Jonathan Turley

A rare thing: a Democrat with integrity:

It is a great honor to represent the House of Representatives. We are prepared to litigate this matter as far as necessary. The question presented by this lawsuit is whether we will live in a system of shared and equal powers, as required by our Constitution, or whether we will continue to see the rise of a dominant Executive with sweeping unilateral powers. That is a question worthy of review and resolution in our federal courts.


Time To Euthanize The Lame Duck

Over at Bloomberg View, Stephen Carter writes that it’s time for Congress to go home. I agree. As he notes, lame-duck sessions are an artifact of of transportation technology.

When the Constitution was first ratified, no one could travel faster than the pace of a horse, and it could take weeks to travel from the farthest reaches of the young nation to its capital. Even in 1932, the last time the end date of a session of congress was stipulated, in the 20th Amendment, the fastest safe means of travel was by train. It still took days to travel across the country.

But in the 21st century, with the jet age over half a century old, it is possible to get all the way from all the way even from Anchorage or Honolulu to Washington DC in a single day. There is no longer any excuse for Congress to last more than a week past an election. In fact, I would propose that it be dissolved on the Friday following.

Whether the new Congress was sworn in the following week, or waited until the current January date would be of little moment, as far as I’m concerned. The Founders didn’t require or expect Congress to be in permanent session, and the Republic would survive (and even benefit from) a couple of months without one, absent a national emergency such as the need for a declaration of war. But to maintain the current situation, in which people who had just been repudiated at the polls are allowed to continue to vote, is abhorrent to the very notion of representative democracy, and (as history has shown) a recipe for profound and damaging mischief.

Because the current dates are now established in the Constitution, changing them will require another amendment, and historically, amending the Constitution is difficult. But with Republicans controlling both houses of the Congress and so many state houses (and the president having no say in the matter), the time hasn’t been better in a while for doing amendments in general. Many will be difficult to get past the requisite number of states, but I’ve never heard any good argument for why a Congressional session should long survive an election, so I think amending the 20th Amendment may have good prospects. But if there is one, let’s hear it.

NASA’s Mission To Nowhere

Francis seems to suffer from a lack of imagination:

Space analysts said planning and executing a manned mission to Mars would take years and cost hundreds of billions of dollars.

French wants NASA to head in that direction, and he sees next month’s Orion launch as the inaugural milestone in a long journey.

Still, he’s circumspect.

“Unless we build the rockets and test the spacecraft needed to get into deep space, sending humans to Mars will remain a dream for centuries to come,” French said. “Whether Orion will be the vehicle, and whether it will survive the brutal budgetary cycles of Washington politics for the many years ahead that it will need to be funded, is impossible to say. It’s hard to imagine any other method succeeding.

Space historians often suffer from this malady.

Feminist Bullies

Mollie Hemingway says it’s time to fight back.

[Update a while later]

No space for sewing circles.

[Update late morning]

Thoughts from Ken White.

I think the shirt was a poor choice for the occasion, and that a lot of people overreacted to it, and then a lot of people overreacted to the overreaction. That’s what happens with Social Justice Warriors.


Dear Democrats, don’t even think about trying to run away from him.

[Afternoon update]

The epic search of Diogenes for an honest man is over.

[Update a few minutes later]

It gets worse:

I think we’d probably like to get rid of the tax exempt status for health care benefits.

Note that McCain proposed doing just that in the 2008 election. His idea was that we would get rid of this exemption and instead give people an additional tax credit valued at the average cost of health insurance. Thus, people would be held harmless by the change, but we’d get rid of this government-made distortion in how employers pay their employees.

Barack Obama, get this, demagogued that plan and accused McCain of wanting to increase taxes on people.

And meanwhile, he schemed to achieve the same thing, except without that part about giving people an additional tax credit which would offset increased taxes, and, get this, without telling people he was getting rid of the tax exemption.

Once again — subverting democracy by completely destroying the concept of Consent of the Governed.

All in a day’s work.

[Update a while later]

Obama himself was leading the discussion of how to take away the tax benefits.

A Simpler Cheaper Health-Care Policy

It would be a huge improvement over the current mess:

I think that from the libertarian perspective, either of these proposals should be preferable to Obamacare. I’d even argue that they should both be more appealing to progressives. But the administration didn’t want simple, modest and stable; it wanted a massive, transformational legacy. Which is why, four years later, we’re still fighting about it.


Scott Walker

I had a beer with Stephen Fleming a few months ago, and we were discussing potential 2016 Republican presidential candidates. We both agreed that the Wisconsin governor should be a leading contender. Rich Cromwell agrees:

Does Walker sizzle? Not exactly. Is he a particularly charismatic speaker? No, he isn’t. But does he sit upon a throne made of the skulls of his enemies? Yes, yes he does.


Siebold’s Testimony

Sounds like he didn’t have any new information for the NTSB, but I’d still like to hear his description of the engine burn and vibration environment. Note, it doesn’t say he doesn’t remember the feathers being unlocked, but that he was unaware of it (i.e., cognizant of his experience right up until breakup).

[Update a few minutes later]

Andy Pasztor has the problematic history of the program. I haven’t read it yet.

[Update a while later]

OK, the WSJ piece seems to line up pretty well with my own understanding of the history. I talked to Jon Ostrower last week to give him some background, and he seems to have incorporated some of what I told him, though he didn’t quote me. Which is fine.

Congratulations To ESA

My twitter feed’s been exploding with tweets about the comet landing. Unfortunately, the harpoons apparently didn’t automatically deploy, so they don’t yet have a sure grab to the surface, which could make sampling operations difficult. The surface seems to be softer than expected. But they’re still working the problem.

This is good news for asteroid miners, though.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, hearing that they managed to anchor with the ice screws, so maybe harpoons are redundant now.

Lest We Forget

Today’s Remembrance Day is particularly poignant, the first one on a century anniversary from the beginning of the war. And I think that no one who fought it is with us any longer. My paternal grandfather was a veteran. He had emigrated from Eastern Europe as a young man, and then returned to fight in France.

Poppies In England

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.

The Asteroid Retrieval Mission

Lee Billings describes the ARM policy mess.

It’s a mission they came up with for an overpriced, non-existent and unnecessary rocket looking for a mission. And note this rationale:

She and other NASA officials note that the advanced propulsion required for ARM would be enabling technology for a broad range of future missions and that ARM would be a crucial test for many deep-space activities crucial for someday reaching Mars. And it would do all this while keeping astronauts sufficiently close to home so that if something goes wrong, they could attempt an emergency return to Earth.

Safety is the highest priority.