The current Drudge Report headline is that President Obama has been hospitalized for acid reflux. As someone who suffered from the affliction for many years before the invention of stomach acid pump inhibiting drugs, I can emphasize and feel his pain. On the other hand, since he has been the cause of so much heartburn for the American conservative citizenry for the past six-odd years, maybe the President is experiencing what some would call Karma.
Back in November before the election, I attended a meeting of the Morehead-Beaufort NC Tea Party in order to hear the scheduled remarks of Carteret County Sheriff Asa Buck. In the Q-&-A session afterwards, as someone who has become increasingly concerned about the militarization of law enforcement in America, I asked Sheriff Buck to what degree his agency had become militarized, i.e., how much military style equipment had been acquired by the Sheriff’s Department during his tenure. I was pleased to hear the Sheriff say that, beyond the standard firearms, bulletproof vests, and other essential equipment needed to protect the safety of his officers, he saw no reason to pursue any military-type equipment made available by the federal government.
Although my estimation of Sheriff Buck’s judgment went up a notch that evening, the same cannot be said for some of the other law enforcement agencies along the Crystal Coast. After years of public clamor by folks who are as apprehensive as I about the aforementioned militarization, the Department of Defense has finally made public a detailed list of the military equipment given to law enforcement agencies all over America through the 1033 Program. Below is a graphic depicting the goodies handed over to policing agencies along the Crystal Coast:
Because of President Obama’s reaction to the events in Ferguson, Missouri and other similar events recently, I expect that he will soon direct the Pentagon to refuse equipment to law enforcement agencies that cannot show that their policing personnel are not racially representative in comparison to the surrounding community. Congress has also become somewhat interested in the issue of police militarization.
To peruse the entire list, organized alphabetically by municipality within states, click HERE, and be prepared to wait awhile after you make your selection from the two state groupings. And, if you are a Crystal Coast reader residing in one of the localities in the list above, you might want to ask why they need the firepower.
I have decided not to post the video depicting the 28-minute Q-&-A session, as I now think it would add little to the substance of Senator Guillory’s prepared remarks as shown in the video below.
Yesterday afternoon found me at Kings Restaurant in Kinston, NC. I was there to see and hear Louisiana State Senator Elbert Lee Guillory, the man who’s television campaign ad (video HERE) on behalf of U.S. Senate candidate Bill Cassidy was considered one of the more effective ads of the recent campaign season. Cassidy is now in a run-off election to unseat Democratic incumbent Mary Landrieu, the vote is tomorrow, and Cassidy is expected to win and therefore take the 54th Republican Senate seat in the new 144th Congress. For his part, Senator Guillory joins a growing list of outstanding black conservative politicians like Tim Scott, Mia Love, Willie Talton, Wayne Shannon, Jennifer Carroll, Mike Hill, Allen West, Will Hurd, James White, and Boyd Rutherford, all of whom are serving, recently have served, or soon will serve in elective office at the state or federal level.
Guillory sports an impressive resume. He is a graduate of J.S. Clark High School in Opelousas, Louisiana, where he still resides. He received his B.A. from Virginia’s Norfolk State University, and his law degree from Rutgers University in New Jersey. He has also attended New York Theological Seminary in New York City, although he did not graduate. Something of a sportsman, he enjoys mountain climbing and scuba diving.
During the Vietnam War he served in the U.S. Navy, finishing his undergraduate degree before being honorably discharged. He was then accepted into and graduated from Rutgers University School of Law. He subsequently served on the faculty of Rutgers Law, and as the Executive Director of the Maryland Commission on Human Rights. He has been a practicing attorney, General Counsel for Global Construction Co., and the Supervising Attorney for the Arcadiana Legal Service Project. He was elected to the Louisiana Justice Hall of Fame for his work in law and government.
Senator Guillory, now seventy years of age, has served in both the Louisiana House of Representatives and the Senate, and was twice named Legislator of the year during his first six years of service. Although Guillory has two years remaining on his term in the Louisiana Senate, he has already announced his candidacy for Lieutenant Governor in the State’s 2016 election. For much more on the Senator’s accomplishments, visit his website at www.ElbertGuillory.com.
The Senator spoke for over one-half hour in total. Although I videotaped all 39 minutes, in order to reduce the length of the video for this site I have broken it up into two parts. The first segment, below, is for the Senator’s prepared remarks, and it runs about 11-minutes.
The second segment, consisting of the period devoted to questions and answers (Q-&-A), runs about 28 minutes and will appear in a separate post sometime in the next few days.
This post concerns two of the many issues that will be before the new 114th Congress that takes office in January. Both are, and should be, of considerable interest to conservatives, as the decisions made in connection with the issues will have a lasting impact.
