Custom Search

Monday, October 31, 2011

Boeing Moving in at Kennedy

Now that's what I'm talking about.

The news that Boeing will take over a hanger at Kennedy Space Center for its own space program is exciting news to those of us who believe private spaceflight is the future. Hopefully, this private company won't be the last to get space on the port.

Seeing the final space shuttle flight has been a tough pill to swallow for everyone living in Florida this year, but this could create a genuinely brighter future, and one where there is more manned spaceflight, not less.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Mr. McGillicuddy Flip Flops

My own Congressman has entered the US Senate race, the one he said he wouldn't enter a few months ago during a clearly botched unroll on the same courthouse steps where his father announced a successful campaign.

Connie Mack may now be the frontrunner in the race to lose to Bill Nelson next year, but I am sure the piranhas already in the tank will take every piece of him they can. Does a known adulterer have much to fear when the ops teams go nuclear? I think we all know that. Expect a stream of news about bar fights, nepotism and bizarre votes on issues sure to offend the right, the left and everyone in between. That's what you get for having a legislative record and the maturity of a 12-year-old boy.

The biggest news in this to me, of course, is that Mack's House seat is in play. Today, it isn't too much of a swing district, but that seems likely to change as the redistricting process plays out. It will really depend on whether the Legislature wants to keep scandal-prone David Rivera's seat in the red column. We will see some early entries within days, but the viability of an interesting race will be determined this spring.

The Republican field in the 14th is already significant, including former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp, state Reps. Gary Aubuchon and Dudley Goodlette and a number of smaller office candidates who could make a difference depending on where the district lines fall.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

A Victory For Multilateralism

I won't completely recount the process I followed from being wary of involvement in Libya to seeing it as a long-overdue return to a foreign policy based on cooperation with the world. I went through that here.

Instead, I celebrate today the power of multilateralism, which is what ultimately led to the death of Muammar Gaddafi. It was freedom fighters in Libya who deposed and disposed this tyrant, and the result is that the country is now in a state of true democracy.

Will that last? I suppose the Glenn Beck's of the world are waiting for terrorists to roll in and install an enemy to America. That could happen, of course, but I would argue it is a lot less likely since America under Barack Obama backed NATO efforts and international assistance for this genuine liberation.

Contrast that to Iraq, where the George W. Bush administration also successfully deposed a dictator but were forever stained with the mark of a foreign invasion. Saddam Hussein was tried and executed by a court there, but it always smelled, even in America, of a verdict designed to appease American interests rather than satisfy the will of the local population.

The same, I believe, cannot be said of Libya. And as a bonus, the slight military involvement we had in the country will not leave us in a quagmire for years waiting for a new government to establish a police force capable of maintaining the same peace as the American military.

This is what happens when there is a true Coalition of the Willing. This is why revolutions are homegrown, and only invasions are imported. This is where international support for the people of a country can result in goodwill. There will be no "Mission Accomplished" moment from the deck of an American military vessel. Yet, it feels like this mission was achieved in a much more durable way.

And of note, the mess caused by unilateral action in Afghanistan and Iraq is still being felt now. We have more troops in those countries than ever set foot in Libya during this entire conflict. It is utterly amazing. The Arab Spring is a model for the world to watch, and for America to learn from. You can't twist people's arms and expect them to be grateful with outcomes forced upon them. But the tanks in Sirte today really are being greeted as liberators.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Rick Scott, Socialist

Calling Barack Obama a socialist has come into complete vogue among America's right. I often wonder if they even know what the term means. But based on what Republican leaders like Rick Scott call conservatism, I wonder if they even mean the word as an insult.

For example, what would you call controlling what degrees college students earn in Florida and assigning them subjects to study based on workforce needs in the state? Rick Scott has proposed just that. While the press has focused on his weird hatred of anthropologists (maybe he is trying to clear the job field for his daughter), it strikes me that we have heard this sort of tactic before. Like in Communist China.

Am I exagerating? Perhaps a little. It isn't like Scott wants to force people to major in certain things. But the philosophy remains the same. Have more journalism majors than journalism jobs? Well then let's stop teaching journalism classes. And for my media friends, yes, journalism schools seems to be next on his list after those meddling anthropologists.

So let's get this straight. ObamaCare for everyone is socialism, though having the state subsidize Rick Scott's health insurance is ok. Taxing millioners is class warfare, but redistributing wealth toward the rich makes sense. And taking millions in government money is cool as long as it is through fraudlent Medicare claims.

It seems to me Rick Scott really likes socialism, as long as he gets to be the dictator.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rick Scott's 700,000 Lies

See what I did there? That headline makes it sound like Rick Scott has told 700,000 lies since taking office. He has probably told far fewer, at least consequential ones, but it sound like a really big deal when I put it that way.

