by Linda Szugyi

Last week, I mentioned how tough it is to opine on something that impacts me in a personal way.  In that post, the topic was the war in Afghanistan.

This week, it is the budget war on the Hill.


How do I objectively assess the Ryan-Murray budget deal, when it stands to cost thousands of dollars a year for my husband and all others who plan to retire or have already retired from the military at a younger age than 62?

The cut sounds inconsequential at first blush:  a 1% cut in Cost of Living Adjustment (“COLA”) until you reach the age of 62.  But if you retire at age 42, then you have the cumulative effect of 20 years of inflation–dollar value shrinkage–before you get the 1% adjustment back.  In other words, that wee 1% cut ends up a 20% loss in value for the person who retires at age 42.

Let’s talk more about that young retiree, shall we?

First of all, retiring at a younger age isn’t just an employee perk.  It’s necessary for a functional military.  We all know that the military is in the business of fighting, and fighting is a young man’s job.  Still, it probably looks like a pretty sweet deal, getting this full military pension at such a young age, and getting to add it to whatever second career you choose post-military.

That’s because it is a pretty sweet deal.

That’s why people agree to it.  They agree to risk their lives.  They agree to uproot their family anywhere from 4 to 12 times (we are on our 7th move in 15 years).  They agree to lose the ability to invest in real estate with the sweat equity that requires years of living in the same four walls. They agree to be worn down by hard labor, dangerous work environments, regular sleep deprivation, and battle stress.

They agree to give up all the earning growth potential of entrepreneurship or corporate ladder-climbing.  (That goes for their spouses, too.  The spouse who can maintain a lucrative career while being dragged to the four corners of the world is a rare one indeed.)

There’s another important aspect to consider:  you can’t just put in two weeks notice and quit.  We call quitting an Unauthorized Absence (“UA”) in the Navy, and it’s a crime under the UCMJ.  In order to function successfully in a military career, you have to understand that you don’t own your own life.  You are the military’s indentured servant.

That’s why it takes a pretty sweet deal to lure enough motivated individuals into an all-volunteer military for twenty or more of their very best years.

It’s a major expense for the U.S. government.  Lifetime pensions that can start as young as age 38 will in most cases be paid out for a very long time.  With healthcare costs soaring, it’s no surprise that Tricare for Life is the most expensive part of all.

This ballooning cost of military personnel might be getting out of hand.  It may need reforming.  Congress already created a commission to study this very topic, and its recommendations are due this coming May.

Instead of waiting for the recommendations of their own commission and crafting non-retroactive reform, however, the House chose to renege on a promise.  The House chose to retroactively shrink the benefits that untold numbers of service members relied on when they weighed their options at re-enlistment and decided to continue their military career.

Paul Ryan can take his rugged, good-looking fiscal conservatism and stuff it in a sock.  The federal government spends $11 billion dollars a day, and I bet he can find his $7 billion of savings somewhere else.  As you might have noticed, I’ve thrown objectivity to the wind for this post.  I am emphatically stating that this budget deal blows monkey chunks.

At least you can use my subjective view in order to make an objective assessment of your own.  The fact is, moves like this will impact the career decisions of every service member.  And they won’t be holding their breath for an Armed Forces panel to review this retirement cut before it takes effect.

So Congress, do you want an all-volunteer military that is capable of the sustained action that your foreign policies have required?  Or are you going to reinstitute the draft?  Or what?

Update:  (DTG)  Usually the lead post of the day is reserved for me but Linda as a Military wife asked special permission for the blog to lead with it and given this deal directly impacts her I decided to go with it.


Olimometer 2.52

Yesterday In the rush to shovel I forgot to make my lead pitch for DaTipJar to start the week (didn’t hit save) and it shows.

Sunday we only drew $2 toward our $340 weekly goal.

I usually don’t attack DaPitch to Da Magnificent Seven even though it helps pay them but as this is the lead post of the day the pitch is here.

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Niki Tsongas has a piece published in the Lawrence Eagle Tribune that take a short at some of the effects of the Sequester:

Several months ago the manager of the Lawrence Municipal Airport notified my office that as a result of sequestration, automatic government spending cuts that went into effect in February, 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) planned to close the air traffic control tower, costing jobs, economic growth and impacting safety at an airport that has seen an increase in flight traffic in recent years.

