McCain’s office joined Democrats in encouraging IRS to harass conservatives

Working for the Democratic Party: Newly released documents show that an official working for Senator John McCain’s (R-Arizona) joined the Democrats in encouraging the IRS to harass conservative groups.

Judicial Watch today released newly obtained internal IRS documents, including material revealing that Sen. John McCain’s former staff director and chief counsel on the Senate Homeland Security Permanent Subcommittee, Henry Kerner, urged top IRS officials, including then-director of exempt organizations Lois Lerner, to “audit so many that it becomes financially ruinous.” [emphasis mine]

Want to what really stinks about this? The meeting where McCain’s staffer suggested this came only ten days before Lois Lerner “admitted that the IRS had a policy of improperly and deliberately delaying applications for tax-exempt status from conservative non-profit groups.” In other words, McCain was all-in with the idea of weaponizing the IRS for political purposes.

Want to what stinks even more? Henry Kerner was appointed by President Trump in 2017 to take over the Office of Special Council, a federal office focused on protecting whistleblowers while acting as a watchdog to prevent partisan political action by government agencies, in violation of the Hatch Act.

Boy, that sure is draining the swamp, President Trump. Keep at it!

Share

Too much hate

I will admit that my posting right now is somewhat lax, mostly because I am depressed and appalled at the level of hate and vitriol coming from the left, against Trump, against his family and children, against Republicans, against anyone who dares express an opinion or take an action that the left disagrees with.

The stories below are only a very very very small sample of similar stories in the past two weeks.

The last story has one further important detail: One of the thugs who harassed Nielsen in the restaurant also works at the Department of Justice.

Civilized people do not act this way. It is beyond the pale, and if it doesn’t stop some very bad things are going to happen, and happen very soon.

Much of this recent hate is centered on Trump’s tough immigration policy, and is generally based on ignorance and emotion, or downright disinformation. Somehow, all the problems we face are Trump’s fault, even though Trump’s arrest policy for illegal immigrants is merely the same policy followed by the Obama administration, but enforced in a more aggressive manner. (Unlike under Obama, no one is being released under their own recognizance.) It is also a policy that is following laws written and passed back in 2008, and signed by Republican president George Bush.

It is perfectly reasonable to disagree with Trump’s approach on immigration and to try to get it changed. Readers of this website know that I myself disagree strongly with Trump on many issues, and have had decidedly mixed opinions so far about the success or failure of his presidency.

To threaten, harass, shout curses, and menace the children of lawmakers over these issues however is unacceptable. It does not solve anything, and can only lead to worse injustices.

I find this situation even more depressing because I do not see anything changing for the better. Instead, I see it getting worse, day by day. The left will simply not accept the results of the 2016 election, and appears willing to do anything to overturn it. Nor do I see the type of voter groundswell necessary that will tell the leaders on the left that this behavior must stop. Their voters remain firmly on their side, and if anything, quite willing to endorse the hate and invective being spouted by their leaders.

So, forgive me if I am “going Galt” over this. I am an optimist at heart, and like to write about positive human endeavors. Unfortunately, it is harder to spot these positive endeavors when the culture is overwhelmed by a dust storm of hate.

Share

Obama administration ordered a “stand down” of work to stop Russian election interference

The real Russian collusion: When it was evident that the Russians were trying to use the internet to interfere with the election in August 2016, the Obama administration instead ordered a “stand down” of any work that might have stopped that interference.

Former President Barack Obama’s cybersecurity czar confirmed Wednesday that former national security adviser Susan Rice told him to “stand down” in response to Russian cyber attacks during the 2016 presidential campaign.

Michael Daniel, whose official title was “cybersecurity coordinator,” confirmed the stand-down order during a Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing held to review the Obama and President Donald Trump’s administrations’ policy response to Russian election interference.

…“Don’t get ahead of us,” [Rice] told Daniel in a meeting in August 2016, according to the book.

Daniel informed his staff of the order, much to their frustration. “I was incredulous and in disbelief,” Daniel Prieto, who worked under Daniel, is quoted saying in “Russian Roulette.”

“Why the hell are we standing down? Michael, can you help us understand?” Prieto asked.

