Category Archives: Political Commentary


The GAO is concerned (as well it should be, even though Congress doesn’t give a damn):

Space Launch System: “Based on current budget estimates, program officials have expressed concern that the first launch in 2017 could be delayed.” GAO says that the program will reach Key Decision Point-C (KDP-C) this month (April 2014) and at that point NASA will establish cost, schedule and performance baselines for the initial (70- ton) version of the launch vehicle. GAO highlights funding risks associated with the flat budget profile under which NASA plans to spend $6.8 billion between FY2014 and 2018, and calls the schedule “aggressive.” It also worries that two years after the program was established, “many of the SLS program contracts remain undefinitized.”

Orion: “The mass of the spacecraft remains a top program risk.” GAO says the spacecraft being designed to take humans beyond low Earth orbit aboard the SLS could be as much as 2,800 pounds overweight at launch for the first exploration mission (EM-1) in 2017. The maximum lift-off mass for that mission is 73,500 pounds, GAO states.

Well, one solution to the overweight problem would be to launch without crew. There’s no need to, since they can go up commercially. That way you can remove the escape tower, which adds many thousands of pounds to the vehicle. Not that it should even be built at all, of course.

The Phony IRS Scandal And The DOJ

It’s looking worse than we suspected,though the persecution of Catherine Englebrecht raised a lot of flags:

Was there a full-fledged plan to use the full power of the federal government to take the abuse, delay and invasive questioning of conservatives to a new level after President Obama’s re-election? Was there a plan to criminalize the mere act of being a conservative activist? Was there a plan to drum up false charges of “lying” on applications in order to put conservatives in jail?

Lois Lerner’s communications with the Justice Department strongly suggest that there was. The disclosure provides strong, compelling evidence that Obama’s re-election had emboldened many, including government bureaucrats like Lois Lerner, to believe that they could move forward unchallenged to criminalize Americans for exercising their constitutional rights.

I also believe that the players in this scam had identified a target to single out, harass, investigate, silence, destroy, and send to prison. Her name is Catherine Engelbrecht.

Lerner’s email on March 27, 2013, suggests that there was an idea moving within the bureaucracy to hit one or just a few Americans, and prosecute and imprison them, to scare others out of political engagement.

“One IRS prosecution would make an impact and they wouldn’t feel so comfortable doing the stuff,” Lerner wrote to IRS staff. “So, don’t be fooled about how this is being articulated – it is ALL about 501(c)(4) orgs and political activity.”

It was all about conservative 501(c)(4) orgs. Liberal groups were left entirely alone. This was to be a leftwing reign of prosecutorial terror.

And just how high up did it go?

[Update a few minutse later]

The IRS did the bidding of congressional Democrats to silence conservatives.

Nixon asked the IRS to go after his political enemies,and it refused, but that was an impeachable offense. Obama didn’t even have to ask.

Cliven Bundy

Why we should have sympathy for him:

The new head of the BLM is a former Reid staffer. Presumably he was placed in his current position on Reid’s recommendation. Harry Reid is known to be a corrupt politician, one who has gotten wealthy on a public employee’s salary, in part, at least, by benefiting from sweetheart real estate deals. Does Harry Reid now control more than 80% of the territory of Nevada? If you need federal authority to conduct business in Nevada–which is overwhelmingly probable–do you need to pay a bribe to Harry Reid or a member of his family to get that permission? Why is it that the BLM is deeply concerned about desert tortoises when it comes to ranchers, but couldn’t care less when the solar power developers from China come calling? Environmentalists have asked this question. Does the difference lie in the fact that Cliven Bundy has never contributed to an Obama or Reid campaign, or paid a bribe to Reid or a member of his family?

Based on the evidence, I would say: yes, that is probably the difference. When the desert tortoises balance out, Occam’s razor tells us that the distinction is political.


More On The One-Way Discovery

Mark writes about the judge’s latest order:

…some climate alarmist was in a bit of hurry with his rewriting and those “seven other organizations” became “seven organizations”. But, whether seven or nine, they have all “proved Mann innocent”. In fact, there has only been one investigation of Michael E Mann – the one that was the subject of my original “defamatory” post; the joke investigation by Penn State set up by a now disgraced college president currently facing 30 years in the slammer for obstruction of justice. That’s the only investigation. Yet somewhere along the way Mann grasped that, as with his non-existent Nobel Prize, if he simply declared himself “investigated” and “exonerated” by multiple bodies on both sides of the Atlantic, most of the people in his Climate Bubble would never bother checking.

No comment.

A Path To Nowhere

There’s an essay over at America Space worth a read, but a couple paragraphs are misleading:

Although President Obama inherited the decision to retire the space shuttle by the previous administration, he also inherited the rest of the Constellation program as well. The newly appointed President chose to terminate both programs, however, while apparently failing or not caring to properly take into account the U.S. dependency on Russia that would result by this decision for launching American astronauts to the ISS for many years in a row until new replacement vehicles could be developed. Since the retirement of the shuttle was tied to the development of the Constellation program, a cancellation of the latter should prompt a re-thinking of the decision for the former, something that ultimately didn’t happen. The space shuttles were finally decommissioned following the STS-135 flight in July 2011.

