Announcement: The Fifth Anniversary of Behind the Black

This week I celebrate the fifth anniversary of this website. My first post here took place on June 27, 2010, but I consider the beginning of Behind the Black to have occurred during that entire first week as I figured out how I wanted to do it.

To commemorate these past five years I am seriously considering ending the automated Google ads that presently appear on the site. Several months back I ended the Yahoo ads, which I found annoying to my readers and not very profitable to myself. I have found Google to increasingly be the same, distracting to readers while paying me too little for the privilege of providing that distraction.

If I remove these ads, however, I will need to replace that income somehow. I am therefore requesting once again that my readers consider contributing to the website, either with a one-time contribution or a regular subscription, as outlined in the tip jar to the right.

Scroll down for new website postings.

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Oregon fines couple who refused to bake a same-sex cake $135K, also ordering them to shut up

Fascists: Oregon’s labor commissioner has now imposed a $135,000 fine on the owners of a bankrupt bakery business for refusing to participate in a same-sex wedding by baking a cake.

Even worse, the fascist has demanded the owners shut up about the case.

In the ruling, Avakian placed an effective gag order on the Kleins, ordering them to “cease and desist” from speaking publicly about not wanting to bake cakes for same-sex weddings based on their Christian beliefs. “This effectively strips us of all our First Amendment rights,” the Kleins, owners of Sweet Cakes by Melissa, which has since closed, wrote on their Facebook page. “According to the state of Oregon we neither have freedom of religion or freedom of speech.”

What a wonderful way to celebrate July 4th!

New poll finds hostility to the federal government growing

A new poll has found that the public’s hostility to the federal government, including the Supreme Court, has grown in recent years and jumped significantly in the past six months.

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 33% of Likely U.S. Voters now believe that states should have the right to ignore federal court rulings if their elected officials agree with them. That’s up nine points from 24% when we first asked this question in February. Just over half (52%) disagree, down from 58% in the earlier survey. Fifteen percent (15%) are undecided. …

Support for ignoring the federal courts is up among most demographic groups, however. Most voters have long believed that the Supreme Court justices have their own political agenda, and they still tend to feel that that agenda is more liberal than conservative.

That’s just the public’s changing attitude to the Supreme Court. Overall trust in the federal government is down as well:

A plurality (47%) of voters continues to believe the federal government has too much influence over state governments, and 54% think states should have the right to opt out of federal government programs that they don’t agree with. Even more (61%) think states should have the right to opt out of federally mandated programs if the federal government doesn’t help pay for them.

The Declaration of Independence, the foundational document that Americans honor on the Fourth of July, says that governments derive their authority from the consent of the governed, but just 25% believe that to be true of the federal government today. Only 20% now consider the federal government a protector of individual liberty. Sixty percent (60%) see the government as a threat to individual liberty instead.

The more power the federal government grabs, the more the public will resist. Eventually, the federal government, and all of society, will break under this strain. The sooner the public reins in the federal government, by voting for legislators who will do that reining, the better chance we will have of avoiding that collapse.

From what I can see right now, however, I must sadly say that I am not hopeful. Since 2010 the voters have clearly made their position clear: They want the government reined in. Our society’s intellectual class, including the Republican leadership in Congress working with the congressional Democratic minority, doesn’t seem to want to listen to that message unfortunately.

Then again, this update on the growing power of the Freedom Caucus in the House suggests that the voters might finally get their way if the next election puts more conservatives in office.

Dragon/Falcon 9 launch abort test moved from Vandenberg to Kennedy

Instead of using the Air Force’s Vandenberg launch complex in California, NASA and SpaceX have shifted their plans for the final launch abort test of the manned version of Dragon capsule to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The date for the test has not been finalized, but it appears it will be delayed until after the next Dragon flight to ISS, itself delayed following the Falcon 9 failure on Sunday. The test will also be delayed until after the completion of the unmanned demo flight to ISS of the manned version of Dragon. SpaceX will then refurbish that demo capsule and re-use it for the launch abort test.

Update: I have rewritten the paragraph above, correcting my first version, which had mistakenly said that a refurbished cargo version of Dragon would be used for the launch abort test. My very knowledgeable readers noted the error and set me straight.