It appears that the Obama administration wanted the Russians to interfere with the election, and this desire was part of their effort at the FBI to frame the Russian collusion story on Trump. They needed the interference to justify the FBI Russian investigation, which had just been instigated in late July 2016. Stopping the Russians (and defending the American electoral process) was therefore not in their interest.

Share

UAE signs deal with Russia for UAE astronaut flight

The new colonial movement: The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Russia signed an agreement this week to fly an UAE astronaut on a Russian Soyuz capsule to ISS in April 2019.

The mission will be a standard 10-day tourist mission, though of course they are not describing it like that. The announcement also does not state if the UAE paid Russia for this flight, but I expect so, just like any tourist flight. The price however was likely a lot less than Russia has been squeezing from the U.S. for its astronaut flights. UAE had also been discussing this with China, and the competition probably forced Russia to lower its price.

I had been hoping that one of the U.S.’s commercial capsules could have gotten this business, but because of the delays NASA has imposed on their initial launches, they haven’t yet flown, so they lost the chance to compete for this.

Share

European satellite designed to test space junk removal released from ISS

Europe’s RemoveDEBRIS satellite was released from ISS yesterday in preparation for its testing a variety of technologies for removing and deorbiting space junk.

The article at the link does a terrible job trying to describe this mission. Better to return to a news story from 2016, when Europe first announced this project. The video from that story, embedded below the fold, does an excellent job detailing the four experiments, which are mostly aimed at testing technologies that could be added to satellites that would make either their capture or deorbit easier.

Maybe the most interesting aspect of this mission however is how it got into space. It was launched as part of a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. It was deployed by NanoRacks, using its privately developed deployment system attached to Japan’s Kibo module.

Launch from ISS means that the satellite’s deployment and orbit were far more controllable than if it had been launched directly into space as a secondary payload during a rocket launch. NanoRacks is selling this approach commercially, and this satellite is the largest deployed by them to date.
» Read more

Share

Deorbit soon for China’s second test space station module?

China has lowered the orbit of Tiangong-2, its second test space station module, suggesting that they intend to deorbit the station in a controlled manner in the near future.

Orbital information published by the U.S. Strategic Command’s Joint Force Space Component Command, through the Joint Space Operations Center, indicates that Tiangong-2 has moved from an altitude of around 380 by 386 kilometers down to 292 by 297 kilometers.

No announcement regarding the status of the Tiangong-2 space lab has been made. The China Manned Space Engineering Office (CMSE), which manages China’s human spaceflight and space station related missions, did not respond to a SpaceNews request for comment.

Jonathan McDowell, an astrophysicist at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, told SpaceNews that, “it seems likely that the lowering of Tiangong-2’s orbit is the first step in safely disposing of it.”

Like Tiangong-1, this module was built to test a variety of technologies required for China’s full size station, planned for assembly in the next two years. Unlike Tiangong-1, they have not lost control of it, so they will be able to deorbit it properly.

Share

On the radio

I will be spending a half hour today at 5:05 pm (Central) with Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas, aired on 790-AM KFYO in Lubbock, 1470-AM KYYW in Abilene, and 1290-AM KWFS in Wichita Falls.

The subject will be the recent successful legal push back by conservatives against the oppressive lies from the left, as outlined in my post earlier this week, Some victories against modern leftist oppression.

And it appears that this push back is gaining steam, something we will certainly discuss.

Share

Martian dust storm goes global

Data from orbit and from Curiosity at Gale Crater confirms that the dust storm that has shut down Opportunity is now a global storm, encircling Mars.

The Martian dust storm has grown in size and is now officially a “planet-encircling” (or “global”) dust event.

Though Curiosity is on the other side of Mars from Opportunity, dust has steadily increased over it, more than doubling over the weekend. The sunlight-blocking haze, called “tau,” is now above 8.0 at Gale Crater — the highest tau the mission has ever recorded. Tau was last measured near 11 over Opportunity, thick enough that accurate measurements are no longer possible for Mars’ oldest active rover.

This will be first global storm to occur on Mars since Curiosity landed in 2012, thus giving scientists the best opportunity to study such an event.

Meanwhile, Opportunity remains silent. This does not mean it is dead, but that it doesn’t have enough sunlight to charge its batteries. It might die during this storm if the storm lasts long enough, but we won’t know one way or the other until the storm finally eases.