First, there is the issue of the person who heads the Congressional Budget Office, the CBO Director. The current Director is an Obama appointee who also served the Clinton administration. His name is Doug Elmendorf, and he is apparently well thought of in economic academia. However, the CBO is supposed to be a non-partisan servant of the Congress, and there are many Republicans who believe that the CBO’s failure to fully inform the Congress of the true costs attached to President Obama’s PPACA program is evidence of partisanship. I would have to agree with them, and so I think a change is in order. When the new Congress takes office, Elmendorf will have served six years. The Republican majority should replace him with someone who can be relied upon to deliver accurate cost projections for the programs that Congress proposes in the future. For a more informed perspective on this issue from National Review’s John Fund, click HERE.
Second, there is the issue of the filibuster. As readers will remember, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid carried out an underhanded parlimentarian maneuver just over one year ago to change the Senate’s rules regarding the confirmation of any Presidential nominations other than nominees to the Supreme Court. Instead of requiring confirmation by a 60-vote majority, Reid’s revision reduced the necessary vote to only 51 senators. Traditionally, the Senate re-affirms or changes it’s rules at the beginning of a new Congress, so if the new Republican majority wants to reinstate the 60-vote threshold it now has the opportunity. However, it appears that Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell and others in the Senate no longer have the enthusiasm for the 60-vote rule that they had a year ago. Here is an excerpt from THIS informative Politico article, written by Manu Raju and published on Wednesday of this week:
McConnell would have two options to change rules. He would need 67 votes on the floor, meaning he’d need at least 13 Democrats to join his caucus, which is expected to have 54 members in the new Congress starting next month. But Democrats have overwhelmingly supported weakening the filibuster rules, so it’s unlikely there are 13 Democrats who would be willing to raise the threshold back to 60.
McConnell could also attempt to move on a straight party-line vote by invoking the “nuclear option,” an arcane and rarely used procedure to change Senate rules by just a simple majority of senators, rather than 67 votes. But McConnell has constantly berated Reid for using the nuclear option, contending Reid “broke” the Senate rules to weaken the filibuster.
Moreover, if McConnell were to employ the nuclear option, it could give future majorities even more incentive to use the tactic to further weaken the filibuster — potentially going to the most extreme step of allowing legislation to advance by simple majority support. As a result, many Republicans are skittish about invoking the nuclear option to change the filibuster back to a 60-vote threshold.
For more on this issue, check out THIS article by PowerLine’s Paul Mirengoff, and for more on the history of Senator Harry Reid’s hypocracy, check out THIS article by Alexander Bolton, writing for the political blog The Hill.
Earlier in the week a new assessment of international economies was released by the World Bank’s ICP, or International Comparison Program, and China was said to have come out on top. But the people at MarketWatch are saying, HERE, that the ICP was doin’ it wrong, and that it will be a decade, more or less, for China to surpass the United States economy. The article is brief, so read the whole thing.
Although we are all hoping that the unrest revolving around the shooting in Ferguson will soon subside, some may still be interested in the details. The following is an excerpt from an article posted today by Paul Cassell at the Volokh Conspiracy law blog, the most detailed article that I have seen on the subject. It focuses on the testimony of Michael Brown’s friend Dorian Johnson, who was the man walking with Brown when the encounter began, and the apparent source of the “Hands up, don’t shoot” meme:
In short, Dorian Johnson’s story is not only implausible on critical issues, but also fails to match the physical evidence. In that respect, Johnson’s version clearly contrasts with Wilson’s testimony and, for example, Witness 10′s corroborating testimony. A reader interested in all the facts can make up his own mind. But to my mind, the evidence show that Johnson’s “hands up, don’t shoot” story is just that — a story made up by Dorian Johnson to obscure what really happened … and to transform his friend from a villain into a victim.
The full article can be read HERE.
At the meeting held last Tuesday, November 25th, the discussion was lively concerning the options that had been identified by Carteret County staff to implement the recommendations of the Springsted Corporation in their Compensation Study (earlier post HERE.) Most of the attendees felt that the cost of even the least costly option was still too high considering the state of the economy in general, and the dismal prospects for County revenues in particular. Since no consensus emerged from the discussions, members were left to their own devices for making their views known to the Commissioners.
After the discussions had concluded, a digital projector was set up and the 45-minute “Rocky Mountain Heist” video (below) was shown. The video is narrated by Michelle Malkin, who previously lived in California before moving with her husband and kids to Colorado several years ago. The video highlights the process by which four super-wealthy Colorado Democrats were able, by the end of the 2012 election cycle, to elect a Democratic Governor and a Democratic legislature (yes, both houses) in a state that just a few years ago was firmly red.