Progress successfully launched into orbit

Supplies for ISS! The Russians today successfully launched a Progress freighter into orbit to bring cargo to ISS.

After three failures since October from three different cargo systems (Cygnus, Progress, and Dragon), this success is somewhat of a relief for both the astronauts on board ISS and the managers of the station. It gives everyone some breathing room until both Cygnus and Dragon fly again.

Jonah Morgan – A GoPro view of surfing in Indonesia

An evening pause: Taped on August 25, 2014. Hat tip Danae, who wrote, “It was 111.4 degrees under the side porch roof this afternoon, which explains why this video appeals to me. The visibility of the sea floor is just frosting on the cake.”

To me, this probably gives one who has never surfed (like myself) the best sense of what it is like to do it.

The jets on Comet 67P/C-G come from its sinkholes

More on the comet sinkholes! New data from Rosetta has now confirmed that some of the plumes or jets that the spacecraft has seen emanating from Comet 67P/C-G come directly from the sinkholes that they have discovered on the nucleus.

In a study reported today in the science journal Nature, 18 quasi-circular pits have been identified in the northern hemisphere of the comet, some of which are the source of continuing activity. The pits are a few tens to a few hundreds of metres in diameter and extend up to 210 m below the surface to a smooth dust-covered floor. Material is seen to be streaming from the most active pits. “We see jets arising from the fractured areas of the walls inside the pits. These fractures mean that volatiles trapped under the surface can be warmed more easily and subsequently escape into space,” says Jean-Baptiste Vincent from the Max Planck Institute for Solar System Research, lead author of the study.

Rocket Labs picks New Zealand for its launch site

The competition heats up: The small sat rocket company Rocket Labs has chosen a location in New Zealand as its future launch site.

Rocket Lab’s all-black Electron booster offers launch for less than $5 million. The company, whose investors include Lockheed Martin, is targeting clients such as university programs and small start-ups, Beck said, and it already has 30 potential clients.

The company didn’t specify how much it was investing in the site, which is due to be completed in the fourth quarter. New Zealand, which has been used in the past by the National Aeronautical and Space Administration, is considered a prime location because rockets launched from that deep in the Southern hemisphere can reach a wide range of Earth orbits. Rocket Lab’s remote site on the Kaitorete Spit in the Canterbury region also means it has less air and sea traffic, which translates into more frequent launches and economies of scale, the company said. It also will no longer compete for airspace with the U.S. government.

Rocket Labs will have to actually launch something to really make the competition heat up. This announcement, however, illustrates that in the long run, the United States has some significant disadvantages as a spaceport location.

TMT protesters complain about road closure

The leader of the protest that is opposing the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) is now complaining about the road closure imposed by Hawaii’s government that is preventing him and his followers from returning to the mountain.

“The telescope employees have been able to access the mountain every single day to go up and come back down and even we as protectors of the mountain have been given daily access to conduct pule and religious practices on the mountain,” said Kahookahi Kanuha, a member of Ku Kia’i Mauna, which hopes to keep the telescope from being built. “So, if they do deem it unsafe, it is quite irresponsible of them to allow other individuals up the mountain.”

So let me get this straight: He thinks it is wrong for the people who own or lease the mountain — who have legal right to control access — to block the protesters, but he sees nothing wrong with him going there — trespassing — and blocking access to others. What a hypocrite.

This article proves that my analysis from Tuesday is correct. The government has shut the road mainly to quietly get the protesters out of the way and let things cool down. When construction resumes, I guarantee that road access will restricted to prevent the protesters from returning and blocking the road. (Update: The quotes here from the state’s attorney general provide even further confirmation that the state will not allow protests to obstruct future access to construction crews.)

One other note: The author of the first article above uses the typical dishonest mainstream media technique of only quoting one protester, the activist leader, while claiming that “protesters” are objecting. The data in the article, however, does not document this spin. As far as I can tell, the only one complaining about the road closure is this one guy.

What we will and will not see during the Pluto fly-by

Pluto's two hemispheres

The images above, released today by the New Horizons’ science team, provide the best global view so far of Pluto’s two hemispheres. I have cropped and rearranged the original to focus on Pluto.

