Category Archives: American Political Values Choices

Fiscal Farce

 

President Obama returned from his holiday vacation to meet with Congressional leaders in an effort to resolve the differences between the parties over the ‘fiscal cliff’ issues.

 

Big surprise—no deal?

 

Why?  Because no serious negotiations are really going on.  President Obama has demonstrated he really isn’t interested in a deal unless, of course, he gets his way.  The Speaker could not get his Republican colleagues in the House of Representatives to sign on to his Plan B which would have conceded revenue growth by raising taxes on those making more than $ 1million while extending the tax cuts, eliminating the hated alternative minimum tax and few other sweeteners.  Why?  Because the Republicans realized Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid had no intention of taking up the bill in the Senate thus leaving them exposed for having voted to raise taxes with nothing to show for it.

 

Now that the White House meeting failed to produce any progress, the ball bounces to the Senate to take action.

 

QUIT LAUGHING!

 

Yes, this is the same Senate that has not passed a budget bill in nearly four years.  Yes, this is the Senate that Harry Reid has prevented from considering virtually any of the bills the House has passed to address these issues over the past year.

 

So what’s different now?  Not a darn thing except time is running out.

 

The public reaction seems to be

 

‘ A pox on both your houses—and the White house too!’

 

So here we are waiting for one side to blink!

 

This is a big fiscal farce.  The only thing you can count on if that when they do finally agree to pass something expect it to be larded up with pork  for every special interest known to man—except you and me!

 

 

 

Did the Feared October Surprise Arrive Early?

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

The killing of the US Ambassador to Libya and three of his staff, the sacking of the US embassy in Egypt and a copycat attach on our embassy in Yemen is projecting foreign policy into the heart of the 2012 presidential election campaign.  In the Middle East, the facts surrounding the attacks are still being clarified but the feigned outrage over the YouTube posted video involving the Prophet Muhammad looks more like a convenient pretext for radicals looking for just such opportunity.

Meanwhile, stuff is happening that in reaction and anticipation of more to come.

What should we make of this?

President Obama must feel blindsided by tragic events not of his making that nonetheless risk spinning out of control when he least needs to give his electoral opponent more ammunition.  Just as the President hoped for a bump in the polls after the Democratic Party convention he finds himself stuck in the mud of what some are trying to characterize as Iran 1979 all over again with the embassy attacks taking place on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.

Governor Romney calls the president’s foreign policy feckless and failed trotting out the ‘apology tour’ videos and telling the likely voters—See!!!!  The president’s weak positions of national defense and weak position on projecting American strength internationally are leading to more insecurity. But if he presses too far he risks looking like piling on when America is vulnerable.

The President then steps in it big time by telling the Israeli Prime Minister he is too busy campaigning to meet with Netanyahu over Iran.   Israel smacks him upside the head by telling the world just that only souring an already bad relationship.

The President of Egypt takes a LONG TIME to condemn the embassy attack in Cairo.  Not a smart move for a government that counts on $1.5 billion of US military aid each year.  Republicans call for suspending US aid to Egypt and Pakistan and Afghanistan in retribution for the attacks and the lack of confidence that these places are really friends.  Even the president says that Egypt is NOT an ally, but neither is it an enemy.  HUH? Are you kidding me?  This really is amateur hour at the White House!

Behind the scenes these events in the Middle East, upon reflection, look TOO planned, TOO well timed, TOO orchestrated to be coincidence.  Is this Iran’s hand at work through proxies?  Are the jihadists really able to orchestrate such large scale multi-faceted events—again?

So What?

Part of me just wants to take two Tylenol PM and get a good night’s sleep hoping these crazy events will blow over and things will be better in the morning—-it won’t!  The fear is this is just the start of a period of skirmish, displays of plumage and posturing stunts designed to undermine the credibility of the US in the Middle East before Israel bombs the holy crap out of Iran in an effort to degrade the nuclear option, buy time and force the Obama team to come to its rescue BEFORE the election—or else.

That is the President’s real October surprise nightmare scenario.   And the jihadists know just as they knew in Iraq when Sunni insurgents attacked Shi’a causing a counter reaction.  Or when Iran tells Hezbollah to lob rockets into Israel.  Stuff happens!   Are the people of Egypt at fault because stuff happens?  Of course not.  Do they run into the street waving American flags and cursing the jihadists because Americans are their friends, of course not.

We are at the crazy time in our electoral cycle and the international trouble making cycle that symbolic dates like 9/11 or Election Day bring out the troublemakers.  We should expect it, but we don’t have to like it or overreact to it.