For those who were unable to attend the meeting, here’s the video:
We are amidst the Thanksgiving holidays once again, and time for our annual object lesson in how the concept of private property rights, the linchpin of capitalism, acts to ensure the greatest degree of prosperity for all. Tom Bethell explained it very well in his essay from early 1999 entitled “How Private Property Saved the Pilgrims”, an essay adapted from his book The Noblest Triumph. To set the stage, here are a few paragraphs from his essay:
The Pilgrims knew about the early disasters at Jamestown, but the more adventurous among them were willing to hazard the Atlantic anyway. First, however, they sent two emissaries, John Carver and Robert Cushman, from Leyden to London to seek permission to found a plantation. This was granted, but finding investors was a problem. Eventually Carver and Cushman found an investment syndicate headed by a London ironmonger named Thomas Weston. Weston and his fifty-odd investors were taking a big risk in putting up the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in today’s money. The big losses in Jamestown had scared off most “venture capital” in London.
Eventually, however, Carver and Cushman did accept terms stipulating that at the end of seven years everything would be divided equally between investors and colonists …
The colonists hoped that the houses they built would be exempt from the division of wealth at the end of seven years; in addition, they sought two days a week in which to work on their own “particular” plots (much as collective farmers later had their own private plots in the Soviet Union). The Pilgrims would thereby avoid servitude. But the investors refused to allow these loopholes, undoubtedly worried that if the Pilgrims—three thousand miles away and beyond the reach of supervision—owned their own houses and plots, the investors would find it difficult to collect their due. How could they be sure that the faraway colonists would spend their days working for the company if they were allowed to become private owners? With such an arrangement, rational colonists would work little on “company time,” reserving their best efforts for their own gardens and houses. Such private wealth would be exempt when the shareholders were paid off. Only by insisting that all accumulated wealth was to be “common wealth,” or placed in a common pool, could the investors feel reassured that the colonists would be working to benefit everyone, including themselves.
Read the whole thing, HERE, and withhold the pumpkin pie from the kids until they read it as well.
Tomorrow morning, the Carteret County Commissioners will hold a special session beginning at 8:30am in the usual meeting room for the purpose of further deliberations on the Compensation Study done by the Springsted Corporation, and on Springsted’s recommendations for revising the County’s employee compensation policies.
At this point, there are four options before the Commissioners. In the following options list, the term “SAFE Minimum Level” refers to the levels that are believed to be comparable to the compensation being paid in neighboring counties based on the Springsted survey.
1] Moving the salary of most employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level, expected to cost the County about $1,007,952. Employees who are already being paid above the minimum would be unaffected.
2] Moving the salary of all employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level or to a level that is 2% above their current salary, whichever is greater, expected to cost the County about $1,158,071.
3] Moving the salary of all employees up to the SAFE Minimum Level plus an additional one/half percent of their current salary for each year of service, expected to cost the County about $1,667,450.
4] Moving the salary of all employees up to 110% of the SAFE Minimum Level plus an additional one/half percent of their current salary for each year of service, expected to cost the County about $3,389,367.
Over the weekend I read the Springsted report and several related documents, and some of my conclusions will be presented at the CCTPP meeting tonight. If you are interested in this issue, please try to attend.
If time permits, we will also show the “Rocky Mountain Heist” video at tonight’s meeting. For the trailer and more on this 45-minute video, click HERE.
The books in the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots library have now been inventoried and put up on a separate page, the first sub-menu item under the menu category of “Education”. Any of the books may be borrowed by anyone on our membership list (verified by a listed e-mail address), or by anyone who comes to one of our meetings with the intent to become a member. Delivery, however, may only be done in person to someone attending one of our weekly meetings.
Donations to the library are always welcome. Future additions to the library will be noted in a post to this page.
As I have written previously, HERE, Russian President Putin views the incorporation of the western Ukraine as a key part of his long-range plan to gather many of the former Soviet satellite states around the motherland once more. Like many others, I also think that he recognizes the weakness of President Obama, and will therefore press his territorial ambitions before the end of Obama’s term.
In the current issue of the online Financial Times, Gideon Rachman has up an article about the escalations in recent months of Russian rhetoric as regards their nuclear capabilities. He also quotes the current commander of European NATO forces, U.S. General Philip Breedlove, as saying that Putin’s military had moved to the Crimea “forces that are capable of being nuclear”.
From his article, this telling excerpt:
Last week, Pravda – the Soviet mouthpiece during the cold war – ran an article headlined, “Russia Prepares Nuclear Surprise for Nato”. It crowed that Russia has parity with the US in strategic nuclear weapons and boasted: “As for tactical nuclear weapons, the superiority of modern-day Russia over Nato is even stronger. The Americans are well aware of this. They were convinced before that Russia would never rise again. Now it is too late.”
The recent elections in the U.S. have drawn attention away from the situation in the Ukraine, but it is by no means resolved.
For the entire article, click HERE.
Michael Bennet is the junior Senator from Colorado. He became Senator after being appointed by the Colorado governor to serve out the remainder of Ken Salazar’s term after Salazar resigned to become President Obama’s Secretary of the Interior. Bennet was then elected to a six-year term on his own merits during the 2010 mid-term election, which many have characterized as one of the first big tests of the Democrats’ so-called “Blueprint” for turning redstate Colorado into bluestate Colorado. Bennet’s 2010 election effort was run out of a building on Bannock Street in Denver, Colorado, so the application of the successful Colorado Blueprint to the key battleground states in 2014 became known as the Bannock Street Project. For the 2014 mid-terms, the Democrats identified ten battleground states on which to focus the Bannock Street Project’s $60M strategy. Those ten were Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, North Carolina, Michigan, Montana, and West Virginia.
