sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Editorial: Anthony Weiner = Bill Clinton?

Olivia Nuzzi used to work as an aid to disgraced Congressman Anthony (Carlos Danger) Weiner. The Congressman used to call Olivia and all of the interns, "Monica".
(Fox News) In her Daily News piece, Nuzzi wrote that Weiner often called interns "Monica," a reference to former White House intern Monica Lewinsky, and that many people worked on the campaign to get close to Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin. Abedin is an ex-aide to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Weiner is one of those men with no academic credentials, who sucked his way up through the system by being a professional political hack. His marriage to Huma Abedin (aid to scorned wife and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) was thought to cement his eventual run for the White House where he'd become leader of the free world. It worked for Bill Clinton. When you look at Barack Obama's credentials as a professional agitator and community activist, they are really not much better than Weiner's. True, Obama and Clinton had law degrees and Weiner wasn't able to get beyond a BA degree.
(Wall Street Journal) The communications director for Anthony Weiner's New York City mayoral campaign apologized late Tuesday for using a series of harsh expletives to describe a former intern.
"Man, see if you ever get a job in this town again," is one of the nicer things that stressed Mayoral hopeful, Weiner said. He's using abusive language and that's not the way to get an intern into the sack. He needs to take a page from the Clinton playbook and WOO them into bed.

As appropriate as it is that Weiner step into Mayor Bloomberg's shoes, I think that it may be a "bridge too far" at this point. 

If you were going to send a picture of your penis to somebody,
would you send it to her?  Would you get further with her if you
told her your name was Weiner -- or Carlos Danger?
The scorned wife side of the equation has worked out really well for Hillary Clinton, who wouldn't have ever been anything beyond a third rate lawyer and ambulance chaser if it hadn't been for her husband, Bill. I can see why Mr. and Mrs. Weiner were enthusiastically pursuing the Clinton model for success.

Weiner's Future?

"This kind of behavior — engaging in sexually inappropriate activities while presenting yourself as a potential or current public servant — is completely inappropriate and disrespectful to the very people you hope to serve, as well as the people you surround yourself with," said San Diego Mayor Bob Filner, a Democrat who is currently fighting off calls to resign amid allegations that he sexually harassed upwards of seven female staffers over the past several years.

"Candidate Weiner’s actions today were nothing short of disgusting, and he certainly needs to learn that one needs to keep one’s own sexual proclivities in the privacy of the bedroom," said former Republican Sen. Larry Craig, whose career effectively ended in 2007 after he was arrested for trying to solicit sex from an undercover male police officer in a Minnesota airport bathroom stall.

"As I said, this is all in the past, I’m truly sorry, and I only want to move forward so I can talk about my 64 ideas to keep New York the wonderful city that it is," Weiner responded sadly to critics.

If Anthony Weiner is to be President of the United States one day, with Huma at his side, he has to become something really special in politics. Congress didn't work out for him and if the run for Mayor flops he may have to waste two or three critical years on the bench waiting to run for US Senator from New York. What about it? Give him yet another chance to be great in politics so that he may yet become US President!! If you were a Clinton supporter, you should be a Weiner supporter.

Review of the News

A Review of the News for July 31, 2013

The New FOIA

(propublica) The Obama Administration is seeking to codify in a rule, the long term practice of government lying in response to FOIA requests for disclosure. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) was enacted to enhance the people's right to know what their government is up to. It has generally been disliked by the Executive branch for precisely this reason. Administrations hate to disclose information that shows their ineptitude, dishonesty, and even criminality. Principally, they have chosen two routes to undermine the law. The first is to slow ball the process. FOIA requests can languish for years both to disincentivize their use and ultimately to render any releases obsolete. The more criminal approach is simply to deny that the documents exist.

The new Obama exception, which again simply codifies the actual more extreme current practice, is to "respond to the request as if the excluded records did not exist." It is comical in a thoroughly cynical way that this was supposed to be the most transparent of Administrations. The upshot of this rule is that it makes it easier for the government to hide the truth from its own citizens and makes it an even longer and harder to uncover its lies.

The article linked is instructive.

Is the Recession Receding?

(New York Times) Two former Census bureau officials released a report based on publicly available Census data which showed that from when the recession was officially called as ended in June 2009 to June 2011 real median household income fell 6.7%, from $53,518 to $49,909. This is twice as much as income fell during the recession (3.2%, from $55,309 to $53,518) which officially lasted from December 2007 to June 2009.

