sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

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