Tuesday, January 31, 2012

GOP Presidential Primary - Florida - RESULTS

Florida is the first 'big' state - the winner take all state - with 50 delegates going to winner.
The polls close at 8 PM Eastern time, when the last polls in Florida's panhandle close.  Like in South Carolina, the media is able to call the race as the polls close...

Mitt Romney has been called the winner by Fox News - decisively defeating Newt Gingrich.

With 56% of the vote in - Romney had 48% of the vote, Gingrich has 31%.

Finish in 3rd place is Rick Santorum, with 13% of the vote.  Ron Paul finishes in 4th with 7%.

This was a closed state primary - only registered Republicans were entitled to vote today.  While it is a winner take all state, still, 95% of the delegates for the nomination remain available.

From the exit polls data on Fox News...

Among Tea Party supporters, Romney defeated Gingrich 40% to 38%
Among those neutral about the Tea Party, Romney dominated Gingrich 57% to 21%

62% of those who took the exit polls believed the national economy was the biggest issue we face...and 51% of them voted for Romney as opposed to 31% who voted for Gingrich.

24% of those who took the exit polls believed the national debt was the biggest issue we face...and Romney defeated Gingrich by 40% to 34%.

Electability, that is the ability to defeat Barack Obama, was extremely important for 45% of those who took the exit polls - and they believed Mitt Romney was the most electable by 58% to 33%.

33% of the Florida electorate thought Newt Gingrich ran the most unfair campaign - and only 5% of this group voted for Gingrich.  35% thought that Mitt Romney ran the most unfair campaign, but 18% of this group still voted for Mitt Romney.


Of the number of current and past actions by Newt Gingrich that have totally turned me off from his candidacy that I reference in my post, Palin, Newt, Mitt, and the GOP Establishment yesterday, two of the most egregious are his whinging about being the victim and his increasingly desperate and angry accusations against Mitt Romney.

It says a lot about the character (lack thereof) of Newt Gingrich when he can stand at a podium and with a straight face not only complain about how vicious and horrible Romney is for his negative attacks on Newt, but then turn around and lay an attack on Mitt Romney for cancelling kosher meals for holocaust survivors...

This is a particularly slimy attack - more so in that it is pathetically a major stretch in an effort to deal a smear.  Alana Goodman in Commentary does a real good job at exposing the vapid logic behind Gingrich's attack.

But with all of this, Gingrich doubled down and had robo calls going throughout Florida today pressing the same meme - that Romney cancelled kosher meals for holocaust survivors in Massachusetts.

The facts are simple.  In trying to address Massachusetts's budget issues, Governor Romney vetoed a request to fund $600,000 for nursing homes to have their own separate kosher kitchens in each facility to provide kosher meals.  He believed that kosher meals could be provided by these nursing home facilities via either centralized kitchens or with prepackaged kosher meals.  At no point was Romney advocating denying kosher meals to Jewish nursing home residents.  The Massachusetts legislature overrode Romney's veto on the additional $600,000 in funding, so nursing homes got the additional funds to maintain their own kosher kitchen in addition to their normal kitchen.

This is a far cry from saying that Mitt Romney wanted to deny kosher meals to Jewish nursing home residents.  In government, officials should be looking as to how they can eliminate duplicate facilities or if there are more cost effective ways in maintaining services - like using prepackaged foods or centralized dedicated kosher kitchens for groups of nursing homes.

The hypocrisy of Gingrich is far too reminiscent of the hypocrisy of the progressive left.  The desperation of Gingrich is far too reminiscent of the thin skin, hubris, and petulance of Barack Obama.

Based on the exit polls from Florida, Gingrich is going to lose very badly to Mitt Romney - who could very well achieve a majority (over 50% ) of the vote.  I suspect that Gingrich's actions in the wake of his poor debate performances last week combined with his negative scorched earth approach turned off some of his supporters and added to Romney's totals.

California is America's Greece

California State Controller John Chiang sent a letter to state lawmakers today warning that without action, California would run out of cash in March 2012.

The announcement is surprising since lawmakers previously believed the state had enough cash to last through the fiscal year that ends in June.
But Chiang said additional cash management solutions are needed because state tax revenues are $2.6 billion less than what Gov. Jerry Brown and state lawmakers assumed in their optimistic budget last year. Meanwhile, Chiang said, the state is spending $2.6 billion more than state leaders planned on.

$2.6 billion lower revenues than projected combined with $2.6 billion in more expenditures than planned.

Says a lot about a State Government led by a Governor who thinks that the High Speed Rail Network Board's $100 billion - $120 billion cost estimate was overstated and the revenues of the State's punitive cap and trade fee structure will bring in excess of $1 billion annually.

Only a few Republicans are apparently raising questions about not only the higher than expected revenues, but how and when the delayed payments and 'adjusted' state accounts will be resolved.

Of course none of this is because of or the responsibility of Governor Brown and the progressive Democrats that dominate California.  The State's fiscal challenges are the result of the Republicans preventing tax increases and the courts that hamstring the State's budget.

Quick Hits - January 31, 2012

GOP Presidential Primary voters head to the polls today in the Sunshine State - with 50 delegates up for grabs in the winner take all format.  Newt Gingrich remains defiant, angry, and petulant as the polls seem to point to Mitt Romney having a very good day in Florida.  The Real Clear Politics average of polls going into Florida's primary has Mitt Romney with a 13 point lead over Newt Gingrich (41.8% to 28.8%), while Rick Santorum trails in a distant third (13%).  Ron Paul brings up the rear with 10.3% support.

Gingrich is vowing to remain in the race until the convention regardless of the results as he plans to continue his scorched earth campaign against 'the Massachusetts liberal'.  Both are making the claims that they are more electable in November against President Obama than the other.  But one thing that we should also consider is, how electable is President Obama?

Democrat registrations and enthusiasm is far lower than they were in 2008.  Barack Obama now has a solid record to run on as opposed to being able to run on 'hope and change', 'anyone but Bush', a 'moderate', and the excitement of being able to demonstrate the post-racial US by voting for an African-American President.  Has the President united the country or has he driven a deeper wedge of polarization into the country?  What successes has the President achieved? 