Share

Senate kills House bill to cut $15 billion from passed $300 billion spending deal

Failure theater: The Senate today killed a House bill that would have cut $15 billion from the $300 billion spending deal passed in March.

In a 48-50 vote, senators failed to discharge the measure from committee. A majority vote was needed.

GOP Sens. Richard Burr (N.C.) and Susan Collins (Maine) joined 48 members of the Democratic caucus in voting against bringing up the bill. “My belief … is that it’s the job of Congress to comb through these accounts and that’s what we do on the appropriations committee,” Collins said.

The vote is a blow to conservatives and the White House, who pushed the package in response to backlash from the GOP base over a mammoth rescissions package passed in March.

I wish Burr and Collins would simply switch parties. At least that way there would be no way for them to fool anyone into thinking they believe in smaller government or controlling spending.

The bill was garbage anyway, as it really did little to really promote smaller government or controlled spending. All it did was give House Republicans a fake talking point when they campaign for re-election in the fall. “I fought to cut the budget!” they will scream, citing the House vote that passed the bill, even though they all knew the bill did little, and that it was almost certain the Senate would kill it.

Share

Congressman unmasks two unnamed anti-Trump FBI agents in IG report

Congressman Mark Meadows (R-North Carolina) yesterday identified two of the FBI agents described in the inspector general’s report as having expressed anti-Trump and pro-Clinton biases in many texts.

The previously unnamed FBI officials — “FBI Attorney 2” and “Agent 5” — are Kevin Clinesmith and Sally Moyer, respectively, according to House Judiciary Committee member Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC), who revealed their identities over the objection of the FBI during a hearing on the IG’s findings.

The two were assigned to the bureau’s Hillary Clinton email investigation, according to the IG’s report, while Clinesmith also later worked as a top lawyer on the Trump-Russia investigation and the special-counsel probe.

Clinesmith sent a number of pro-Clinton, anti-Trump political messages over the FBI’s computer system, which the report said “raised concerns about potential bias” that may have impacted the investigation. Likewise, the report cited Moyer rooting for Clinton and bashing Trump during the 2016 campaign.

Meadows noted that the reasons given by the FBI to inspector general Horowitz for hiding their identities were completely bogus.

Horowitz testified that the FBI was withholding the names of the other rogue agents from Congress and the public because “they work on counterintelligence” and can’t be exposed.

But Meadows argued that both Clinesmith and Moyer work for the FBI’s office of legal counsel, and are no longer in “counterintelligence,” as the FBI claimed. “They don’t work in counterintelligence,” Meadows said in an exchange with Horowitz. “If that’s the reason the FBI is giving, they’re giving you false information, because they work for the general counsel.”

Where is Trump? As far as I can tell, these agents are still employed at the FBI (as is Peter Strzok), despite the fact that their documented conduct violated numerous FBI regulations related to employee conduct. Strzok might have been escorted from the FBI yesterday, but he is still on the payroll.

Share

Trump replaces Obama’s oceans policy

President Trump yesterday issued an executive order replacing the oceans policy Obama had established with a policy that emphasizes “…the economy, security, global competitiveness, and well-being of the United States.”

The full executive order is here. The Science article at the link above not surprisingly provides quotes from a number of Trump opponents, including the head of NOAA during Obama’s administration, to express their opposition to this change.

One author of the Obama oceans policy is disappointed. The Trump policy “represents a significant step backward, a throwback to the 1960s when the primary focus was on aggressively expanding the use of the ocean with the assumption that it is so immense, so bountiful that it must be inexhaustible,” marine ecologist Jane Lubchenco, who led the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Obama, tells ScienceInsider. “We learned through painful experience that the ocean is indeed exhaustible, but we also learned that if we are smart about how we use the ocean, it can provide a wealth of benefits for decades and decades.”

Obama’s policy had emphasized “stewardship,” she notes—a word not used in the new order. Trump “blatantly rejects this all-important focus on stewardship,” Lubchenco says. “Put another way, the policy reflects a shift from ‘use it without using it up’ to a very short-sighted and cavalier ‘use it aggressively and irresponsibly.’”

Lubchenco is significantly overstating the negatives of Trump’s new policy. Its language is hardly “aggressive” or “irresponsible.” It does shift the focus from restricting the use of the oceans by regulation to encouraging their use for the “economic, security, and environmental benefits for present and future generations of Americans.” It that context the policy recognizes that “clean, healthy waters” are essential to provide those benefits.

