This Morning’s Space Hearing

Here’s a story by Dan Leone, in which Mo Brooks makes an historical ass of himself:

One SLS supporter, Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Ala.), said he was “astonished” that Bolden would claim the administration of U.S. President Barack Obama had nothing to do with the current gap in U.S. human spaceflight capability. Brooks’ district includes NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, which is leading the SLS effort.

“When the space shuttle was mothballed [in 2011], President Obama was president of the United States,” Brooks said. “He could have made the decision to continue to use the space shuttle, or to continue to keep it available in the event of an emergency. He chose not to.”

He had no practical choice, Congressman. The point of no return on the program was reached before Obama took office. The parts needed to keep it flying were already out of production, and the cost of restarting it would have been astronomical, if it could be done at all. It makes me weep to see such monumental ignorance from the people who are running space policy on the Hill.

But Dan misses what is, to me, the big story from the hearing. Interestingly, Brooks office released a transcript late in the day:

Congressman Brooks:… What would be the consequences to the operational capabilities of the Space Station if within the next year, Russia chooses to deny us access by no longer allowing us to hitch a ride on their rockets?

Administrator Bolden:…The partners would probably have to shut the Space Station down…

Congressman Brooks: If the Space Station is shut down for an extended period of time, say a few years more or less?

Administrator Bolden: I will go to the President and recommend that we terminate SLS and Orion…

Congressman Brooks: Let me make sure I understand the sequence of events from your testimony. You correct me if I err. If the Russians deny us access to the International Space Station, it’s your testimony that because of what services we provide to the International Space Station, you would have to shut it down. And if the International Space Station is shut down, you in turn would then see no reason to have the Space Launch System or Orion, so is it fair for me to infer that you would then recommend that those programs be shut down too?

They should be, regardless of what the Russians do. But this is stupid. We have invested over a hundred billion dollars in the ISS. It is only now starting to do any significant research. What Bolden is saying that he would abandon it, rather than risk flying without an abort system, even though we flew Shuttle without an abort system for thirty years. I’d like to think that he wouldn’t actually do that — that he’d decide to just ask SpaceX how soon they could start flying people to keep the program going. I hope that he was just bluffing to try to get Congress to properly fund Commercial Crew, because if he isn’t, it’s maddening. If he’s serious, it indicates that he’s completely unserious about spaceflight. And of course, someone should write a book about that.

[Friday-morning update]

Jeff Foust has the story now over at Space Politics.

[Mid-morning update]

Here’s another report, from Marcia Smith.

Saturated Fat

The science is (finally) settled:

Since the 1970s almost everyone in this country has been subjected to a barrage of propaganda about saturated fat. It was bad for you; it would kill you. Never mind that much of the nonsaturated fat was in the form of trans fats, now demonstrated to be harmful. Never mind that many polyunsaturated fats are chemically extracted oils that may also, in the long run, be shown to be problematic.

Never mind, too, that the industry’s idea of “low fat” became the emblematic SnackWell’s and other highly processed “low-fat” carbs (a substitution that is probably the single most important factor in our overweight/obesity problem), as well as reduced fat and even fat-free dairy, on which it made billions of dollars. (How you could produce fat-free “sour cream” is something worth contemplating.)

But let’s not cry over the chicharrones or even nicely buttered toast we passed up. And let’s not think about the literally millions of people who are repelled by fat, not because it doesn’t taste good (any chef will tell you that “fat is flavor”) but because they have been brainwashed.

And this junk-science nutritional advice almost certainly contributed to my father’s death thirty-five years ago. I hope, at some point, that they stop putting all the “fat free” labels in the candy section.

A Chinese-Russian Alliance?

Sanctions may make it happen:

…we may undo the work of the Cold War era and stand godfather to a new Sino-Russian alliance. This without doubt would be the stupidest move in the history of American foreign policy. Russia’s economy is weak, but Russia has considerable latent resources in military technology. Russia has a limitless market for natural resources in China and a prospective partner in military technology. If we continue to dismantle our defense capacity while Russia and China nourish theirs, we will be in deep trouble.