President Obama did get Osama Bin Laden.  Thanks to VP Joe Biden, we now know that he was firmly opposed to launching that mission.  Except for then CIA Director, now SecDef Leon Panetta, none of the advisers in the Situation Room were firmly in favor of the mission to get Bin Laden.  Biden worried that the mission would be Obama's Desert One...putting politics before the mission / need.

The President's Democrat majority in Congress also rammed through Healthcare Reform (Obamacare), Dodd / Frank, and a $800 billion stimulus program against strong GOP objections - and where a majority of Americans opposed these steps.  He's in the 4th consecutive year of budget deficits greater than $1 trillion dollars and is on pace to add more to the national debt in 4 years than were added by the 'unpatriotic' George W. Bush in 8 - 30% more than Bush 43.

The stimulus program was 'promised' to recover the economy and hold unemployment at or below a max of 8%.  Nope.

His policies were supposed to turn the economy around - even from a 'deep' recession - but this is the slowest most anemic recovery since the Second World War...

In the last quarter of 2011, the US Gross Domestic Product grew at an annualized rate of 2.8% - and that was the best quarter of 2011 by far.  Far below the growth we experienced in the Reagan Presidency as he worked to get the country out of another deep recession...

But even this number is highly suspect - as politics and appearances mean far more to the President than facts...
And that meager 2.8 percent annual growth really isn’t what it seems to be.

That’s because 75 percent of that 2.8 percent growth involved businesses restocking inventories. Who says? The Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, which released this data.

So people like you and me weren’t really buying all that stuff in the last months of 2011. It was businesses buying stuff and putting it on their shelves in hopes that people would soon come along and buy it from them.  
Inventories will only build up so much before companies say “no more.” So these restockings are not considered a particularly good thing when the ultimate buyer — the consumer — is still uncooperative.

But that wasn’t the only scary thing in the GDP report. In fact, it wasn’t even the most important thing.

In order to get to that 2.8 percent growth the Commerce Department used a very unrealistic level of inflation in its calculations.

Let me explain: The government comes up with a figure on how much it thinks the economy grew, or shrunk. Friday’s figure was a first estimate for the fourth quarter, so most of the numbers used in the calculation are only guesstimates anyway. (But that’s for a different story.)
The government then takes that growth figure, subtracts the rate of inflation and comes up with the real growth it reports in its press release.

So, in other words, if inflation is rising it reduces the rate of actual, after inflation, growth — which is the figure that Washington reports.

In Friday’s number the government used 0.4 percent as the rate of inflation. Zero. Point. Four. Percent.

In which country is inflation that low? Certainly not in America. Absolutely not in the last four months of 2011.

The consumer price index, which is put out by the US Census Bureau, had prices up 3 percent for the year.
On top of the lack of a real record to engage and excite Middle America, the President still also has his history of demonstrating not only his hubris, but how inexperienced and in over his head he is.  From today's Hot Air Obamateurism of the Day segment written by Ed Morrissey - we have this followed by Ed's to the point riposte...

Obama tells woman her husband shouldn’t be unemployed – (video) - During his Google+ hangout Pres. Obama tells a woman that her husband shouldn’t be unemployed from the growth he has seen in the economy. Obama said he finds it “interesting” because he is getting “the word” that someone in her husband’s job field “should be able to find something right away.” …
A “huge” demand for semiconductor engineers? Perhaps, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics puts the computer and electronic products industry (the employment category in which this job falls) at 36th in employment growth for November to December, with only 200 jobs added nationwide. That was an improvement over the previous three months, which averaged a decline of 1900 jobs a month in that period. Small wonder the wife asked why H1B visas continued to be issued in this industry.

We’re left with one of two conclusions. Either Barack Obama knows this industry like the back of his hand, better than the BLS, and the husband is some kind of slacker, or Obama doesn’t have the grasp of the economy that he thinks he does. Give Obama this much credit: at least he refrained this time from assuming out loud that the husband acted stupidly.
Of the two conclusions - my vote is on the second one.

California's Governor Jerry 'Moonbeam' Brown is continuing his full-court press to continue to press for the boondoggle known as California's High Speed Rail Network.  Despite the estimated cost of $100 Billion to $120 Billion (including 'contingency') developed by the High Speed Rail Network Board responsible for developing and building the network (not to mention stocked by Brown's political buddies, allies, and union friends), Jerry Brown not only is insisting that the actual cost to build the network are far below the Board's current estimates, but that California's Cap and Trade legislation will be able to pay for the building of the network.

The level of bureaucratic stupidity that exists sometimes overwhelms me.  Perhaps this comes from my experience in the private sector where people, including executives, are generally held accountable and responsible for what they say and do.  But this is one of those head shaking moments of wondering if Brown knows where the truth ends and bullshit begins?

California's cap and trade system isn't up and running yet.  The current projection of $1 billion annually in revenues from cap and trade are unreliable and unsubstantiated.  It's a number pulled from the sky [I'm being polite here].  Furthermore, these fees are going to be imposed on businesses - which will result in higher costs for the businesses and consumers - which will result in still lower revenues for the State.  Then there is the absurdity that $1B / year will fund the project.  That's as idiotic as promoting that raising $75B annually in higher taxes on the wealthy will fix a $1.2 trillion annual budget deficit.

Bureaucratic stupidity is not just limited to the US - it can also be found elsewhere. 

The Spanish airliner SpanAir suddenly collapses into bankruptcy stranding thousands of travelers.  What does the Spanish government decide to do about this?  Fine the closed and bankrupt country 9 million Euros for failing and stranding the passengers.  I suspect they also want to get to the front of the creditor line as well.

Staying in Europe for the moment, 25 of 27 European Union nations have approved the Merkozy treaty that binds them to imposing caps on deficits and government debts in their effort to address the Eurozone financial crisis.  Britain remains the primary opponent to the treaty - concerned about having to relinquish their national sovereignty under the treaty provisions which call for automatic sanctions against governments that violate the the EU limits.  PM David Cameron sees the treaty as a move far closer to a financial union and economic subservience to the EU as opposed to each nation's government determining their own economic policies.

German newsmagazine Der Spiegel notes that when it comes to the Euro crisis, and specifically Greece which remains on the forefront with a March 2012 default, European politicians are in denial as to what needs to be done...
The effort to rescue Greece is clearly moving in circles, and there is no evidence of any progress.