I suspect that little will really change with this order. It will take years, if ever, to get the federal bureaucracy to shift its culture from controlling what Americans do to working with them. Nonetheless, this order demonstrates that Trump, unlike the past two Republican presidents, is serious about shifting federal policy in a conservative and less intrusive direction. The Bushes mouthed conservative ideas, but did little to stop the over-regulation imposed by the federal government. Bush Jr was especially worthless, as he did practically nothing to overturn the regulations that Clinton imposed, and in many ways supplemented or encouraged more regulation.

Share

Ryugu seen from 150-200 miles

Ryugu from 150 milesl

Cool image time! Hayabusa-2’s approach to asteroid Ryugu continues. The image to the right, cropped to post here, shows one of four images taken by the spacecraft on June 17 and June 18. In this image the distance is about 150 miles. As noted in the Hayabusa-2 press release,

The shape of the asteroid looks like a spinning top (called a “Coma” in Japanese), with the equatorial part wider than the poles. This form is seen in many small asteroids that are rotating at high speed. Observed by radar from the ground, asteroid Bennu (the destination of the US mission, OSIRIS-REx), asteroid Didymous (the target of the US DART project), and asteroid 2008 EV5 that is approaching the Earth, all have a similar shape.

On the surface of asteroid Ryugu, you can see a number of crater-like round recessed landforms. In the first image, one large example can be seen with a diameter exceeding 200m. This moves to the left and darkens as the asteroid rotates and the lower part becomes cast in shadows.

The bulge at the equator forms a ridge around the asteroid like a mountain range. Outside this, the surface topology appears very ridge-shaped and rock-like bulges are also seen. These details should become clearer as the resolution increases in the future.

Based on the visible landforms, they presently estimate Ryugu’s rotation period to be about 7.5 hours.

Share

A guide to spygate, from a retired FBI agent

Link here. He gives us the educated perspective of someone who worked at the bureau and understands the bureaucratic requirements that are involved with any investigation. What he finds clarifies much of what has happened, and does so in a way that strengthens the case that the upper management of the FBI was involved in an effort to prevent Trump’s election, and if that failed, create a situation where he could be forced out thereafter.

The article is also helpful in that it helps place many of the Strzok-Page texts in context, something that also strengthens the case against them and the agency.

More and more, it appears that the FBI and the Obama Justice Department were working to nullify the 2016 Presidential election, to fix it in order to guarantee a Democratic Party victory. Many people should go to jail for this.

And if they don’t, we will no longer have a constitutional government, of, for, and by the people.

Share

U.S. withdraws from UN Human Rights Council

As long promised if it didn’t reform its anti-U.S. and anti-Israeli biases, the U.S. today officially withdrew from UN Human Rights Council.

I especially like the blunt statement by U.S. UN ambassador Nikki Haley in announcing the withdrawal:

“For too long, [the U.N. Human Rights Council] has been a protector of human rights abusers and a cesspool of political bias,” Ms. Haley said in announcing the move during a joint appearance at the State Department with Mr. Pompeo.

“Regrettably,” she added, “it is now clear that our call for reform was not heeded.”

It appears that this withdrawal means that the council will no longer be getting any U.S. funds.

Share

The epic lava flows of Olympus Mons

Lava flows off of Olympus Mons

The eruption of Kilauea volcano in Hawaii has garnered a lot of deserved press coverage, having added at least a 200 acres of new land and destroyed at least 700 homes. Similarly, the recent violent eruption of a volcano in Guatemala, killing 100 people in its wake, has also gotten much deserved news coverage.

The magnitude of both however would pale in comparison to the stupendous eruption that occurred several hundred million years ago at the solar system’s largest volcano, Olympus Mons on Mars. While Kilauea is about 100 miles across, Olympus Mons is about 370 miles wide, and is so large that because of the curvature of Mar’s surface it is literally impossible for a viewer on the ground to actually see the volcano, in its entirety.

Both volcanoes are shield volcanoes, however, which means the lava flows don’t necessarily come from the caldera, but often from vents on the volcano’s slopes. Eruptions might be violent, but they generally do not involve the powerful explosive force of the sudden eruption, as seen in Guatemala and at Mount St. Helens in 1980 in the U.S. Instead, the lava seeps out steadily and continuously, an unstoppable flow that steadily overwhelms the surrounding terrain.