Particularly hard hit during the Obama-period (June 2009-June 2011) were households where the head of household lost a job, 18.4% decline, and households with an African American (not Hispanic) head, 9.4% decline versus 4.7% for whites and 4.9% for Hispanics.

What this shows is that for most Americans the recession never ended and that the Obama Administration's economic record is even worse than previously thought.

This report (released in 2011) did not show the disastrous effects of the ObamaCare turn down as employers began to make employees part-time and reduced work hours to under 30 in order to avoid the provisions of ObamaCare. Things are getting worse under the Utopian Socialist. The president's latest economic speech hit an unsurprising tone of class warfare and empty old rhetoric. We have heard it all before, and neither the rhetoric nor the weakness of our economy has changed.

Under President Obama's failed economic leadership, America has suffered through weak economic growth and fifty-four months of unemployment over 7.5%, the longest stretch since records began being kept in 1948.

BUT -- The President and his family have enjoyed some world class vacations during his time in office. At least he's having a good time.

Global Warming

Large Coronal Hole Near
the Sun's North Pole
Progressives don't call it global warming anymore because nobody is sure that the globe is warming due to human-generated activity or if it's due to something else. The climate has changed every single year through geologic history, so referring to every weather event as, "climate change" is very safe ground for Al Gore and the Green Lobby. This year (2013), the Sun is ramping up for what is known as a "solar maximum". Since the energy radiated by the sun varies, the energy striking the Earth varies as well. (Don't wait to hear that from Gore or the Enviro Nazis. You'll have a very long wait.)
July 19, 2013 — The European Space Agency/NASA Solar and Heliospheric Observatory, or SOHO, captured this image of a gigantic coronal hole hovering over the sun's north pole on July 18, 2013, at 9:06 a.m. EDT. Coronal holes are dark, low density regions of the sun's outermost atmosphere, the corona. They contain little solar material, have lower temperatures, and therefore, appear much darker than their surroundings. 
Coronal holes are a typical feature on the sun, though they appear at different places and with more frequency at different times of the sun's activity cycle. The activity cycle is currently ramping up toward what is known as solar maximum, currently predicted for late 2013. During this portion of the cycle, the number of coronal holes decreases. During solar max, the magnetic fields on the sun reverse and new coronal holes appear near the poles with the opposite magnetic alignment. The coronal holes then increase in size and number, extending further from the poles as the sun moves toward solar minimum again. At such times, coronal holes have appeared that are even larger than this one.
There is also the issue of dust. As the Solar System travels through space, it encounters regions of space that are 'dustier' than others. Space dust tends to refract light and keep it from reaching Earth. While nobody knows why ice ages occur, this is one possibility. Yes, modern human lifestyle does lead to greenhouse gas emissions, but nobody really knows the extent to which it causes significant climate change.

Texas Style

In case nobody has noticed, I've been showcasing the Texas lifestyle in microcosm here on the Review of the News. You may have asked yourself why -- or maybe you didn't. Keep in mind that while Texas and Texans have a deserved reputation for being a bit eccentric, it's one of the few states in the nation that is prospering while all of the liberal urban hells are in serious decline.

If you're reading this blog, you will understand why.

In the August reviews of the news, I'll pick a new victim to appear here in this section. I'm thinking that a review of Progressive Paradise Cities (models for the nation) would be an appropriate contrast.

Their heart is in the right place.

There was a time in America when a bar near an airport that catered
to pilots could be called the "cockpit" without being a magnet for
all of the gay blades in town. Not anymore. Not even in Texas.

Is anything wrong with combining a beauty parlor, chainsaw repair
and a bar under one roof? No. And certainly not in Texas.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Review of the News

A Review of the News for July 30, 2013

Gun Control?

If you live in a progressive paradise, the only option open to you is the one on the left. 

Arab Spring Countries (Where are they now?)

Hillary Clinton bet the bank on the Arab Spring. That's the genesis of the cascading events that led to the Benghazi Scandal/Massacre. It was the jewel in the Obama Administration's foreign policy crown  and a victory that both Barack and Hillary crowed loudly about. Neither is crowing now. Let's take a snapshot of Egypt, Tunisia and Libya and see what's been happening.

Last weekend in Egypt, over 120 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Mursi demonstrators died in clashes in Cairo, Alexandria and other Nile Delta towns. The health ministry reported 792 people injured. The Brotherhood said 4,500 were wounded.