The best response to Putin’s challenge would be a massive increase in defense R&D, with a view to neutralizing Russia’s perceived areas of strength in missile and air defense technology (remember how SDI cowed Gorbachev in the 1980s?). That would command China’s respect and reduce Russia’s attractiveness as a prospective partner. The Crimea was, is, and will be Russian, and it’s pointless to cry over milk that was spilled in 1783. We need to think several moves ahead on the chessboard. Otherwise, Chancellor Merkel is quite right: sanctions are pointless.

That would include innovations in Milspace, something that apparently only DARPA is capable of.

If A Politician’s For Gun Control

“…it doesn’t prove he’s a crook. But that’s the way to bet.”

[Update a couple minutes later]

Democrats are a criminal organization masquerading as a political party.

This would be pretty big news if it were Republicans. And as usual, in most of the stories, you have to play “Guess That Party!”

[Update a few minutes later]

Gee, the mayor of Charlotte was arrested for corruption? What party could he possibly be? You’d never be able to figure it out from the story, though you can guess. Because he’s a crook.

[Update late morning]

Time to break out the RICO statute and break up the Democrats.

If Ken Starr hadn’t been such a blithering incompetent, he’d have used RICO against the Clinton machine in the nineties.

[Update a few minutes later]

Was Yee a full-blown gun runner for the Russians and Islamist terrorist groups? Looks like it.

Extreme Weather Censors

Thoughts on Nate Silver’s recent hire:

Last July, when he testified before a Senate Committee examining climate change, Pielke even raised the hackles of President Obama’s science adviser, John Holdren. Perhaps that’s because Obama himself resorts when convenient to claiming that extreme weather has become more frequent and intense.

In any case, Holdren recently took the stunning step of telling Congress that Pielke was outside “mainstream scientific opinion” — although the evidence Holdren provided pertained only to droughts and didn’t actually refute Pielke at all.

As the CU professor points out, imagine the outcry if George W. Bush’s science adviser had used his prestige in an attempt to smear an academic.

Yes, imagine.

Reusable Falcons

Jeff Foust mined Gwynne Shotwell’s Space Show interview for some interesting nuggets. Here’s what I found interesting:

Despite concerns about US access to the ISS given current tensions with Russia and NASA’s current reliance on Soyuz, Shotwell said she didn’t think it was feasible to greatly accelerate the development of a crewed Dragon. “We proposed a pretty forward-leaning program” for commercial crew, she said. “I don’t want to say that we couldn’t speed things up: we probably could, but it would have to be in lockstep with NASA.” She added that SpaceX current believes it can have a crewed Dragon ready “a little bit faster” than current NASA plans for flights in late 2016 or early 2017. [Emphasis added]

I’m pretty sure that if NASA went to her and Elon and said, “we want to fly this year, and we’re willing to do it without the abort system,” they’d be able to do it.

The Real Existential Judicial Threat To ObamaCare

Hobby Lobby is small potatoes compared to Halbig:

…the Obama administration fears that if consumers in 34 states experience the full cost of Obamacare, Congress will have no choice but to reopen the law. It has therefore offered numerous arguments in defense of its unauthorized spending and taxes – not because any of these arguments have merit, but because none of them do.

Nevertheless, a district court ruled against the Halbig plaintiffs based on a severely distorted view of Congress’ intent. The court wrote, “there is no evidence that either the House or the Senate considered making tax credits dependent upon whether a state participated in the Exchanges.”

