I spent 8 years working on NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope.
I never once saw anything like this.
Now, I wasn’t a federal employee. Most of NASA isn’t. NASA has a big name but it’s a tiny agency and most of it is contractors. The federal employees manage those contractors and the agency’s programs. The Perseverance rover is an example of one of those programs, as is Hubble, and its successor, the soon-to-launch James Webb Space Telescope.
The federal employees are the spine of the mostly private-sector agency that puts rockets and people in space and conducts research on aeronautics. That’s in the name — National Aeronautics and Space Administration.
There’s nothing about managing children at the border in that name. Not a thing. If any of the federal staff had been asked to volunteer for border duty back when I was at Hubble, all us contractors would’ve heard about it.
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But here we are. The Biden administration on day one irresponsibly threw the border wide open. Hundreds of thousands of migrants have crossed it illegally. There are at least 18m000 kids being kept in some type of overcrowded facility. Border towns are overwhelmed. The federal government is so overwhelmed it’s now seeking to take its space program staff, managers, and the odd astronaut and rocket scientist off their important work in one of the smallest federal agencies to deal with this unfolding disaster on the border.
The Biden administration is flailing. It’s trying to blame Trump now, but the migrants aren’t wearing MAGA hats. They’re wearing “Biden Please Let Us In!” shirts and telling every reporter they came because Biden told them to.
Trump left Biden a pretty orderly border. The wall Biden and his folks derided was nearing completion; Biden inherited shovel-ready infrastructure jobs right there but he canceled them immediately to spite Trump and his supporters. Biden, per Obama’s quote about his tendency to “f*** things up,” has gone and done exactly that.
How do I know? Biden has been calling on other, larger agencies to come in and help for a couple of weeks. That wasn’t enough. It was a dud. Who knew that a bunch of government fat cats living in million-dollar homes in Bethesda, Maryland and northern Virginia don’t want to trod off to the border where it’s dangerous and they’ll have to mind thousands of kids? And, by the way, also deal with more COVID. And hyper-violent drug cartels that make Blackbeard look like a schoolboy. Shocking that they’re not getting enough volunteers, right?
This NASA email appears to be an escalation from the personnel perspective, and from the facility perspective when Biden’s folks started considering using a NASA facility to house migrants back in March. Wrap your mind around that one. NASA facilities aren’t designed for that. They’re either designed for rocket research and actual launches, they’re designed for building satellites in clean rooms, they’re designed for aeronautical or other research, or they’re academic and office buildings. What part of that says “Let’s plop a bunch of migrant kids here”?
NASA people aren’t designed for this either. They’re program staff and managers and top top top-level physicists and the like. These are very smart people who do amazing things, but mass child care in convention centers and tent cities is far afield from “other duties as assigned.” Or even volunteered for, in this case.
They’ve tried hiring babysitters at a whopping $144,000 salary, per Tyler O’Neil’s report in March. We’ve also got…this. Egad. All of it, Biden’s doing. But we’ve escaped those mean tweets. That’s something.
Biden’s now trying to pull NASA people out of working on space and bleeding-edge research — their core mission, and one that’s as important as ever with China on the rise — to deal with the border chaos that he created out of stupidity and spite. This is not good. Joe Biden (or whoever is making his decisions for him) is an idiot.