Are military pensions too ‘generous’?

It sounds like a pretty good deal: Retire at age 38 after 20 years of work and get a monthly pension of half your salary for the rest of your life. All you have to do is join the military.

As the nation tightens its budget belt, the century-old military retirement system has come under attack as unaffordable, unfair to some who serve and overly generous compared with civilian benefits.

That very notion, laid out in a Pentagon-ordered study, sent a wave of fear and anger through the ranks of current and retired military members when it was reported in the news media this month.

If pensions are to be cut, Congress should go first, one person said on the Internet.

“Obviously, we’re concerned about it,” said retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, an Army chief of staff in the 1990s who heads the nonprofit educational group Association of the United States Army.
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The Defense Department put out a statement this week stressing that it was only a proposal and no changes will be made anytime soon.

“While the military retirement system, as with all other compensation, is a fair subject of review for effectiveness and efficiency, no changes to the current retirement system have been approved,” Eileen Lainez, a Pentagon spokeswoman, said. “And no changes will be made without careful consideration for both the current force and the future force.”

The upset was sparked by a nonbinding recommendation from the Defense Business Board, the Pentagon’s private sector advisory panel. A July 21 draft report that could be finalized this month recommended pensions be scrapped and replaced with a 401(k)-type defined contribution plan.

Read more here.

Mark Levin: ‘I believe Sarah Palin will run for president’

Although conservative talker Mark Levin says he has no insider knowledge of Sarah Palin’s 2012 presidential aspirations, he claimed at the top of his Thursday radio show he believes that the former Alaska Governor will be a candidate.

Palin has appeared as a guest on Levin’s show, which is a favorite of many Palin supporters.

“Look, I could be dead wrong,” Levin said. “I have no inside information. But I want to underscore what I’ve been saying, which is I believe Sarah Palin will run for president. Just want to put my marker down because others are starting to do it and I put it down quite some time ago.”

Thursday on Fox News, Palin said she was still leaving the door open for a run, but will wait to see how the current field evolves.

Global warming could stimulate our economy — here’s how

Since President Obama isn‘t planning to unveil any sort of jobs plan until after he returns from his Martha’s Vineyard vacation, I thought I’d offer up my own. Best of all, my jobs plan relies on the expertise of people like Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman and the geniuses of NASA. Get excited.

The first step of my jobs plan is to warm the planet as much as we can. According to NASA-affiliated scientists and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University, a warming planet could provoke a preemptive alien attack:

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain. […]

“A preemptive strike would be particularly likely in the early phases of our expansion because a civilisation may become increasingly difficult to destroy as it continues to expand. Humanity may just now be entering the period in which its rapid civilisational expansion could be detected by an ETI because our expansion is changing the composition of the Earth’s atmosphere, via greenhouse gas emissions,” the report states.

Read more here.

Warming advocates finally use the ‘Alien Invasion’ excuse

You knew they’d bring aliens into the picture eventually.

Battered by growing skepticism about their climate conclusions, global warming advocates have cast about wildly for a way to stem the tide. And they appear to have found the answer; aliens are more likely to destroy us because of our greenhouse gas emissions.

For sheer bravado, this one has no equal. And for its sheer stupidity, we should be thankful. The Guardian:

It may not rank as the most compelling reason to curb greenhouse gases, but reducing our emissions might just save humanity from a pre-emptive alien attack, scientists claim.

Watching from afar, extraterrestrial beings might view changes in Earth’s atmosphere as symptomatic of a civilisation growing out of control – and take drastic action to keep us from becoming a more serious threat, the researchers explain.

This highly speculative scenario is one of several described by a Nasa-affiliated scientist and colleagues at Pennsylvania State University that, while considered unlikely, they say could play out were humans and alien life to make contact at some point in the future.

[…]

“Green” aliens might object to the environmental damage humans have caused on Earth and wipe us out to save the planet. “These scenarios give us reason to limit our growth and reduce our impact on global ecosystems. It would be particularly important for us to limit our emissions of greenhouse gases, since atmospheric composition can be observed from other planets,” the authors write.

Even if we never make contact with extraterrestrials, the report argues that considering the potential scenarios may help to plot the future path of human civilisation, avoid collapse and achieve long-term survival.

NASA should probably talk to the SETI people (Search for Extraterrestial Intelligence). If they did, they’d discover that most experts believe that if aliens exist, their thought processes – logic, reason, perceptions – would be, well, ALIEN. They wouldn’t reason the same way we do. And to ascribe a logical thought process (humans ruin their own planet therefore humans must be destroyed) to an unknown alien civilization is beyond idiocy. It enters the rarified milieu of the mentally deranged – people who would spend all day banging their heads against a wall if allowed.