It seems to be a matter of opinion as to whether the Bannock Street Project was a success. In light of the many victories for Republican candidates, it would seem to be an obvious failure. But for Nate Cohn, about whom I have posted previously, HERE, the coin has two sides. In his November 14th postmortum at The Upshot, his NYT political blog, Cohn gleans insights from comparing the election results in two neighboring states, North Carolina and Virginia. Writes Cohn:
The preliminary and qualified answer is that the Democratic field effort was probably a success. An analysis of precinct and county-level returns, supported by exit polls and limited voter file data, suggests that the turnout in key Senate battlegrounds was generally more favorable for Democrats than it was in 2010. When it wasn’t, the Democratic turnout still seemed impressive when compared with the states where they did not make significant investments, like Virginia or Maryland.
North Carolina has 100 counties, and Virginia, our neighbor to the north, has 95. With the possible exception of the area just south of Washington, D.C., our income and ethnic demographics are also somewhat comparable. Cohn continues:
Perhaps the most compelling comparison is between Virginia and North Carolina. The two states are demographically similar, and both had close contests. But Democrats invested heavily in field efforts in North Carolina, while they made little or no effort in Virginia, which was not thought to be competitive. Better still for our analysis, the states also have significant precinct-level data from this year and 2012.
Since 2010, turnout increased by 14 percent in North Carolina counties that voted for President Obama, but just 4 percent in counties that voted for Mitt Romney. In Virginia, turnout fell by 4 percent in Obama counties, but 2 percent in Romney counties.
Note that in the graphic below, based on the U.S. Election Atlas site run by David Leip, the last off-year election in Virginia was the gubernatorial race of 2013. Also, North Carolina counties are depicted in purple, while Virginia counties are shown in green.
There are many lessons to be learned from the recent election results. But, in our joyful gratification for the Republican gains, we must not forget that they can be transitory. We cannot let up. If anything, we must redouble our efforts for 2016.
For more on the Bannock Street Project, check out THIS article from earlier this year by Ed Kilgore of the Washington Monthly.
Like me, there are those of you who do not subscribe to the Carteret News-Times. You therefore may have missed the advertisement below, printed in yesterday’s Sunday edition.
The ad was intended as a bit of fun, but with a serious message; the CCTPP is preparing to do all we can to continue our efforts to inform and educate the Carteret County voters over the next two years, with the objective of repeating our success in helping to elect conservative candidates in the 2016 general election. Please join us.
In January, the U.S. House of Representatives will seat 41 new Republicans and 17 new Democrats. The Senate will seat 12, 11 of them Republicans. As I write this post, many of those 70 newbies will be either in Washington or making plans to be, as they all have an orientation process to go through. The following excerpt is from a New York Times article on that process:
There is no instruction manual for serving in Congress, but Representative Kevin McCarthy, Republican of California and House majority leader, did send his newly elected Republican colleagues a 125-page spiral-bound document called “Hit the Ground Running” that offers advice on hiring a chief of staff and opening district offices, and a helpful list of orientation “dos and don’ts.”
For more details on the orientation process and insights into the arrangements made by some individuals, click HERE. For some readers, however, the article may be behind a paywall.
Yesterday, the New York Times published an article written by their reporter Julia Preston, in which she identifies the main funders of the push in recent years for “comprehensive immigration reform”, also known as amnesty. It is a good article, but it may be behind a paywall for most readers. Hence my extensive excerpting, beginning with this:
Over the past decade those donors have invested more than $300 million in immigrant organizations, including many fighting for a pathway to citizenship for immigrants here illegally.
The philanthropies focused on a dozen regional immigrant rights organizations that make up the backbone of the movement. They also supported Latino service organizations like NCLR, also known as the National Council of La Raza, and legal groups like the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund, or MALDEF, and the National Immigration Law Center.
The Ford Foundation already had a decades-long track record of funding nonprofit organizations aiding immigrants. In 2003 Ford and Carnegie joined with several other donors to create an unusual collaborative fund to augment support for local groups. Since then, Carnegie has given about $100 million for immigration initiatives, all in conventional charitable donations, including millions to help legal immigrants become American citizens.
The Open Society Foundations of Mr. Soros, an immigrant born in Hungary, have invested about $76 million in the past decade under the rubric of immigrant rights, according to Archana Sahgal, a program officer.
The Atlantic Philanthropies were founded by Charles Feeney, an Irish-American billionaire who built his fortune with a chain of duty-free shops. Atlantic has given nearly $69 million in 72 immigration grants in the last decade.