Olympus Mons

The flows that created Olympus Mons however were an epic event probably lasting millions of years, which brings us to this post. In the June release of Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter high resolution images, I found the image above, cropped and reduced in resolution to post here. It shows lava flowing down off one of the many escarpments on the slopes of Olympus Mons. This is not at the edge of the volcano’s shield, but just inside it. The map at the right, created using the archive of MRO’s high resolution camera, indicates the location of this flow, shown by the left light blue rectangle on the southeast slope of the volcano’s shield. The red rectangles show all the other images MRO has taken of Olympus Mons.

The scale of the MRO image above gives an indication of how big that eruption at Olympus Mons was.
» Read more

Share

Why is Peter Strzok still employed by the FBI?

The headline is essentially taken from this article, that asks this pertinent question in the context of the claim by FBI director Christopher Wray that “We will not hesitate to hold people accountable.”

Yet, the only thing Wray has so far done is to organize “in-depth focused training” sessions for FBI employees. No agent specifically described in the inspector general report has been fired, despite this fact:

[Strzok’s] expressed animus for Donald Trump and advocacy for Hillary Clinton in official and unofficial forums while participating in investigations of both were enough for Robert Mueller to remove him from the special counsel team. The text message, “we’ll stop it,” was known to the FBI well ahead of the release of this IG report.

If Wray isn’t hesitating to hold people accountable, why is Strzok still employed by the FBI? As Michael Horowitz told the House Oversight Committee today, even the suggestion that a high-ranking FBI agent would consider using his authority to impact an election is “antithetical” to an apolitical enforcement of the law. Horowitz also acknowledged that Strzok’s communications, and those of Lisa Page and three others involved in these conversations, created a “cloud” over both investigations that cannot easily be dismissed.

It has been more than a year since Strzok was removed by Mueller. The FBI has known of his misconduct (as well as Lisa Page’s) earlier than that. Yet Strzok remains employed by the FBI.

The problem here is not simply FBI Director Wray. He works for Donald Trump, who has the authority and power to fire everyone at the FBI. Yet, nothing happens.

As I said earlier, if sensitivity training is the only punishment that the Trump administration imposes on the FBI and Justice Department after these revelations then we are very very doomed. The corruption in both these very powerful agencies will only blossom, with everyone there now aware that nothing will happen to them if they act to interfere with the nation’s electoral process.

Update: One news story today says that Peter Strzok was escorted from FBI building. Whether he has been officially fired remains unclear.

Share

What yesterday’s National Space Council meeting really reveals

Link here. While most news articles about yesterday’s third public meeting of the National Space Council are focused on Trump’s apparently off-the-cuff announcement that he wants a new military branch dubbed the “Space Force,” the story at the link provides a nice summary of the entire meeting, including a look at the presentations by four astronauts, two scientists, and one businessman.

The panel of former astronauts also offered some more general advice, including the importance of international and commercial partnerships, seeking bipartisan support to ensure the long-term viability of NASA’s exploration plan, and more outreach to the public. “We have got to get the support of the American people by getting the message out to people,” Collins said.

That panel came after another panel of two space scientists and one businessman who has flown payloads on the ISS. They argued for the importance of both human and robotic exploration, rather than one taking precedence over the other.

One of the astronauts came out against LOP-G, but his alternative suggestion was not really very different from that proposed by the other astronauts, calling for a massive NASA-run Apollo-style government space project:

Appearing on a panel during the meeting at the White House, Terry Virts said that the proposed Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, a human-tended facility in orbit around the moon, wasn’t an effective next step in human spaceflight beyond Earth orbit after the International Space Station. “It essentially calls for building another orbital space station, a skill my colleagues and I have already demonstrated on the ISS,” he said. “Gateway will only slow us down, taking time and precious dollars away from the goal of returning to the lunar surface and eventually flying to Mars.”

Virts wasn’t specific on what should replace the Gateway as that next step but called for an Apollo-like model of stepping-stone missions to return to the moon, with ISS, he said, serving well as the Mercury role.

Meanwhile, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave his full endorsement of LOP-G.