Airports across the country also faced furloughs for their air traffic controllers, which not only forced pay reductions to workers but also created severe logjams and delays for travelers. No doubt countless people experienced the logjam and received similar messages as I did from their chosen airline warning about delays due to sequestration.

She gives it a roundhouse right:

Enacted as motivation for Congress to find a comprehensive solution to America’s economic woes, these automatic cuts, commonly referred to as sequestration, were never meant to take place. The cuts are split evenly between defense and other government programs, blindly slashing the top off of federal agency budgets. Resources many citizens utilize on a daily basis are at risk, including educational opportunities, senior citizen meal assistance programs and public safety initiatives.

My friend and sometime guest Tim Imholt a likely 2014 opponent sent me a copy of a letter he sent to the paper in response saying in part:

While I agree with her statement that a “piecemeal approach” or to be blunt, these draconian methods of avoiding real governing are simply unacceptable I have a problem with her actions.

The good Congresswoman somehow failed to mention one crucial fact – that she voted in favor of the sequestration cuts.

For something before being against it, I know I’ve heard that from someone from Massachusetts before…

So, perhaps next time, the good Congresswoman should fill in the voting public on her voting record before she demonizes the legislation she obviously, once upon a time, supported.

I don’t know, she spent a lot of time in 2012 attacking the medical device tax she helped pass so I don’t see why that would change now.

Just a reminder Massachusetts, we do this to ourselves.

Two pieces of news came out yesterday that at first glance might seem totally unrelated, first a poll concerning President Obama

His approval rating has dropped to the lowest level in more than a year, with more voters now turning thumbs down on his performance than thumbs up, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll. The measure of how much people like him also has dropped.

He’s still vastly more popular than Congress, particularly congressional Republicans. But in the biggest political clash of the year – over the federal budget and how to curb deficits – voters split 44 percent to 42 percent between preferring Congress or Obama.

Ok so polling shows Barack Obama is having some trouble in the numbers, big deal, polls go up and down all the time. It’s the nature of things, and anyway why on earth would this have anything to do with this:

Donald Trump thinks actress Ashley Judd would make a “great” Senate candidate, the real estate mogul tweeted on Tuesday.

“All reports indicate Ashley Judd will be running for Sen. McConnell’s seat,” Trump wrote. “She’s going to be a great candidate. …Re: Ashley Judd: Keep @KarlRove away. He already made her a viable candidate.”

Asked to clarify the remarks, Trump told POLITICO in a statement: “Ashley Judd’s candidacy was created by Karl Rove’s terrible ads; even before she thought seriously about running. The ads made her look great and now she probably will run.”

Trump has previously said that an ad from Rove’s super PAC was “the best thing that ever happened to Ashley Judd—simply increases her profile.”

DaTechGuy you’ve totally lost me, why on EARTH are you quoting Donald Trump opinion in Ashley Judd when everyone from Glenn Reynolds to Stacy McCain says she’s a joke, and what on earth does this have to do with the president’s poll numbers?

It’s actually pretty simple, celebrity culture and low information voters.

One of the reasons why Barack Obama beat all the odds and won re-election with a bad record and an even worse economy combination was the inability of Mitt Romney’s message to break through to low information votes. The president’s ad blitz made sure the background noise had nothing to do with the reality.

This time it has had the exact opposite effect, particularly on the sequester. The president pushed the evil of sequester and pointed to it as a direct cause of the White House cancelling kids tours and the media lapped it up.

Those EVIL republicans, on every network and on CNN in every airport people who do not pay attention to the news say school kids not about to tour the white house. The realities that other cuts could be made didn’t matter, the people who only see news in passing while checking on Lady Gaga or their favorite movie star knew the money wasn’t there for parties because of Republicans then they picked up their magazines to find out about Adele and Beyonce and read this:

The same week that President Obama’s administration announced that due to sequestration, White House tours would be cancelled, sources at the White House announced that it would be hosting megastars Adele and Beyonce at Michelle’s 50th birthday party next year. “America’s First Lady will be holding a huge celebrity-packed party for her birthday at the White House next year and, as she adores Adele and Beyonce, she has asked them both to sing,” the source told the UK Daily Mail. The source did say that “The Obamas will pay Adele’s expenses as it’s a private party, not a State one.”

