campaign, in which he won over Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis.

The full story, from USA-Today, is HERE.

Democrat Intransigence on the Proposed IRS Regs: Were Our Efforts For Naught?

President Obama wants increased funding for the International Obama_HammerMonetary Fund (IMF), and the Senate wants to give it to him.  And at first blush, it seems like a straightforward and uncomplicated proposition, as reflected in this excerpt from Thursday’s post at CNN’s Money blog:

The International Monetary Fund [IMF] has agreed to lend Ukraine up to $18 billion over the next two years as its new government tries to stave off economic collapse.  Kiev has been running dangerously low on cash to pay for imports and service its debts since the ousting of pro-Moscow former President Vitkor Yanukovych last month, which killed off a $15 billion financial lifeline from Russia.

and

“The IMF package should be sufficient to prevent the country falling into a full-blown balance of payments crisis, in which the hrvynia would drop sharply and output would collapse,” said William Jackson, emerging market economist at Capital Economics.  In return for the bailout, Ukraine will implement a program of unpopular reforms aimed at stabilizing the economy and creating the conditions for a return to sustained growth.  Central to the program are commitments by Ukraine to tackle corruption — a major concern of international lenders — and reforming the country’s energy market, including the gradual withdrawal of subsidies on natural gas.

But with 100,000 Russian troops poised at the border, things are getting more complicated.  On top of that, the House Republicans, who are reluctant to bless the IMF expansions that the President favors, want a quid pro quo.  They have agreed to pass the IMF funding bill, which will enable the IMF to prevent chaos in the Ukrainian monetary system, in return for the Obama administrations’s promise to back off on implementation of the new IRS regulations that would restrict the political activism of the many conservative organizations that fall under the IRS Section 501(c)(4) rules for non-profits.

So, does Boehner have a deal?  Nope, nada, no way, Jose.  As reported earlier this week by Eliana Johnson at the online National Review (with my slight editing for brevity):

In the ongoing negotiations over a bill to fund aid to Ukraine, Republicans in both chambers told Democrats privately that they would cede ground on the IMF provision — which gives more influence within the organization to developing countries and, Republicans say, diminishes that of the United States — if Democrats agreed to delay the proposed rules.

and

Democrats wanted approval for new IMF rules and more funding for the president’s pre-kindergarten program, among other things, but were unwilling to give in on the IRS regulations: Democrats and the administration rejected [the] offer to trade increased funding for the IMF for an amendment that would have delayed them.  “The spin is that Republicans are so petty, but the truth is that Democrats are willing to sacrifice everything, including the IMF reforms they wanted, to keep them,” says a senior Republican aide.

For more, check out THIS at CNN, and THIS at National Review.

Hobby Lobby, in the Eye of the ObamaCare Hurricane

Until this past week, I had never set foot in a Hobby Lobby store, and the first impression I had when I entered the Morehead City store was that it was enormous.  It was also not what I expected.  There were no lavish ObamacarePost_HeaderImagedisplays of model electric trains, no section for battery powered remote-controlled model dune buggies, model boats, model airplanes, helicopters, or quadrocopters, not even a telescope for a harmless bit of stargazing.

But there was other stuff, lots of other stuff.  The second thing I noticed after walking in was, off to my right, a very large area devoted to the display of artificial flowers.  Being in firm possession of a Y chromosome, I do not have much interest in flowers, artificial or otherwise, so I moved on.  I saw sewing and knitting supplies, picture framing materials, art supplies, even some ready-made doll houses, and as I continued wandering about the store, my amazement grew at what I would characterize as the largest inventory of household knick-knacks in the universe.  And yes, there were some religious items, but not significantly more than you would find at a Target or Wal-Mart, in my opinion.

I went to the store in order to learn a little about the nature of the retail chain that has become the center of a controversial case that was argued just this past week in front of the Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS).  The case is Sebelius versus Hobby Lobby Stores, and in combination with the similar Conestoga Wood Specialties versus Sebelius suit, it presented to the Justices the question of whether a business can be forced by the government to provide health insurance coverage to it’s employees when that coverage will encompass goods and/or services to which the business ownership objects on religious grounds.  In this case the objectional “goods and/or services” are contraceptives, which are mandated by ObamaCare.

Based on how most Court observers assess the arguments, the ruling on this case (expected in June) will be decided on a 5/4 split with Justice Kennedy as the swing vote.  No one knows which arguments the Court will find more persuasive, but for more information and detail, check out these links to three articles reporting on the oral arguments before the Court last Tuesday.  The first, HERE, is a recap from SCOTUSBlog legal journalist Lyle Denniston.  The second, HERE, is from Sarah Torre posting in a Q-&-A format at the online National Review, and the third, HERE, is a posting by law professor Eugene Volokh in which he presents a technical analysis of the core arguments in the case.

I’m rooting for the conservative side to prevail, for two reasons.  First, because it would be the right outcome on constitutional grounds, and second, because it would be another serious wound for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.