By the way, it you click on any of the three links above to the latino immigration support sites (NCLR, MALDEF, National Immigration Law Center), you will probably see where some small portion of that $300M went. These sites are well designed and pretty slick.
While it is good to know who the opposition is, we should not let these “big money” numbers diminish our committment to blocking any immigration legislation that includes an amnesty. Remember, the recent election results showed clearly that the big money does not always prevail.
Dan Way of the John Locke Foundation put up a piece yesterday at the online Carolina Journal about the results of a telephone poll taken on the Wednesday and Thursday after Election Day. Here are the first three paragraphs from the article:
More than half of North Carolina voters and 70 percent of Republicans would be less likely to re-elect Gov. Pat McCrory if he supported the expansion of Medicaid under Obamacare, according to a poll released today by the Foundation for Government Accountability.
“I think there are huge political consequences for Medicaid expansion that no one is talking about that this poll reveals,” said Christie Herrera, a senior fellow at FGA, a free-market research and advocacy organization based in Florida.
“The more that North Carolinians know about Medicaid expansion the less they like it,” she said, noting that voters also indicate they would be less likely to re-elect state representatives who support the expansion under Obamacare of Medicaid, the government health insurance program for the poor and disabled.
And this, from later in the article:
Opposition to expanding Medicaid rose to 68.12 percent when respondents were told expansion would require $716 billion in cuts from seniors’ Medicare benefits; 67.13 percent were opposed after learning it would result in funding cuts to education, roads, and public safety; and 44.16 percent opposed it simply when they were told expansion was a key part of Obamacare.
Count me as being among the 70% of Republican voters who favor a primary challenge to the Governor if he were to lead an effort to expand Medicaid in North Carolina.
The whole article, worth reading, is HERE.
The Associated Press reports this morning, HERE, that the Alaska state board of elections has now counted enough absentee and early votes to have established a mathematical certainty that Republican challenger Dan Sullivan is the winner in the closely contested race with Democratic incumbent Mark Begich. Sullivan will therefore become the new junior Senator from Alaska after the swearing-in ceremonies in January, bringing the Republican majority in the Senate to 53-47. And if, as expected, the winner of the December run-off election in Louisiana between Republican challenger Bill Cassidy and incumbent Democrat Mary Landrieu goes to Cassidy, the final tally will be 54/46.
As regular readers will know, I have written often about the activities and putative intentions of China with respect to the South China Sea. One of those posts from last February, HERE, was about the assessments of a U.S. Navy Senior Intelligence Officer, Captain James Fanell, in regard to the specific objectives behind China’s Mission Action 2013 exercise, which took place in November, 2013.
Captain Fanell’s official title is (or was) Deputy Chief of Staff Intelligence & Information Operations (PACFLEET), and his assessment was formally presented to an annual conference in San Diego of the senior members of the American military naval forces as well as naval contractors. The theme for the 2014 conference, known as the 2014 Western Conference & Exposition (WEST-2014), was “Shaping the Maritime Strategy: How Do We Make It Work?”. Also on the conference panel alongside Captain Fanell was Rear Admiral James Foggo, the Navy’s Chief of Operations, Plans, & Strategy.
Now comes word, via the Navy Times, that Captain Fanell has been relieved of his post by Admiral Harry Harris, apparently over the candor he displayed in his remarks at the West-2014 conference. It seems that the Pentagon brass, and presumably the U.S. State Department, feel that his assessment of China’s intentions threaten the relationship between the U.S. and China at a time when the Obama administration is trying to engage China.
The Navy Times article is HERE, and for good measure, the WikiPedia page for the “Senkaku Islands dispute” is HERE. And, in case any reader wonders why I attach such importance to developments in the South China Sea, it is because the Senkaku Islands, as well as many other disputed islands in the region, are currently regarded as Japanese territory and are thus included in the United States’ mutual defense treaty with Japan. In other words, if China tries to take any of these islands by force, the U.S. is obligated to provide military assistance to Japan.
Previous posts on the situation in the South China Sea and on other matters related to U.S. military interests may be assessed by clicking on the “Military Affairs” sub-category (under the “Issues” category) from the sidebar to the right (only on the website’s Home page).
To see a preliminary review from The Hollywood Reporter, click HERE. They think it will be one of Eastwood’s best.
Director Clint Eastwood has announced that his movie depicting part of the life of Navy SEAL Chris Kyle will be selectively released late this year, presumably in order to be eligible for all the 2015 award ceremonies. The movie is based on the book American Sniper, and the movie is to have the same name. The full release of the movie, which stars Bradley Cooper as Chris Kyle and Sienna Miller as his wife Taya, is scheduled for January 16, 2015.
In a related note, the Internet Movie DataBase (IMDB) website has now listed the movie, HERE.
