Eight Years Ago Today

Columbia was torn apart in a plasma hurricane over an early-morning Texas sky, with seven crew aboard.

My immediate thoughts were recorded here for posterity. Some thought them heartless, but I disagreed.

That event precipitated the recent chaos in space policy, because the Bush administration made a commitment to end the Shuttle program last year (though it has been extended into this one) without a realistic plan for replacing it. The Obama administration came up with one last year, but the porkers in Congress insist on continuing to waste money on dedicated NASA solutions that will almost certainly never fly. But this will all have to come to a head, in months if not weeks, when the fiscal reality finally hits NASA along with the rest of the federal government.

I had more thoughts a little later on the flight director’s dilemma.

Here’s a haiku contest I hosted shortly afterward on the subject.

Meanwhile, on a lighter note, here’s a golden oldie from that era about the hypersensitive left:

Leftist Groups Decry NASA Demonization

February 5, 2003


A number of progressive, liberal, and socialist organizations have banded together to protest the latest slanderous attack on them, and their noble unquestionable principles, this time by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Some of the more prominent groups include Postmodernists for Peace, the World People’s Liberation Front, the Liberation Front Of The People of the World, Socialists International, the American Communist Party, International ANSWER, Stalinists for Trotsky, Trotskyites for Chomsky, the NAALPOC (National Association for the Advancement of Liberal People Of Color), the ACLU, and the Green and Democratic parties.

In a press conference in Clear Lake City, outside the front gates of the NASA Johnson Space Center, Emilio Litella, the spokesman for the newly formed “Coalition For Social Justice And Leftist Anti-Defamation” complained that even before the investigation into the Columbia disaster was completed, they were being blamed for it.

“NASA has already started to leak rumors that it was caused by the left wing,” he said. “Once again, we’re being unfairly libeled by reactionary conservatives with an anti-human, anti-peace agenda. It’s obvious that this is part of an ongoing effort by right-wing baby-killing pencil-necked geeks to demonize all progressive forces, just as our pro-peace, no-war-for-oil message is starting to resonate with the American people, on the eve of a brutal and unjust war on the people of Iraq and Palestine.”

In Washington, Senate Minority Leader Tom Daschle, a noted expert on demonization of progressive forces by the conservative media, was asked if the Democrats agreed with this complaint.

In a soft, pained, reasonable-sounding-yet-whiny voice, he replied, “Well, I have to say that I’m very disappointed at this rush to judgement on the part of the space agency. They claim to be objective, and that they aren’t going to say anything definitive until the investigation is complete, but anyone who reads the papers knows the direction that the investigation has been going.”

“Then shrill voices on talk radio and the internet pick it up, and make it sound as though those of us who are for truly compassionate policies, and are against tax cuts for the rich, are responsible for the destruction of the space shuttle. It’s just a continuation of the politics of personal destruction.”

“I and my family have received several death threats about this in the past hour alone, and that’s not even considering the normal daily ones from Bob Torricelli and Jim Jeffords. That was most disappointing.”

Senator Hillary Clinton, who happened to be in Mr. Daschle’s office measuring the draperies, added, “It’s just part of the ongoing vast, right-wing conspiracy against me and my husband, that I still wish that some enterprising reporter would go and dig up the real story on, instead of tarring voices for fairness with innuendo about blowing up space shuttles.”

When asked if she had ever had any involvement with the nation’s space program, she replied, “Well, I did want to be an astronaut, before I went through the period when I wanted to be a Marine, but the reactionary neanderthal rat-bastards at the space agency told me that girls need not apply. But other than that, I’m afraid I don’t recall.”

Back in Clear Lake, following the press conference, in response to queries, Kent Lovebreed, a crewcut spokesman from NASA’s Public Affairs Office, responded, “We regret that anyone feels that they’re under personal attack by our critical investigation into the cause of Saturday’s tragedy. We wouldn’t want to imply that there is anything sinister here. We are simply objective scientists and engineers, gathering the evidence, and following the trail wherever it leads. Right now, unfortunately, the left wing has to be considered the leading cause of that catastrophe.”

Asked if, as a result of the preliminary results of the investigation, NASA was considering laying down a design requirement that all future space vehicles have only right wings, he said, “It’s premature to make any kind of recommendation like that, but in light of our experience now, it certainly has to be one of the options on the table.”

[Copyright 2003 by Rand Simberg]

Some things never change.

[Update late afternoon]

Clark Lindsey has collected some more links.

“A Harmless Enemy”

Thoughts from Bernard Lewis on the problem with the administration’s foreign policy, particularly in the Middle East:

Is Egypt 2011 like Iran 1979? Lewis: “Yes, there are certain similarities. I hope we don’t repeat the same mistakes.” The Carter administration handled events in Iran “poorly.”

The Obama administration should ponder something, as should we all: “At the moment, the general perception, in much of the Middle East, is that the United States is an unreliable friend and a harmless enemy. I think we want to give the exact opposite impression”: one of being a reliable friend and a dangerous enemy. “That is the way to be perceived.”


Caught With Their Briefs Down

As I wrote yesterday, I was utterly unsurprised by the ruling on ObamaCare (well, OK, I was a little pleasantly surprised at its scope in basically shutting down the entire enterprise). We had, after all, been telling these totalitarians for many months that what they proposed was clearly far beyond the reach of the Commerce Clause. But Jen Rubin notes that apparently the left had been paying no attention to us (“Are you serious? Are you serious?!“) and was very surprised, to the point that they are incoherent and have no actual arguments against it:

The ruling is. . . um. . . thinking of a case liberals hate. . . um. . . just like Bush v. Gore! (Except it has nothing to do with the Equal Protection Clause or any other aspect of that case.) It is, we are told, “curious,” “odd,” or “unconventional.”