Ironically, only three months ago European leaders believed that things were already on the mend. Greece's private creditors were supposed to abandon half of their claims, and the partner countries planned to contribute another €130 billion ($172 billion). These efforts were expected to bring the country's debt level from more than 160 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) to a more tolerable 120 percent by 2020.

But these hopes were deceptive. The Greek economy is shrinking faster than European politicians believed was possible in autumn, and now the country is short on funds once again.
The issue is not just Greece. Portugal, Spain, and Italy remain as precarious as Greece.

The EU and National government officials have largely painted themselves into a corner because of the fundamental architectural failure of Euro-socialism. A system which promotes entitlements, 'social justice', and 'fairness' that does little to encourage economic growth, productivity growth, or innovation. Growth, productivity, and population are needed to fund the taxes needed to pay for the entitlement system. Nations like Germany that have the economic growth and productivity need to sell their products to countries like Greece, Spain, Portugal, and Italy in order to fuel that growth - but that only exacerbates the challenges in those countries.

The decision makers today in Europe want to either increase the centralized government control or try to keep kicking the can down the road another generation so it's someone elses' problem. Neither is a solution...at least to someone who is a Greek, or Spaniard, or Italian and proud of their heritage. Europe has a solution to the problem that will be painful in the short term - but I don't think the leadership's pride or attachment to their ideological dogma will allow them to embrace it.

Italian officials have announced that they are ending the search for the 15 still listed as missing in the submerged portions of the Costa Concordia.  Combined with the 17 confirmed dead, the total death toll for the sinking of the luxury liner totals 32.  The officials say that the status of the hull and the ship has created too many safety concerns to continue the search within the submerged sections of the ship. 

The Canadian paper, National Post, has a great graphic which highlights the challenges of trying to salvage the Costa Concordia...

Click on the image or above link for a larger view. 

Morocco is continuing to press forward with it's United Nations Security Council resolution.  A draft of the resolution calls for Syrian dictator Assad to step down in order to bring...
"an end to all human rights violations and attacks against those exercising their rights to freedom of expression."
Russia, a long time patron of Syria, continues to warn that they will veto this resolution - calling it a path to civil war in Syria.  They are concerned that the resolution will be the catalyst for a military intervention into Syria similar to the intervention in Libya.  Until Russia subscribes to UNSC actions, the UN will remain irrelevant and impotent.

The Assad regime in Syria has released a top al-Qaeda figure and one-time confident of Osama Bin Laden in retaliation for Washington's positions against the Assad regime...
Spanish national Mustafa Setmariam Nasar, ranked number four within the terror organization, and another terrorist, Abu Khalid, were freed in late December, The (London) Times reported Tuesday.

Reports of Nasar's release were first revealed on Sooryoon.net, a website of Syria's opposition in London, and later confirmed by the Spanish daily El Pais…
…Nasar is linked to several deadly terror attacks -- including the 2004 train bombings in Madrid, which resulted in 192 people dead, and the 1985 attack on a Madrid restaurant that killed 18 people, mostly Americans.
 On This Day in History

1865 - The US House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the US Constitution abolishing slavery in the United States.  The Amendment was ratified by the states in December 1865.

1917 - Germany announces the renewal of unrestricted submarine warfare in the Atlantic Ocean.  Three days later, the US breaks diplomatic relations with Germany.

1945 - Private Eddie Slovak is executed by firing squad in northern France on the charge of desertion.  He is the first US soldier since the Civil War, and the only soldier in WW2 executed for desertion.

1950 - 5 months after the USSR's first atomic bomb test, President Harry S. Truman announces the development of the hydrogen bomb

1968 - During the Tet Offensive in South Vietnam, a squad of Viet Cong guerrillas attack and briefly occupy the US Embassy in Saigon before being killed by US paratroopers recapturing the facility.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Palin, Newt, Mitt, and the GOP Establishment

This past weekend, former Alaskan Governor and VP candidate Sarah Palin, took to Facebook to provide not only an impassioned defense of GOP Presidential candidate Newt Gingrich, but to castigate the 'GOP Establishment' for their use of 'Alinksy' tactics against  Newt Gingrich.

The tactics and principles of the marxist Saul Alinsky are well detailed - the Obama campaign, with Barack Obama a trained community organizer of the Alinsky method leveraged these tactics and principles.  Key among these was the approach (as defined in David Horowitz's excellent source - Discover the Network profile of Alinsky)...
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…. [T]here is no point to tactics unless one has a target upon which to center the attacks.” He held that the organizer’s task was to cultivate in people’s hearts a negative, visceral emotional response to the face of the enemy. “The organizer who forgets the significance of personal identification,” said Alinsky, “will attempt to answer all objections on the basis of logic and merit. With few exceptions this is a futile procedure.”
Sarah Palin's viewpoint is that the actions of Mitt Romney in the campaign to gain the GOP Presidential nomination are embracing the tactics of picking a target, freezing it, personalize it, and polarize it in this efforts to win the GOP Presidential nomination.  She also is holding those who are perceived to be the Republican Party Establishment, nearly all Romney supporters, are also doing the same in their efforts to demonstrate (or demonize) that Newt Gingrich is not the best candidate to be the Republican Presidential nominee and run against Barack Obama.

Newt Gingrich himself has been playing the victim card - complaining that his renewed run as the GOP front runner going into the last two weeks before the Iowa caucuses was derailed by massive negative and misrepresentative (Gingrich's claim) advertisements by both the Romney campaign and political action committees supporting Mitt Romney.  After rebounding on the basis of two very strong debate performances contrasting with sub-par Romney performances to gain a strong win in South Carolina, Gingrich has struggled in Florida.  Polls are now showing him in 2nd perhaps losing by as much as double digits.  Gingrich again is playing the victim card over the Romney and PAC negative advertisements about Gingrich's background, experience, and past positions.  He is again claiming that these are all false claims.  Adding to the turmoil was a rash of Republicans, supporting Romney, who directly challenged Gingrich's conservative credentials and his experience in Congress. 

This ultimately got to the point where Sarah Palin, who semi-endorsed Gingrich in South Carolina, and is also doing so in Florida, felt the need to attack the messengers for their attacks on Gingrich.