OK they likely didn’t read that because low information voters don’t read Breitbart, they check out entertainment sites like this one:

Today it was revealed that director Quention Tarantino is desperate to have her compose a song for his new film after he fell in love with her Oscar-winning song for Skyfall.

And just a few hours later, it has been reported that the London lass has now been asked to perform at Michelle Obama’s 50th birthday alongside Beyoncé.

and the drop, and BET, and hello, and in entertainment sections elsewhere.

Bottom line the “White house can’t afford tours” story and the “White House has Beyonce & Adele to sing” story hit the exact same places that the low information voters go at the exact same time and the same voters who wouldn’t be caught dead on Fox (or any news site) suddenly had the message that Brietbart was trying to make

It’s been suggested the GOP get involved in the culture pages this is why.

And that’s why Ashley Judd is dangerous.

At first glance Judd is a joke with an entire persona that is totally opposite to what wins in Kentucky, but remember those same low information voters are not going to be reading any of the stories we are writing about her. They will see her celebrity, they will see various stars turn out for her, maybe a singer or two

We can have story after story about Judd and her pronouncements but if they don’t break though to the voter who simply sees a pretty Kentucky girl who managed to make it big, who does work for “charity” its not going to make a difference.

Granted Kentucky went heavily for Mitt in 2012 but it becomes a question of which message gets through to the people. A celebrity like Judd can break through to people in ways a regular pol simply can’t and there is absolutely no way for Mitch McConnell to portray himself as anything else like a Washington insider.

And when Mitch McConnell an established long time pol starts running ads against this pretty Kentucky girl who managed to make good watch how people react.

Does this mean she can romp, particularly if there is not a Tea Party Candidate dividing the GOP? No, but it means that if the GOP takes Judd, a woman who can raise money and get coverage at will, they might be vulnerable to the same mistakes Massachusetts Democrats made in January 2010 in a race they couldn’t lose.

We are in a brave new world, after two generations of the secular culture reaching that low information voter whose preparation for exercising the franchise our forefathers fought for is People’s magazine and the Supermarket tabloids are a factor. Sometimes it gives, sometimes it takes away and we ignore it at our and the country’s peril.

Olimometer 2.52

I’ll be in transit to DC today and I have a couple of posts scheduled before I land. While I’m going to travel far today the quest for that elusive $300 paycheck hasn’t moved an inch since yesterday.

We had a fair amount of traffic the last few days with our coverage of the SF ads and CPAC is going to hopefully drive more, but without those 14 people willing to kick in that $20 this week, all the traffic in the world won’t matter.

So if you can give a hand to keep independent conservative blogging going consider hitting DaTipJar and getting that thermometer moving

It would be pretty hard to do better than this video to explain Sequestration and the US debt

The sad thing about this video, it is over 15 months old.

If you are a young person remember, while the Baby boomer generation has put us in this situation (the most narcissistic generation ever to live) by voting for this administration and giving it the power of your support, you’ve done this to yourself.

There is a lot of significance to the WhiteHouse vs Woodward fight. We get one aspect of it from the Anchoress:

I looked at some of the political headlines, particularly that staggering business of mediafolk eating their own to protect their presidential squeeze-toy, and wondered, what the history books would say about yesterday, too. Would they say this was the moment the U.S. Press vacated its right to a public trust, by disallowing any challenges to (or demands of accountability from) a presidential administration?

A friend replied: “No one will remember what happened in America today…” And that is probably right. But watching the on-going goings-on among the mainstream journalists, I wondered if we ought not mark the day of the Woodward take-down as we were marking Benedict’s. Perhaps yesterday was a day when butterflies flapped their wings, and fomented distant calamities.

Certainly the blowblack from the MSM against Woodward who had hitherto been treated as a demigod is not insignificant. There is no shortage of irony in the president proclaiming “I am not a dictator” at the end of the week when the White House cry was seemingly: ” “Will no one rid me of this turbulent reporter?”