The Administration is trying to contain the violence by condemning the You Tube video the jihadists claim provoked it. This is worse than dumb.  The American Government should be defending the American value of freedom of speech not make apologies for it pandering to terrorists.  WEAK!  WEAK!  WEAK!

But there are also lessons for Muslims.  Chill out people!  Don’t let a bunch of nutcases hijack your religion.  And cut us a little slack will you, we believe in freedom of speech and not everything that comes out of someone’s mouth or shows up on YouTube is justification for stupid behavior on your part. Get over it!

The worry is this is only September and the October surprise is yet to come before election day.

Time to Boil Political Frogs

united states currency seal - IMG_7366_web

united states currency seal – IMG_7366_web (Photo credit: kevindean)

It must be an election year!  How do I know, because politicians of both parties are spouting talking points about the need for fiscal responsibility even while they do the opposite.  These same politicians have set up themselves and the rest of us for what is being called the ‘fiscal cliff’ at the beginning of 2013.

The fiscal cliff is the consequence political evasion, ill-considered gimmicks and cynicism.  Because the cost of enacting the ‘Bush tax cuts’ on a permanent basis was seen as politically unacceptable without also cutting spending by like amounts—also seen as unacceptable, Congress did neither.  Instead Congress jumped into the pot of cold water and turned on the heat by adopting the Bush tax cuts, giving them an expiration date, never expecting the water to boil on their watch thus engaging in the age old sport of driving up the deficit while complaining about all the spending.  This was not the finest hour for Republican leadership not because they got the policy wrong but because they bungled the execution and accountability. Had Republicans made the Bush tax permanent there would be no tax cliff.  Had they adjusted spending to match revenue the deficit would be substantially smaller today even counting the first round of stimulus spending. And ten year later Republicans in Congress are still on shaky grounds preaching about fiscal responsibility.

The other part of the fiscal cliff is made possible by another politically correct but imminently silly gimmick called sequestration.  This scheme allowed for the extension of the Nation’s debt ceiling sufficient to pay the bills but ordered automatic cuts in spending divided equally between defense and non-defense programs.  The Democrats agreed to this because they had no choice if they wanted to get the President’s debt ceiling measure approved in a divided Congress.  The Republicans agreed to it because it exacted a pound of flesh from the President’s backside because he needed something and decided to take the beating to get it.  Longer term, the Republicans believed they would win the next election and (avoid having their frog boil) by undoing sequestration for at least defense programs to avoid the cliff even if they sacrificed a few nondefense programs to claim they were cutting the fat out of the budget.

President Obama and the Congressional Democrats made the consequences of the tax cliff manifestly worse than the Republicans by driving up government spending, programs, staffing levels and industrial policy grants to favored players.  In typical Washington fashion any discussion of slowing down the INCREASE in Federal spending as a percentage of GDP is labeled as a ‘cut’ and YouTube videos of Paul Ryan pushing grandma over the cliff in her wheelchair suddenly appear.

“A Pox on Both Your Houses!”

That is the American public’s reaction to these stunts.  But here we are—careening down the 2012 election highway way above the speed limit heading toward the cliff.

In 2008, we voted for Barack Obama because we wanted to believe in his message of hope and change.  We wanted to be part of a historic presidency that celebrated to the world everything we cherished in the American dream.   We wanted to demonstrate that America was still the world’s leader and superpower.  We wanted to again reinvent America to face our economic problems squarely and to be that beacon of hope and change that a desperate world in 2008 desperately needed.

But President Obama has disappointed us instead by playing bait and switch, divided us by endless class warfare, apologized abroad for America’s vision of freedom and world leadership, and undermined our sense of optimism and American exceptionalism that drives Americans to confront challenges with a ‘yes we can’ spirit.  The challenge for President Obama in the 2012 election is America still longs for the 2008 hope and change historic Presidency he promised.  But President Obama abandoned hope and change—and us—after the 2008 election.  We do not like this ‘new normal’ and we don’t want four more years of what he’s given us.  The President has lost the benefit of our doubt and he has very little time left to try to change our minds.

The Republicans are set to nominate Mitt Romney.  He has the business experience a recovering America desperately needs.  He has the executive management and leadership experience the President lacked and we’re now paying for our ‘hiring mistake.  We are persuaded that Mitt Romney will be a good manager of America’s programs, services and finances.  The problem for Mitt Romney is so far he has been unable to ‘close the sale’ with us because while we need a good manager for America’s economic recovery—we still want a hope and change leader to restore America’s potential, self-confidence and global leadership.