In north Sinai, Egyptian security forces began "Operation Desert Storm" against anti-government elements and tribes. The first official report is that government forces killed 10 militants and captured 20. According to al Ahram, the government estimates there are 500 active militants. The government has more than ten times that number. The president of Egypt has authorized the military to make criminal arrests as the showdown with the Muslim Brotherhood takes final shape.

A general strike in Tunisia took place in reaction to a political assassination last week. It emptied the capital city of Tunis, and grounded some commercial aircraft on Friday. On Saturday thousands protested against the Islamist-led government. Protests continued on Sunday resulting in clashes between pro- and anti-government groups. Anti-government groups have threatened to create an opposition counter-government.

In Libya, protestors ransacked the Muslim Brotherhood offices in Tripoli in reaction to the killing of a prominent critic of the Brotherhood, who was shot dead on Friday. In Benghazi about 1,200 inmates escaped from a prison on Saturday. On Sunday, two bombs detonated at justice ministry buildings. Thirteen people were reported injured. The bombings were followed by demonstrations over the government's inability to provide security in Benghazi.

The Islamists have proven able to win elections but not to govern. Their problem is that the conditions enabling elections were created by popular revolts supported by the armed forces. The direction the Islamists tried to move appears to have been rejected, mainly for non-performance.

Hollywood Section (Where are they now?)

WeinerGate I

What is still out there unaccounted for in the secret world of Anthony Weiner, aka Carlos Danger?

For those of you who live in a cave, disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner is running for Mayor of New York City and he's still sending photos of his penis over the internet to young women. When he's caught, he apologizes, stressing that he's not going to be doing THAT anymore, and it should not interfere with his efforts to govern on the public's behalf.

But that's not all of the Weiner Scandals.

WienerGate II

The emerging Huma Scandal (WeinerGate I expands To WeinerGate II)
It's getting to the point where we're buying a whole package of weiners, isn't it?
(Fox News) On June 13, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) wrote to Mrs. Anthony Weiner (Huma Abedin) and Secretary of State John Kerry asking why Abedin, the deputy chief of staff at the State Department under former Secretary Hillary Clinton, was granted status as a "special government employee" after the birth of her son. 
That title allowed her to work from home as a part-time consultant to State, earning $135,000 as a government employee -- while also earning $355,000 as a consultant for Teneo, where former President Bill Clinton is a board member. 
Grassley wants to know who authorized Abedin's change in status, what effect that change had on her security clearances, and whether the Department interacted with the companies with which Abedin consulted. 
Craig Holman of Public Citizen, a government ethics watchdog group, says Abedin's dual status raises serious questions. "If this story pans out that Huma actually had access to inside information while serving as a government official but at the same time serving as a strategic consultant to a firm that actively trades in the stock market, this could be quite a problem, " he said.
I have a few salacious questions such as, "Was Bill Clinton the father of Huma's child?" (Bill has been known over the years to say that he loved a good Huma Weiner) but I'll leave those queries for later. One can only wonder what Huma did for $355K per year. What sort of hush is involved with money like that?

As of this posting Huma Abedin-Weiner, Hillary Clinton and John Kerry have not responded to Senator Grassley. What a shock!

Texas Lifestyle

Photo of the only nude beach in Texas.

You mess with the bull, you get the really long horn.

Texans can get away with it. But nobody else can...

Hooters: Odessa, TX
Are hooters (restaurants) bigger in Texas?

The Case for Illegal Firearms Ownership

Whether to obey the law of the State of Illinois, (which contravenes the US Bill of Rights), or not? I'm not from Illinois, but if I was, this article carried by the Chicago Sun Times and (link) Fox News would give me pause.