While the Woodward affair might have a long term significance, either in terms of marking the day the press turns around or the day the press finally surrenders itself in submission there is one other aspect of the Woodward story that serves the long term goals of the president no matter how it ends.

Yesterday I wrote how the White House was going to play sequestration:

No Jobs? Sequestration’s fault. People can’t afford a house or car? Sequestration’s fault. Foodstamps on the rise? Sequestration. Long lines at an airport? Sequestration! Poor Education? Sequestration! Crime? Sequestration! Student Loans? Sequestration. Al Qaeda attacks? Sequestration! Iranian Bomb? Sequestration in Spades!

The entire business is vague enough that the White House can use this argument to explain away almost anything. It doesn’t have to work forever, just long enough to deflect the blame when the low information voter catches a sound bite here and there.

You might think the Woodward business, drawing so many stories and posts might destroy that plan, on the contrary, it serves it.

Remember this all started with a February 22nd Op ed by Woodward calling attention to the fact the White House is where sequestration came from:

The president and Lew had this wrong. My extensive reporting for my book “The Price of Politics” shows that the automatic spending cuts were initiated by the White House and were the brainchild of Lew and White House congressional relations chief Rob Nabors — probably the foremost experts on budget issues in the senior ranks of the federal government.

Obama personally approved of the plan for Lew and Nabors to propose the sequester to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). They did so at 2:30 p.m. July 27, 2011, according to interviews with two senior White House aides who were directly involved.

That was a bombshell that exploded on the press and the White House and had excellent potential to derail any hopes of blaming Sequestration (and through it the GOP) for any problem that might arise.

However The woodward fight has changed the narrative, look at these memeorandm headlines from Thursday and Friday

Dylan Byers / Politico:Press corps to Woodward: Really?

Paul Farhi / Washington Post: Woodward vs. White House: Washington at its weirdest

 Politico:Woodward at war

 Ron Fournier / Why Bob Woodward’s Fight With The White House Matters to You

Ben Smith / BuzzFeedEconomic Official Sperling Warned Woodward

WMALWMAL EXCLUSIVE: Woodward’s Not Alone – Fmr. Clinton Aide Davis Says He Received White House Threat


 CNNBob Woodward says he was threatened by White House

Brett LoGiurato / Business InsiderBOB WOODWARD: A ‘Very Senior’ White House Person Warned Me I’d ‘Regret’ What I’m Doing

All are big, all are loud and not a single one of them says: “White House source of Sequestration”.

As long as that narrative is not the story, the White House wins, Woodward called the White House out concerning this on Today:

“It’s been pointed out that this is a sideshow, which it is,” the Washington Post journalist told Matt Lauer on TODAY from Washington. “This is the old trick in the book of making the press, or some confrontation with the press, the issue, rather than what the White House has done here.”

Why cover the issue when the dogfight is more interesting?

“The president is running around the country saying it’s going to bring a human toll, that all sorts of people are going to lose their jobs,” Woodward told Lauer. “He’s the one who started it. He’s the one he proposed it. People need to know that, and that’s what the White House is trying to avoid discussion about, quite frankly.”

In six months everyone will remember the White House had a confrontation with Bob Woodward. But none of the low information voters that this plan is directed toward will remember what Woodward wrote that sparked it.

That result is all the White House is interested in.  If less powerful journalists are dissuaded from crossing them, that’s a bonus extra.


Olimometer 2.52

It’s the last day of the pay week and despite one soul doing a monthly kick in we are still under 25% toward this week’s paycheck.

I’m sure it’s sequestration’s fault and DaTipJar has not been visited by agents of Malaysia as some others have.

With No Soros, No Koch, No Unions, No Feds and No Malaysia It’s going to take you, I’m twelve $20 tip jar hitters from a full paycheck this week. Can I find a dirty dozen to keep the home fires burning?

LIKO: It’s not the season for lightning. It must be a warning.

FENTO:  We’ve had storms like this before.

OJI: Not like this one.

Star Trek TNG Who Watches the Watchers 1989

The worst thing you can give a person is an excuse


Yesterday we had a story about the cult of Global Warming hitting a bump worldwide

Public concern about environmental issues including climate change has slumped to a 20-year low since the financial crisis, a global study reveals.