These are complaints, not legal arguments. And they suggest that the left was totally unprepared for the constitutional attack on their beloved handiwork. After all, the recent mocking by the left of conservatives’ reverence for the Constitution suggests they are mystified that a 200-year old document could get in the way of their historic achievement. They are truly nonplussed, and so they vamp, not with reasoned analysis but with an outpouring of adjectives.

Once again, we see that the beliefs of the left are hot-house plants. They are nurtured in the protective cocoons of academia, the leftstream media and Manhattan and DC salons, where they are never challenged, and thus never develop proper defenses against the day that they must confront the real world. Non-leftists, on the other hand, must continually make their cases and hone their arguments, which makes the inevitable confrontation all the bloodier when they are ultimately exposed to harsh reality. And of course, some of the most exsanguinatory encounters occur on Fox News, because it’s the only place that puts them both in the same room.

[Update a while later]

The Constitutional moment: ObamaCare meets Madison and Marshall.

This crowd has needed a “constitutional moment” for about century.

I wish that the court would overturn Wickard, but that may have to await some new Justices from a Republican president who actually believes in originalism.

[Update a while later]

As for those on the left who are accusing Judge Vinson of “judicial activism,” they only demonstrate their ignorance of the meaning of that phrase. Simply put, “judicial activism” is the making of new law out of whole cloth via judicial ruling (Roe v Wade being almost a canonical example), not declaring a law unconstitutional.

No Surprise To Me

A judge has ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional in its entirety. Praise be to the morons on the Hill who decided there was no room in a bill of over 2000 pages for a severability clause.

I haven’t had time to read the ruling obviously, but I’m sure that others are doing so, and will have thoughts. It isn’t clear whether or not the ruling enjoins the government from enforcing the law, but I’m pretty sure that this will accelerate SCOTUS review.

Oh, and Queen Nancy? Remember when someone asked you about the constitutionality of this atrocity, and you asked if they were serious? I think this answers that question.

[Update a few minutes later]

Professor Jacobson weighs in:

Judge Vinson found that there was no need for an injunction, since the declaratory judgment that the entire law was invalid was sufficient. In effect, there is nothing left to enjoin, since no part of the law survived. By contrast, in the ruling in Virginia last year invalidating the mandate, the Judge severed the mandate from the rest of the law (but denied an injunction preventing the rest of the law from taking effect).

In this sense, this decision is far more sweeping than the Virginia case, and presents a greater problem for the Obama administration which arguably does not have authority to implement any aspect of Obamacare.

In a sensible world of course, in which the Democrats had any political integrity, this would accelerate the momentum toward repeal. I mean, if I had already delegated my oath of office to the courts, and got such a devastating rebuke, I’d certainly reconsider if my vote had been wise. And a president who wasn’t power mad would be willing to acknowledge his mistake as well, and willingly rectify it with his signature on a repeal bill.

But that’s not the world we live in.

[Update a couple minutes later]

Americans for Limited Government has a release:

For Immediate Release Contact: Rick Manning (press); Rebekah Rast (TV & radio)

January 31, 2011
Phone: (703) 383-0880

Florida Judge Rules ObamaCare Unconstitutional, ALG Responds

January 31st, 2011, Fairfax, VA—Bill Wilson, President of Americans for Limited Government, released the following statement after Florida Judge Vinson ruled ObamaCare unconstitutional.

“For the second time, the federal courts have ruled that the federal government’s takeover of the health care system is unconstitutional. Congress needs to act now to defund the regulation writing on this unconstitutional law to prevent further damage from being done to our nation’s health care system. It is clear with a majority of states suing to stop the law, that it is unpopular, unconstitutional and unenforceable. Congress needs to act now to correct this mistake.”

With all Americans increasingly concerned about the unsustainable debt Obama and his cohorts have imposed on taxpayers, stopping any further advance of ObamaCare is vital to getting our fiscal house in order. First, stop any further regulation or dictates to the states. Second, repeal the law outright. And finally, move with common sense, market-based proposals to make the necessary repairs. Judge Vinson, following the ruling by Judge Hudson, has done a great service to the American people by beginning this crucial process.”

Indeed he has.

[Update a couple minutes later]

You know, it’s no surprise that unconstitutional bills get passed by a congress that contains members of a brain trust like Chuck Schumer:

“We have three branches of the government: we have a House, we have a Senate and we have a President…”

Hey, knowing basic civics is for the little people.

[Update a while later]

A summary of the decision by Dave Kopel.

I should note that it is becoming more clear now that the judge’s order was in effect a de facto stay against the law, so any enforcement of it by the administration will be in violation of that order. This should go to appellate like a rocket, if it doesn’t go straight to SCOTUS (as a result of the conflicting rulings from other districts).

[Update a while later]

Well, that didn’t take very long. According to the totalitarians, it is an act of judicial overreach and activism to point out that the Constitution places limits on the powers of the federal government.

Expect To See A Lot More Of This

People are starting to point out the potential similarities between 1979 Iran and 2011 Egypt. Thoughts from Michael Ledeen, Victor Davis Hanson, and Flopping Aces.

The Shah was no saint, but is Iran and the rest of the world better off, three decades later (or at any time over the past thirty years) for having deposed him and replaced him with a brutal theocracy? This is a situation where one should hope for the best, but fear the worst. And the history of that part of the world doesn’t give great cause for optimism. And the fact that we (incredibly as that may be) seem to have a president even more lacking feck than Jimmy Carter just depresses all the more.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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