Yeah, like we haven’t heard that before.
Back in 2005, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) initiated a program called Project Gunrunner. Project Gunrunner is also part of the Department’s broader Southwest Border Initiative, which seeks to reduce cross-border drug and firearms trafficking and the high level of violence associated with these activities on both sides of the border. ATF has determined that the Mexican cartels have become the leading gun trafficking organizations operating in the southwest U.S. (DUH) and is working in collaboration with other agencies and the Government of Mexico to expand the eTrace firearm tracing software system. eTrace is supposed to provide web based access to ATF’s Firearms Tracing System to allow law enforcement both domestically and internationally the ability to trace firearms encountered in connection with a criminal investigation to the first recorded purchaser – who may have innocently sold the gun years ago. eTrace supposedly allows law enforcement to access their trace results directly (name and address of first purchaser) and offers the ability to generate statistical reports to analyze their trace data to estimate firearms trafficking trends or patterns. Here’s where it gets interesting.
Project Gunrunner has a stated official objective to stop the sale and export of guns from the United States into Mexico in order to deny Mexican drug cartels the firearms considered “tools of the trade”. However, since February 2008 under Project Gunrunner, Operations “Fast and Furious”, “Too Hot to Handle”, “Wide Receiver” and others (all together satirically dubbed “Operation Gunwalker”), have done the opposite by ATF permitting and facilitating “straw purchase” firearm sales to traffickers, and allowing the guns to “walk” and be transported to Mexico. This has resulted in considerable controversy.
Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-IA) initiated an investigation with a letter to ATF on 27 January 2011, and again on 31 January 2011. ATF responded through the Department of Justice by denying all allegations. Senator Grassley responded with specific documentation supporting the allegations in letters to U.S. Attorney General Holder on 9 Feb 2011 and again on 16 Feb 2011. ATF refused to answer specific questions in a formal briefing to Senator Grassley on 10 Feb 2011.
Indictments filed in federal court, documentation obtained by Senator Grassley, and statements of ATF agents obtained by Senator Grassley and CBS News, show that the ATF’s Phoenix Field Division allowed and facilitated the sale of over 2,500 firearms (AK-47 rifles, FN 5.7mm pistols, AK-47 pistols, and .50 caliber rifles) in “straw man purchases” destined for Mexico. According to ATF agents, Mexican officials were not notified, and ATF agents operating in Mexico were instructed not to alert Mexican authorities about the operation. Some ATF agents and supervisors strongly objected, and gun dealers (who were cooperating with ATF) protested the sales, but were asked by ATF to complete the transactions to elucidate the supply chain and gather intelligence. However, there are accusations that ATF was attempting to boost statistics to “prove” that American guns are arming the Mexican drug cartels and to further budget and power objectives.
Many of these same guns have now been recovered throughout Mexico, which is artificially inflating ATF’s eTrace statistics of U.S. origin guns seized in Mexico. One specific gun, recovered at the scene, is alleged to be the weapon used to murder Customs and Border Protection Agent Brian Terry on December 14, 2010.
ATF’s negligence and their obsession with pursuing their anti-gun political agenda cost the life of an American law enforcement officer. The details of the scandal are straight forward:
To top it off, this comes while ATF press releases continue to spread the flat-out lie that over 80% of all the guns used in Mexico’s drug war come from the United States. And now, officials all the way up to the Obama White House are denying any knowledge of an operation that would have clearly needed high-level approval.
I don’t believe for a second that a project such as this one didn’t have to be signed off by the White House, do you?
The ATF has repeatedly ignored Congressional requests for documentation of their operation. It has even come to the point where ATF leaders are being subpoenaed by Congressional committees.
And yet, they continue to flaunt their obvious contempt for the rule of law… unless it’s their “rules” and their distorted “laws”, of course.
Had enough yet?
I urge you to contact Speaker of the House John Boehner directly at
Office of the Speaker
H-232 The Capitol
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-0600
Fax: (202) 225-5117
and demand he hold ATF accountable for their actions.
Of course, this is just One Man’s View. YMMV, and we welcome your comments.]]>
Here are 13 changes in the massive overhaul that could impact your tax bill, for better or worse. You may have heard it all before, but I thought it would be nice to see it all in one place.
