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insta8er's Journal
insta8er's Journal
May 13, 2016

How Elon Musk exposed billions in questionable Pentagon spending

Ten years after a joint operation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin was born, the FTC’s direst warnings have come true, along with outcomes even the skeptics did not predict.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX had to sue before it got access to the Pentagon — but now, as it promises to deliver cargo into space at less than half the cost of the military’s favored contractor, it has pulled back the curtain on tens of billions in potentially unnecessary military spending.

The entrenched contractor, a joint operation of Boeing and Lockheed Martin called the United Launch Alliance, has conducted 106 space launches all but flawlessly, but the cost for each is more than $350 million, according to the Government Accountability Office. SpaceX promises launches for less than $100 million.

Yet despite the potentially more cost-effective alternative, taxpayers will be paying the price for ULA’s contracts for years to come, POLITICO has found. Estimates show that, through 2030, the cost of the Pentagon’s launch program will hit $70 billion — one of the most expensive programs within the Defense Department. And even if ULA is never awarded another government contract, it will continue to collect billions of dollars — including an $800 million annual retainer — as it completes launches that were awarded before Musk’s company was allowed to compete. That includes a block buy of 36 launches awarded in 2013.

Meanwhile, ULA is under investigation by the Pentagon for possible corrupt bidding practices and is preparing to lay off 25 percent of its workforce. Its long-term viability is in doubt.

May 13, 2016

Washington post squeezes four anti Sanders stories out of one tax study

Over 7 hours.

It’s not news that the Washington Post’s editorial board has been lobbying against Sen. Bernie Sanders since the beginning of his improbable presidential campaign. Sometimes this editorial ethos seems to extend to other parts of the paper, as it did in March, when the Post managed to run 16 negative stories about Sanders in 16 hours (FAIR.org, 3/8/16).

While the Post has published the occasional pro-Sanders piece, the Jeff Bezos–owned publication was back at it yesterday when it pounced on a tax study by the Urban Institute, running four pieces (two by Post writers, one by the editorial board and one by the AP) in one afternoon:

1:00pm Sorry, Bernie Fans. His Healthcare Plan Is Short $17,000,000,000,000, by Max Ehrenfreund
1:49 Confirmed: Sanders Is Selling a Fantasy Agenda, by Stephen Stromberg
5:15pm Study: Sanders’ Economic Plan Piles $18T on Federal Debt, by AP’s Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
7:59pm Sanders’ Plans Aren’t Just Too Good to Be True; They’re Also Fiscally Dangerous, by the Post’s editorial board
The study was irresistible for editors looking for viral outrage: huge, scary national debt numbers by a tax-and-spend liberal (entirely without any context), complete with innuendo that the campaign had been lying about its projections.

Indeed, the Washington Post loves to frame differing opinions about policy costs as deception, with an editorial back in January tabloidishly headlined “Mr. Sanders Needs to Come Clean About the Funding for His Healthcare Plan” (1/19/16). He can’t just have different numbers in good faith; he must be hiding something.

May 6, 2016

New Data Show U.S. Trade Deficit Doubled, More Jobs Lost Under Obama Trade Deal That Was Template

for the TPP

Today’s alarming fourth-year trade data on President Obama’s U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (FTA) arrived just as the Obama administration has started its hard sell to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). And that is a real problem for the White House.

The Korea deal served as the U.S. template for the TPP, with significant TPP text literally cut and pasted from the Korea agreement. And the Obama administration sold the Korea deal with the same “more exports, more jobs” promises now being employed to sell TPP.

And since then, our trade deficit with Korea more than doubled as imports surged and exports declined. The increase in the U.S. trade deficit with Korea equates to the loss of more than 106,000 American jobs in the first four years of the Korea FTA, counting both exports and imports, according to the trade-jobs ratio that the Obama administration used to promise at least 70,000 job gains from the deal.

Today’s Census Bureau trade numbers provide the grim data fueling the nationwide bipartisan trade revolt now underway as public opposition to more-of-the-same trade policies surges and presidential and congressional candidates spotlight the problems with the TPP and the failure of U.S. trade policies.