Newt Gingrich, throughout the efforts to play the victim card, was hardly just a victim.  He and his supporters have also been following and embracing 'Alinsky tactics' in his efforts to defeat Mitt Romney.  His advertisements, stump speeches, debate comments, and PAC also are working to 'pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it'.  Romney is denounced as a 'Massachusetts liberal' who endorses Obamacare because it was based on Romneycare.  He was attacked for his wealth.  He was attacked for his tenure at Bain over the companies that ultimately failed.  The Gingrich PAC advertisement / 28 minute hit piece was found to be profoundly inaccurate on even the basic facts.

The issue really isn't the use of Alinsky tactics.  Conservatives and the GOP have learned from having the Alinsky tactics used on them.  The Tea Party has as it's foundation many elements of Alinsky tactics.  The Tea Party represents the grassroots creation of 'Conservative Rules for Radicals' - and has been far more successful in their implementation of the Alinsky rules than any democrat or progressive grassroots effort. 

The Tea Party has out 'Alinsky'ed' the Alinsky Marxists / progressives of the left because the Tea Party, supporting center-right values draws from and reaches out to this predominately center-right country in a manner the hard left cannot.

Quick Hits - January 30, 2012

Germany is now openly backing a plan for the European Union to seize Greece's sovereignty if Greece cannot take acceptable steps to address it's fiscal crisis.  The plan would have the Finance Ministers of the European Union appoint a 'Commissioner' to have full control and authority over the tax and spending policies of the Greek Government.  Or, if I may rephrase that, a Commissioner that would have direct authority over Greece's fiscal decision making - ignoring the wishes of the Greek Government.

This is as EU leaders meet in Brussels to discuss the growing concerns that Greece will be able to implement the austerity measures - combinations of higher taxes and reduced spending - that the EU are demanding as a condition of a new package of financial support.  The Greek Prime Minister, Lucas Papademos, has said that Greece will default on €15 billion of loans due in March without a new bailout plan.

I am frankly quite surprised by how little outrage outside of Greece and some conservatives in Europe is being generated on the fact that government bureaucrats believe they can usurp the governance authority of Greece (or any other EU nation on the verge of default) because that nation's government is unable or unwilling to follow the directives of the European Union.  In the UK, Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is one of those who is speaking out against this attack on democracy..
“If you fiddle around with democracy because you don’t like quite what it does, then you open the door to those who say, 'Why democracy at all?’ ” he said.
Given the circumstances in  Europe, we can apply this same quote to capitalism - which appears to the be the point of the progressive leftists there as well as here are arguing by their actions and policies- 'Why capitalism at all?'

Canada's Globe and Mail newspaper notes in today's edition that while the focus is on Greece's debt crisis, Portugal's crisis is growing uglier daily...
Lisbon, of course, is responding, by ramping up its austerity measures. A one-off surcharge on personal incomes taxes was introduced and the value-added tax (VAT) base is being expanded. You can see where this is going. In every case in Europe, piling austerity on austerity has pushed down growth, requiring -- you guessed it -- more austerity, in a never-ending, downward vicious circle. Portugal’s best hope is that liberalizing the labour market to improve the country’s chronically lousy productivity, and cleaning up the state-owned companies, will trigger a sustained growth spurt. But that could take years, maybe a decade, a luxury Portugal does not have.
Speaking of austerity measures, in a major nationally televised speech, French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced France will be implementing a 1.6% point increase in France's Value Added Tax (VAT) bringing it to 21.2% as part of his new measures intended to boost France's struggling economy. Sarkozy terms this a 'social tax' - but will not implement the increase until October 1.  In addition, he proposes to reduce the payroll tax paid by employers in an effort to make them more competitive in the marketplace and boost jobs.  (Sound familiar?  How has the Social Security Payroll Tax Reduction by President Obama done on the job / economic boost front?  Read more on this later...)

One of the biggest reasons for the economic challenges in Europe is that their economies are not growing.  Last year, Greece's GDP declined by at least 6%.  Compared to that, the anemic US GDP growth of 1.7% looks good. 

The World Bank has issued a scathing report as to why Europe's economy is not growing and affixes blame on the demographic strains the region faces combined with bloated governments and destructive government policies.  The report, surprisingly given the source, a complete condemnation of Euro-style socialism, "state capitalism", and the concepts of 'fairness' and 'social justice' as advocated by President Obama here in the US.
"From North Americans," the authors write, "Europe could learn that economic liberty and social security have to be balanced with care: nations that sacrifice too much economic freedom for social security can end up with neither, impairing both enterprise and government."

Messrs. Gill and Raiser call Europe a "lifestyle superpower": It attracts tourists in droves, and its residents enjoy peace and a high standard of living. But it's not getting richer. Unless it again puts income growth ahead of income security and redistribution, the Continent will continue to decline as an economic power.

When governments decide that they can and will interfere with the balance between economic liberty and social security / social justice - they alter the equation to the point where, as noted, one ends up with no balance and a dysfunctional economy.  Governments need to do less rather than more - setting up only those regulations and rules that are needed to permit economic liberty to foster.  The role of government is not to ensure results or fairness - but to ensure the equality of opportunity and protect that opportunity.  That is also all government needs to be funded to do.  Any other funding is the removal of capital from the economy to be used in a far less efficient and effective manner - damaging the economy.

Walter Russell Mead notes this in this piece titled 'The Once and Future Liberalism'...
“The blue model is breaking down so fast and so far that not even its supporters can ignore the disintegration and disaster it now presages. Liberal Democrats in states like Rhode Island and cities like Chicago are cutting pensions and benefits and laying off workers out of financial necessity rather than ideological zeal. The blue model can no longer pay its bills, and not even its friends can keep it alive. Our real choice, however, is not between blue or pre-blue. We can’t get back to the 1890s or 1920s any more than we can go back to the 1950s and 1960s. We may not yet be able to imagine what a post-blue future looks like, but that is what we will have to build. . . . There are a lot of reasons to be nostalgic for the old days (especially for the white males who were, far and away, the biggest beneficiaries of the old system), but there are also good reasons to bid the blue model good riddance.”
Einstein defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again while expecting different results. 

The number of protesters / thugs arrested during the OccupyOakland riots on Saturday now number over 400 protesters.  Occupy supporters and protesters are complaining that the Oakland police escalated the confrontation without any actions done by the demonstrators.  In addition, they are whinging that they were all illegally arrested because the Oakland PD would not let them disperse or warn them of the risk of arrest.    - well, except for occupying buildings they had no legal right to enter, breaking into and vandalising Oakland's City Hall, and throwing rocks, pipes, bottles, and improvised explosive devices at police while yelling "Kill the Police" and "F*ck the Police".