On the contrary, the evidence is clear. The words of the statute themselves show that both chambers not only considered but approved that idea. The senators who enacted Obamacare routinely supported and enacted legislation conditioning health-insurance tax credits and other assistance on states establishing exchanges or taking other actions. The seven members of Congress most responsible for Obamacare – former Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee chairman Tom Harkin (D-Ia.), then-House Ways & Means Committee chairman Sander Levin (D-Mich.), then-House Education & Workforce Committee chairman George Miller (D-Calif.), then-House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), and then-House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) – even admit in an amicus brief that conditioning subsidies on states establishing exchanges was part of the congressional debate. Finally, when House Democrats first read the Senate-passed bill – what we now call Obamacare – in 2010, they recognized that it conditions subsidies on states establishing exchanges, and complained that this feature would allow recalcitrant states to block those subsidies. In this instance at least, Congress knew what it was enacting.

This may be the part of the train wreck where it goes off the bridge into the gorge. And it will happen this summer, leading up to the election.

[Update early afternoon]

“What we have here is language that doesn’t seem malleable in any way, shape or form.”

I should note that when I wrote the first part of this post, I thought that the case was already before SCOTUS, but the arguments made this morning are apparently just before an appellate court. But it will probably go to SCOTUS as some point, regardless of that decision.

The “Phony” IRS Scandal

A former legal counsel for the IRS says it’s a 9.5 on a scale of one to ten. And the fear that we’ll never find out what happened is a legitimate one, since what is actually phony is not the scandal, but the investigation:

When the IRS inspector general found improper targeting of conservative groups in the Cincinnati office, Obama called the conduct “inexcusable.” Last month, though, he told Bill O’Reilly there was not a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS.

The problem is the same one that gave birth to the post-Watergate law. If Justice finds no higher-ups were involved in the IRS misconduct, would that finding have credibility with the public? Would an outside probe have more credibility, or spiral out of control?

With the independent counsel law dead and buried, we’re not likely to find out.

This administration is getting away with things that Nixon could only dream of.

Hillary Clinton

You’re the problem.”

The advice to her is laughable, though:

Nothing in Hillary Clinton’s past suggests she’s ever been that dissatisfied with the way Washington and/or the country works. For pete’s sake, while secretary of state, she had Huma Abedin under a “special contract” that allowed her to be a consultant for private clients while keeping her $135,000-per-year State Department job.

The status quo has been very, very, very good for the Clintons. They have a net worth estimated at $55 million; Hillary Clinton’s speaking fee begins at $200,000, with Wall Street banks and private-equity firms most frequently picking up the tab: Goldman Sachs, KKR, the Caryle Group. Far from an impassioned reformer, eager to overhaul a system of crony capitalism and back-scratching, Hillary Clinton is our political and economic status quo in human form.

Expecting Hillary Clinton to be a transformative reformer of Washington is like expecting Donald Trump to become a Bolshevik, Kim Jong Un to renounce power and become a monk, or the New York Yankees to push for the end of free agency in baseball. Powerful people rarely if ever decide to completely overhaul the system that made them powerful.

Beyond that, the notion that she can somehow transmogrify herself into someone “warm,” and “human” is ludicrous.

The Conditions Of Omar

The Syrian Christians (who survive) are being forced to convert:

Just the other day in Pakistan, Christians “began the construction of a church on land donated by the Christian Akber Masih, a resident in the area. They built the walls of the building and placed a cross in front of the main gate of the small construction yard.” But “when a large group of Islamic extremists saw the Christian symbol they arrived unexpectedly with bulldozers and started demolishing the building.” Although the Christians notified police and authorities, “the perpetrators were not arrested.” As for the aggrieved Christians, they “have received threats and have to abandon the idea of the project to build a church.”

Thanks to Western intervention in the colonial era, the Conditions largely disappeared — not least because Muslim leaders and elites were themselves Westernizing. But today, as Muslims turn back to their Islamic heritage and its teachings — not least because Western leaders and elites are urging them to in the name of multiculturalism, if not moral relativism — the Conditions are returning. And woe to the Christian minority who dares break them by exercising religious freedom — what I call the “How Dare You?” phenomenon, which is responsible for the overwhelming majority of Islamic attacks on non-Muslims.

This is par for the course, and how Islam spread in the first place, not voluntarily through the evangelical preaching of its virtues and spiritual benefits. It was, in fact, the root cause of the Crusades.