I have written before, HERE, about police power abuse in the form of asset forfeiture laws and their enforcement. In that connection, I have come to believe that everyone should:
a] ALWAYS, at the earliest opportunity, ask a law enforcement officer why you were stopped on the highway or why you are being otherwise detained in order to get his reason on the record;
b] NEVER give consent to a police search of your vehicle, your home or other real property, or your person;
c] NEVER linger past the point at which the LEO acknowledges that the process related to his previously articulated reason for detaining you has ended, and if that point is not readily discernable, ask the LEO outright. Specifically, never respond to any questions asked beyond that point, no matter how innocuous they may seem.
If you wish to know one of the many reasons why I advocate this, click HERE.
Two more photos , thoughtfully provided by mcronin, have now been added to the image rotator below.
Beautiful weather and a large crowd came together yesterday to produce a very successful Veteran’s Day Parade for Morehead City, their 20th. There were over one hundred seventy entries, and the Crystal Coast Tea Party’s float was number 131. Some photos are shown in the rotator below, and the full write-up from the Carteret News-Times is HERE.
Several amateur photographers were asked to send their photos of the parade and/or of our float for inclusion is this post, but nothing has been received at this writing. If any new photos are received, I will update this post and include them in the rotator.
I’ve written twice before this year (HERE and HERE) to comment on the progress through the federal court system of two ObamaCare cases. The two are among the many filed that are predicated on the contention that ObamaCare subsidies cannot be legally paid when the health care coverage is purchased via a federal exchange (i.e., through the Healthcare.gov online portal) by a resident of a state that did not establish a state exchange. North Carolina, of course, is one such state.
The first post noted the ruling in July of a 3-judge panel at the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in a case named Halbig versus Burwell. The panel ruled, via a 2/1 majority, that such subsidies were illegal under the Patient Protection & Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or ObamaCare).
The second post was about a similar ruling, this one from a District Court in eastern Oklahoma in a case known as Oklahoma versus Burwell.
In the D.C. Circuit case, Halbig versus Burwell, the defendants (the Obama administration’s DHHS head Sylvia Burwell or her successor) had asked that the full court review the case, and their request had been granted. Since the Obama administration has succeeded in recent years, with Senator Harry Reid’s help, in appointing several new liberal justices to the D.C. Circuit Court, this move was expected to eventually result in a victory for ObamaCare by way of an “en banc” reversal of the 3-judge panel’s ruling.
Now comes word in an announcement Friday that the Supreme Court has agreed to review King versus Burwell, another such case arising out of Virginia. In this case, a 3-judge panel of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals, sitting in Richmond, reached the conclusion that the residents of all fifty states were eligible for the federal subsidies, regardless of whether their state had created an exchange.
Since the lower federal courts are now split, the Supreme Court must resolve the basic issue. We do not know which justices voted in favor of taking on the case, but it takes a minimum of four Supreme Court justices to grant certiorari, and it is something of a truism among court watchers that SCOTUS does not usually take on a case for the purpose of affirming a lower court ruling. In addition, Justice Kennedy, the justice who is usually characterized as the Court’s current “swing vote”, was one of the four dissenters in NFIB versus Sebelius, the 2012 case in which Chief Justice John Roberts presided over a 5/4 majority to uphold the ObamaCare individual mandate.
There is, therefore, some basis for taking the optimistic view that there is substantial sentiment on the court for a view of the subsidies issue that is not in accord with that of the Obama administration’s Justice Department.
I am beginning to think that the Obama administration may set a new record for the number of regulations and/or executive actions that have or will be struck down by the federal courts. The most recent instance happened on the day before the mid-term election, when Judge Richard Leon of the D.C. circuit (appointed by G.W.B.) wrote in his opinion that the Justice Department’s interpretation of the Fair Housing Act language “appears to be nothing more than wishful thinking on steroids.”
I last wrote about the issue of “disparate impact” on October 25th, in a POST in which I noted that SCOTUS had agreed to take up the Texas Department of Housing & Community Affairs versus The Inclusive Communities Project case, and that the case would be an important one because of the potential for the Court to back away from the “disparate impact” doctrine established by Griggs v. Duke Power.
The case before Judge Leon was brought against HUD by the American Insurance Association (AIA). The members of the AIA were burdened by the Obama administration’s over-reaching interpretations of the 1968 Fair Housing Act, interpretations which had the effect of permitting HUD to bring many of the members’ business decisions under scrutiny for civil rights violations. In an example from 2012, the National Fair Housing Alliance (NFHA), a NYC-based public interest group, sued Allstate Corporation for refusing to insure flat-roofed houses in Delaware. In their suit, NFHA claimed that minorities were more likely to live in such buildings, and that they were therefore subject to discrimination by Allstate’s policy.
As an aside, in his twelve years on the federal bench, Judge Leon has compiled an interesting history. For details, check out his WikiPedia page, HERE.