1,000 to 2,000 violent protesters did go on the attack towards the Oakland Police Department officers who attempted to protect civilians and private / city property.  These thugs not only attempted to occupy buildings they had no legal right to enter, but broke in and vandalized Oakland's City Hall.  They also threw rocks, bottles, pipes, and improvised explosive devices at police while yelling "Kill the Police" and "F*ck the Police".

Yeah, real victims...

This video, highlighted by Zombie on PJ Media's Tatler page, provides a real insight into these peaceful protesters - as they burn a flag taken from the Oakland City Hall, on the steps of City Hall, they recite their pledge of allegiance...
“I pledge allegiance to the flag of the imperialistic capitalistic dictatorship, and to the plutocracy for which it stands, the privately owned central bank, under the Jews, with inequality and injustice for the 99.“
Want to know who the thuggish Nazi brownshirts are?  It's not the Oakland Police Department.  It's these Marxist anti-Semitic thugs - they are the ones who are using the language of collectivism and fascism.  Yet, these people are the reason why President Obama ran for office.

In other Occupy news, OccupyDC has until noon today to depart from their occupation of McPherson Park inside Washington DC otherwise they will face forced removal.  The deadline has passed, and OccupyDC protesters continue to occupy the part and express their defiance.  District and Federal authorities will probably wait until the early morning hours before enforcing the eviction order and arresting all those who refuse to accept the order to vacate.

In London, OccupyLondon protesters, while appealing their eviction order from the plaza outside St. Paul's Cathedral, were evicted from a UBS owned building they decided to occupy...
The Occupy London group took over the abandoned office block last November in protest against the banking sector and the government's response to the financial crisis, turning the former investment bank office into a "bank of ideas" for "those who have lost their nurseries, community centres and youth clubs due to savage Government spending cuts".
They described the move as a "public repossession" and staked what they referred to as "a legal claim" on the space.

Following this morning's eviction, the Occupy movement issued a statement that said: "We are also gravely concerned that the police's actions this morning demonstrated a greater concern for the well-being of a building than the safety of the public. We look forward to receiving a formal response."
Like true fascists, they firmly believe that the rules apply to others - not them. 

The Syrian government has announced that the Army has successfully recaptured the Damascus suburbs occupied by the rebels protesting the Assad regime.  In heavy fighting, at least 20 were killed in the last 24 hours. France has announced that it is going to push for the United Nations Security Council to take action against Syria.  Britain has also take the steps to warn Russia that it needs to stop threatening / blocking action in the UN Security Council to hold Syria accountable for the violence / deaths the regime is dealing out to the civilian population.

Italian officials are saying that it could take 10 months to removed the Costa Concordia from where it sunk.  Recovery operations were delayed again today as divers worked to assess the stability of the ship on the ledge it rests on.  The liner shifted again overnight.

The Hill has taken a poll that shows that despite the kerfuffle by the President and Congressional Democrats over making the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction into 2012 is being seen by a majority of people as much to do about nothing.  54% of those surveyed said that the temporary Social Security Payroll Tax reduction, which provides an average family with $40 biweekly in additional take home pay, didn't help them financially.  Only 25% said that the additional $40 biweekly was a financial help.

As for 'fairness' - The top 1% already pays 38% of all taxes, and the top 10% of income earners account for 70% of all taxes...

Remember, the issue was never about fairness.  It's about dogma...tax and spend dogma.

What would be fair?

Watching the Jon Corzine perp-walk.  Jon Corzine is the former Democrat Senator and Governor for New Jersey, former major campaign bundler for Barack Obama, and the former chairman and CEO of the failed investment bank MF Global who bankrupted the company on his extremely high risk bets on the Eurozone.  $1.2 billion customer funds remain missing in the bankruptcy and officials are now saying that these customer funds may never be recovered.

Strange how Corzine's dropped of the media's radar isn't it?

On This Day in History

1649 - King Charles I was executed in London for treason.  After the English Civil War where the parliamentarians defeated the royalists, King Charles I was tried for treason, convicted, and sentenced to death.  The monarchy would be restored in 1660.

1933 - Adolph Hitler was named Chancellor of Germany

1948 - Ghandi assassinated

1968 - North Vietnam launches the Tet Offensive - a massive series of coordinated attacks throughout South Vietnam.  The offensive was a military failure for the North - over 40,000 dead and the Viet Cong movement in the South was nearly eliminated in fighting.  This left the majority of the fighting for the remainder of the war to North Vietnam.  However, thanks to the US media, the offensive was a political victory for the North and proved to be a major turning point in the war.  US and South Vietnam lost nearly 3,000 dead.

1972 - Bloody Sunday in Londonderry, Northern Ireland.  13 demonstrators were killed, 17 wounded, as British paratroopers fired on Catholic / Republican supporters marching to protest the British policy of interning suspected IRA terrorists.  This re-ignited the use of terror / force to end the British rule over the 6 counties comprising Northern Ireland despite the majority of the residents in the area preferring to remain under British authority.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Rick Santorum's Youngest Daughter Hospitalized

GOP Presidential candidate Rick Santorum has temporarily suspended his campaign as he and his wife had to admit his youngest daughter to the hopsital...

The Hill is reporting...
Rick Santorum’s 3-year old daughter has been hospitalized in Philadelphia, his campaign said Saturday.

“Rick and his wife Karen are admitting their daughter Bella to Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia this evening,” Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley said in a statement.

The reason for the hospitalization was not provided.

Santorum’s Saturday morning campaign schedule has been canceled, but Gidley said the former Pennsylvania senator intends to return to the campaign trail as soon as possible.
Bella has been diagnosed with Trisomy 18 - a condition where those afflicted with are born with an extra copy of the 18th chromosome.  Over half of the infants diagnosed with this condition die before their first birthday.

As Jazz Shaw notes in his Hot Air post...
Take a moment on this Sunday to send your thoughts and prayers for the Santorum family as they deal with this situation in the midst of a hectic presidential campaign.
Please do as these are the events that transcend politics or political differences.

Quick Hits - January 29, 2012

The peaceful, tea party-like OccupyWallStreet protesters in Oakland, California, known as OccupyOakland, took to the streets of Oakland on Saturday.