Fewer people now consider issues such as CO2 emissions, air and water pollution, animal species loss, and water shortages to be “very serious” than at any time in the last two decades, according to the poll of 22,812 people in 22 countries including Britain and the US.

For decades we have been told the sky is falling and that ONLY your tax dollars worldwide would make the difference, not just in the US but worldwide.

Billions of dollars have been allocated to companies and organizations worldwide while NGO and officials have gone to conferences worldwide at 5 star resorts with the best food, the best wine and the best companionship was provided for the eco warriors who would beat their breasts in front of the cameras while eating, drinking and being merry

When “Global Warming” failed to move the rubes and data came into question it morphed into the amorphous Climate Change.

Climate change served their purposes much better than Global Warming, because the word “warming” means something. but “change” can mean anything.

Earthquakes? Global Warming,  Tidal Waves?   Global Warming.   Blizzards? Global Warming!  Droughts?  Global Warming!  Floods?   Global Warming! Asteroid heading for earth?   Global Warming in Spades!

And only your Tax Dollars can stop it!

The problem with this kind of thing is once people start talking about deadlines everything changes Al Gore talked about us having only 10 years to save the world. Rush Limbaugh in response set up a countdown clock

Now Al Gore says we’ve got ten years. Ten years left to save the planet from a scorching. Okay, we’re going to start counting. This is January 27th, 2006. We will begin the count, ladies and gentlemen.

As of this morning the countdown clock at the site is at 2 years, 331 days (16 hours 27 minutes and 5 seconds as I type this) and continues to count down. When the count reaches 0 regardless of the state of the world the state of Al Gore will living large:

in case you missed it, Al Gore is now richer than Mitt Romney..

and all the wrong in the world will not change it.


Which brings us to Sequestration and Barack Obama.

One of the characteristics of this administration has been dodging when there is a chance of their agenda being brought out in the open.  It’s the reason why democrats have not released a budget for years, it’s why we have to pass bills in order to find out what’s inside them.  It’s why this White House spent the election demonizing Romney rather than running on his record.

With a second terms now in play, the White House has a small quandary.  Baring something extraordinary Barack Obama will be president till Jan 20th 2017.  he has 4 years to do two things:

1.  Build a “legacy”

2.  Achieve his goals (whatever they might be)

The problem is the economy.  While the president’s failures on the economy is no longer a danger to his re-election, he still needs to shift blame on something other than his policies to achieve any goals he has

And that’s where sequestration comes in.

No Jobs?  Sequestration’s fault.  People can’t afford a house or car?  Sequestration’s fault.   Foodstamps on the rise?  Sequestration.  Long lines at an airport?  Sequestration!  Poor Education?  Sequestration!  Crime?  Sequestration!  Student Loans?  Sequestration.  Al Qaeda attacks?  Sequestration!  Iranian Bomb?  Sequestration in Spades!

The entire business is vague enough that the White House can use this argument to explain away almost anything.  It doesn’t have to work forever, just long enough to deflect the blame when the low information voter catches a sound bite here and there.

Give it a few weeks and when the initial dustup is done and see if this isn’t how the White House plays it.

“But DaTechGuy”, you say, “What about Woodward?  Well that’s a post for tomorrow.


Olimometer 2.52

It’s Friday.  The good news is this week’s paycheck almost doubled.  the bad new is it nearly doubled from $27 to $47 with the goal of $300 a distant thought.

(Note the new Thermometer widget will automatically update)

13 People kicking in $20 will get me there by midnight tomorrow.  The left is buying out media outlets that support the right, will you support an outlet that can’t be bought?

This week’s subscription commentary covers Sequestration

The full commentary is here

As always here is how to get it:

If you want the code simply hit DaTipJar

and I’ll send you the code as soon as I see the confirmation e-mail. If you don’t want to worry about ever missing a single video choose any subscription level

and I will e-mail you the codes every week as soon as the videos are uploaded and the posts are ready.

This is the last day of the month and I’m still $39 from my monthly goal and a full $253 shy of my weekly paycheck. Can we get it done?