Don’t you love the thought of “green aliens?” E.T. recycling. E.T. not burning fossile fuels. Of course, they probably use some form of nuclear power but hey! nobody’s perfect, right?

Illegal Immigration

Turns out that libs and progs may get their DREAM Act, without Congress having to do a durned thing. This is thanks to the Obama administration, which is using the Department of Homeland Security to legislate illegal immigration. Essentially, the Department of Homeland Security will stop any deportation proceedings for illegal immigrants who are caught but determined to have the following criteria: attending school, have family in the military or are primarily responsible for other family members’ care. Those with criminal records will be the focus of future deportation proceedings. As for the 200,000 who are caught each year but do not have a criminal record … you can stay!

Eliminate the rich

This reaction from Democrat Senator Frank Lautenberg would definitely qualify as a rectal-cranial inversion moment of the day. At some sort of townhall meeting on the beaches of New Jersey, Lautenberg took the following question from a constituent:

How much money is taken or can be taken by illegal gains such as drug seizers and applied to replenishment of beaches and improving the quality of beaches in New Jersey?

Kind of a dumb question, but hey the guy is young and at least he showed up to engage his Senator. That’s more than can be said of most. But Lautenberg manages to take the question and launch into a wealth-envy rant that went a little something like this …

There is that opportunity along the way, but I’ll tell you .. there’s another place to get your money and it’s to get it from people like me who made their successes because of the infrastructure, the human infrastructure that the United States has. And we ought to pay more in our taxes for the things that we’ve gotten as the result of an extraordinary middle class that we have in this country…. Go to Warren Buffett, you heard him the other day, the richest man in America, if not second or third, he said we ought to pay more for the privileges that we wealthy have in this country. It’s a tough fight but we’ve got to do it. We’ve got to eliminate the rich. We’ve got to eliminate the fraudulent practice…

Eliminate the rich? This guy must have been sniffing too much sea air. Obama must love this guy. Lautenberg seems to be advocating for either two things. The first would be the complete overhaul of the capitalist system that allows for people to become rich and grow their wealth. This evil system that has created these evil rich people is the same system that has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system on the face of this earth. Lautenberg does not appreciate the fact that a country like ours offers the opportunity for anybody to get rich … but not everybody. And because of this fact – because EVERYBODY can’t be worth $50 million like he is – then nobody should be allowed to be rich. Is that the kind of society that you want to live in? The other more likely “solution” to Lautenberg’s call to eliminate the rich would be to simply tax the tar out of them. Unfortunately for Lautenberg, this also will not work because as taxes are increased on the filthy rich, the government generates less in revenue. This is a historical fact, and I wonder how well the middle class would do without this revenue.

Labor Department Declares War on Phantom Discrimination

“Pay discrimination continues to plague women and people of color in the workforce,” claims Patricia A. Shiu, a member of President Obama’s National Equal Pay Enforcement Task Force. There is some difficulty with the claim: an utter absence of data proving that the stated problem is an actual problem. Ms. Shiu has committed a logical error common to ideologues–declaring something true because the ideology dictates that it must be true.

Lower pay plagues women the way in which they are plagued by a slower climb up the corporate ladder due to spending less time climbing in favor of spending more time birthing and caring for youngsters. But any intelligent discussion of genetically-programmed behavior is wasted on gender fairness zealots.

Liberals have decided that alleged pay discrimination must be fixed. And Shiu has a proposal, but not a proposal for a fix, a proposal to “[gather] better data, which will allow us to focus our enforcement resources where they are most needed.” Shiu adds, “We can’t truly solve this problem until we can see it, measure it and put dollar figures on it.”

Oh-oh, did Shiu really say what it appears that she said? Our government needs data to decide how to solve a problem which it believes must exist but which current data suggests doesn’t exist? To better comprehend this technique, imagine one of those glassy-eyed alternative medicine gurus grinning at you with that air of enlightenment, channeling “chi” through his gall bladder meridian, and saying, “I know that what I am telling you is true. Knowing is enough for me. When simply knowing becomes enough for you, then you too will have found enlightenment.”

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis supports Shiu’s plan to generate data that defines a problem which liberals have already declared a problem. Solis proclaims, “Today, almost 50 years after the Equal Pay Act became law, the wage gap has narrowed, but not nearly enough. The president and I are committed to ending pay discrimination once and for all.”

Now we feel the love.

