From Volume 37, Issue 24 of EIR Online, Published June 18, 2010

United States News Digest

Obama's Shutdown of Constellation Already Nixed by Supreme Court

June 13 (EIRNS)—The attempt by the Obama Administration to use a 140-year-old law to shut down NASA's Constellation (manned space) program is an illegal abuse of power under current statute regarding the program. In a similar case six years ago, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that while the [previous] law may be on the books, the "state of the law compels us to hold this clause void and unenforceable."

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden sent a letter last week to Constellation contractors telling them to immediately put aside some of this year's NASA funding to pay for contract termination costs. Never mind that the Congress has specifically prohibited the termination, or even slowdown, of any Constellation contracts.

Former NASA associate administrator for program analysis and evaluation, Scott Pace, as quoted in the New York Times June 10, said that "NASA has never held contractors liable for termination liability." The "new" policy, he stated, "appears to be purposefully punitive" against Constellation contractors.

Rep. Bob Bishop (R-Utah), whose district includes solid rocket motor manufacturer ATK, which is looking at a $500 million close-out liability, responded that the Administration is flaunting its disregard for Congress with "reckless abandon," and in "complete violation" of the law. He characterized the attempt as "sleazy."

Faced with the possible requirement that hundreds of millions of dollars be set aside, should contracts be terminated, Constellation contractors are stopping work on the Orion crew vehicle and Ares rockets, and readying pink slips. Lockheed Martin announced that 600 Orion engineers were being pulled off the contract. On June 11, Boeing announced that it will issue termination notices on July 2 to 100 employees who work on the Ares rocket in Huntsville, Ala., as the first increment of what could be 180, by September. The total number of layoffs across the country could be as many as 5,000, according to NASA , just to cover the termination costs. Never mind the possibility that the whole program could be killed.

Largest U.S. Nurses Protest Action Ever—12,000 Walk Out in Minnesota

June 10 (EIRNS)—A protest walkout by 12,000 nurses in Minnesota today, is the latest, dramatic manifestation of mass-strike sentiment cross country. Fourteen hospitals in the Twin Cities area were struck by a pre-planned 24-hour nursing work outage, coordinated by the Minnesota Nurses Association, in what was to be a parallel to a one-day strike by California nurses against cutbacks by hospitals. However, the California strike has been barred for two weeks, by a judge's temporary restraining order.

Instead, California nurses planned to hold rallies today at hospitals in Irvine, Santa Monica, San Pedro, and Covina, to draw attention to dangerous staffing cutbacks, and pay, pension, and duty issues. "Our number-one priority remains correcting the chronic staffing issues at University of California Medical Centers, which we have been unable to resolve through any other means," said Beth Kean, chief negotiator for the California Nursing Association's University of California Division.

Even without California, the Minnesota walkout is the biggest ever in U.S. history. In Washington, D.C., on May 12, some 1,000 registered nurses demonstrated on Capitol Hill, demanding that Congress enact measures to ensure proper nurse-to-patients staffing ratios in hospitals. This was coordinated by National Nurses United, the largest union for RNs in the United States.

Issa Wants Probe of White House Top Guns for Violation of Hatch Act

June 8 (EIRNS)—Rep. Darrel Issa (R-Calif.) today sent a referral and request for investigation to the U.S. Office of Special Counsel regarding alleged violations of the Hatch Act by White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel and Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina, for their admitted involvement in attempts to dissuade Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) and Andrew Romanoff (Colorado) from running for Senate against contenders favored by the Obama Administration.

In his statement, Issa points out that the Hatch Act restricts Federal officials from using official authority or influence for the purpose of interfering with or affecting the result of an election.

Issa wrote: "Rahm Emanuel was leveraging the power and access of his official position to advance the political interests of the Democratic Party by affecting the result of the Pennsylvania Democratic Primary. Averting divisive primary campaigns and protecting a Democratic seat in the U.S. House of Representatives are purely political concerns and as such, federal officials are prohibited from using their official authority or influence to address them.... [T]his is precisely the sort of behavior forbidden by the Hatch Act."

With respect to Messina, Issa wrote: "In the White House's June 3, 2010 public statement, Mr. Gibbs claimed that clearing the field for a candidate preferred by the White House was not problematic because 'there was no offer of a job.' There is evidence to the contrary. Additionally, a finding of a Hatch Act violation does not require that a job was formally offered; any use of official authority by a restricted federal official to interfere with or affect the outcome of an election is unlawful."

Also, on June 5, Issa challenged President Obama to directly address whether he condones the efforts of Emanuel and Messina. "President Obama likes to talk about accountability and project an image of being in charge or control, yet these recent controversies raise legitimate questions surrounding what exactly is going on in Barack Obama's White House. White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said the President had no prior knowledge of these incidents, so the outstanding question for President Obama is, does he condone these efforts, and if not, what is he going to do about it?"

Goldman Sachs' Arrogance Angers Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission

June 8 (EIRNS)—The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission issued a subpoena on June 4 to Goldman Sachs, after the firm "willfully avoided" requests for interviews and documents made in January. The Commission requested information about Goldman's derivatives, including the Abacus transactions that figure in the SEC's fraud lawsuit against Goldman. The Commission also demanded information on Goldman's receipt of a $14 billion payment from AIG on mortgage deals which became worthless. The $14 billion represented virtually full payment on AIG's obligations to Goldman.

After the Commission's demand in January, Goldman stonewalled and provided nothing for months. It submitted dribs and drabs of information, starting March 8, that the Commission called incomplete; asked for extensions; and when it still failed to produce, took the position that it had produced everything by March 8. When the Commission refused to back off, on May 24, Goldman electronically dumped the equivalent of roughly 2.5 billion pages of documents on the Commission, without sufficient guidance on where to find the information the Commission requested.

Phil Angelides, the Commission's chairman, said that Goldman is deliberately "trying to run out the clock" by dumping the billions of pages on the Commission. "We should not be forced to play 'Where's Waldo?' [a children's book series] on behalf of the American people," said Angelides. Former U.S. Rep. Bill Thomas, the vice-chair, called Goldman's conduct "deliberate obfuscation," adding, "They may have more to cover up than maybe we thought." The Commission is required to submit its final report by Dec. 15, 2010. "We're not going to let the American people be played for chumps here," Angelides said on June 7.

58% Say Repeal ObamaCare; Dems Launch Goebbels Campaign

June 7 (EIRNS)—Fifty-eight percent of Americans now favor repealing the Nazi ObamaCare law that was rammed through Congress last December. And that large majority, according to Rasmussen Reports, is even down 2% from last week—but still far higher than immediately after Nero signed the bill.

Recognizing this may pose an electoral problem for those who voted for the bill, Democrats today announced a "$125 million campaign that White House allies are rolling out to defend health-care reform amid growing signs Democrats are failing to get political traction on the issue," as Politico understated.

It is to be a protracted Goebbels campaign, slated to stretch over the five years from now through 2014, when the law's largest provisions are set to kick in. Politico says that the campaign will continue as long as Obama is President—which should cut into its duration several years.

The co-chairmen of the Goebbels project are former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), and Victoria Kennedy, widow of the late Sen. Ted Kennedy, who helped push through the law establishing HMOs.

The Democratic National Committee is now circulating a polling memo by Joel Benenson, one of the Obama's pollsters, which argues: As misinformation about President Obama's health care reforms gives way to Americans' real-life experience with it, voters are slowly becoming increasingly comfortable with the law and resistant to Republican efforts to repeal it.

As Goebbels said, "The truth is the greatest enemy of the State."

All rights reserved © 2010 EIRNS