I did not post about this in the run-up to Election Day, but not because it does not deserve our fullest attention. Reporter Shaila Dewan of the New York Times put up an article on October 25th (possibly behind a pay wall) about the latest egregious abuse by the Internal Revenue Service, this time relating to the practice of “structuring”. These are the two opening paragraphs:
For almost 40 years, Carole Hinders has dished out Mexican specialties at her modest cash-only restaurant. For just as long, she deposited the earnings at a small bank branch a block away — until last year, when two tax agents knocked on her door and informed her that they had seized her checking account, almost $33,000.
The Internal Revenue Service agents did not accuse Ms. Hinders of money laundering or cheating on her taxes — in fact, she has not been charged with any crime. Instead, the money was seized solely because she had deposited less than $10,000 at a time, which they viewed as an attempt to avoid triggering a required government report.
and later in the article:
… money was seized under an increasingly controversial area of law known as civil asset forfeiture, which allows law enforcement agents to take property they suspect of being tied to crime even if no criminal charges are filed. Law enforcement agencies get to keep a share of whatever is forfeited.
Critics say this incentive has led to the creation of a law enforcement dragnet, with more than 100 multiagency task forces combing through bank reports, looking for accounts to seize. Under the Bank Secrecy Act, banks and other financial institutions must report cash deposits greater than $10,000. But since many criminals are aware of that requirement, banks also are supposed to report any suspicious transactions, including deposit patterns below $10,000. Last year, banks filed more than 700,000 suspicious activity reports. Owners who are caught up in structuring cases often cannot afford to fight. The median amount seized by the I.R.S. was $34,000, according to the Institute for Justice analysis, while legal costs can easily mount to $20,000 or more.
There is nothing illegal about depositing less than $10,000 cash unless it is done specifically to evade the reporting requirement. But often a mere bank statement is enough for investigators to obtain a seizure warrant. In one Long Island case, the police submitted almost a year’s worth of daily deposits by a business, ranging from $5,550 to $9,910. The officer wrote in his warrant affidavit that based on his training and experience, the pattern “is consistent with structuring.” The government seized $447,000 from the business, a cash-intensive candy and cigarette distributor that has been run by one family for 27 years.
I don’t think the idea of a truly flat tax is feasible, but one strong argument in its favor is that the IRS could be virtually eliminated.
The full article is HERE.
1] Beginning in January, with the Republicans in control of both houses of the United States Congress, President Obama will have been boxed in, not into lame duck status exactly, but into a situation where executive action will be his only means of exerting power. I therefore think that, far from capitulating to the calls for bi-partisanship, he is probably going to be as confrontational as ever.
What, then, is he likely to do? Here are some possibilities of actions he make take over the next two years, largely gleaned from published punditry:
- Accelerate his misguided efforts to reach an accord with Iran, in order to add another notch on his legacy.
- Act to close the Guantanamo Bay prison facility. If he does, the question will be what does he do with the remaining terrorists who are still in custody there. Does he move them to facilities within U.S. borders, or simply turn them loose?
- Act to implement defacto immigration reform.
- Turn loose the EPA regulatory hounds.
- Urge his minions at the National Labor Relations Board to find ways to empower unions.
- Continue to tinker with ObamaCare in an effort to make the citizenry more attached to it, thereby making it harder for Congress to abolish it.
2] ObamaCare was signed into law in January of 2010 after having been passed in the Senate by a sixty-vote majority, all Democrats. Courtesy of reporter Philip Klein’s analysis, we now know that, of those sixty who voted for passage of ObamaCare, twenty-eight lost their senate seat in either the 2010, 2012, or 2014 elections. True, not all lost their seats outright, but it can be argued that at least half of the losses can be attributed to their ObamaCare vote. Maybe including Kay Hagan’s. For another view in agreement with Klein’s (and mine), check out THIS very short piece at the online Weekly Standard from reporter Jeffrey Anderson.
3] Ever heard of the REINS Act? Look into it, HERE, because I’m hopeful that the Republican Congress will make it a priority next year.
4] The election results are bound to put a lot of pressure on Supreme Court Justice Ruth Ginsburg, who, despite her age (81) and health problems, is on record as saying that she did not want to retire until there was a likelihood that her successor would be as liberal as she. With the senate in control of the Republicans, that cannot happen during the remainder of President Obama’s term, and she has to consider that Obama’s successor may very well be a Republican. My guess is that she will retire next year rather than attempt to hold out for another six years. President Obama will nominate a woman to replace her, of course, as her’s has now become known as a “woman’s seat” on the court, but it will be a less liberal woman if the nominee is to have any hope of being confirmed. Some are suggesting 54-yo Amy Klobuchar, Minnesota’s senior Senator and a former chief prosecutor in the State’s Hennepin County. Klobuchar’s formal political membership is in Minnesota’s Democratic-Farmer-Labor party, which is closely tied to the national Democratic Party, and she was first elected in 2006.
