Coalition to Reduce Spending

Jonathan Bydlak and Rebekah Johansen of Coalition to Reduce Spending join Michael to talk about their organization.  The Coalition attacks spending like Grover Norquist‘s Group, Americans for Tax Reform, attacks taxes.  The group offers candidates a pledge which promises not to increase spending without an offset elsewhere. Senator Ted Cruz, South Carolina’s Mark Sanford, Georgia’s Doug Collins and Paul Broun, and Ohio’s Steve Chabot have signed the pledge.

The group discusses spending trends, how wars impact spending, as well as mechanisms to keep spending in check.  They also talk about the Budget Control Act (BCA) caps and Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) cuts.  Bydlak and Johansen applaud members who are beginning to turn to these as avenues to curtail spending and programs ripe for cutting.

The Coalition advocates for a holistic approach to spending rather than a partisan approach where the left refuses to examine entitlements while the right views the defense budget as sacrosanct.  However, it seems many new conservative house members are more open to the idea of putting Pentagon programs on the chopping block when these projects fail to deliver objectives or become white elephants.

Coalition to Reduce Spending advocates an approach that would keep the government spending within its means.  They realize that the government spends money.  They just encourage the government to take a flexible approach that allows it so spend money, but just asks that an increase in a budget for one program or project be met with an offset from another program or project.  Visit Coalition to Reduce Spending to learn more.

Part 2: Dee Coulter on the Original Mind

 Michael and Dee Coulter, author of Original Mind, follow up with their previous gab session.  Coulter explains the importance of sleep and water consumption, and other things we can do from a physical and physiological perspective to lead more balanced and calmer lives.

Turns out that if we don’t carve out calming time and get enough sleep, we have a bias against new activities.  What we do to our bodies with respect to food and nutrition, water consumption, and even relaxation exercises, has an impact on how we perceive and interact with the world.  Since we spend so much time indoors and in front of screens, we should take a break from technology for a while and just go outdoors to give our minds a change of scene.  (Seems like poet Walt Whitman had that idea.)

Coulter emphasizes the importance of language and cognition with respect to impulse control and delayed gratification.  Children have a different relationship with language than adults which often leads to parental inference relating to defiance whereas the child doesn’t fully understand a negative imperative.

Coulter advocates a morning meditation ritual to cleanse ourselves of yesterday’s stress.

Learn more at Dee Coulter’s site.

Wendy Jordan Talks Turkey about F-35 Lightning

Wendy Jordan, Senior analyst for Taxpayers for Common Sense, talks “turkey” about the F-35 in her new report, “The Unaffordable F-35.” The report comes completely from unclassified, open sources.  Jordan emphasizes that the report examines the F-35 project from the perspective of taxpayers.  The report doesn’t get into the capabilities or technology of the project, but rather if it is a logical expenditure from a taxpayer’s perspective.

Jordan swoops into the history of joint fighters, including the TFX program — fighters developed for and intended for multiple branches of the armed forces.  The TFX program fell apart as a joint program because the Navy and Air Force have very different fighter requirements, like the Navy’s need of carrier take off.  The Air Force ended up purchasing the F-111 Aardvark for itself.

The F-35 is sort of a successor project.  Again, you have all the branches in the mix to develop a fighter craft for the next generation.  Since each of these branches of the military all have their own requirements for a fighter aircraft, the project is very complicated and has had several overruns.

(photo credit - Taxpayers for Common Sense)

(photo credit – Taxpayers for Common Sense)

Jordan contends that the revolving door of the Pentagon bureaucracy militates against a cohesive and coherent approach to development and acquisitions projects on the size of the F-35 program.  Each successive generation of Pentagon decision-makers feels itself more capable than its predecessors of managing a project like the Joint Strike Fighter and has high hopes of achieving cost-cutting economies of scale.  To date, such an approach has never worked.