May 6, 2016

Top reason Americans will vote for Trump: 'To stop Clinton' - poll

The U.S. presidential election may turn out to be one of the world's biggest un-popularity contests.

Nearly half of American voters who support either Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump for the White House said they will mainly be trying to block the other side from winning, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released Thursday.

The results reflect a deepening ideological divide in the United States, where people are becoming increasingly fearful of the opposing party, a feeling worsened by the likely matchup between the New York real estate tycoon and the former first lady, said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

"This phenomenon is called negative partisanship," Sabato said. "If we were trying to maximize the effect, we couldn't have found better nominees than Trump and Clinton."

Trump has won passionate supporters and vitriolic detractors for his blunt talk and hardline proposals, including his call for a ban on Muslims entering the United States, his vow to force Mexico to pay for a border wall, and his promise to renegotiate international trade deals.


May 5, 2016

“Candidate in race most like Bush and Cheney is Hillary Clinton,” says GOP strategist

“The candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign policy perspective is in fact Hillary Clinton, not the Republican nominee,” explained GOP strategist Steve Schmidt in an interview this week on MSNBC this week.

“One thing we know as we get ready for a general election contest is that Donald Trump will be running to the left as we understand it against Hillary Clinton on national security issues,” he added.

Schmidt is a longtime Republican operative who formerly served as the spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, a deputy assistant to President George W. Bush and a senior campaign strategist for John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign. He is now a political analyst for MSNBC.

In the segment, Schmidt argued that Clinton is going to flex her extremely hawkish foreign policy stances to woo leading Republican figures.

“You’re going to see a concerted and organized effort by the Hillary Clinton campaign to go after senior members of the Republican foreign policy establishment,” he said.

“Big names,” Schmidt stressed, citing figures such as former Bush-era Secretary of State Colin Powell, former CIA Director David Petraeus, and Bush senior’s National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft

May 5, 2016

Americans’ Distaste For Both Trump And Clinton Is Record-Breaking

The Democratic primary will technically march on, but Hillary Clinton is almost certainly going to be her party’s nominee. Same with Donald Trump. And voters don’t appear thrilled at the prospect: Clinton and Trump are both more strongly disliked than any nominee at this point in the past 10 presidential cycles.

Normally, when we talk about candidate likability, we use favorability ratings, which combine “strongly favorable,” “somewhat favorable,” “somewhat unfavorable” and “strongly unfavorable.” But that didn’t work so well in the Republican primary, where Trump was able to win despite a relatively low net favorability rating because his “strongly favorable” rating with Republican primary voters was among the highest in the field. So let’s look at Trump and Clinton’s “strongly1 favorable” and “strongly unfavorable” ratings among general election voters.2

These are people who don’t just like or dislike the candidates, they really like or dislike them.

No past candidate comes close to Clinton, and especially Trump, in terms of engendering strong dislike a little more than six months before the election.


May 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton Says It’s About ‘Hard Choices’ But Admits Many of Her Choices Were Wrong

Hillary Clinton has stated many times that being president isn’t about grand ideas but about making “hard choices.” She even titled her book Hard Choices, and she has used this phrase regularly on the campaign trail.

She’s right: making difficult decisions is an essential part of leadership. But making the right choice is what great leadership requires, and even by her own admission many of her choices have been wrong.

Let’s review:

(Yes, you’re owed an apology in advance that the list is so long.)

