At her final press conference as House Speaker, Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said, “Deficit reduction has been a high priority for us. It is our mantra, pay-as-you-go.”

The numbers tell a different story.

Well, no surprise. It’s the way she came in. For the last two years, we’ve been ruled by liars and thieves. Fortunately, they didn’t manage to rig the elections.

[Update a few minutes later]

And what a contrast with the incoming speaker:

Was all this humility a pose or was it real? Of course, I don’t know. But I suspect it was a mix, as many things are. Still, I would like to think that Boehner is a genuinely humble man because he is a assuming the role of speaker at what is arguably the most critical moment of our history since WWII.

True humility would give him remarkable strength against his adversaries who have been destroying themselves and us with over-weaning hubris. As we all know, our country is in jeopardy of spinning into serious economic decline. And no doubt the world would go with it. Supposedly brilliant minds have tried to save us from this, but to no avail. In many ways things have gotten worse.

It’s clearly time for a little humility. No more Mr. Know-It-All, governing with a sense of entitlement out of all proportion to reality. Will Boehner be the Anti-Obama?

We sure need one. More thoughts here: “Is John Boehner the real deal?”

[Update a few minutes later]

Compare and contrast:

A man who brags that his humility is profound is not humble. A man who claims certainty that his nomination is the moment when the entire planet will begin healing is not humble.

Boehner, on the other hand, didn’t talk about himself being humble. Genuinely humble people rarely do. Boehner simply spoke humbly. Falsely humble people rarely do.

Sincerity is one of life’s most important attributes. If you can fake that, you have it made.

“Moderate” Muslims

This is encouraging. Not:

Even so-called moderate Muslim scholars praised 26-year-old Mumtaz Qadri for allegedly killing Punjab province Gov. Salman Taseer on Tuesday in a hail of gunfire while he was supposed to be protecting him as a bodyguard. Qadri later told authorities he acted because of Taseer’s vocal opposition to blasphemy laws that order death for those who insult Islam.

As Qadri was escorted into court in Islamabad, a rowdy crowd patted his back and kissed his cheek as lawyers at the scene threw flowers. On the way out, some 200 sympathizers chanted slogans in his favor, and the suspect stood at the back door of an armored police van and repeatedly yelled “God is great.”

Many other Pakistanis were appalled.

“Extremist thought has become so mainstream that what we need to question in Pakistan is what people think constitutes extremism now,” said Fasi Zaka, a 34-year-old radio host and columnist.

Well, I’m glad that many other Pakistanis were appalled, but how would they be categorized? I wonder what “moderate” Imam Rauf thinks?

The Great Pacific Garbage Patch


There is a lot of plastic trash floating in the Pacific Ocean, but claims that the “Great Garbage Patch” between California and Japan is twice the size of Texas are grossly exaggerated, according to an analysis by an Oregon State University scientist.

I’m shocked, shocked that an environmental issue has been overhyped by the media. This part had me scratching my head, though:

Calculations show that the amount of energy it would take to remove plastics from the ocean is roughly 250 times the mass of the plastic itself;

Huh? If they’re talking about the mass equivalence of the energy in an Einsteinian sense, that’s obviously nonsense, but I’m sure that’s not what they mean. But what do they mean?

A Beautiful Sight

Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead

[Afternoon update]

Something else to celebrate — the fall of the House of Waxman:

The committee was an unending source of ghastly new legislative proposals for regulatory manacles to be fastened on one or another sector of the economy , ideas that with any luck we may now be spared for the next two years. Thus it appears unlikely that the Republican-led committee will give its blessing to something called the Safe Cosmetics Act of 2010 (H.R. 5786), introduced by Reps. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill.), and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), which — by mandating that all compounds found in personal-care items at any detectable level be expensively tested for and disclosed on labels — could have added tens of thousands of dollars of cost overhead to that little herbal-soap business your sister is trying to start in her garage. (Fragrance expert Robert Tisserand explains why most small personal-care product makers would not survive if the bill passed). Nor is it likely that the new leadership of chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) will be in a hurry to adopt Rep. Schakowsky’s H.R. 1408, the Inclusive Home Design Act, which would mandate handicap accessibility features in most new private homes.

He really is one of the more odious creatures in that cesspool. It’s a shame that he didn’t lose his seat completely, but that’s probably a forlorn hope in his West LA district. But at least he’s been defanged.

An Incoherent Mess

Congressman Ruppersberger (D-MD) has an op-ed piece in the Baltimore Sun on space policy. Here’s his bottom line:

To give up our quest for the moon, Mars and beyond is not what is best for America’s space program. We need a new road map. We must commit to return to the moon through a program run by NASA in partnership with private companies that will invest in bigger, American-made engines to get us to the moon without relying on Russia. This plan must reinvigorate our space industrial base and inspire people, especially younger generations, to dream about our future in space.

While I sort of agree with this, it’s hard to see how he gets there from everything that came before. And what does he mean by “American-made engines”? Does he think that lack of engines is what’s keeping us bound to the planet? Is he referring to the fact that Atlas uses Russian engines? Is he aware that SpaceX has “invested in bigger, American-made engines,” and wants to build bigger ones yet? It’s hard to know.

