Election 2016: July 2016 Archives

Donald Trump addresses NASA and new media in his first Reddit AMA, Tech Crunch

"Asked by the same Redditor the role NASA should "play in helping to Make America Great Again," he responded with, "Honestly I think NASA is wonderful! America has always led the world in space exploration," echoing similar comments by Peter Thiel, whose recent Republican Convention address took issue with expenditures on war rather than space exploration, stating, "Instead of going to Mars, we invaded the Middle East." While unequivocally pro-NASA and America, Trump's response was decidedly less detailed than Obama's answer to a similar question on his own AMA."

That time Trump said "NASA' on reddit

Astronaut Mark Kelly "Thank you, everyone. I speak to you tonight as the proud son of two New Jersey cops; as a veteran of 39 combat missions during Operation Desert Storm and of 25 years in the United States Navy. And as a former NASA astronaut who flew four missions to space. My decades as a pilot, military officer, and astronaut gave me a unique perspective. From above, I saw our country at its best. I also saw humanity at its worst. I saw us lead an international coalition against the illegal invasion of Kuwait. I also saw the devastating human effects of war itself. From orbit, I saw our planet as a perfect blue marble. But I also saw shrinking glaciers and rainforests. At war and in space, I saw American leadership on display. But I was always frustrated to return to a country that struggles to address some of our biggest problems here at home."

Governor Jerry Brown: "As we just saw, climate change is unlike any other threat we humans face. It is overarching and affects the entire earth and all living things. It is slow. It is relentless. And it is subject to irreversible tipping points and vast unknowns. Combating climate change, the existential threat of our time, will take heroic effort on the part of many people and many nations. Make no mistake, climate change is REAL. The vast majority of world leaders and climate scientists, like those at NASA and the Department of Defense - indeed, almost anyone who chooses to think - believes in the science of climate change and sees the moral imperative to take action."

2016 Democratic Party Platform DRAFT July 1, 2016

Keith's 7 July note: There is no mention of NASA or anything remotely close to space. No surprise. Platforms are just documents that are more focused on letting party people exercise their narrow interests than being close to anything that will ever really become a presidential administration's future policies. Besides, space is a niche issue - at best - one that usually becomes a punch line when it does creep into presidential campaigns (Newt Gingrich's moon base, John Kerry in the bunny suit, etc.) But I worked on the staff of two of Jerry Brown's campaigns (Gov. Moonbeam), so what do I know? Beam me up.

Keith's 22 July update: The revised version of the platform (as of 21 July) says: "Pushing beyond the boundaries of what we know is core to who we are as Americans. Democrats are immensely proud of all that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has done-through its achievements in science, technology and exploration-to better understand our place in the universe and inspire and educate generations of young people in this country to pursue careers in science. Space exploration is a reminder that our capacity for curiosity is limitless, and may be matched only by our ability to achieve great things if we work together. Democrats believe in continuing the spirit of discovery that has animated NASA's exploration of space over the last half century. We will strengthen support for NASA and work in partnership with the international scientific community to launch new missions to space."

Election 2016 postings

Sorry, Eileen Collins: Here's why America is already great in space, Ars Technica

"But the public needs to recognize this as well, which is why I was disappointed by Collins and her pining for the Apollo era on such a big stage. The reality is that the best way to "lead on the frontier" in the 21st century is not through flags and footprints, but rather by sending people into space to stay, in a sustainable way, with the eventual aim of making space profitable. One would hope that Donald J. Trump, if he is elected president, would recognize such capitalism when he sees it."

Retired astronaut Eileen Collins endorses Donald Trump in all but name, Mashable

"In a speech before the Republican National Convention on Wednesday night, retired astronaut Eileen Collins delivered a sharp rebuke of NASA's recent leadership, endorsing controversial Republican nominee Donald Trump in all but name. Collins, who was the first woman to command a NASA space shuttle mission, had been expected to deliver a nonpartisan speech, and stopped just shy of issuing a more explicit endorsement. However, the speech will be viewed as a clear critique of NASA's leadership under the Obama administration."

Federal investigators: Cabinet secretary and potential Clinton running mate Julian Castro violated Hatch Act, Washington Post

"Housing Secretary Julian Castro violated the federal Hatch Act restricting partisan political activity by federal employees when he praised Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton during an interview conducted from his government office, government investigators found Monday."

Keith's note: Stephanie Schierholz works for the NASA Public Affairs Office (PAO). Her job is to convey official NASA opinions - opinions that are guided by White House policies. She states that her Twitter account opinions are her own - yet she overtly uses that same Twitter account almost every day - during the day while she is at work - for official business - including the topics that she mentions in her tweet. Her tweet is also embedded in a popular Mashable article. Smells like a Hatch Act violation to me.

Prepared Comments by Astronaut Eileen Collins Republican National Convention, RNC

"We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, "What's next?" We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again. That leader is Donald Trump."

SU grad Eileen Collins skips Donald Trump mention in RNC speech, Syracuse.com

"According to the prepared transcript of the speech, she was supposed to end with "That leader is Donald Trump." Those words even appeared on the teleprompter at the back of the arena floor. But she didn't. Instead, she thanked the crowd and left the stage. At no point in the speech did she mention Trump by name."