I’ve always had a great love of History and when I entered High School my goal was to become a History Teacher. However in high school two things happened that put me in a totally different direction.

The very first computers came to my High School (apple 2c’s) Yes believe it or not I did my first programming and wrote my first games on Apples.

The second thing was the passage of Proposition 2 1/2. It limited the amount that a city or town could raise property taxes without a vote to “override”

When proposition 2 1/2 came up we were told most emphatically that this was going to be disaster. the state legislature, still overwhelmingly democrat (although Governor King was that rare creature a fiscally conservative Democrat was in the Corner Office, the prelude to the future GOP strength in the 90’s) however Citizens for limited Taxation managed to unite taxpaying citizens against the bill and it won via a referendum.

After the measure was passed practically EVERY teacher at the High School was given a pink slip directly after the election. (One teacher generated a lot of laughs by asking the students “do you want to see my pink slip?” and when they said “yes” raising her skirt just enough to see her slip which was in fact pink). Today that would get you fired but in my day we had a sense of humor.

But then after all the worry the teachers were put through a strange thing happened:


The next year the teachers were still there, the school was still there and everything pretty much remained as it had been before. It put the lie to the hype.

Fast forward 30 years later and after four years of incredible spending the prospect of rolling back 2% of that spending increase is being laid on so thick you would think it was the greatest disaster to hit the United States since September 11th 2001.

I suspect this administration will do all it can to create visuals of trouble and pain from the sequester starting with stuff like this:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have released “several hundred” immigrants from deportation centers across the country, saying the move is an effort to cut costs ahead of budget cuts due to hit later this week.

Expect more of this, because even if the sky doesn’t fall I suspect the media will do their best to pretend it is, at least for as long as they think they can get away for it.

Update: Sentence chopped off somehow, restored.


Olimometer 2.52

The thermometer hasn’t moved but you might notice its design has changed.

If you’ve had trouble getting to this site, that’s because the plugin that generated the old thermometer was messing up the code of the blog something fierce. That likely caused both the trouble of getting to the site and the lack of movement in the totals for the week.

Losing 24 hours certainly hasn’t helped but you can by being one of the 14 remaining people I need to kick in $20 by Saturday (and at least 3 by Thursday to make the monthly goal) so this weeks paycheck can take place.

It’s all up to you

Potter: But if you haven’t spent all of this year’s budget why send the surplus back to Washington?

D’Angelo: Number #1 Washington loves to get money, they’re always giving it away, you send a bureaucrat back there a check he’ll spin in his chair for an hour.

After Mash 1983

Right now Washington is going nuts over the idea of sequestration. How on earth are people going to function with a reduction in the increase in spending that they had counted on? Particularly when you’ve got people like Rand Paul insisting that sequestration is a drop in the bucket.

On the subject of sequestration, the Kentucky Republican makes the case that these defense cuts amount to a drop in the bucket. “Sequestration was $1.2 trillion over 10 years. And we will be adding $9 trillion over 10 years [in more spending]. Instead of spending 45 trillion over ten years we’ll spend 44 trillion,” Paul said.

Oh Yeah, YEAH? That’s big talk when that 2-3% is coming from someone else’s increase. I’d like to see if Rand Paul can do with less money than he expects.

At a press conference on Wednesday in Louisville, Sen. Rand Paul announced that he will be returning $600,000 to the United States Treasury, money unspent from his official operating budget.

The total amount being returned is more than 20 percent of Sen. Paul’s original office budget.

20% Cut! An actual cut, er…ah…well… it’s a stunt! Anybody can do it for ONE Year. It’s not like He’s been doing it every year so something:

Freshman Sen. Rand Paul is making good on his promise to cut federal spending. The Kentucky Republican and tea-party favorite said Thursday he’s returning $500,000 to the U.S. Treasury — money from his operating budget that his office never spent.

That story is dated January 12th 2012.

That’s 1.1 million returned over two years.

There is nothing more dangerous to a false meme than an example contrary to it.

I’m sure the MSM would LOVE to cover this deeper, but Marco Rubio was seen near a bubbler and MSNBC & CNN only has so many resources to spare.

Update: Smitty has a bit of spare time to cover it.