Having been baited and switched once before on hope and change we are reluctant to sign up for another ‘squishy promise’ even one of competence and business savvy.  To close the sale Mitt must be more than the un-Obama.  He must inspire us more.  He must reveal his strategy in more detail so we can KNOW this time what is in the bill before we vote for it.

We want to hold our President accountable to deliver what he promises to deliver.

There are worse fates than a competent, but boring President.  But we have waited so long for hope and change and we don’t want to settle for less.

The polls tell us the campaign is a dead heat.  I believe the polls are REALLY telling us that Americans still want to believe in the 2008 hope and change Obama.  But Obama must persuade us that he still believes in hope and change.  We’re listening!  But if the 2012 Obama keeps giving us more of the same class warfare, hyper partisan, left of center rhetoric with continuing bad performance results, Americans are more likely than not to vote for competent but boring Mitt than take a chance of four more years of Obama under-performance.

The heat has been turned up under the Congressional frog with the tax cliff.  But like it or not the President and now Mitt Romney are also in the same pot as the Congressional frog.  Whoever proposes the most rational and achievable political strategy to avoid the fiscal cliff, rescue the nation and jump start our economic recovery will win our votes. A deal that avoids the tax cliff BEFORE the election is what we expect, but if we don’t get one there will be plenty of frog legs on the menu.

Give the President What He Wants—-and Give It To Him Hard!

English: The United States Supreme Court, the ...

English: The United States Supreme Court, the highest court in the United States, in 2010. Top row (left to right): Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Associate Justice Stephen G. Breyer, Associate Justice Samuel A. Alito, and Associate Justice Elena Kagan. Bottom row (left to right): Associate Justice Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy, and Associate Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The decision by the US Supreme Court upholding the Affordable Care Act mandate as a tax was a stunning surprise to many.  Probably no one was more surprised that President Obama.  He has seemed apprehensive that his signature legislative accomplishment was about to be thrown out.

What was also surprising was that the swing vote in the 5-4 decision was Chief Justice John Roberts.  Most speculation had focused on Justice Anthony Kennedy.  And equally surprising was the realization that Roberts could have taken then entire health care act down 5-4 had he sided with the conservatives who, in their dissents, said flatly that the mandate was unconstitutional and the rest of the act had to fall with it as an unconstitutionally broad overreach in the commerce clause.

But why did Chief Justice Roberts side with the President in this case?

And did the Chief Justice just pin the target on the President’s chest instead of having it pinned to his own back?

The beauty of this decision is the ruthless efficiency with which the Chief Justice has made the Affordable Care Act the central political issues in the November 2012 election instead of taking the burden on the back of the Court for undermining the President and Congress.  The decision protects the Supreme Court from being dragged into the political debate over the wisdom of the law while forcing the proponents of the law to defend it all over again in the court of public opinion.

The decision of the Chief Justice seems to follow the advice from two of the three Appeals Court decisions that were taken on review.

The 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati and the D.C. circuit Court of Appeals said in their decisions that while the law is intrusive it is within Congress’s power to enact.  The Washington Post quoted from the opinion of Senior Judge Laurence Silberman, a Ronald Reagan appointee, who said:

“It certainly is an encroachment on individual liberty, but it is no more so than a command that restaurants or hotels are obliged to serve all customers regardless of race, that gravely ill individuals cannot use a substance their doctors described as the only effective palliative for excruciating pain, or that a farmer cannot grow enough wheat to support his own family.”

In deciding the case by upholding the law as a tax and limiting Congress’ power under the commerce clause, Chief Justice Roberts has sidestepped the political debate that will rage and fixed the accountability for the political wisdom of the act where it belongs—on the President and Congress.

It is Still the Economy Stupid

English: President Obama had called on the two...

English: President Obama had called on the two former Presidents to help. During their public remarks in the Rose Garden, President Clinton had said about President Bush, ‘I’ve already figured out how I can get him to do some things that he didn’t sign on for.’ Later, back in the Oval, President Bush is jokingly asking President Clinton what were those things he had in mind. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The phrase made famous by Bill Clinton’s political campaign has a habit of creeping back into the conversation.  It happened again when the former President made two statements to the press that appeared to undermine the sitting President.  Clinton first said that he thought the US was now back in recession given the falling economic data.  And then to add injury to the insult, they said he thought the ‘Bush era tax cuts’ should all be extended ‘for a little while’.

The views are contrary to President Obama’s so they seem almost deliberately off-message if the goal is to help the president in his struggle to be re-elected.  Yet, just as the phrase rang true in the 1992 campaign against George Bush the elder, they have the added advantage of being the truth twenty years later in this 2012 campaign.