In 2001, it seems, the GAO did a baseline total program cost estimate – development, procurement, etc. — and the total cost of the program, they found, absent personnel, would be $233 Billion.  In March of 2012, the GAO’s baseline was changed to $395.7 Billion.  That’s a $162.7 billion dollar difference over around 11 years.  The underlying assumption was that the IOC, or initial operational capability, was that the Air Force would have the F-35 in Fiscal Year 2005.  The USMC thought they’d get theirs in FY2006, and the Navy in FY2008.  This March, in the President’s Budget Request, the USAF has revised its numbers to FY2016, the USMC in FY2015, and the US Navy to FY2018.

What was done in those additional 11, 9, and 10 years?  Redevelopment.  Jordan and her colleagues found that at least $39 Billion has been spent above what was believed to have been development costs.  Why?  The services have changed requirements.  This has been true of every high tech weapons development.  Because technology evolves over the lifecycle of a project, any long-term endeavor requires updates in requirements.

Are we, as taxpayers, doomed to shoulder the costs of such projects forever?  Who knows?!  However, alternatives exist.  Perhaps there is hope. (read more in the report).  Some of the planes, such as the EA-18G Growler, are meant to be replaced by the F-35.  Turns out a lot of the planes doing things the F-35 is meant to do, are still pretty darn good.  Like the modern variants of the F-15 and and F-16, the F-18 Super Hornet, and the F-22.  Looks like the USAF could buy all its currently planned to modernize the fleet for $4.2 billion, but they want to spend all their money on the F-35.

What can you do?  Call your senator.  Urge him or her to put money into the currently available and currently deployed, less expensive technology.

Space: The Free-Market Frontier. Interview with Edward Hudgins

Michael and Edward Hudgins (of the Atlas Society) get together to talk about SPACE and his book, Space: The Free-Market Frontier.  Hudgins explains government boondoggles related to space stations, space regulation, rocketry, and rocket manufacturing supply chain issues … like depending on Russian manufacturers for all sorts of equipment. He’s even done stuff with Buzz Aldrinwho walked on the moon (and memorably shouted at it with Liz Lemon).

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Photo Credit (Atlas Society)

Hudgins, who spent his childhood fascinated with Space and Astronomy, interned at Goddard Space Flight Center and got to follow the first moon landing from a major space center.  Since then, Space has been a passion for him.

Hudgins put together his book with the Cato Institute after a conference he designed on the Free Market and Space.  Hudgins has been working on the free market in space and space travel for some time now.

He points to the deregulation of the air lines that lead to lower prices for consumers.  Despite the deregulation of many industries and sectors, the government maintained a monopoly on space.  However, persistent and innovative entrepreneurs, such as Elon Musk of SpaceX, have challenged government monopoly on a practical scale and have revealed commercially available solutions, like a manned capsule to put humans into space.

Hudgins applauds entrepreneurs, innovators, and organizations, like Musk, Robert Bigelow (Bigelow Aerospace), Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin), Richard Branson (Virgin Galactic), Orbital,  and individuals and organizations promoting innovation and development like Peter Diamandis and his X Prize Foundation.

He advocates for allowing human innovation and entrepreneurship to flourish without government regulation and restriction. He encourages free, open-market solutions to space travel to make it more affordable and practical for everybody.

Hudgins has books available at Amazon.com and other retailers.

Dr. Kenneth Ford on the Ketogenic Diet and Human Performance

This week, Michael speaks with Dr. Kenneth Ford, founder and CEO of the Institute for Human & Machine Cognition (where Skynet comes from.)  Robb Wolf, who facilitated the introduction, has worked with Dr. Ford on issues related to the ketogenic diet.

Dr. Ford studied philosophy before joining the U.S. Navy before returning to graduate school to study computer science with an interest in Artificial Intelligence.  From early on, Dr. Ford wanted to better understand how our brains give rise to our minds and consciousness.

Dr. Ford’s work for the Defense Science Board (upon which he served until May of 2014) exposed him to cutting edge research on the burgeoning research area of ketones and ketone esters.  He became interested in their performance aspects and co-authored a paper for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists with Clark Glymour called “The Enhanced Warfighter” in the first part of 2014.

A ketognic diet, helpful for children with epilepsy and individuals who suffer from neurodegenerative disorders, Dr. Ford explains, moves one from a glucose-based metabolism to a fatty acid and ketone-based metabolism.  This has a whole lot of benefits involving all sorts of body processes.