With the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the only way for U.S. astronauts to get to and from the International Space Station is currently onboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. That point was also stressed by Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL) during a debate with NASA’s Administrator Charles Bolden at the recent hearing for the NASA Fiscal Year 2015 Budget Request, held by the House of Representative’s Committee on Science, Space, and Technology. “When the Space Shuttle was mothballed, President Obama was President of the United States. He could have made the decision to have continued to use the Space Shuttle, or he could have made the decision to keep it available in the event of an emergency. He chose not to,” said Brooks.

Obama didn’t choose to terminate the Shuttle. There was no choice, because that decision had been made years before, and production of key components and facilities needed to make them started to be shut down before he took office. It would have taken years and billions to restart that capability. In fact, he extended the program to the summer of 2011, past the original planned retirement in 2010.

The retirement of the Shuttle wasn’t tied to the development of Constellation. Even in 2004, before the ruinous Constellation project even began, the plan was for a three-year gap, because the so-called Crew Exploration Vehicle (which later morphed into Orion) wasn’t expected to be available until 2014. When Constellation was canceled, Shuttle’s retirement already being a fait accompli, the Obama administration planned to get Commercial Crew going by 2015, but as the author notes, continuous underfunding by Congress has slipped that out to 2017 (officially, anyway, on NASA’s business-as-usual snail-like development schedule). So Brooks is either lying, or doesn’t know what he’s talking about. You can’t keep something like the Shuttle “available in the event of an emergency.” That’s a demonstration of profound ignorance of how it worked. It would have cost billions per year, even if we hadn’t shut down the production lines, and it would have been unsafe to fly it with no regular tempo, a point I make in my book:

It should be noted that NASA currently plans only two flights for the SLS—one in 2017 to demonstrate the 70-ton capability, and one with a crew in 2021, to . . . somewhere. They have said that, when operational, it may only fly every couple of years. What are the implications of that, in terms of both cost and safety?

Cost wise, it means that each flight will cost several billion dollars, at least for those first two flights. If, once in operation, it has a two- or three-billion-dollar annual budget (a reasonable guess based on Shuttle history), and it only flies every couple of years, that means that each subsequent flight will cost anywhere from four to six billion dollars.

From a safety standpoint, it means that its operating tempo will be far too slow, and its flights far too infrequent, to safely and reliably operate the system. The launch crews will be sitting around for months with little to do, and by the time the next launch occurs they’ll have forgotten how to do it, if they haven’t left from sheer boredom to seek another job.

As a last-ditch effort to try to preserve the Shuttle in 2010, some suggested that it be maintained until we had a replacement, but to fly it only once per year to save money.[11] The worst part of such a proposal would have been the degree to which the system would have been even less safe, given that it was designed for a launch rate of at least four flights per year. It was unsafe to fly it too often (as NASA learned in the 80s as it ramped up the flight rate before Challenger), and it would be equally so to fly it too rarely. NASA’s nominal plans for SLS compound this folly, which is magnified by the fact that both internal NASA studies and independent industry ones have demonstrated that there is no need for such a vehicle to explore beyond earth orbit (existing launchers could do that job just fine, with orbital mating and operations), and it is eating up all the funding for systems, such as landers and orbital propellant storage facilities, that are necessary. All of this is just more indication that actually accomplishing things in space is the lowest priority for Congress (and unfortunately, the space agency itself, otherwise, the administrator would be more honest with the appropriators on the Hill).

There another point in the essay to be addressed:

Even if Commercial Crew was fully funded tomorrow, the participating private companies would still have to go through the same development and certification process for their spacecraft, and their launch date would still be two years into the future, at the very least. “Engineering is engineering,” said Kelly O. Humphries, News Chief at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, Texas, during an interview for Motherboard earlier last week. “We’re working with commercial companies to make sure everything is done properly so the spacecraft will interact properly with the International Space Station. You’ve got to do things the right way, to make sure things are safe for people.”

Note that the spacecraft (at least the Dragon) already “interacts properly with the ISS.” That was proven out with commercial crewcargo. What they’re doing now is “certifying” that it is “safe” to carry crew to and from it. But as I note in my book, “safe” and “unsafe” are not meaningful words, absent quantification. If Congress told NASA they had to put up crew on a Dragon on Monday, they’d figure out a way to do it. If we had to get American crew into space on American vehicles this year, we could do it.