To be fair to the President’s lament too often repeated—-‘we inherited this mess’ we will all concede that digging out of the hole created by the great recession has not been easy.  But the President’s policies and the hard left partisan way he won them and is implementing them have not helped make things better faster.  So now he is being tormented and the gum of a gummed up economy is sticking to his shoes.

There are many ironies in this evolution of events:

  • How’s that Hopey Changey Thing Working out? The President we voted for in 2008 because as historic a figure as he was, we also wanted to believe badly in the ‘Hope and Change’ he championed.  It was the right message at the right time from the right person.  But after the election hope and change turned into a nasty ‘I won’ persona that was NOT what we voted for.
  • The World Still Wants the US to Lead.  The world’s leaders may not have liked George W Bush but they did not doubt his resolve.  Four years later America’s resolve seems in retreat conveniently responding to our war weariness.  But we have watched this movie before and it didn’t turn out well.  A weaker America makes for a more dangerous world where the bad boys in every neighborhood take advantage of the vacuum to occupy the turf.  The same is true in global economics, a weak America can lead to pneumonia elsewhere.  It is tough to lead from the bottom of the debt hole we have dug for ourselves, but lead we must especially if first Europe, now China and maybe America is slipping back into recession.
  • We Still Want Hope and Change! Having put away his hope and change super-cape, it is tough for the president to argue now he had it on all the time.  We are not THAT stupid.  So while we once believed, and we still want to believe—-we no longer truly believe that the guy who brought us to the hope and change dance will dance with us if we renew his lease for another four years.  The President has squandered his best opportunity.

And then there is this irony.

George W. Bush whom the president has spent the last four years blaming and vilifying has kept his mouth shut and taken the President’s abuse true to his word not to speak ill of his successor.  Meanwhile the former President of the president’s own party appears by his side, expresses support for him even while periodically stabbing him in the back with his statements to remind him who the big dog in the Democrat party is.

October Surprise

While most of the speculation about an October surprise has revolved around the probability of an Israeli attack on Iran’s nuclear capability, or a financial collapse in Spain or Italy that drags the Eurozone to the depths, it could be that we already know the October surprise but are either ignoring it or hoping, against hope, that it is not true.

We got a surprise this week with the announcement that JPMorgan Chase lost $ 2 billion in a risk management strategy gone bad.  We saw oil prices decline on news of lower than expected economic growth in China, the defeat of President Sarkozy in French elections, and similar results in Greek elections further undermining confidence in the Eurozone.  But this is May not October.

What is our October Surprise?  

The realization that the US is back in recession.  That now seems the most likely scenario for the US economy given the anemic pace of US GDP growth, persistently high unemployment, a declining work force shrinking because more people quit looking for work and thus are no longer counted and continued polls telling us Americans think the country is going in the wrong direction.

But don’t take my word for it.  The Economic Cycle Research Institute (ECRI) a New York City-based independent economic research think tank said May 9, 2012 that year-over-year growth in US real personal income has been lower for the last three months than it was at the beginning of each of the last ten recessions. The ECRI has correctly predicted three of the last three recessions.  In September 2011 the ECRI said it saw this pattern emerging and now it is reaffirming its analysis telling us that “this is what personal income growth typically looks like early in a recession”.

Some would argue the US feels like we have been in recession or worse since 2008, but data tells us we came out of recession in mid-2009 but our deficit spending levels, fiscal and monetary policy has not produced the kind of robust recovery previously seen.  So it is tough to see how digging our fiscal hole deeper with more deficit spending will change things now.

We could tax the rich—if we can find them.  California is the poster child —or basket case for that strategy with a deficit now looming to $16 billion from $9 billion at the beginning of the year.  California is not only bleeding red ink, it is bleeding people.  From 2000 to 2009 California lost a net 1.5 million resident to other states. Only New York lost more—1.6 million residents. Think about that— 1.5 million people is a city the size of San Diego voting with their feet. Yet,  on the June primary ballot is a new tax increase on cigarettes and on the November ballot we face the prospect of two dueling income and sales tax increase measures.

So the October surprise is that it may all hit the fan starting in October as voters realize not only is our economy back in recession but that we are staring in the face the prospects of a tsunami of new taxes at the beginning of 2013 from the end of the Bush tax cuts, the end of the payroll tax cuts,  the prospects of higher taxes on both the Federal and State levels.  Meanwhile it will be obvious to every voter that our current policies are not working.

This is not what President Obama and Governor Jerry Brown want to hear, but it is the reality we all face.  The challenge for the President and Governor of California is to define a message and a policy that is something other than more of the same—because that is going to be a tough sell.