The entire piece is full of vague allusions and non sequiturs like this. For example:

Today, America is slipping. The president announced plans to cancel Constellation, the plan to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. This move jeopardizes an $11.5 billion investment, puts thousands of skilled scientists out of work, and shakes the very heart of the space industrial base.

Kids aren’t growing up wanting to be astronauts. China is pumping money into its space plan and setting its sights on a moon landing by 2020.

The implication was that Constellation was actually going to return astronauts to the moon by 2020. Is he aware that this was unlikely to happen before 2030? Is he aware of the Augustine report at all? In complaining about the “investment,” is he familiar with the sunk-cost fallacy? Does he know very few of the people being laid off are “scientists” (perhaps none of them, in fact)? Where is the evidence that China is “pumping money in its space plan” or that it plans a moon landing by 2020? Landing what? People? No way, Jose. Maybe a robot, but so what?

And what does any of this have to do with kids growing up wanting to be astronauts? And why would we want them to? Given NASA’s trivial plans under Constellation, the vast majority of them would be disappointed.

He non-sequiturs on:

Satellites keep us safe. They globally track suspected terrorists, stop future attacks, and provide real-time data to our troops on the ground. At home, satellites allow us to operate GPS systems and cell phones.

None of this has anything to do with NASA, or astronauts or human spaceflight, or Constellation. Then he starts to reminisce:

Four years ago, I took over as chairman of the Technical and Tactical (T&T) Intelligence Subcommittee. We found undisciplined program management and skyrocketing costs, outdated export controls, no comprehensive space plan and inadequate spacecraft launch capability. We were giving Russia and China a head start. I feared that without swift action, the United States would never recover. We immediately started to work to maintain America’s dominance in space.

We passed several measures to ensure better oversight of satellite programs. In the fiscal 2010 Intelligence Authorization bill, we included a measure that forces programs to come in on time and on budget or face immediate cancellation unless critically important for national security. We encouraged agencies to only invest in space systems with proven technology to prevent costly delays when research and development is conducted on the spot. We also promoted greater collaboration between different agencies, sharing technology and saving money.

Well, that all sounds nice but, again, it has nothing to do with NASA and Constellation, or human spaceflight. And if he thinks these were good things, then he should have been leading the charge for the cancellation of Constellation, because it was far over budget and even farther behind schedule, and has nothing to do with national security, let alone being “critically important” for it. He goes on:

We relaxed the export regulations that stifled the American space industry and caused it to shrink to half of its size. The House passed language to ease burdensome restrictions when satellites and components are widely available and do not pose a national security risk. The bill stalled in the Senate, but the exposure got the attention of the Obama administration, which is reforming the regulations. This will allow U.S. space companies to sell globally and offer better products at lower prices here at home.

How did they “relax the export regulations”? As he said, the bill stalled in the Senate, and while the administration has made some noise about ITAR reform (I assume that’s what he’s referring to here, but as with much of the piece, it’s hard to tell), I don’t think that anything has actually happened yet.

Less progress has been made creating a long-term plan for space. While other countries see costs drop, the U.S. is spending more per rocket launch and battling more delays than anywhere else. That is because the United States has committed to a two-company alliance to handle all launches, despite the fact that other U.S. companies are showing promise. Commercial capabilities must be considered in certain cases, including launching earth observation satellites, transmitting images, and traveling to the International Space Station.

Ironically, the United States will soon rely on Russia to provide transportation for our astronauts to the Space Station. When the last shuttle launch takes place this year, the United States will have to pay Russia to bring American scientists to the Space Station. This must change.

What other countries are “seeing costs drop”? He doesn’t say. And are our costs high because of ULA (I assume that what he’s referring to with the “two-company alliance”)? Is he unaware of the existence of Orbital Sciences? I like the line about considering commercial capabilities — I assume with regard to the ISS travel, he’s referring to commercial crew? But why is he complaining about paying Russia? That was cooked in the day that Mike Griffin decided to waste billions on unneeded new rockets, half a decade ago. Did he complain then?

I wonder if he wrote this himself. If not, he should can the staffer that wrote it. I sure can’t tell what it is he proposes to do from it.

“Cut And Grow”

I like the sound of this:

Cantor laid out a three-part rule he by which he would seek to abide in the new Congress, which would entail asking every day if the Republican majority’s actions are focused on 1) job creation and economic growth, 2) cutting spending, and 3) shrinking government while protecting and expanding liberty. And if not, to ask, “Why are we doing it?”

The new “results-driven” majority would act quickly to advance its “cut-and-grow playbook” in the next few weeks leading up to President Obama’s State of the Union address on Jan. 25, focusing primarily on reducing government spending — bringing new measures to the floor each week — and doing away with excessive government regulations. “To this day we continue to see the drum beat towards more and more reach by this government and it is impeding job growth and impeding the access to capital for small business,” he said.

Let’s hope they can stick to it.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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