For years Hillary Clinton promoted fracking while she was Secretary of State, but now she regrets her support.
She was, and still is, personally invested in the Keystone XL Pipeline, but now she says she wants to review this project.
For decades she was adamantly opposed to gay marriage and LGBT rights, but now she supports them.
She believed the intelligence George Bush and Dick Cheney provided about the supposed “weapons of mass destruction” in Iraq, but now she regrets her credulity.
She supported the Iraq War itself and spoke out repeatedly in support, but now she says this too was “a huge mistake.” Bernie Sanders looked at the same intelligence, listened to the same pro-war speeches, and yet came out strongly against the war, led the opposition to it in Congress, and repeatedly called out Bush and Cheney for deliberate misinformation.
She set up a private server in her home and sent official email through this server, possibly to conceal (from oversight) or to divulge (to private individuals) official business. The FBI is investigating. She has cautiously acknowledged an error in judgment.
She pushed for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and referred to it as the “gold standard” of international business agreements many times. Now she says she needs to “take another look” at this job-crushing deal.
She supported the “free trade” deal with Panama, although now she says the deal was a mistake. Bernie opposed this deal from the beginning, saying it was a ruse to enable billionaires and giant corporations to move their profits overseas and avoid paying taxes. He was ridiculed for this view then, but he was proven right with the leak of the Panama Papers in March.

May 3, 2016

Clinton's refusal to quit in 2008 haunts her in 2016

While some allies want her to nudge Sanders out, others say he's only behaving like she did eight years ago.

PHILADELPHIA, PA – In the wake of her victories in Pennsylvania, Maryland, Connecticut and Delaware, some of Hillary Clinton’s top operatives are ready for Bernie Sanders to call it quits. But Clinton’s own refusal to give up in 2008, even after she had no real path forward, remains an obstacle to ramping up that pressure.

Indeed, some veterans of Clinton’s 2008 campaign are urging empathy and space for Sanders, emphasizing that the decision to slog on is not about having a viable path forward — it’s about feeling that you’ve gone as far as you can go.

At rallies, “women would literally grab her hand say, ‘don’t you dare drop out, don’t you quit,’ ” recalled Howard Wolfson, Clinton’s former communications director, of the 2008 end game. “Your head told you the math didn’t add up, but your heart said, we’re continuing to win states, we’re continuing to draw big crowds, and it’s very hard to walk away from a contest when you have millions of supporters who are clearly still determined to help you get elected.”

Like others in Clinton’s 2008 brain trust, Wolfson said he understands why Sanders wants to keep fighting. “You begin to conclude this is a cause that’s bigger than yourself,” he explained of the campaign’s mindset in the spring of 2008. “I’m sure there are the same sets of pressure on the Sanders camp today.”

May 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton withholding donations from state parties, report says

Before Hillary Clinton launched her fundraising vehicle, the Hillary Victory Fund, last summer, she promised to “rebuild” the Democratic Party “from the ground up.” Clinton declared, “When our state parties are strong, we win.” However, a report by Politico Monday shows that less than 1 percent of the $61 million raised so far has actually remained in state parties.


May 2, 2016

California Youth Fuel Surge in Online Voter Registration

SACRAMENTO – Over 560,000 Californians have used the Secretary of State’s Online Voter Registration site to register to vote or update their registration information in the first three months of 2016. This surge of registrations has been fueled by Californians ages 17-25, who accounted for over 36% of online registrations during this period. These numbers do not include traditional paper registrations. The next complete statewide report on registration will reflect statistics as of April 8, 2016, and will include registrations obtained both online and on paper.

“Online voter registration is empowering a new generation of Californians,” Secretary of State Alex Padilla said. “We are witnessing a wave of young Californians engaging in the democratic process. The timing says everything—they want to vote.”

562,238 Californians used the Online Voter Registration website to register or update registration information from January 1, 2016 to March 29, 2016. 204,785 of these online voter registrations were by 17-25 year olds.

“All eyes will be on California on June 7. It is vital that California voters cast a ballot to shape the future of our state and nation. The stakes could not be higher during this election season, and I encourage every eligible citizen to vote in the June 7 Presidential Primary Election,” Padilla added.

Key data:

In January 2016, there were 92,278 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. 36% of these registrations were by voters ages 17-25.
In February 2016, there were 146,951 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. 38% of these registrations were by voters ages 17-25.
In March 2016, there have been 323,009 completed new voter registrations or registration updates through the voter registration website. Nearly 36% of these registrations have been by voters ages 17-25.
To put this in context, in all of 2014 there were only 425,220 completed registrations or updated registrations through the voter registration website.


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