We produce ketone bodies as a result of an evolutionary adaptation that grants us an inherent ability to produce three ketones which is helpful when our our brains were starved of glucose during famine times.  These three ketones, Acetoacetateacetone, and beta-hydroxybutyrate.

One way to become ketognic is to significantly cut down on carbs, since the glucose in something like fruit can kick your system back to the non-ketogenic way of operating.

While glucose is good for short bursts of energy, ketones allow for enduring performance.  There are a series of potential benefits for endurance athletes, special operators, and individuals who work in high and low oxygen states.

DARPA and the National Institutes of Health collaborated to fund research to ” research to “develop a ketone ester that could enhance physical and cognitive performance” for members of the special operations community.

They also talk about Dr. Ford’s work with NASA research on machine autonomy, humans in space, and what excites Dr. Ford about upcoming developments and new areas of research..

Dr. Ford’s books are available at Amazon.com and other retailers.

Learn more about IHMC at http://www.ihmc.us

Interview with Chris Preble, CATO VP for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies

Michael and Chris Preble, Vice President for Defense and Foreign Policy Studies at the Cato Institute, discuss the military and the troop draw-down, implications for the budget and military expenditures, the OCO Budget, and many more things!

Preble opines, “[t]he first mission of any country’s military should be defense.  And, I think our military is … eminently capable of defending the United States from direct threats.  Of course, they’re aided by geography, which still matters, and we, here, our fortunate to be separated from the east and west by wide oceans, and the north and south by relatively friendly and peaceful neighbors.  That’s always been the case.”  (9:43)

“So much of our military now is geared to defending other countries that could defend themselves.”  (10:27)  Preble advocates alliances and diplomatic relationships based not on the premise that we defend them, but that they defend themselves.  He preaches deterrence, including nuclear deterrence, but a scaling back of the nuclear arsenal.  He mentions some prior work on deterrence and the work of his colleague, Ben Friedman, on the Nuclear Triad, and also a collaboration between Preble, Friedman, and Matt Fay called “The End of Overkill, Reassessing U.S. Nuclear Weapons Policy.”

The two discuss cyber, militarization of space, the Navy’s Littoral combat ship program, his disappointment with the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and hopeful paper he wrote in 2002 when the program seemed as though it would be promising.  He concedes, that “t]he end result [of the F-35 project] is, we’re going to buy, still, probably a few thousand of these aircraft … They are very costly.  There are still some very serious concerns about their performance … “ (21:59)  He cites issues with the version for air craft carriers with launching and landing, avionics concerns, problems short takeoff and vertical landing, carrier restrictions of allies.  He concludes, there are “just a lot of problems with this … this whole program.  It is the … most expensive expensive procurement line item in the budget and likely will continue to be.  … One of the real problems is because our allies have a much smaller procurement budget, it means that they will be buying fewer aircraft — or none at all — and that means that the costs will be borne disproportionately by American taxpayers and we don’t to the economies of scale that we hope for.  So, it’s an unhappy story.  I’d like to believe that we willll get out of this an learn something from it.  But, I’m afraid … I think this is one of those situations .. I fear, that’s it’s a too big to fail sorta thing.  And, I hate that phrase … as it’s applied to the nation’s banks, but I also hate it as applied to the nation’s aircraft.  (22:57).

You can buy Chris’s book published by Cornell University PressThe Power Problem: How American Military Dominance Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free, which Chris bemoans is still a relevant subject today.

Dee Coulter on the Original Mind: Uncovering Your Natural Brilliance

What do complex systems, epigenesis, hurricanes in Florida, babies, monks, flowers, light waves have in common?  Michael and Dee Coulter discuss them in this podcast!

Michael chats with author and neuroscience educator Dee Coulter to discuss education and her new book, Original Mind.  Coulter examines the complexities of the human mind to understand the relationship between the mind and body.  Michael and Dee Coulter discuss how the circumstances surrounding emotional states of genetic contributors (parents) surrounding conception as well as emotions and environment of a mother during pregnancy can imprint predispositions on the unborn child.  Turns out that we allow certain manners of perception to become replaced by others as we develop and in so doing, we begin to limit the manner in which we see and understand the world.  Through meditation and other practices, we can relearn how to see the world around us as patterns of light and movement to open up new understanding of the world around us and how we interact with it.