Virts’ comments came after NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the Gateway played an essential role in developing a long-term, sustainable human presence at the moon. “This is our opportunity to have more access to more parts of the moon than ever before,” he said of the Gateway, a reference to its ability to shift orbits using its electric propulsion system. He also played up the role of the Gateway in bringing in international and commercial partners while taking a leadership role in space exploration.

“The goal is sustainability,” he said. “When we’re going to the moon, as the president said in his speech, this time we’re going to stay, and the Gateway gives us that great opportunity.”

What we can glean from these presentations, all very carefully staged by the council to support what it wants the government to do in space, is that the Trump administration is going full gang-busters for another big Kennedy-like government space program, launched by SLS. They haven’t announced it yet, but they are definitely moving to propose such a program.

And such a program will cost billions, take forever to do anything (if it does anything at all), and accomplish nothing but spread pork to congressional districts while sustaining the big space companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing and possibly reshaping the new space companies — tempted by the big cash being offered by the government — into becoming as bloated and as uncreative.

Share

Dubai to fund 36 science space projects

The new colonial movement: Dubai has chosen 36 science space projects to fund out of 260 proposals from across the world.

The 36 funded projects include some from universities in the United States, Poland, the UK, and Italy and deal with a variety of topics, ranging from mushrooms on Mars to the study of possible landing sites on the planet.

The article at the link provides very few details. It appears that Dubai’s program is designed to bring in international talent to help train its own people in the science and engineering of space.

Share

S7 Space wants to build Soviet era rocket engines

The private Russian company S7 Space, which recently took over Sea Launch, wants to buy the blueprints and resume building the Soviet era rocket engines developed for the N1 heavy-lift rocket.

Russia’s S7 Space, part of the S7 Group, plans to build a plant in Samara to produce Soviet-designed NK-33 and NK-43 rocket engines for super heavy-lift launch vehicles and intends to purchase production capacities from the state-owned United Engine Corporation (UEC) for this purpose, S7 Space General Director Sergey Sopov said in an interview.

“We would like to buy from the state the well-known engines NK-33 and NK-43, produced earlier by the Samara-based Kuznetsov plant, as well as the documentation, equipment, technical backlog. In general, everything that has survived on this theme from the Soviet program. We intend to restore production and build our own rocket engine plant in Samara,” Sopov said in an interview to be published in the Vedomosti newspaper.

As with everything now in Russia, this company not only needs to buy the rights to these engines, it needs to get government permission to do this. Also, because it will take five to six years to get the new engine plant up and running, they plan in the interim to use the available engines left over from the 1960s. Considering the launch failure caused by one of these engines in an Orbital ATK Antares launch, I am not sure this is wise.

Overall, S7 Space has the right idea. The company wants to compete, and it wants to innovate. Whether it can do so in the top-down culture of Russia remains the unanswered question.

Share

Curiosity on the march

It appears that, after a descent down off of Vera Rubin Ridge and then spending 30 sols sitting at one spot to do its first drilling in more than a year, Curiosity is about to resume travel up Mount Sharp.

With its newly resurrected drilling capabilities, Curiosity will do one last pass over the Vera Rubin Ridge units, now that the rest of the instrument suite onboard can have access to this and future drill samples.

It appears they will be returning to their planned route, across the ridge and down off it to head up towards one known recurring black streak that might be a seep of underground water.

They have not provided any details about the lab results from the drill sample, but that isn’t surprising. It will take some time to analyze it, and the scientists involved will want the glory of publishing their results once that analysis is complete. What is clear from the update is that the drilling worked, and that this particular drillhole is likely to produce some of the more significant findings from Curiosity.

Share

Some victories against modern leftist oppression

Increasingly, the overbearing and sometimes violent effort by the left to squelch dissenting views is being met by legal action, and increasingly it appears that legal action is producing positive results. In just the last few days, we have just a few examples:

The last story is especially interesting. The city councillors of Charlottesville are being sued for their decision to remove two Confederate statues. The judge ruled that these councillors could be personally liable should they lose the case, especially because their action appears to directly violate a state law.

In the nine-page letter, Moore says that he thinks the council “was acting beyond its authority” and that it was not a “legitimate” legislative activity when the council voted to remove the statues, in contravention with a state law that prohibits the disturbance or removal of war memorials.