Headline: Sheriff’s team working to seize guns from thousands in Illinois (Published July 28, 2013
An Illinois sheriff’s team is crisscrossing the Chicago suburbs in an effort to seize guns from thousands of people whose right to own a firearm has been revoked, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. 
According to the paper, more than 3,000 people in Cook County have failed to surrender their revoked Firearm Owners Identification Card, or FOID, which is required to legally buy guns or ammunition. 
Sheriff Tom Dart said he thinks many of the 3,000 continue to possess firearms. 
The Chicago Police Department regularly conducts missions to recover revoked FOID cards and take guns from the owners, but there wasn’t a big push to do the same thing in the suburbs until now, Dart reportedly told the paper. 
“The system is broken,” the sheriff said. “The system revokes cards, but the guns are of no consequence. . . . Our strong hope is that we will eliminate tragedies.” 
FOID cards are meant to protect the public from gun owners who suffer from mental illness; felonies and protection orders also are grounds for the state to revoke the holders’ FOID cards. It’s illegal to buy guns or ammunition without one, the Sun-Times reports. 
In one case, the team recovered more than 35 firearms, including four AR-15 assault rifles, from a suicidal man whose card was revoked. Many times, the team gets the FOID card, but not the gun. 
The State Police alert the sheriff’s gun team every week to about 10 to 20 new FOID revocations in Cook County. The investigators then conduct a basic probe into the gun purchasing histories of the people they intend to contact. Then they knock on their doors.
The article does not explain under what specific circumstances the FOID cards were issued in the first place and the reason for their revocation. If people are convicted felons, then it's one thing. It it's a "ministerial thing" then it's another. This is the first that I've heard of a FOID card, but if I lived in Illinois, the very last thing that I'd do would be to apply for a FOID card. It targets you for weapons confiscation. Think about it. Chicago is the murder capital of the United States and all of those gang bangers running around the mean streets don't carry a FOID card.

It might be better to hunt gang members than to hunt people with a revoked FOID card. It might be better to target blighted neighborhoods where hundreds of people were killed over the Fourth of July Weekend -- or would that be 'racist'?

A way for me to make money:

Is anyone willing to bet me (and put significant money on it) that as a complete stranger to the area that I couldn't go to Chicago and within 24 hours buy at least one firearm without possessing a FOID card? 

If that is the case, what good is a FOID card?

This is an interesting LINK.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Review of the News

A Review of the News for July 29, 2013

The Benghazi Scandal

Glen Doherty's Libya assignment was supposed to be his last for the CIA. He had been offered a more comfortable job in the private sector that would have allowed him to get out of the line of fire. He told his future employer that he had one last job to do. That job was in Libya. On Sept. 11, his last assignment was in Benghazi -- Clinton lied, Obama lied and people died.

The only way that the Democratic Party can get Hillary (What does it matter?) Clinton elected as president is if they can convince people that the Benghazi Massacre didn't happen - or if it did, "who cares"?

It's a SNAP!

SNAP, the U.S. food stamp program, has become a conduit for redistributing wealth in the socialist/progressive program to fundamentally transform America. That's not news. The interesting statistics that fall from this: At the end of January 2009, 32.2 million Americans received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) aid. As of April 2013, there were 47.5 million Americans on food stamps. Using the White House's job growth number, the 15 million increase in recipients means more than two people went on food stamps for each job the administration says it has created. (Source: IBD)
The US Department of Agriculture estimates that 101 million people take part in at least one of the 15 food programs offered by the agency, at a cost of $114 billion in fiscal 2012. That compares with America's 97.2 million full-time private-sector workers in 2012. 
Food Stamp Nation is now larger than the entire U.S. private-sector work force. That's food for thought.
The Obama Job Numbers

The unemployment statistics in America only measure people who are receiving unemployment insurance and disregard the self-employed who lost work and those who fell off the unemployment payment rolls since they never did find work. Since February 2009, the first full month of Obama's presidency, 9.5 million Americans have dropped out of the labor force. Nearly 90 million working-age Americans are not working today. Doing the math, 1.3 Americans have dropped out of the labor force for every job the administration claims to have created. (IBD ibid) The Obama Administration fails to report how many jobs created are part time (particularly do to the disastrous ObamaCare program).

And nobody in the mainstream media calls them on it. How convenient.

Hollywood Report: Series Review - The Bridge (FX)

The new television series, The Bridge (on FX) follows two police detectives in their efforts to investigate a series of murders along the border of El Paso, TX/Juarez, CH. Diane Kruger plays Detective Sonya Cross, a homicide detective from El Paso with Asperger syndrome. Demian Bichir plays her partner, Marco Ruiz, a homicide detective from the Chihuahua State Police.
Verdict: Worth Watching!
Obama Lies

Yes, ordinarily this would not be news. And I realize that the New York Times, sion of the Mainstream Media, usually does not criticize their hero, but -- they have changed their tune only slightly and only occasionally as with this piece. (NY Times) President Obama pledged not to take campaign money from lobbyists. He lets his bundlers, who supervise lobbyists but are not registered lobbyists themselves, take money on his behalf (PAY TO PLAY!). Remember that in this second term, Obama needs to rape, pillage and plunder because he gets to pocket all of the campaign money in his war chest when he leaves office. If you need a favor from Obama, you need to get a hold of a "bundler", and pay them. They will take a "commission" since they're friends of the President and then Obama will act on the bribe.