The challenge for Republicans now is to present the country with a policy vision they think will work better.  Being opposed to everything President Obama is doing is not sufficient and will not overcome our belief that both parties are guilt of the same sins.

They both spend too much of other people’s money and pander to the pet causes of their base.  They all lack ‘day jobs’ that force them to live with the laws, policies and regulations they impose on the rest of us.  They forget whom they were elected to serve and the longer they are in Washington the more disconnected they become from Main Street.  These are the manifest symptoms of confidence lost.

Senator Richard Lugar lost his first primary election challenge in more than 36 years in the US Senate from Indiana to a Tea Party activist this past week.  The Democrats said this was the ugliness of the Tea Party cleansing the GOP of moderates. But one of the reasons Lugar was defeated was the realization by Indiana voters that Senator Lugar sold his house in Indiana years ago taking up permanent residence in Washington DC and has not truly been a Hoosier for quite some time.

Crucify! Crucify!

The EPA was directed to set standards for radi...

The EPA was directed to set standards for radioactive materials under Reorganization Plan No. 3 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I know we are still in the season of Easter but this is not an Easter story.  By now you’ve heard the news report of EPA Region 6 Administrator Al Armendariz’ remarks at a local Texas government officials meeting in 2010 where he used a crude analogy to describe his “philosophy of enforcement.”

“It was kind of like how the Romans used to conquer villages in the Mediterranean. They’d go in to a little Turkish town somewhere, they’d find the first five guys they saw, and they’d crucify them. And then, you know, that town was really easy to manage for the next few years. You make examples out of people who are in this case not complying with the law … and you hit them as hard as you can” — to act as a “deterrent” to others.”

Apologies have dutifully now been issued disclaiming these remarks and called them out as not reflecting the Administration’s policy on enforcement.  But the reason the video clip went viral is that it rings so true of what many have come to believe is, in fact, the Administration’s policy.

This comes on the heels of a unanimous Supreme Court Decision in Sackett v US EPA where the Court overturned an enforcement order of the EPA which sought to fine a couple thousands per day in civil penalties for the temerity of challenging an EPA decision that building a house on their own property was a violation of the Government’s wetlands policy.  The decision overturned longstanding precedent that enforcement orders must be challenged administratively before an action is taken to court.

The Regulatory Process is Not Serving the Public Interest

These examples are easy to focus on, but the bigger issue is the pervasive, creeping and creepy over reach of regulation that once just strangled the economy but now is being used to pursue a political agenda the Administration has been unable to get approved by the Congress.

There is a de facto war on fossil fuels being pursued by the EPA.  The rush of new regulations is focused on getting as much done in the first term as possible administratively, perhaps out of fear there may not be a second terms or that the Democrats will lose the Senate.

Congress is also to blame big time for this mess.  It writes laws that are vague or ill-considered and leaves it up to bureaucrats to define the details and sort out the problems.  The Code of Federal Regulations now consists of thousands of pages of rules bearing only a vague resemblance to their authorizing legislation.

We can do better than this:

  1. Require that rules must either be incorporated directly into legislation or proposed as a companion rulemaking by affected parties BEFORE Congress passes the law. Force the parties to work out their differences before the law is passed and embody the rules in the law.
  2. Require that EVERY regulation contain a sunset date of not more than 7 years.  The law and every rule adopted pursuant to it should expire unless it is reauthorized by Congress.  This requirement would be applicable to EVERY existing rule which should be subject to sunset review.
  3. Require that NO rule may be proposed without a cost benefit analysis based upon standard objective criteria applicable to all regulation for calculating cost and benefits.  No rule may be published if the results of the cost benefit analysis show that the costs outweigh the benefits.  The cost benefit study may be challenged as not meeting the standard objective criteria before an Administrative Law Judge to decide whether the rule meets the cost benefit test.
  4. Require that Congress much approve EVERY regulation imposing a cost of more than $100 million on an up or down vote to be taken within 90 days of submittal of the rule to Congress or else it is automatically rejected.

These steps would clarify that regulations are designed to cost effectively and fairly implement specific policies adopted by Congress.  It clarifies that rules are not a separate process for pursuing political agendas.  It levels the playing field giving business an equal opportunity in the rule making, enforcement and sunset review process with other interest groups.  It forces ALL SPECIAL INTERESTS to work out their differences BEFORE laws are passed and rules proposed or have those interests framed to be decided in an up or down vote for all to see.

NASA called out on Climate Science by its own Heroes

The NASA insignia. Español: Insignia de la NAS...