Our Messiah-in-Chief once promised to stop the rise of the oceans. We await the stoppage. Once and for all, naturally-occurring climate phenomena will be forbidden to act naturally against Homo sapiens. With the Labor Department’s promise to eliminate women’s inborn desire to birth and raise children instead of jockeying for the board room, we will also wait with bated breath as Ms. Shiu, Ms. Solis, and Mr. Messiah deliver us from other nefarious natural laws.

Ah, the smell of liberal sanctimoniousness. Smells like victimhood.

Verizon on strike: is the middle class really in peril?

With no end in sight, the varying group of red-clad picketers at the Verizon location just around the corner from me promises to be a sight I’ll see for awhile – at least until the economic reality of making no money from working begins to rear its ugly head. According to reports like this, the union and company have been far apart in negotiations.

The Communications Workers of America union calls the strike “standing up for middle class jobs.” Their complaint is that an immensely profitable Verizon has “regressive demands” which “would roll back 50 years of bargaining gains.” Too, the union condemns the “Wisconsin-style tactics” employed by the company.

And the union is getting support in its efforts – for example, the Teamsters who represent UPS workers have ordered drivers not to make deliveries to Verizon facilities where they would cross a picket line. (Sounds like an opportunity for FedEx.) The CWA also claims that over 100,000 have signed a petition decrying Verizon’s “corporate greed.”

Yet Verizon states a case that the workers represent a division of the company that’s not profitable and all they are asking is for well-compensated union employees to chip in a little bit on their benefit packages. The company is also accusing the union of misrepresenting the company’s bargaining demands and also several incidents of vandalism and sabotage. (That seems to be par for the Big Labor course, as I’ll explain later.)

In essence, the conflict boils down to this: Verizon is trying to cut costs in a division that’s on its way to obsolescence. No longer are Americans tied to a phone line as more and more households have eschewed a landline phone for cellular service. Nor does Verizon even have the monopoly on landline service as they used to because cable providers and others have made these services available. Unfortunately for the Verizon employees affected by the strike, their business will eventually go the route of the horse and buggy just as that of the telephone operator went away years ago when direct-dial phones became available.

The other irksome item within the union’s argument is playing that old class envy card. Their claim that the “very profitable company has paid its top five executives more than $258 million over the past four years” doesn’t address how these corporate leaders were paid. Most likely much of the compensation came in the form of stock options granted because the company was “very profitable” – would they prefer these executives lost millions of dollars instead? (By the way, that $258 million number works out to $1433.33 per striking employee per year. Would the strikers accept such a measly pay raise on even a $60,000 salary, let alone upwards of $90,000?)

Certainly that sounds like a huge amount of compensation for these executives – after all, who wouldn’t want a gig where they made an average of $12 million per year? But then again, would you like the hard work and long hours these people put in on their way up the corporate ladder? I doubt these positions were handed to them, and they certainly require more thought and skill in a number of areas than the average line worker would be able to exhibit. A failure on a line worker’s part may mean a few hundred customers are inconvenienced until someone can fix the issue. A CEO’s screwup could drive the entire company to bankruptcy and cost thousands of workers their jobs – so let’s get a sense of proportion here.

Read more here.

Back Door Amnesty

Bowing to pressure from immigrant rights activists, the Obama administration said Thursday that it will halt deportation proceedings on a case-by-case basis against illegal immigrants who meet certain criteria, such as attending school, having family in the military or having primary responsible for other family members’ care.

The move marks a major step for President Obama, who for months has said he does not have broad categorical authority to halt deportations and said he must follow the laws as Congress has written them.

But in letters to Congress on Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said she does have discretion to focus on “priorities” and that her department and the Justice Department will review all ongoing cases to see who meets the new criteria.

“This case-by-case approach will enhance public safety,” she said. “Immigration judges will be able to more swiftly adjudicate high-priority cases, such as those involving convicted felons.”

The move won immediate praise from Hispanic activists and Democrats who had strenuously argued with the administration that it did have authority to take these actions, and said as long as Congress is deadlocked on the issue, it was up to Mr. Obama to act.

“Today’s announcement shows that this president is willing to put muscle behind his words and to use his power to intervene when the lives of good people are being ruined by bad laws,” said Rep. Luis V. Gutierrez, Illinois Democrat, who has taken a leadership role on the issue since the death of Sen. Edward M. Kennedy in 2009.

The new rules apply to those who have been apprehended and are in deportation proceedings, but have not been officially ordered out of the country by a judge.

Ms. Napolitano said a working group will try to come up with “guidance on how to provide for appropriate discretionary consideration” for “compelling cases” in instances where someone already has been ordered deported.

Read more here.