Saturday’s protests — the most turbulent since Oakland police forcefully dismantled an Occupy encampment in November — came just days after the group said it planned to use a vacant building as a social center and political hub and threatened to try to shut down the port, occupy the airport and take over City Hall.

An exasperated Mayor Jean Quan, who faced heavy criticism for the police action last fall, called on the Occupy movement to “stop using Oakland as its playground.”

The OccupyProtesters hurled bottles, pipes, rocks, and 'improvised explosive devices' at police during their violent protest efforts to take over a building at the Harry Kaiser Convention Center before breaking into Oakland's City Hall and burning flags taken from City Hall.  The Oakland PD arrested over 300 of the Occupy thugs.  Occupy thugs complained that the police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at them - and refused to let them disperse to avoid arrest.

The Occupy movement, the partnership of union thugs, anarchist thugs, communist thugs, and hard left progressive thugs is promoting more violence in their efforts to wage a class war against the 1% - even though most of those who are leading and advocating the action of the movement are members of the 1%.  One of their missions, make the summer of 2012 look like the summer of 1968...

In another case of massive hypocrisy, a racist plays the race card when commenting about the President Obama / Arizona Jan Brewer 'discussion' on the tarmac of Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport earlier this week... video from Weasel Zippers...

The past Friday, the Eric Holder Department of Justice continued it's pattern of late Friday evening document dumps regarding its efforts to stonewall and obfuscate the Congressional investigation into the DoJ / ATF Operation Fast and Furious.  This was the program created by the DoJ / ATF to provide weapons acquired in US gun stores to Mexican drug cartels in order to create a justification for the DoJ and Obama Administration to enact far stricter gun control laws within the United States. Several thousands of weapons were provided to the drug cartels which were then used to murder over 400 people.

In testimony before Congress in May 2011, Attorney General Eric Holder said under oath that he only became aware of the Fast and Furious program 'a couple of weeks' before.  Included in the materials that were released on Friday were documents that indicated that Attorney General Eric Holder was briefed on the program the day that Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was gunned down by cartel thugs 18 miles inside the US in December 2010.  In addition, Holder was also told that the weapons used to kill Terry were obtained through the Fast and Furious gunrunning program.

Not only has Attorney General Holder lied to Congress under oath about his knowledge of the program, but the DOJ and Obama Administration is actively running a cover-up of the program in their contempt towards the law and Congress.

The latest series of polls on the GOP Presidential Primary in Florida, where voters go to the polls on Tuesday, show that Mitt Romney is expanding his lead over Newt Gingrich.  NBC News / Marist poll shows that Romney has a 15 point lead over Gingrich (42-27) with Rick Santorum (16%) and Ron Paul (11%) trailing the frontrunners by significant amounts.  Rasmussen's most recent polls reflect similar numbers - Romney at 44%, Gingrich at 28%, Rick Santorum at 12%, and Ron Paul trailing with 10% support.

In the NBC News / Marist poll, only 4% of the voters questioned say they are undecided so there appear to be view who have not made up their minds.  Rasmussen's poll asked voters which was the number 1 criteria for their decision as to which candidate to support?  The majority said that their decision was based which candidate had the best chance to beat President Obama.

Another factor clearly influencing the current numbers is the effects of the performance of the candidates in debates.  In South Carolina, Newt Gingrich surged past Mitt Romney on the boost he gained from 2 very strong debate performances combined with sub-par performances by Romney.  In Florida, where Gingrich had a lead from SC coattails, 2 sub-par performances by Gingrich countered by 2 strong performances by Romney have contributed to Romney's lead in Florida.

Newt Gingrich is hard at work trying to counter the 'negative' ads being directed towards him by the Romney campaign as he continues to rail against the former Governor from the positions of the hard left.  Gingrich gained the endorsement of former candidate Herman Cain yesterday at a campaign even in West Palm Beach, Florida, but questions remain if this endorsement will turn the tide for the former Speaker.

Yesterday, I referenced the new regulations being enacted by the California Air Resources Board mandating not only dramatically higher emission controls for automakers seeking to sell their cars in California, but also decreeing that 1 out of every 7 cars sold in California have to be zero emission cars - even though the Board has not indicated how they will force California citizens to buy zero emission cars in this ratio or better.

What's interesting about these excessive regulations are the rationale the Board is using to justify them...
Scientists say the reductions in greenhouse gases that will result from the new rules are necessary for the world to avoid the most catastrophic effects of human-caused climate change. Regulators say the rules will also drive innovation and, therefore, job growth, reduce U.S. dependence on oil from hostile countries, and save people money on the cost of gasoline and medical care.
It's a laughable example of bureau-speak crap referencing global warming / climate change and that more expensive cars will somehow increase jobs.  (Re reducing dependency on oil from hostile countries - Keystone XL pipeline and domestic production, both of which are fought by these same leftards.)

The Daily Mail in the UK has this report about Global Warming / Climate Change that reflects there has been no global warming for the past 15 years...
The supposed ‘consensus’ on man-made global warming is facing an inconvenient challenge after the release of new temperature data showing the planet has not warmed for the past 15 years.

The figures suggest that we could even be heading for a mini ice age to rival the 70-year temperature drop that saw frost fairs held on the Thames in the 17th Century.

Based on readings from more than 30,000 measuring stations, the data was issued last week without fanfare by the Met Office and the University of East Anglia Climatic Research Unit. It confirms that the rising trend in world temperatures ended in 1997.

Victor Davis Hanson references this further in his weekly column, 'What We Don't Want to Hear Anymore'...
Please, No More Green Initiatives

If incandescent light bulbs are really toxic, unreliable, and expensive, then the public will start buying the cheaper, greener, and more economical fluorescent alternative. When the technology is mastered and solar panels are a bargain, they will sell. When gas hits $5 a gallon, we will want more Priuses. Mr. Chu, please no more sermons on California agriculture ($17 billion in exports this year) blowing away. We don’t object to government incentives or tax credits, but please no more subsidized green plants, no more government laws outlawing good products, no more federal buying of perfectly good cars to crush.