Michael interviews Representative Mick Mulvaney

Michael Ostrolenk sits down with one of his fiscal heroes, “recovering lawyer” Representative Mick Mulvaney of South Carolina’s 5th Congressional District.  The pair discuss Rep. Mulvaney’s standing desk as well as health and wellness practices.  They also talk about the exercise habits of Members of Congress, home décor, gardening, yoga, and swimming.

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John Whitehead on “A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State

 John W. Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute speaks with Michael Ostrolenk about his new book,  Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State.

Founded in 1982, The Rutherford Institute litigates civil liberties issues defending small-town folks from big government.  The Rutherford Institute covers several issues  such as Free Speech  Search and Seizure, and Religious Freedom   Speaking about First Amendment issues, Whitehead explains, “[i[f you’re on the street corner with a picket sign … I don’t care what you’re saying: I’m on your side.” (2:34)
Since 9/11, the Executive has begun to trample civil liberties and that the trend has accelerated under President Obama.  “The NSA has been around a long time.  We’ve been in semi-police state… since the 1950’s during the McCarthy era." (3:46)  Technological expansion and evolution has allowed for the government
Whitehead believes that the invasive government that Marshall McLuhan predicted has arrived with the advancement of technology will allow for increased government surveillance.  He mentions Brandon J. Raub, a former Marine detained after posting anti-government messages on his Facebook page.
“Free speech as we used to know it is being monitored.  It’s being intimidated in many, many ways.”  (5:59)
Whitehead’s book covers government surveillance, militarized police  and.  He hopes that Americans devote one third of the hours they spend a month watching television to defending freedom.  “What we’re trying to do … at the Rutherford Institute is to get people .. to [spend] one third of those hours you watch TV to fight for freedom.  Go down to your local city council.  Go to your local school.” (8:34)
Most of the media does not appear to cover these kinds of issues.  Writers like Seymour Hersh have been criticizing the big media outlets for not covering real news.
One of the major issues, Whitehead explains, is the militarization of police.  The DHS has purchased 1.6 billion rounds of hollow point ammunition.  The Social Security Administration purchased hollow point ammunition in 2012, which it tries to explain on its website.
Furthermore, the advancement of technology and incestuous relationship between regulators and the industries they regulate allows for increased government surveillance.  He worries about the use of drones and casual approach that many people take to them.  Whitehead sees them as a threat to privacy and freedom.
He encourages folks to remain vigilant and active in combatting government abuse and usurpation of civil liberties.

Robert David Steele on Open Source Intelligence

Robert David Steele, curator of Phi Beta Iota, former CIA clandestine services cases officer and creator of the Marine Corps Intelligence Activity, talks about Open Source Intelligence, a movement that he started in 1988, and his recent book, the Open Source Everything Manifesto.
Steele found that close to 90% of the needed relevant information for government operations and decision-support is available from public sources in 183 languages, but not collected, processed, or analyzed by the structured official intelligence community. He realized that embracing the open source community allows for greater exchange of information and more efficient use of taxpayer funds.
The Open Source provides a platform that is affordable, interoperable, and scalable.  Steele contends that secrets are not the same as knowledge, and that the Open Source Approach will help to curtail government waste relating to the desire to collection for the sake of collection.
In Steele’s contribution to the Routledge Companion to Intelligence Studies, entitled “The Evolving Craft of Intelligence,” he discusses the way to create an effective intelligence and counter intelligence service.  The new paradigm would focus the United States Intelligence Community on catching traitors and providing decisions support as well as holistic analytics centered around the 10 High Level Threats to Humanity.
Through his discussion with Michael Ostrolenk  Steele explains how using common sense and open source techniques, the U.S. Government can adopt proven methods in the field by Steele over 25 years ago to have a leaner, more effective, more efficient, and more transparent intelligence Community.