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.


 

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

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

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

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

ObamaCare Auto-Renewals Becoming Problematic

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

From the article:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

One-Third of Americans facing Debt Collectors

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

From the article:

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

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

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

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

The full article is HERE.

New Court-Ordered IRS Testimony on Lerner’s HDD

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

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

Money and Votes: The Michelle Nunn Strategy

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

Cellphones will now be more “portable” than ever

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

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

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

Three Cheers for Senator Rand Paul

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

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

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

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

The details, HERE, are worth reading.

CCTPP Meeting of Tuesday, July 22, 2014

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

Carteret County Link Corrections

Some weeks ago, Carteret County completed some revisions to their official website, and as a result, some of the links to County website pages on the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots “Contacts” page for the County, HERE, got broken.  This post is merely to advise readers that the links on that page are now fixed.

As always, should a reader encounter a malfunctioning link on this site, please e-mail me, the Webmaster, and I will attempt to rectify the problem as soon as possible.

The HAMAS Rocketeers: What Is To Be Done?

UPDATE

Earlier this evening on FoxNews’ Hannity show, guest host Eric Bolling interviewed one of the regular FoxNews military advisors on the situation in the Gaza Strip.  During that interview, two things were discussed that bear on this post.  First, the military advisor put the cost of each Tamir missile used with the Iron Dome system at $40K, not the $50K that I got from another source.  Secondly, and more importantly, the advisor pointed out that Israel is, at present, letting 14 out of each 15 rockets fired by HAMAS from Gaza come to earth unimpeded, because the Iron Dome system is so good at projecting the landing spot of a rocket based on radar tracking that the Tamir missiles can be reserved only for the 1 out of 15 that will hit an important target.  Therefore, if the targeting accuracy of HAMAS rocketry does not improve, defending against the portion of the 5,000 rockets that Israel is anticipating over the long term would require only about 333 Tamir missiles, not 5,000.  Both of these factors combined would greatly reduce the aggregate cost of using Iron Dome over the long run.

ORIGINAL POST

In an ongoing effort that began on July 8th, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) are busily looking for and destroying tunnels running from the Gaza Strip into Israel, a task that is apparently going to take considerably longer than expected.  Last week it was reported that the IDF had found 13 tunnels.  In an article on FoxNews, Middle East reporter Paul Alster now reports that the current count is 28 tunnels leading to about 60 outlets, and he elaborates in these excerpts:

IDF officials initially expected that most of the tunnels would be destroyed within days, but once on the ground learned there were more than intelligence sources knew.  And on Tuesday, a U.S. intelligence source revealed that American satellite imagery had suggested that as many as 60 tunnels might have been built underneath Gaza.

The maze of tunnels and access shafts appears to weave its way throughout much of the Gaza Strip.  Access points are reportedly found in homes, mosques, public buildings, and more …

and

The tunnels vary in length, height, and width, but some are well-constructed using concrete blocks.  Some have electricity feeds and sewage channels, suggesting they are designed for terrorists to remain inside for long periods, possibly days at a time.  The materials used to construct the tunnels appear most likely to have been diverted by Hamas from the building materials allowed into Gaza by Israel for civilian construction.

Israel simply cannot tolerate these mechanisms that enable HAMAS terrorists to surreptitiously cross the boundary between Israel and the Gaza Strip at will.  I think that, after the current operations are concluded, the Netanyahu government should consider widening the unofficial 300-foot “no-mans” zone into a 1500-foot strip running the entire length of the boundary between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, as well as the entire length of the boundary with Israel, extending for a distance into the Mediterranean.  This narrow land area, which would be roughly 40 miles in length, should have two fences separated by an exclusionary zone that would contain nothing but tunneling detection devices, such as vibration detectors and underground radar imaging.

There would be enormous resistance from the usual human rights groups, of course, as such a zone would encompass about 15% of the agricultural land in the Gaza Strip, which in its entirety, covers about 139 square miles.  In my view, however, even this hardship to the Gaza Palestinians is justified in order to reduce the danger to Israel, as the one-kilometer wide post-Intifada buffer zone created by Israel in 2001 seems to be largely ineffective against tunneling.

This would do nothing to prevent HAMAS from launching rockets across the Gaza border into Israel, I know, but it would prevent the rockets from coming into the Gaza Strip from Egypt in the first place.  As to funding, the Tamir missiles that the Israeli “Iron Dome” system uses cost $50,000 each, and the Iron Dome batteries themselves each cost about $45-million.  Israel now has about 15 batteries, and is contemplating, long term, having to launch as many as 5,000 Tamir missiles.  Five thousand Tamir missiles at $50K each is $250-million bucks, to say nothing of the cost of the Iron Dome batteries.  For that kind of money, I think the Israelis could fund quite a bit of tunnel-detection infrastructure.

For the FoxNews article, click HERE.  For information on underground imaging technology, click HERE, and for a way-cool interactive video that illustrates what the technology can reveal, click HERE.

Target May Be Having Second Thoughts

Most readers are probably aware that early this month, Target Stores, bending under the weight of criticism from gun control advocates, adopted a policy of continuing to permit concealed carry on their store properties while simultaneously asking people not to do so.  They apparently thought this would be a good compromise, but it meant, of course, that if a person with a CCL opted to comply with Target’s preference, they could be at risk of being unable to defend themselves while on Target properties.

Well, that didn’t take long.  ABC-News affiliate ABC7 in Los Angeles reported on Tuesday of this week the fatal shooting of what appears to be a crime victim on the parking lot of a Van Nuys Target store in the early morning hours, around 5am.  From their short article:

A suspect was arrested, and a weapon has been recovered.  He was also taken to a local hospital because police suspected he was under the influence of drugs.

The circumstances of the shooting remain unknown.  Authorities say the suspect is a known gang member, but the victim is not believed to be involved with gangs.

In a not surprising aspect, the shooter disregarded the wishes of Target Stores management.  Obviously, then, had he been a CCL holder, the victim might still be dead, but at least he would have had a chance of rehabilitating the gang member in the process.

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.