Green is now synonymous with hucksterism, whether the Al Gore “cry wolf” corporatism, or the academic grandee snagging grants (while worried in email over the con), or the campaign bundler suddenly wanting government cash for some sort of Mr. Chu’s Pet Rock-like solar panel plant. Mr. President, almost everything you said in your State of the Union address about energy was misleading. Gas has risen over 80% since you took office. The only reason that it has not gone even higher is that your economic policies ensured slow growth (1.7%) and thus curbed fuel demand. Meanwhile, some brilliant entrepreneurs discovered how to frack and horizontally drill on mostly private land; so oil and gas production went up despite radical curtailment of federal oil and gas leases by 40%. How strange: after going after the gas and oil industry for three years, the president still could not,as promised, get electricity prices to “skyrocket” or gas to reach “European levels,” and so takes credit for those who resisted his own agenda.
Circling back to America's Greece, California, here's more evidence that the middle class / business exodus from California is likely to increase over the next several years.  The California Supreme Court is slated to rule on the validation of State Senate redistricting maps that were drawn up by a stacked 'independent' board which gerrymandered the districts to facilitate the Democrats a 2/3rd majority in the State Senate.  This is critical as the State Constitution requires a 2/3rd majority in the Senate to approve all tax increases on California's residents.  The only thing holding us back from even higher taxes are the 3 seats the Democrats are short of this threshold.  If they gain this supermajority, taxes in California will skyrocket.

In Europe, even The Economist is starting to see the real source of the fiscal crisis that exists in the Eurozone..
Two problems stand out. One is the scale of European public spending. If America is a defence superpower, spending almost as much on defence as the rest of the world combined, Europe is a “lifestyle superpower”, spending more than the rest of the world put together on social protection. Big governments tend to slow growth, says the World Bank, unless they are as effective as Sweden’s. Ageing will add to the burden. For Mr Gill, Europeans can still choose to work shorter days and take longer holidays than Americans, but they can no longer afford to retire early.

It would help if Europe were more productive. But this is the second area of concern. Having almost closed the productivity gap with America in the mid-1990s, Europe is again being left behind. This trend is most alarming in southern Europe, where productivity has actually dropped. A simple explanation is that Mediterranean countries enjoyed easy “catch-up” growth by importing technology. New growth needs the harder graft of innovation and enterprise. Southern economies with cumbersome regulation, poor administration, overreliance on tiny family businesses and an over-protected labour force are bad at this. Fixing that will be the work of a generation, not a summit.

As long as Europe tries to hold onto its Euro-socialism dogma of massive entitlements, excessive government regulations, and an over-protected labor force, they will be unable to generate the economic growth that is needed to help start to end the crisis. Europe needs to look no further to the Thatcher / Reagan approach - particularly towards how Thatcher took the UK from it's near fiscal death to economic strength by undoing the catastrophe of the Attlee / Wilson socialistic vision.

As Argentina continues to set its sights on the Falkland Islands, and the potential for developing oil fields around those islands, the former Chief of the British Army warns British armed forces today would be unable to reclaim the Falklands if Argentina seizes them again.
General Sir Mike Jackson believes the demise of jets capable of launching from aircraft carriers would make it "just about impossible" to recover key strategic strongholds.

In an interview with The Sunday Telegraph, Sir Mike said British defences on the Falklands have improved "by a factor of several tens" since 1982. But the 67-year-old conceded losing the islands - which Argentina calls the Malvinas - is not out of the question, saying, "never say never".

Violence continues to escalate in Syria as at least 33 are killed in a town close to Damascus as the Syrian Army launches an offensive against rebels opposing the Assad regime.

On This Day in History

1820 - King George III dies.  He was determined to be permanently insane in 1810 when his son, the Prince of Wales, was name regent.

1861 - The territory of Kansas was admitted to the Union as the 34th state - granted statehood as a free state.

1936 - The Baseball Hall of Fame elects its first members - Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Honus Wagner, Christy Matthewson, and Walter Johnson.  Today - 278 individuals are members of the Hall of Fame comprising of 225 players, 17 managers, 8 umpires, and 28 executives / pioneers.

1964 - The movie Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb had it's premier.

2002 - During his State of the Union address, President George W. Bush defines the 'Axis of Evil' - Iraq, Iran, and North Korea.

In the works - A post about the comments by Sarah Palin on the state of the GOP Presidential race...

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Quick Hits - January 28, 2012

Italian rescue personnel found the 17th body in the wreckage of the Costa Concordia luxury liner earlier today.  16 remain officially missing and are being presumed dead.  Bad weather in the area has stalled efforts to begin to offload the 500,000 gallons of fuel on board the ship to barges alongside.  Fears remain that the ship may continue to shift and spill the fuel.

The cruise line has offered the surviving passengers of the Costa Concordia $14,460 in compensation in return for the passengers who accept dropping any legal action.  A group of 6 passengers from the Costa Concordia have reportedly filed a $460,000,000 lawsuit against Carnival Cruise Lines, the parent company of Costa, alleging the negligence of the Captain caused the sinking of the Costa Concordia.  The Captain remains in house arrest.

The Arab League has halted its observer mission in Syria because of the increasing levels of violence across the countryIn the last two days, over 120 have been killed in clashes between the Assad regime and those protesting his dictatorship.  There are renewed demands for the United Nations Security Council for action, including calling for Assad to step down as Syria's leader.  A draft proposal developed by Morocco has already drawn the threat of a Russian veto inside the Security Council.  Russia is one of 5 nations with a permanent veto that when used will kill any Security Council initiative.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy has announced that France will withdraw all of their forces from Afghanistan one year earlier than originally planned - at the end of 2013 as opposed to the end of 2014.  This is in response to two major terror attacks on French troops committed by Afghani Army troops they were training which resulted in a number of French dead.  The US State Department has not raised any issues or concerns with the French decision as the US continues to work towards its own accelerated withdrawal.

Germany is calling for the European Union to take full sovereignty over the Greek national budget - making all taxation and spending decisions for Greece independent of the Greek government and Parliament.  This is as patience is being lost regarding Greek reform efforts.  The German plan calls for Eurozone finance ministers to appoint a 'Commissioner' who will have full authority to make decisions on the Greek budget.

This is an unprecedented demand that doesn't just trample on Greek democratic rights, but effectively calls for the country to be placed in receivership where a non-Greek has the sole decision making authority over the financial aspects of the country.  This isn't the action of a 'union' of like minded countries - its a fiscal coup being called for by Germany.