The left has for decades been able to violate laws like this with impunity. All of the cases above are examples of that kind of nonchalance to the law and to the truth. In the past no one would challenge them on their acts, and they would get away with it. It appears now that the right is beginning to finally push back, and with some success.

Share

Trump orders Defense Dept to create “Space Force”

The swamp wins! President Trump today issued an order that the Defense Department create a separate branch of the military to be called the Space Force.

The president then ordered the secretary of defense to “establish a space force of the sixth branch of the armed forces.” He called on General Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, to help create the new arm of American military might.

Trump also blathered that he will “establish a long-term presence on the Moon,” followed by a mission to Mars.

In other words, he is all-in on LOP-G, the next big boondoggle following SLS.

For me, this is very depressing. It indicates that government space policy will continue to be bankrupt, spending money on big projects that never get finished and on a worthless military department that will be entirely useless.

Share

The modern non-debate over climate, or anything

Last week there was a much bally-hooed public event where several very well known scientists from both sides of the global-warming debate were given an opportunity to make their case before the public. Though they were not the only speakers, the two names that were of the most interest were Michael Mann (global warming advocate) and Judith Curry (global warming skeptic).

Mann’s appearance was especially intriguing, because he has very carefully insulated himself from any unpredictable public questioning in the decade since the climategate emails were released (revealing that his objectivity and rigor as a scientist could be considered very questionable). With Curry as an opposing panelist it seemed to me that this event could produce some interesting fireworks.

The event was in West Virginia, too far away for me to attend. However, one of my caving buddies from back when I lived in DC and caved monthly in West Virginia, John Harman, lives in West Virginia and as the owner of a company that builds space-related equipment I knew he’d be interested. I let him know about the event, and he decided to make the two and a half hour drive to watch.

Below is John’s detailed report on the event. You can see Judith Curry’s full presentation and script here.

I only have one comment, indicated by my headline above. The way this event was staged was specifically designed to prevent a real debate. There was no vibrant give and take between participants. Instead, the speakers were each given time to make their presentation, and then were faced with what appeared to be preplanned questions. Very staged. When Curry was given a question she didn’t expect, she said so, and was surprised.

This is not how real science is done. Michael Mann strongly pushes the theory that the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, caused by human-activity, is warming the climate. His work has been strongly challenged by qualified scientists like Judith Curry. For science, and the truth, to prosper, Mann has to be willing to face those challenges directly, and address them. Instead, this event as well as every other public forum that Mann has participated in for the past decade have all been designed to protect him from those challenges. Nor has Mann been the only global warming enthusiast protected in this way.

The result is a decline in intellectual rigor and the rise of politics and propaganda within the climate science community, as noted by Curry in her last slide. She calls this “The Madhouse effect”:

The madhouse is characterized by

  • Rampant overconfidence in an overly simplistic theory of climate change
  • Enforcement of a politically-motivated, manufactured ‘consensus’
  • Attempts to stifle scientific and policy debates
  • Activism and advocacy for their preferred politics and policy
  • Self-promotion and ‘cashing in’
  • Public attacks on other scientists that do not support the ‘consensus’

Curry notes that she was forced out of academia expressly because of these factors, merely because she expressed skepticism concerning the hypothesis of human-caused global warming.

The worst part of this lack of debate is that it now permeates our society. In every area of importance to our nation’s future, debate is now impossible. The left, to which global warming activists like Michael Mann routinely belong, will not tolerate it, and will do anything to avoid it, even so far as to destroy the careers of anyone who dares challenge them. This is what Mann advocated in the climategate emails, and this is exactly what happened to Judith Curry.

Anyway, take a look at John’s very fair-minded report of the event. You will find it quite edifying.
» Read more

Share

Chang’e-4 launch set for December

China has now scheduled the launch of its Chang’e-4 lunar rover/lander, aimed for the first landing on the Moon’s far side, for sometime this coming December.

They will use China’s Long March 3B rocket, not the bigger Long March 5. As is usual for China, many details about the mission remain secret. The exact landing area has not been announced, other than somewhere in the very large South Pole/Aitken Basin area. The exact date has not been announced, other than sometime in December.

Their planned sample return mission, Chang’e-5, is now set for launch in 2019, “should the Long March 5 rocket be proven ready for flight later this year.”

Share
1 2 3 608