The new health care reform law is chock-full of new taxes and tax increases that will affect many individuals and businesses, but it will be a couple of years before most of these hikes take a bite out of your – or your company’s – wallet. The law also has tax breaks to help both individuals and small businesses pay for insurance.
1. A new 10% excise tax on indoor tanning services on services provided after June 30, 2010.
2. The new law gives small firms tax credits as incentives to provide coverage, starting this tax year. Employers with 10 or fewer workers and average annual wages of less than $25,000 can receive a credit of up to 35% of their health premium costs each year through 2013. The credit is phased out for larger firms larger and disappears completely if a company has more than 25 employees or average annual wages of $50,000 or more. Beginning in 2014, small firms that sign up with one of the health exchanges to be created can receive a credit of up to 50% of their costs.
3. A requirement that businesses include the value of the health care benefits they provide to employees on W-2s, beginning with W-2s for 2011.
4. Elimination of a deduction employers now take for providing Medicare Part D prescription drug coverage to their retirees to the extent that the federal government subsidizes the coverage. This will not take effect until 2013.
5. Doubling the penalty for non-qualified distributions from health savings accounts, to 20%, beginning in 2011.
6. A limit on the amount that employees can contribute to health care flexible spending accounts to $2,500 a year, but the cap won’t take effect until 2013.
7. A ban on using funds from flexible spending accounts, health reimbursement arrangements or health savings accounts for the cost of over-the-counter medications, starting in 2011.
8. Starting in 2013, a 0.9% Medicare surtax will apply to wages in excess of $200,000 for single taxpayers and over $250,000 for married couples. Also, for the first time ever, a Medicare tax will apply to investment income of high earners. The 3.8% levy will hit the lesser of (1) their unearned income or (2) the amount by which their adjusted gross income exceeds the $200,000 or $250,000 threshold amounts. The new law defines unearned income as interest, dividends, capital gains, annuities, royalties, and rents. Tax-exempt interest won’t be included, nor will income from retirement accounts.
9. A hike in the 7.5% floor on itemized deductions for medical expenses to 10%, beginning in 2013. Taxpayers age 65 and over are exempt from the cutback through 2016.
10. A new 40% excise tax, beginning in 2018, on high-cost health plans, levied on the portion that exceeds $10,200 for individuals and $27,500 for families.
11. A new tax on individuals who don’t obtain adequate health coverage by 2014. The tax is be phased in over three years, starting at the greater of $95, or 1% of income, in 2014, and rising to the greater of $695, or 2.5% of income, in 2016.
12. Providing a refundable tax credit, once the individual mandate takes effect in 2014, to help low-income folks purchase coverage. To be eligible, a person’s household income must be between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level, generally around $11,000 to $44,000 for singles and $22,000 to $88,000 for families.
13. A nondeductible fee charged to businesses with 50 or more employees if the firms fail to offer adequate coverage. The fee will equal $2,000 times the number of employees, though it won’t count the first 30 workers in that calculation.
Don’t you just love getting your pocket picked? Take this debacle, add the failed stimulus, bailouts and the new VAT they’re kicking around, and it’s clear we need to get the perpetrators of these fiascos out of office.
This is just One Man’s View. As always, your comments are welcome.]]>
A friend sent this to me, and I thought I would share it with you here:
For too long we have been too complacent about the workings of Congress. Many citizens have no idea that members of Congress can retire with the same pay after only one term, that they don’t pay into Social Security, that they specifically exempted themselves from many of the laws they have passed while ordinary citizens must live under and abide by those laws.
The latest is to exempt themselves from the Healthcare Reform Bill that just passed. Somehow, that doesn’t seem logical or fair. America does not have an elite that is above the law. I truly do not care if they are Democrat, Republican, Independent or whatever. The self-serving must stop. This is a good way to do that. It is an idea whose time has come:
“Congress shall make no law that applies to the citizens of the United States that does not apply equally to the members of both Houses of Congress; and, Congress shall make no law that applies to both Houses of Congress that does not equally apply to the citizens of the United States.”
Send this to a minimum of twenty people on your address list, and in turn ask each of those to do likewise. In three days, most people in The United States of America will have the message. This is one proposal that really should be passed around.]]>