Unfortunately, this isn't all that surprising.  Crisis are seen by some to be opportunities...things that cannot be permitted to go to waste.  Throughout Europe and in the World Economic Forum being held in Davos, the progressive elites and hard left are saying that the Eurozone crisis is proof that capitalism is broken.  They are calling for the immediate need to take action to 'fix' capitalism.  The 'fix' is what they are calling 'state capitalism' where the state controls and defines the markets working towards ensuring that 'capitalism' delivers fairness and social justice for all peoples.

This is a rhetorical game.  'State Capitalism' isn't capitalism when the state controls and defines the markets.  All that this is doing is remarketing socialism (in particular the Euro-style socialism) with a new brandname and expecting that with the new name, all of the conditions that Euro-style socialism has caused across the Eurozone will be immediately and completely remedied.  Economic truths that there are limits as to how long one can continue to spend far more than one brings in will not disappear.  Nor will the social aspects that the few will eventually tire and question as to why their efforts are being used by the state to compensate those who don't try in the name of fairness or compassion. 

Ultimately, what will happen?  Some unelected bureaucrat is appointed to take over one's country and make its fiscal decisions.

We have to utterly reject this rebranded socialism and progressive vision.  To paraphrase Sir Winston Churchill, capitalism is the worst economic system ever devised by man, except for all of the others. 

The policies of the Obama Administration are to invoke a Euro-style progressive socialism in the United States.  His vision is that government is the best and only source to ensure that 'fairness' and 'social justice' are the results for the citizens of the country.  The marketplaces are inherently 'unfair' so government regulation and government fiats are needed to address the challenges.  This is despite the damage that these policies really do to the economy and the people.  What results is not a new far larger middle class, but a populace that has moved downwards towards a lowest common denominator level.

Numbers do not lie - before Obama's inauguration on January 20, 2009 - and now...

Number of Unemployed
12 Million
13.1 Million
Long-Term Unemployed
2.7 Million
5.6 Million
Unemployment Rate
High Unemployment States
Misery Index
Price of Gas
Typical Monthly Family Food Cost
Median Value of Single-Family Home
Rate of Mortgage Delinquencies
US National Debt
$10.6 Trillion
$15.2 Trillion

As Mark Steyn notes in his recap of this week's State of the Union...
There are times for dreaming big dreams, and there are times to wake up. This country will not be going to the moon, any more than the British or French do. Because, in decline, the horizons shrivel. The only thing that’s going to be on the moon is the debt ceiling. Before we can make any more giant leaps for mankind, we have to make one small, dull, prosaic, earthbound step here at home — and stop. Stop the massive expansion of micro-regulatory government, and then reverse it. Obama has vowed to press on. If Romney and Gingrich can’t get serious about it, he’ll get his way.

California has been governed and controlled by progressive for much of the last 4 decades.  In 2010, the big midterm thumping of progressivism / Obamaism across the country, California bucked this trend by electing every running Democrat to statewide office.  This history of embracing progressivism across this time is the primary reason why California is the Greece of the United States - a state that remains on the edge of fiscal bankruptcy.

But despite the reality of the situation, the progressives in California do not believe it.  Governor Jerry Brown, despite $25B in deficits - is not only calling for dramatically higher taxes on Californians, but is also pressing forward to spend $120B on a high speed rail program that lacks a viable business model.  California remains the most anti-business state in the country - and is driving business and the middle class out of the state with it's excessive and expensive regulations.

California has now enacted super strict new regulatory requirements on automakers who seek to sell cars in California.  These regulations target not only the emissions of these vehicles, but also fuel economy, and mandates that 1 out of every 7 cars they sell in California be a 'zero-emission' car by 2025.  These same regulators say that while they estimate these regulations will add $2,000 to the price of all cars sold in California, car owners apparently will save over $6,000 during the operational life of the cars.  There is no real foundation for these savings - it is the same rhetorical argument as made by Obama for the stimulus around jobs 'created or saved'.  We can't even belief the $2,000 cost.

What concerns me, however, is how these California regulators intend to enforce the sales levels of zero-emission vehicles on the resident's of CA or the automakers if the California marketplace decides not to buy 1 zero-emission car out of every 7 sold?  This is regulatory authority run amuck.

In the class warfare message being pushed by the progressive left, from the President, to the OccupyWallStreet, to those who claim to be for the 99%, rank hypocrisy is commonplace. 

Elizabeth Warren, now running as a Democratic candidate for Senate, see's herself as one of the 99%.  She not only endorses the OccupyWallStreet  movement, but has called herself the 'intellectual founder of the OccupyWallStreet movement'.  She's also a delusional hypocrite.  Warren is a multi-millionaire who between working for the Obama Administration and being a professor at Harvard, earned over $700,000 last year.  She lives in a $5,000,000 home.  Her financial disclosure forms show she has a stock / bond portfolio worth at least $8 million.  If she gets elected to Congress, she would be one of the 25 wealthiest members of Congress.  She's part of the 1% - the progressive elite...and has all of the arrogance and hypocrisy to match.

Before wrapping up today's post - I want to highlight a post made today by Roger L. Simon of PJ Media.  He has a touching memoriam post for Zane Greyhound, his friend, his greyhound dog, who was euthanized yesterday to end his suffering from cancer.  Roger says,

"If I were a believer, I would say dogs were God's gift to man.  And the death of one makes you want to be a believer, to see him cavorting in some canine heaven off into eternity."
I am a believer and dogs are a gift from God to man.  Yes, Roger, he is.  My condolences on your loss.

On This Day in History

1975 - President Gerald Ford, noting a massive build-up of North Vietnamese military forces inside of South Vietnam done in violation of the 1973 Paris Peace Accords, asks Congress to approve $522 million in military aid for South Vietnam.  Congress ultimately decided to decline the request - breaking the promise made by the United States to South Vietnam regarding military aid.  Before the summer of 1975, both South Vietnam and Cambodia would fall to communists igniting a bloodbath.

1986 - The space shuttle Challenger explodes 73 seconds after lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida killing the entire crew of 7 - Francis R. Scobee (Mission Commander); Michael J. Smith (Pilot); Judith R. Resnik (Mission Specialist 1); Ellison S. Onizuka (Mission Specialist 2); Ronald E. McNair (Mission Specialist 3); Gregory B. Jarvis (Payload Specialist 1); and Christa McAuliffe (Payload Specialist 2).