The NASA insignia. Español: Insignia de la NASA. Italiano: Logo della NASA. Русский: Логотип НАСА. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

No matter how many times you read it, or how NASA tries to explain it, the following letter to the NASA Administrator signed by 49 former astronauts, flight directors, research scientists and others associated with some of NASA’s greatest achievements in science and space is like nothing we have ever seen before.

The letter first appeared in the blog What’s Up with That after it was delivered but not acknowledged by NASA. It was picked up by the Beaumont Enterprise newspaper on the Texas space coast.  Then  The Daily Caller asked NASA about it getting the following reply “NASA spokesman Steve Cole told The Daily Caller that they have not received the letter yet. “We are now aware of the correspondence but have not yet had an opportunity to review the contents,” he said.

Read it for yourself in their own words:

“March 28, 2012

The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr.
NASA Administrator
NASA Headquarters
Washington, D.C. 20546-0001

Dear Charlie,

We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.

The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.

As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.

For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.

Thank you for considering this request.”

Awards and decorations of the United States go...

Awards and decorations of the United States government (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The letter is signed by 49 people including seven Apollo astronauts and two former directors of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.   Here is the complete list of signatories:

/s/ Jack Barneburg, Jack – JSC, Space Shuttle Structures, Engineering Directorate, 34 years
/s/ Larry Bell – JSC, Mgr. Crew Systems Div., Engineering Directorate, 32 years
/s/ Dr. Donald Bogard – JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 41 years
/s/ Jerry C. Bostick – JSC, Principal Investigator, Science Directorate, 23 years
/s/ Dr. Phillip K. Chapman – JSC, Scientist – astronaut, 5 years
/s/ Michael F. Collins, JSC, Chief, Flight Design and Dynamics Division, MOD, 41 years
/s/ Dr. Kenneth Cox – JSC, Chief Flight Dynamics Div., Engr. Directorate, 40 years
/s/ Walter Cunningham – JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 7, 8 years
/s/ Dr. Donald M. Curry – JSC, Mgr. Shuttle Leading Edge, Thermal Protection Sys., Engr. Dir., 44 years
/s/ Leroy Day – Hdq. Deputy Director, Space Shuttle Program, 19 years
/s/ Dr. Henry P. Decell, Jr. – JSC, Chief, Theory & Analysis Office, 5 years
/s/Charles F. Deiterich – JSC, Mgr., Flight Operations Integration, MOD, 30 years
/s/ Dr. Harold Doiron – JSC, Chairman, Shuttle Pogo Prevention Panel, 16 years
/s/ Charles Duke – JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 16, 10 years
/s/ Anita Gale
/s/ Grace Germany – JSC, Program Analyst, 35 years
/s/ Ed Gibson – JSC, Astronaut Skylab 4, 14 years
/s/ Richard Gordon – JSC, Astronaut, Gemini Xi, Apollo 12, 9 years
/s/ Gerald C. Griffin – JSC, Apollo Flight Director, and Director of Johnson Space Center, 22 years
/s/ Thomas M. Grubbs – JSC, Chief, Aircraft Maintenance and Engineering Branch, 31 years
/s/ Thomas J. Harmon
/s/ David W. Heath – JSC, Reentry Specialist, MOD, 30 years
/s/ Miguel A. Hernandez, Jr. – JSC, Flight crew training and operations, 3 years
/s/ James R. RoundtreeJSC Branch Chief, 26 years
/s/ Enoch Jones – JSC, Mgr. SE&I, Shuttle Program Office, 26 years
/s/ Dr. Joseph Kerwin – JSC, Astronaut, Skylab 2, Director of Space and Life Sciences, 22 years
/s/ Jack Knight – JSC, Chief, Advanced Operations and Development Division, MOD, 40 years
/s/ Dr. Christopher C. Kraft – JSC, Apollo Flight Director and Director of Johnson Space Center, 24 years
/s/ Paul C. KramerJSC, Ass.t for Planning Aeroscience and Flight Mechanics Div., Egr. Dir., 34 years
/s/ Alex (Skip) Larsen
/s/ Dr. Lubert Leger – JSC, Ass’t. Chief Materials Division, Engr. Directorate, 30 years
/s/ Dr. Humbolt C. Mandell – JSC, Mgr. Shuttle Program Control and Advance Programs, 40 years
/s/ Donald K. McCutchen – JSC, Project Engineer – Space Shuttle and ISS Program Offices, 33 years
/s/ Thomas L. (Tom) Moser – Hdq. Dep. Assoc. Admin. & Director, Space Station Program, 28 years
/s/ Dr. George Mueller – Hdq., Assoc. Adm., Office of Space Flight, 6 years
/s/ Tom Ohesorge
/s/ James Peacock – JSC, Apollo and Shuttle Program Office, 21 years
/s/ Richard McFarland – JSC, Mgr. Motion Simulators, 28 years
/s/ Joseph E. Rogers – JSC, Chief, Structures and Dynamics Branch, Engr. Directorate,40 years
/s/ Bernard J. Rosenbaum – JSC, Chief Engineer, Propulsion and Power Division, Engr. Dir., 48 years
/s/ Dr. Harrison (Jack) Schmitt – JSC, Astronaut Apollo 17, 10 years
/s/ Gerard C. Shows – JSC, Asst. Manager, Quality Assurance, 30 years
/s/ Kenneth Suit – JSC, Ass’t Mgr., Systems Integration, Space Shuttle, 37 years
/s/ Robert F. Thompson – JSC, Program Manager, Space Shuttle, 44 years/s/ Frank Van Renesselaer – Hdq., Mgr. Shuttle Solid Rocket Boosters, 15 years
/s/ Dr. James Visentine – JSC Materials Branch, Engineering Directorate, 30 years
/s/ Manfred (Dutch) von Ehrenfried – JSC, Flight Controller; Mercury, Gemini & Apollo, MOD, 10 years
/s/ George Weisskopf – JSC, Avionics Systems Division, Engineering Dir., 40 years
/s/ Al Worden – JSC, Astronaut, Apollo 15, 9 years
/s/ Thomas (Tom) Wysmuller – JSC, Meteorologist, 5 years