It just makes me so proud to be an American.


This is how you're supposed to share a picture of a weiner with your friends (see left). The concept would seem to be lost on residents of New York City (the Big Apple) as they continue to give their unflagging support to disgraced Congressman Anthony Weiner, who is running for mayor and is famous for showing pictures of his "weiner" to women that he meets on-line.

We know that Anthony is mighty proud of his penis, but he needs to stop running for public office and get a job as a Boy Scout Camp Counsellor. Under their new guidelines, he'd fit right in.

Burning Man 2013

The event begins on Monday, August 26. To some, Burning Man is an art show. To others, an opportunity to share sexually transmitted diseases. However the participants decide to enjoy it, the Burning Man will be launching -- yet again.

Burning Man is a week-long annual event held in Nevada's Black Rock Desert.  It takes its name from the ritual burning of a large wooden effigy. The event is described by many participants as an experiment in art and radical self expression.

Exploring Public Safety Pensions (Part 3)

Exploring Public Safety Pensions (Part 1) explored how public safety pensions came into being, the forces that influenced the process, etc. It is not intended to be a polemic, only an overview. In Part 2, we turned to the recent case of Orange County California vs The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. In Part 3, we look at the core problem more specifically and discuss what can be done to curb pension abuses, with a specific eye on California, since the problem there is so acute.

For most of the voting public, public safety pensions for police officers, state troopers, and deputy sheriffs is not really the core problem.

In California, as with other states and jurisdictions, other groups who were not front line law enforcement saw that police officers were getting generous pensions and wanted in on the action. Prison guards, probation officers and others wanted the same deal that the police got, and they pushed for it even though they didn't fit in the same category.

Whether or not they were successful was largely a measure of how much of their salaries they were willing to give up on the front end to pay politicians who would reward them on the back end.
It always comes down to quid pro quo - pay to play.
California was particularly beat up by this situation since the California Correctional Peace Officers Association (CCPOA), the prison guard's union is very powerful. Again, the members figured out early on that if they wanted better pay and benefits, the only way to do it was to legally pay off legislators in Sacramento. There are over 31,000 prison guards in California and they all contributed generously to their political action committees. The result was that they received the same generous pension arrangement that the California Highway Patrol/State Police received. Even though the public wouldn't have gone along with it, their representatives in the legislature passed it into law because they were paid by the union to do so.
Lobbying efforts and campaign contributions by the CCPOA have helped secure passage of many legislative bills favorable to union members, including bills that increase prison terms, member pay, and enforce current drug laws. The CCPOA takes the position that correctional officers perform an essential public service that puts in great danger, and strives for a safer California. The flip side is that the more people are in prison, the more secure the jobs are for the prison guards. I'm not being a cynic. This is the source of behind the scenes money pushing the effort to enact many tougher laws in California. Is it really better for California? The guards don't care. And yes, the tail wags the dog.
The only solution to out-of-control unions is to create legislation that curbs the ability of politicians to receive contributions from people upon whose salaries they vote. This problem will end when politicians are not able to vote in conflict of interest. For example: If you want to build a freeway off-ramp somewhere and pay your politician to vote public funds to do that so that your company gets the contract, that is a felony. It's a bribe. It's wrong. The same standard needs to be applied to politicians who vote on employee pay and benefits. The solution is not complicated.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Review of the News

A Review of the News for July 28, 2013

Outsourced Combat? 

Wouldn't it work better if both the US Government and the Taliban simply contracted with the Afghan National Army to do all of the fighting? The Duffle Blog poked fun at the situation, but it's a grim reminder of the wasted American lives in Afghanistan.
KANDAHAR, AFGHANISTAN — Controversy engulfed both U.S. Cental Command (CENTCOM) and the Taliban on Saturday, when both were revealed to be outsourcing combat operations to the Afghan National Army (ANA). 
At CENTCOM, lawyers were busy reviewing contracts with the ANA and proposing changes to ensure a firewall between ANA operations conducted at U.S. taxpayer expense and those done on behalf of the Taliban. 
“In principle, there’s nothing wrong with the ANA accepting contracts from other parties,” Press Secretary Jay Carney asserted at a press conference late last week. “But there have to be protections and internal controls to avoid conflicts of interest for all parties.” (h/t Duffle Blog)
A Challenge for Liberals

Timing is Everything

Isn't it appropriate that one year to the day following the Benghazi Massacre that she presided over that Hillary (What does it matter?) Clinton will be receiving the National Liberty Medal?
(Huffington Post) Hillary Clinton Named Liberty Medal Recipient, Ceremony Set For September 10, 2013

PHILADELPHIA -- Hillary Rodham Clinton, whose lifelong public service career includes turns as secretary of state, presidential candidate, senator and first lady, is the recipient of the 2013 Liberty Medal. 
Clinton will receive the medal in a Sept. 10 ceremony at the National Constitution Center in Philadelphia.