Keith's update:
The take home message: Eileen Collins is mad because the Space Shuttle program was cancelled (by a republican President - shh!) and that the U.S. has no way to launch people into space (no mention of two private sector systems that will fly next year). She feels that great nations explore and that leadership in space contributes to leadership on Earth. She feels that the U.S. used to have leadership in space, that it currently does not have leadership in space, and that it needs to regain that leadership in space. There was no endorsement of anyone. Between mention in the party platform and prominence given at the RNC convention it will be interesting to see if the Democrats give space equal exposure.

Before Eileen Collins spoke the RNC aired a slick 3:44 long video about space exploration. Initially I thought it was rather odd that Collins had a professionally done, inspirational into - with a narrator and soundtrack tailor-made to introduce her when none of the other speakers had one. Indeed, all of the other speakers (except Cruz) endorsed Trump. Add in the prepared comments with an endorsement released to the media - and loaded into the teleprompter - and I get the impression that an endorsement from Collins was fully expected and that something changed at the very last minute.

Comments are open again. Be nice or I'll turn them off again.

Keith's update: Note the highlighted sentences below. Between the unused endorsement in the official prepared comments and what was said, the Trump campaign clearly had a hand in what she said.

RNC releases early excerpts of Wednesday convention speeches, Politico

"Eileen Collins, retired astronaut - "Nations that lead on the frontier, lead in the world. We need that visionary leadership again: leadership that will inspire the next generation to have that same passion. We need leadership that will challenge every American to ask, 'What's next?' We need leadership that will make America's space program first again. We need leadership that will make America first again."

According to Donald Trump's official Facebook page: "47 years ago our nation did something that NOBODY thought we could do - we were the first to put a man on the moon. It is time to be number one, again! Believe me, as President, we will once again, Make America First Again! #AmericaFirst #MakeAmericaGreatAgain #RNCinCLE"

Republican Platform

"The public-private partnerships between NASA, the Department of Defense, and commercial companies have given us technological progress that has reduced the cost of accessing space and extended America's space leadership in the commercial, civil, and national security spheres. The entrepreneurship and innovation culture of the free market is revitalizing the nation's space capabilities, saving taxpayer money, and advancing technology critical to maintain America's edge in space and in other fields. To protect our national security interests and foster innovation and competitiveness, we must sustain our preeminence in space by launching more scientific missions, guaranteeing unfettered access, and ensuring that our space-related industries remain a source of scientific leadership and education."

- Newt Gingrich and Bob Walker Endorse Obama's New NASA Plan, Urge Bipartisan Support, CSF (2010)
- Is Gingrich's Pro-Obama Space Policy Stance About to Flip Flop ... (2012)

Keith's note: Looks like the RNC just endorsed the Obama Administration's commercial space policy - just like New Gingrich and Bob Walker did. Then again Newt was against it before he was for it (or was it the other way around?). Of course, Mike Griffin was moving in this direction before Obama - and Sean O'Keefe before Griffin. Either way, its deja vu all over again with supporters of commercial space on both sides. Oddly, right now, Republicans in Congress are among the most vocal opponents of the current incarnation of the same commercial space policy that began in a Republican administration.

Keith's 7 July update: A week Two weeks Three weeks ago I sent NASA Chief Scientist Ellen Stofan (and NASA HQ PAO) a simple question about her statement regarding NASA's value to America's economy i.e."there was a report that showed that for ever $1.00 you spend on NASA you get $4.00 returned to the economy". NASA has still not gotten back to me with an answer. Either NASA refuses to answer or (more likely) they cannot answer - because their answer would reveal that they have no idea where their claims come from.

After 20 years I can totally understand that some people at NASA are loathe to respond to NASAWatch questions like this - especially ones with a high gotcha quotient. I get that. But you'd think that such a basic talking point - one repeatedly used by senior agency personnel to explain the purported value of NASA to our economy - would be one that is strongly grounded in research data - data that should be at everyone's finger tips. Guess again. If NASA is unable to answer such a simple, basic question about a commonly-used talking point, why should anyone take agency staff seriously when they start to talk about commerce, economics, and return on investment?

NASA has no idea what it is talking about when it comes to its economic value to our nation. So they just make stuff up and hope that no one asks any questions.

NASA has been getting ready for visits from presidential campaign transition teams in the coming weeks. Based on my sources agency leadership is under some collective pervasive delusion that space is actually an issue that campaigns intend to pay attention to prior to the election. Moreover, their aim is to tell the campaigns that NASA is doing what it should be doing, to please just let NASA do whatever it is doing, and not ask too many questions as to why NASA is doing what it is doing. Among the things NASA would normally do is drop the whole dollar-invested/dollar-returned thing into the briefing charts. If NASA cannot answer a simple media question about NASA's numerical claim of value added benefits to the economy, I am not certain that they should be perpetuating these urban factoids by telling them to representatives of the next administration.



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This page is an archive of entries in the Election 2016 category from July 2016.

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