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For the original version on PRWeb visit: http://www.prweb.com/releases/prweb2012/4/prweb9388844.htm

Occupy Labor

Port of Oakland

Port of Oakland via Wikipedia

The press reports here in the San Francisco Bay Area tell us the cost of the Occupy movement to the city governments in Oakland and San Francisco now total about $ 1 million each in additional police, public works and cleanup costs. But that is only a fraction of the true cost of this hard to categorize movement.

I was downtown San Francisco yesterday and the size of the Occupy crowd had dwindled to a handful in front of the Federal Reserve Building.  The policy now prohibits tents and camping out but still permit the peaceful protest as long as the crowd does not block ingress and egress from the building.

In Oakland it is a different story, after the siege of downtown Oakland that resulted in violence and force many small businesses to close, the City finally shut down the camp.   There are still day protesters but it is a shadow of the former presence.  The erratic handling of occupy situation has now resulted in a recall petition against Mayor Jean Quan for bungling the first big problem on her watch.

Occupy the Port of Oakland Escalates the Conflict

But the problem gets both worse and gains clarity in what is happening at the Port of Oakland near Jack London Square where the Occupy Movement has relocated in change of tactics now focused on shutting down the Port of Oakland in order to ‘punish the 1%’.

This shift in tactics seems to suggest both the waning of interest and the digging in by the hard core of the movement.  It has been subtle but apparent that the Occupy movements in Oakland and San Francisco were aided and supported by selected labor unions including the Teachers and Service Workers unions and perhaps others either encouraging or choreographing, it is not clear, events to support their own political agendas.  That there was embarrassment for the liberal progressive politicians that originally supported them as the demonstrations went on was thought to be regrettable collateral damage.  That small business who clearly do not fit the label of the 1% were horribly affected as the movement drove customers away was often only a sidebar story on the evening news outshouted by the protesters.

But the move on the Port of Oakland is different.  Either the Occupy Movement has been reduced to its radical core now uping the ante in an effort to keep it going—or—the parts of the labor movement which originally supported occupy are now hearing loudly and clearly the complaints of other voices in the labor movement like the Longshoremen that closing the port entrances with Occupy protests is going to cost workers their paychecks for Christmas.  In the first few days of the Port tactics the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the average daily cost for cargo disruption at the Port of Oakland is now about $4 million in lost revenue and pay for 750 workers at the Port sent home. Police reports say there may have been as many as 3,000 protesters at the Port entrance and that the Occupy ports tactic change was spreading to 11 other West coast ports.  This is not coincidence.

The Occupy Movement is at a critical point because its original message calling attention to income disparities and the hardships the rotten economy is visiting on the 99% resonated with many.  We get it. But the longer it goes the more muddled the message.  This is NOT the left wing version of the Tea Party as some on the Democrat side had hoped.  The Tea Party had a message and a clear philosophy of lower taxes, less government spending and debt and less intrusion in the lives of ordinary Americans.  The Tea Party members also were quickly assimilated in the broader fabric of American politics.  The Occupy crowd has overplayed their hand and is increasingly seen as doing more harm than good for their message.