"The Liberty Medal recognizes individuals who have furthered the ideals of freedom, democracy, and equality, often against great odds," said Jeffrey Rosen, National Constitution Center president and CEO. "Hillary Clinton has devoted her life to expanding opportunities for `We the People' not just in this country but around the globe."
If anyone is emblematic of the Obama Administration, it is Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. She deserves the Liberty Medal every bit as much as her boss, Barack Obama deserved the Nobel Peace Prize. 

The War on Fountain Drinks
"I reject your reality and substitute my own."

h/t dale for the graphic
The American Medical Association has officially classified obesity as a disease, thus opening the door to government regulation to protect you from yourself. Mayor Bloomberg may have fired the first shot in New York City, but the regulations are still being formulated on a federal level.

The details haven't been rolled out under ObamaCare because the ObamaCare program is floundering. And the unpopularity of that bit of legislation crafted to give the Federal Government control over 20% of the US economy is restraining the feds from trotting out new regulations that will tell you what, when and how much you should eat.

Because you'd never take the fork out of your mouth unless big government was there to tell you to do it.

Amnesty without a Secure Border?

For the sake of a few votes in the next election?

How Lazy Can You Get?

The National Security Agency cracks cyphers, but they're too lazy to crack my Internet user password? What is the world coming to?
(CNET) The U.S. government has demanded that major Internet companies divulge users' stored passwords, according to two industry sources familiar with these orders, which represent an escalation in surveillance techniques that has not previously been disclosed. 
If the government is able to determine a person's password, which is typically stored in encrypted form, the credential could be used to log in to an account to peruse confidential correspondence or even impersonate the user. Obtaining it also would aid in deciphering encrypted devices in situations where passwords are reused.
Happy days might here again!             some day

Yes, it's another "Summer of Recovery" and President Obama is rolling out yet another vision to address the economic malaise that continues to grip the nation.

The US may soon become the world's largest gas and oil producer. Food exports are booming as never before. American brands from iPhones and Starbucks to Google and Twitter flood the world. The US is poised on the brink of a national economic recovery but it won't happen while the Utopian Socialist is in the White House. It goes against the grain of Barack Obama to see the US in the front of the line.

An Ode to Texas Weddings

Texas Wedding
There is love and then there is everlasting love.

How do you tell the groom at a Texas Wedding?
That groom wears camo & cowboy boots and everyone is fine with that.

Exploring Public Safety Pensions (Part 2)

Orange County California
Exploring Public Safety Pensions (Part 1) explored how public safety pensions came into being, the forces that influenced the process, etc. It is not intended to be a polemic, only an overview. In Part 2, we turn to the recent case of Orange County California vs The Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

It is instructive when we consider the legal standing of public safety pensions. I realize that some who read this blog feel that any agreement entered into by a government entity to do something that doesn't sit well with them after the fact should be repealed. That was Orange County's position.

The appellate judges who reviewed this case included 2 Republicans and 1 Democrat. You can make of that what you will, but in each case, both at the trial and appellate level, the judges ruled unanimously against Orange County.

A contract is a contract and binds the county (and the taxpayers). Elections have consequences.

There was never an assertion that the Orange County Retirement System (OCRS) was insolvent in any way. Last year, it earned nearly 20% on investments. The Board of Supervisors simply wished to repudiate what earlier supervisors had agreed to, citing the potential of unfunded liabilities.

You should also consider the position of those who retired based on a contract. The county had no intention of allowing aging pensioners to come back and work as active Sheriff's Deputies and supervisors (assuming their ranks when they retired). That would have been lawsuits waiting to happen. They simply asked the court to strip 1/3 of their contractual pensions from them.

There was no allegation of fraudulent or deceptive practices when the contracts were entered in to. The Orange County Board of Supervisors simply felt that retired deputy sheriffs were making out better than they deserved.