What would the probability of loss of crew be? Who knows? If you look at the Falcon 9 over all (eight successful flights with no failures), it now has a Bayesian reliability approaching 90%. NASA flew to the moon on Apollo 8 on the very first manned Saturn V flight, when the previous flight test had been a disaster. That NASA chooses to continue business as usual in ending its reliance on the Russians shows just how unimportant the issue is.

A Sagebrush Rebellion

OK, so as far as I can tell, the federal government has been violating the First Amendment by setting up “First Amendment zones” (like the idiotic “free speech zones on campuses) and is about to have a violent confrontation in eastern Clark County, Nevada, on non-federal land, over an “endangered” species that is so endangered that the same federal government has been euthanizing them by the hundreds as a result of their proliferation in that region. Do I have that right?

Nazi Gun Control

Clayton Cramer reviews what looks to be an interesting scholarly new work:

There are many parallels between the laws passed in the Weimar Republic and by the Nazis, and current gun control laws and proposals. For example: the nature and duration of the records that gun manufacturers and dealers were required to keep (p. 135); issuance of gun carry licenses “only to persons considered reliable and only if a need is proven” (p. 107); the use of relatively rare incidents to justify widespread disarmament of “enemies of the state” (p. 155); and the prohibition of firearms with features not generally used “for hunting or sporting purposes” (p. 134).

This is not to say that gun control advocates in America today are planning a police state, concentration camps, and mass extermination. As Halbrook points out, when the Weimar Republic pursued its campaign of strict licensing and registration, they were genuinely trying to deal with a serious violence problem. They picked a solution that did not work, as some police officials of the time pointed out, causing some German states to refuse to go along with the Weimar Republic’s mandatory registration regulations in 1931 (pp. 34-38).

The problem was that, as some pointed out when mandatory registration was under discussion in 1931, “in chaotic times, the lists of firearms owners would fall into the wrong hands, allowing unauthorized persons to seize arms and use them to commit unlawful acts” (p. 29). The lists did fall into the wrong hands — the Nazi government, after the 1933 elections. And they did use them to seize arms, especially from Jews and other “enemies of the state.”

You don’t say.

Mann Suit Update

The judge has stayed discovery for everyone, including Mann against Steyn, because he doesn’t think there should be two separate discovery processes despite the fact that Mark has severed his legal relationship with the other defendants. The stay is in place until the appeals court makes a ruling either dismissing or allowing the trial(s) to move forward.

What a mess.

The “Phony” IRS Scandal

It finally comes into focus:

The final merit of Mr. Camp’s letter is that he’s called out Justice and Democrats. Mr. Camp was careful in laying out the ways Ms. Lerner may have broken the law, with powerful details. Democrats can’t refute the facts, so instead they are howling about all manner of trivia—the release of names, the “secret” vote to release taxpayer information. But it remains that they are putting themselves on record in support of IRS officials who target groups, circumvent rules, and potentially break the law. That ought to go down well with voters.

We’ll see.

The Dems Equal-Pay Demagoguery

Apparently even Ruth Marcus has her limits:

…the level of hyperbole — actually, of demagoguery — that Democrats have engaged in here is revolting. It’s entirely understandable, of course: The Senate is up for grabs. Women account for a majority of voters. They tend to favor Democrats. To the extent that women — and in particular, single women — can be motivated to turn out in a midterm election, waving the bloody shirt of unequal pay is smart politics.

One of the Democrats’ favorite disgusting rhetorical tricks is to pretend that if you oppose some particular piece of propose legislation, it can only be because you hate blacks, or women, or poor people, or whatever, and you can’t possibly have some rational good-faith reason to think that it’s a bad idea.

The Washington Post

Some questions for its management, and its new owner:

Jeff Bezos, this is for you: I have no idea what your political views are, but I assume you are a Democrat, like most rich people. Maybe you knew, when you bought the Washington Post, that it is nothing but a corrupt mouthpiece for the Democratic Party. If so, nothing about the Post/Keystone scandal will surprise you; on the contrary, you will probably applaud the Post’s latest effort to fool its readers so as to promote the Democratic Party’s interests.

But on the off chance that you thought you were buying a real newspaper, you should be shocked to learn that the Post cannot respond to a simple question: does the Post coordinate its reporting with Congressional Democrats, or does it not? If the Post were an honest paper–a real newspaper, part of an actual free and independent press–that would be an easy question to answer. That the Post is unable to respond speaks volumes. If this isn’t what you thought you were buying, you should clean house.

Democrat operatives with bylines.

The Civil War On The Left

Couldn’t happen to a nastier political movement:

the better evidence of how the Democratic Party could come to blows comes from California, which right now rivals China for one-party control. Never mind the three Democratic state senators all heading for the hoosegow for corruption: the bigger story is how Democratic ethnic factions are viciously turning on one another.

So it’s a race war! What a surprise (not really, considering what racists these people are).

Plus, for lagniappe, there’s their war against tech, even when it’s leftie tech.

I guess some people tip cows, others tip cars. When they’re not p00ping on them.