The Occupy Movement, the Cultural Revolution and Andy Stern

If you have had trouble figuring out what the Occupy movement is all about and why it seems to have emerged out of nowhere and be everywhere, you are not alone.  I get that the economy is rough.  I get it people feel disaffected and want to protest.  I get the concept of the 1% and the 99%.  But that is not enough to explain either the speed, intensity or the duration of this protest movement.

The other issue with Occupy I found fascinating was reaction of elected officials to the movement.  First there was Nancy Pelosi quick to criticize the Tea Party movement but now she seemed to be almost thrilled with the Occupy movement.  I could not tell whether she saw it as a Democrat counterweight to the Tea Party or what?  Then other politicians weighed in at the Federal level trying to make clearer distinctions.

It was tough to call the Tea Party names then turn around and praise the occupy movement.  The Tea party protesters tended to have a clear message and demands.  The Occupy movement seemed to be waiting together to reach consensus about their demands.  Their conclusion was if you are not down here freezing your butt off with us 99% you are the 1%.

The lingering pressure from local business disrupted or shut down by the Occupy movement encampments in many large cities put the local officials who at first praises the occupy protesters and then tired of the hassles they were causing.  Here in the Bay Area we have had occupy protests in all three major cities:  San Jose, San Francisco, Oakland.  San Jose and San Francisco officials got it right telling the Occupy folks you can protest all you want but no camping overnight (San Francisco relented on this while the Mayor election was going on but after Mayor Lee was re-elected the camping is being curtailed), no blocking merchants or streets, no violence—and we mean it!   That actually seemed to work best since everyone knew where the bright line between acceptable free speech protest was and where it ended.  In other locations, like Oakland the line kept moving and the police found themselves ordered to close the encampment one day and then apologize for doing so the next.  The protesters were angry and confused, the police were furious at their weak politicians for not supporting them, the Mayor looked like a fool, merchants were forced to shut down because the public was too uncertain about the safety of downtown Oakland to go down there.  It got out of control fast.

What is this about?

There have been many reports about the nature of the protesters.  In many cases these people seemed like they were right out of the Berkeley free speech movement.  In other cases it felt like beneath the surface there was a subtle form of organization and choreography going on.  Some reports said labor unions were paying some organizers.  Other reports accused George Soros sponsored organizations of fomenting and supporting the Occupy movement.  Hopefully enough unbiased journalists are covering this story that someday we will have a better picture of the movement origins, organization and operational objectives.

By I have my own opinions which I confess are conjecture and may be wrong.  But it started to come together for me around several themes I think are driving this including the following:

  1. The President’s policies have failed and his approval poll numbers show him as likable but weak, ineffective and vulnerable.  Obama’s decision to essentially abandon governing in favor of near full time campaigning has not changed his approval numbers.  He is running scared.
  2. The President’s base is terrified and angry. The labor unions, environmental groups and other groups who invested heavily in him in 2008 are disappointed that he has delivered so little for them.  They are angry and fearful that he will do what Bill Clinton did and pivot to the center to win re-election throwing them under the bus.  They are terrified because they have nowhere else to go and a loss in 2012 will un-do everything they worked so hard to achieve.
  3. The occupy movement is a message to Democrats to stick with the agenda.  It is a tactic of the unions, environmental groups and any other left leaning causes sharing the same frustrations.  It is a hang together or hang separately call to action. It is a classic Saul Alinsky tactic of vilifying your opponent—the 1% —and trying to win back the affection of the blue collar labor union members who are telling their leaders they have had enough of the jobs killing, coal hating president.
  4. The reason is the only thing the unions fear more than a loss in 2012 is a revolt by their own union members—the 99%.  They see the President as a failure and can’t believe that the Obama they elected is now throwing them and their need for jobs under the environmental bus with his job killing regulations, opposition to domestic energy production and low energy prices that will bring back the high paying, union jobs in manufacturing, housing, transportation and services across the economy.
  5. And then along comes Andy Stern’s op-ed in the Wall Street Journal (how ironic) praising China and its political and business model.  Why can’t America be more like China, Stern writes. He praises the jobs created by China’s massive growth.  He praises the growth in tax revenues and wages.  If only America had a plan as assertive and clear as China things would be better. At first I wondered if this was veiled criticism of the Obama Administrations, but as I kept reading it seemed to me that Stern was longing for the comfort of a benevolent socialist as if THAT is what he thought he had elected in Barack Obama only to discover after the fact that while Barack’s heart was with him his lack of experience made it doubtful Barack could deliver—he could only vote present.  Or should I re-phrase that by saying Barack Obama has merely been “occupying” the White house for the last three years.

So there you have my theory on the origins and meaning of the Occupy Movement. 

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