The Results:
(The Orange County Register - Article)
After An Extremely Short Deliberation, The County Of Orange’s Legal Effort to Overturn 3% At 50 pension benefit For Orange County Deputies was thrown out of court for a third time. 
LOS ANGELES – The Second District Court of Appeals unanimously affirmed in a 3 to 0 opinion today, to uphold an earlier judgment by the Los Angeles County Superior Court, to throw out the County of Orange’s lawsuit to overturn 3% at 50 pension benefits for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (COUNTY OF ORANGE v. ASSOCIATION OF ORANGE COUNTY DEPUTY SHERIFFS et al., Case #B218660). After an extremely quick 7 days of deliberation, the court also awarded the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) their costs for the appeal. 
The decision marks the third time in 2 years the County of Orange has been rejected by the courts in their legal effort to overturn 3% at 50 pension benefits for Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. They were quickly tossed out of Los Angeles Superior Court last February 26 and again on May 22, before even being set for a formal hearing. 
The County of Orange filed the controversial lawsuit in February 2008, despite having three different outside law firms they had hired for legal counsel, warn them they could not win such a case. As of July 31, 2010, they have spent almost $2.3 million on their legal costs.

The taxpayers were stuck with the bill:

As of July 31, 2010, the County of Orange has spent a total of $2,264,166.34 in legal costs associated with the Board of Supervisors’ litigation effort regarding Orange County Deputy Sheriffs’ pensions.

Law Firm                                                                       Amount Paid
Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe LLP                                $  99,598.40
(Jan. 1, 2006 to Dec. 1, 2007)
Reish Luftman Reicher & Cohen                                 $125,561.04       
(Jan. 1, 2007 to Dec. 1, 2007)
Snell & Wilmer LLP                                                        $  57,713.00
(June 30, 2007 to Dec. 1, 2007)
Kirkland & Ellis LLP                                                   $1,981,293.90
(June 1, 2007 to July 31, 2010)
TOTAL LITIGATION COSTS BY COUNTY            $2,264,166.34

Definitions: 3% at 50 means that the retiree can draw three percent of base pay per year worked based on an average of the three highest earning years. The earliest that they can draw this is age 50. If somebody joined the Orange County Sheriff's Department at age 25 and worked 25 years to age 50, they could retire at 75% of their base pay, which does not include benefits. Previous to this system coming into practice, deputies earned 2% at 50 (under the scenario cited, they'd earn 50% of pay at age 50).

Part 3 will be posted on this blog on Monday, 29 July 13 at 0400 HRS PST

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Movie Review: RED 2


Helen Mirren, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich return as retired international spies and assassins, pulled back into the fray of global espionage and intrigue. RED=Retired Extremely Dangerous

Red 2 delivered the action, laughs and character depth of the original and surpassed it, unusual for a sequel. 

Adding Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones to the star-studded cast only made the film more fun to watch.

Frank Moses (Willis) has settled into a reliably safe (so he thinks) life with Sarah Ross (again played by Mary-Louise Parker). The cozy duo is seen shopping at a Costco in the opening scene.
While Frank is perfectly happy to leave the globe-trotting world of bashing bad guys behind him, Sarah isn’t so sure — thinking their love life is a bit less exciting because Frank hasn’t “killed anyone in months.” 
Sarah now wants to become an active participant in the world of secret agents, especially desirous of joining the team — so to speak — of Frank, his old partner Marvin Boggs (Malkovich) and British MI6 sharpshooter Victoria (Mirren).
The action and character development continued smoothly though the film with twists, turns, chases, exotic locations and the usual plot to destroy the world being foiled. The story was meant to be fun and meant to be enjoyed and it delivered.


Exploring Public Safety Pensions (Part 1)

A few thoughts:

1. Public Safety Unions were made very strong by exceptionally bad management. Most unions grow and are fed by bad management. Cops become cops to put bad people in jail. I know that's a simple statement, but what happens when they are no longer doing that because they are now managers? They all too often turn into martinets and take it out on subordinates. It's not a hard and fast rule, but it's far more often the case in law enforcement than it is in the private sector.
Ask any police officer where the real stress comes from. 'The job' or the administration?
2. Hiring Practices and Liability. There are a lot of places in the US where police officers are paid near minimum wage. The old saying is that you get what you pay for. In poor, very rural jurisdictions, you can get away with it. In wealthy, more urban and suburban areas, risk managers began to notice that hiring better educated, relying on better trained and "cleaner" law enforcement meant fewer lawsuits. One moderately sized lawsuit against a police officer for misconduct can cost a city/county/state more than that police officer would earn in an entire career.
Self-serving interests drove higher pay for police officers in many areas of the country.
3. Greedy Politicians took the money. When you combine dismal management practices and unduly harsh behavior (historically), more educated cops who combine into unions to protect themselves and add greedy politicians, you have a problem. It didn't take cops long to understand that if they paid a portion of their salary into political action committees (PAC's), that those union PAC's could fund the election of politicians who would vote favorably toward their salary and benefits.
You can't expect politicians to exercise any sort of self-restraint. It goes against the grain.
4. Matters of Integrity. Where you have well educated, professional law enforcement people, you have very little corruption. There are cities, mostly on the East Coast where police corruption is endemic. Try to give an officer on the West Coast a bribe to get out of a speeding ticket. He'll ask you to speak a bit louder (for the microphone) and you'll end up in jail. Cultures of corruption (such as we find in the Third World -- or Chicago) are based on the notion of an informal form of taxation - bribes. People pay directly for services because the method of collecting public taxes doesn't work well enough to pay public servants well enough to feed their families. You can't give a person the authority that the public grants to police officers without demanding integrity. Unfortunately the better educated and paid tend to be more honorable than the minimum wage flunkies.
Nothing is as important as integrity.
5. How old should a police officer be when they retire? When I ask this question, I don't want you to cite the poor old sod at age 65 who has been relegated to a job in the property room out of pity. Because of the nature of organizations, anyone can be thrown into the front line. How old is too old, when it is your (the citizen's) life on the line?
The spirit is willing. The flesh is weak. 

Part 2 will be posted on this blog at 0400 HRS PST on 28 JUL 13

Friday, July 26, 2013

Review of the News

We are all Trayvon Martin...

One man's perspective from earlier in the year, pre-trial. I posted this on this very blog about seven months ago but it would seem to be a good time to revisit it, post verdict.

Anthony Weiner Selected...

...As US Air Force Sexual Prevention Chief. 
(Duffle Blog) ARLINGTON, VA – The Air Force announced Wednesday they had selected former Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner as the top civilian at the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) office. 
The disgraced former U.S. Representative from New York’s 9th Congressional district was chosen after an exhaustive and expensive search because, according to the unit’s director Maj. General Margaret Woodward, “he seemed like a great fit for the position.” 
Woodward explained that to combat sexual assault one needs to think like a sexual deviant — as other SAPR chiefs have done — and with Weiner, she thinks she has her man.
Congressman/Mayor Weiner discusses the dangers of sexual assault,
and mentors the troops on how to better hide their indiscretions. 
I don't know how this will play with his run for Mayor of New York City, but when you consider Mr. Weiner's leadership skills, he could likely do both jobs at the same time.

Hollywood Section: Wedding - Third Time's a Charm

Television reality show Pawn Stars personality, Rick Harrison, married Deanna Burditt, in Laguna Beach, California this week, proving that an older, balding, overweight, average looking man, with a love of 18th Century British Naval history, can find love with an attractive bombshell. Both are the parents of three children, both are on their third marriage now that they've tied the knot.

Harrison wanted to take his bride to the South of France or to Fiji on their honeymoon. She convinced him to take her on a camping trip instead. I think that he found a winner.

The popular reality show has been on the air for quite some time now. One can only wonder with all of the media and production time whether they actually have time to run a genuine pawn shop in Las Vegas. 

I wish them every happiness together.

P. S. He apparently didn't get the 2.5 karat diamond ring from the pawn shop. What is THAT about?

Do you want a Huma?

Huma Abedin Weiner, wife of NY City Mayoral Candidate Anthony Weiner and former aid to Hillary Clinton really has a lot in common with Clinton, who has her eye on the White House.

Dennis Miller weighed in on the matter: "Huma Abedin makes Tammy Wynette look like a Runaway Bride. Huma Abedin, wife of Congressman Anthony Weiner (aka Carlos Danger), is really a great role model for women, assuming those women want to have no self-respect and believe in making a mockery of marriage."— Dennis Miller Show (@DennisDMZ) July 23, 2013

If the Hillary Clinton style 'scorned woman' model works, Huma Abedin may one day be running for POTUS too.

A Game of Drones 

The game continues, but you'll note that the Obama Administration has muzzled the press on these matters. (h/t USA Admiral for the graphic) And we all know what happens to whistle blowers...they end up "in transit" in a Moscow Airport -- until they die of old age.