5] One of the things that Republican Senator Mitch McConnell, soon to be Majority Leader, will have to decide early on is whether to change the Senate rules for confirmation of judges to the lower Federal courts. As readers may remember, Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid cravenly changed the rules to provide for only a simple majority in order to assure confirmation of three liberal Obama nominees to the Federal bench at the Circuit Court of Appeals for the Washington, D.C. circuit. My view? Sauce for the goose …
6] I was heartened to see columnist George Will come out in favor, within his list of the six things that the Congress should do first next year, of mandating the quick completion and activation of the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste depository. For some detail on this fifteen-billion dollar debacle, click HERE.
As always, readers are free to agree or disagree via an e-mail message to me. Just click the Contacts / Contact CCTPP menu, then click on the Webmaster link.
As can be seen in the Events List at right, the Morehead City Veteran’s Day Parade is scheduled to begin at 11am Saturday. Our CCTPP float will be at position #131 of the queue, which will be on Shepard Street somewhere between 16th and 17th streets. Members are asked to be there an hour earlier (by 10am) in order to help out with decorations, loading of chairs, boxing of candy, etc.
As everyone will know by now, Carteret County was a clean sweep for Republican candidates in yesterday’s mid-term elections. There will be lots of speculation about exactly what accounted for this outcome or that, but I have to believe that our Tea Party effort was responsible in some significant part. It also helped that, in this instance, the Crystal Coast Tea Party Patriots’ preferences happened to coinside with those of the Carteret County GOP.
And here are two charts to ponder. The first is of the partisan races, which includes all the local candidates in addition to the U.S. Senate contest between Thom Tillis and Kay Hagan. Click to enlarge.
The next chart, below, depicts the results of the election for judges. Click to enlarge.
On Saturday I put up a post with a graphic illustrating the statewide North Carolina voting patterns of certain demographic factions, which showed that the Democrats are doing a much better job of turning out the vote than are Republicans. Unfortunately, the picture has only gotten worse now that the numbers are in for the full early voting period.
The updated graphic:
To compare with the graphic shown in my earlier post, scroll down.
Great Britain declared war on Nazi Germany in September of 1939, days after Hitler broke his word and directed his military forces to invade Poland. England declared war to honor their military alliance with Poland, but they did so with the full knowledge that they were totally unprepared to fight the Nazis. Along with the other allies from World War I, including the United States, they had virtually disarmed in the aftermath of winning the “war to end all wars”. They desperately needed time to re-arm, and so for a period of about eight months (from September, 1939 through May, 1940) neither side fired a shot against the other. This period came to be known as the “phony war”.
In many ways, the phrase can be aptly used to describe what is going on with President Obama’s air campaign against the ISIS forces in the Middle East.
Max Boot, a well-known military correspondent, put up a short piece over the weekend at the online Commentary Magazine site which highlights some aspects of this lunacy. From the lead-in:
If you want a laugh, go to the Central Command website and click on their press releases. Every day there is a new dispatch about the anti-ISIS air campaign in Iraq and Syria known incongruously as Operation Inherent Resolve. The latest release is from October 28: “U.S. military forces continued to attack ISIL terrorists in Syria Monday and today using attack and fighter aircraft to conduct four airstrikes. Separately, U.S. and partner nation military forces conducted nine airstrikes in Iraq Monday and today using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists.”
What’s so funny here? The fact that Central Command is trumpeting a mere 13 airstrikes, which only highlights how anemic this whole air campaign remains.
The full article, for which you may be required to register, is HERE.
Suspicion has been growing that President Obama’s executive order from earlier this year, in which he granted permission for thousands of young hispanic immigrants to legally cross the southern border into the United States and then be bussed all around the country, is responsible for the national epidemic of the EV-D68 virus. This is a serious concern, as the virus has already killed nine people in the U.S., paralyzed over four dozen others, and hospitalized hundreds more. The epidemic, which began in August, is especially worrisome because there is no vaccine for EV-D68, an enterovirus which manifests itself in scores of slightly different strains.
Last week, Neil Munro put up a well-researched article on the Daily Caller website that explored several aspects of the issue, including the apprehension on the part of many researchers and other health care professionals that expressing too keen an interest in the origins of the outbreak could jeopardize their federal grant funding.
From the article:
The inflow of roughly 9,000 under-13 children from Central America were guided by smugglers or relatives to the Texas border, and then handed over to U.S. border agencies. Obama’s agencies knowingly relayed most of these 9,000 “unaccompanied” kids to their parents or relatives living illegally in the United States.
Roughly 14,855 people came over in 2013 in “family units,” and another 68,445 “family unit” people arrived in 2014, according to federal data. That’s a total of 83,300 “family unit” people, with roughly 40.000 under-13 kids in two years. Only a few hundred migrants were immediately sent home, even though the president has the authority to repatriate them. Instead, Obama’s deputies released nearly all of the parents and kids to travel where they wished, pending their eventual appearance in court.
The full article, to which I have linked via the print page, HERE, is lengthy but worthwhile due to the scope of its content.