But really, this post is about one lie, that Rick Scott was going to create 700,000 in 7 years through, well, some other third 7 thing as part of his "7-7-7 Plan." (I bet the rest of the country thought Herman Cain was so creative)

The big politics story in Florida this week has been about how the press suddenly realized he was measuring job growth in a different way than he promised. See, the 700,000 was going to be in addition to normal growth, at least on the campaign trail. Now, Voldemort says that is never what he meant.

I always suspected Scott would claim the job growth was happening no matter what the numbers said, and there are frankly some other ways he is cheating the figures that have barely been discussed. For example, in this statement from Scott "clarifying" what he meant in the central promise of his campaign, he touts 87,200 private sector jobs, but a look at the graph at the bottom of the page shows he is ignoring a loss of 15,600 government jobs in the same time period. We'll get to that in a minute.

The big lie really dates back to the summer of when reporters were just starting to take Scott's campaign seriously. When he unveiled his plan, it didn't take terribly long for the press to realize how unremarkable 700,000 new jobs in seven years would be. This is Florida, a state with so many undeveloped platted housing lots waiting for the recession to end that job growth is almost guaranteed in that time period. Maybe he was initially caught flat-footed when the St Pete Times asked in July if he meant on top of normal growth and he said yes. But come the debates, he wasn't waiting for someone to question things. He stated boldly that everything was on top of normal growth, preempting a call of "bullshit" from Alex Sink.

In hindsight, maybe Alex should have just said, 'Well, I'll create 1 million,' knowing that wasn't a job more than would come if she played the violin her entire governorship. But enough hypothetical dreaming.

Here is why the difference matters. Let us look at the last release from the Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation tracking the jobs figures in Florida. In August, we actually had unemployment rate in Florida fixed at 10.7 percent, the same as the month before despite the addition of 9,900 jobs in statewide. How could that be? Florida's population growth is not just people coming here with jobs. We have retirees,families with only one person working, etc. That means jobs did not go up at a rate any faster than our regular population. That is why the number of jobs gained was inconsequential to the economy, other than ensuring things were not any worse.

There are in fact more people actively looking for work and unable to find a job in August than there were in July. The unemployment rate is better than it was a year ago, but in the last month, it has not improved despite the creation of nearly 10,000 jobs. Get it?

The good news is that while Rick Scott has job growth numbers to hide behind and pretend he is on his way to fulfilling his 700,000-job promise, that doesn't matter politically. The voters only really care if the economy is better. If after four years in office, Florida has created 400,000 jobs but added 3 million new people, the economy will be much worse, and Floridians will have no tolerance for "I only promised this many jobs in this many years" platitudes from the governor, and he will be tossed on his ear.

Of course, there are other dishonest things Rick Scott is doing here. One is the suggestion that his own policies have created the job growth which has occurred. I don't want to suggest his trade trips and marketing campaigns to prove Florida is "open for business" have born no fruit. I am sure there has been some good from all that, and they probably were the responsible thing to do. But understand that Scott has been in office less than a year. Any job growth which he could be considered responsible for could only have happened in the last few months.

For one thing, no real policy objectives could be accomplished by Scott until the legislative session, which did not happen until this Spring. The first few months of office, Scott literally could not get any laws passed because there was nobody in Tallahassee to write them. And with few exceptions, new laws don't take effect until the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1, about one week ago! This may be a surprise to Republicans, but government moves very slowly.

So Rick Scott's policies could not, in earnest, have done anything until eight days ago. Just another lie.

Now let us get back to those job growth numbers. I have noted before that Republicans supposedly obsessed with job creation certainly like firing government workers. That is something else coming to roost for Scott with the new fiscal year. All of the employee layoffs that had to come with cutting the budget mean an incredible amount of lost jobs, but Scott doesn't even think those count.

Why wouldn't they? If a teacher loses her job but two manufacturers gain employment, that only nets a job gain of one job, right? If we lay off four secretaries at the Florida Department of Health, but two people get jobs at McDonalds, that is a job loss of two jobs. But that is real math, not Republican math.

Rick Scott might say, with no basis is facts to back it up, that the private sector jobs created were somehow possible because of a reduction in money paid to government workers. Some of that would be because of reductions in taxes and regulations which give a little money back to the private sector so they can create more jobs. That money will be divvied out in small chunks though, so those two manufacturing jobs probably get paid about the same as the one teacher. Sounds like redistribution of wealth to me, but since teachers aren't really wealthy, I guess Rick Scott thinks it's ok. It isn't socialism if the rich don't pitch in.

But again, the fiscal year didn't start until October, and tax cuts to businesses won't set in for another year. The new laws go in effect now, but it will be 2012 before companies are paying out on new tax rates. What's that? Another lie!

Maybe I was wrong in that first paragraph. Rick Scott bundles so many fibs into every statement he says that 700,000 lies may be a conservative estimate.