The images illustrate some basic new knowledge about the planet. For one, scientists have now identified the planet’s poles, based upon its rotation. While scientists had had a very rough vague idea of Pluto’s rotation and inclination beforehand, they have now pinned it down pretty precisely.

The images also show the planet’s most striking and unique features, though not with enough resolution to tell us what they are.

New color images from NASA’s New Horizons spacecraft show two very different faces of the mysterious dwarf planet, one with a series of intriguing spots along the equator that are evenly spaced. Each of the spots is about 300 miles in diameter, with a surface area that’s roughly the size of the state of Missouri.

Scientists have yet to see anything quite like the dark spots; their presence has piqued the interest of the New Horizons science team, due to the remarkable consistency in their spacing and size. While the origin of the spots is a mystery for now, the answer may be revealed as the spacecraft continues its approach to the mysterious dwarf planet. “It’s a real puzzle—we don’t know what the spots are, and we can’t wait to find out,” said New Horizons principal investigator Alan Stern of the Southwest Research Institute, Boulder. “Also puzzling is the longstanding and dramatic difference in the colors and appearance of Pluto compared to its darker and grayer moon Charon.”

This image release also shows us what we will and will not see during the fly-by. The image on the left is the “encounter hemisphere.” This is the hemisphere that will be in view during New Horizons’ July 14 fly-by. We shall get very nice high resolutions of much of this hemisphere.

The other hemisphere, however, will not be facing us during the fly-by. Unless that can get some high resolution images before it rotates out of view, the row of large dark spots at the equator will remain a mystery.

The images also suggest that, because of Pluto’s tilt, much of the southern hemisphere is not going to be seen at all. It will remain an additional mystery for the many decades that are going to pass before another spacecraft finally returns to this distant place.

Active sinkholes found on Comet 67P/C-G

pits on Comet 67P/C-G

Cool image time! Using Rosetta’s high resolution camera scientists have located a number of active pits similar to sinkholes on Earth on Comet 67P/C-G.

Based on the Rosetta observations, the team has proposed a model for the formation of these sinkholes. A source of heat beneath the comet’s surface causes ices (primarily water, carbon monoxide and carbon dioxide) to sublimate. The voids created by the loss of these ice chunks eventually grow large enough that their ceilings collapse under their own weight, giving rise to the deep, steep-sided circular pits seen on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko.

The collapse exposes comet ices to sunlight for the first time, which causes the ice chunks to begin sublimating immediately. These deeper pits are therefore thought to be relatively young. Their shallower counterparts, on the other hand, are most likely older sinkholes with more thoroughly eroded sidewalls and bottoms that have been filled in by dust and ice chunks.

Essentially, they have found that decay of the comet’s nucleus has been mostly gentle and steady, rather than explosive, punctuated with sudden abrupt events.

The negative, depressing mainstream press

Sunday’s Falcon 9 failure has given us a great opportunity to learn something about the mainstream press and the elite culture that dominates it. As expected, while the space-oriented press focused on what happened and what will be done to fix the problem, almost every mainstream press outlet immediately concluded that the failure was a disaster that could and (with some outlets) should ring the death knell for private space. Here are just a few examples:

I could go on. Notice that these are almost all mainstream news sources. The few that specialize in science reporting, such as Scientific American, New Scientist, and National Geographic, also tend to push the left wing science agenda.

If you can force yourself to read these articles, as I have, you will find yourself inundated with negativity, pessimism, and a can’t-do attitude. Moreover, many of these articles seem expressly designed to encourage the public and politicians to withdraw their support for space exploration. For example, the Scientific American article, in outlining the history of recent ISS cargo failures, includes this quote:

Public support for the private space industry also took a blow last October (just three days after the Orbital Sciences ATK mishap) when Virgin Galactic’s suborbital space plane SpaceShipTwo crashed during a test flight, killing one of its pilots. [emphasis mine]

Does Scientific American provide us any evidence that public support had dropped after these failures? No. In fact, there is absolutely no evidence that support dropped, and if anything, based on the budget increases over the years for commercial space (despite Congressional efforts to trim that budget), support has continued to grow through thick and thin.

No, Scientific American inserted this statement because they want support to drop, and have tailored their article to help make that a self-fulfilling prophecy. The negativity of all these other articles suggest that their writers and outlets feel the same. Life is hard! Bad things can happen! Better that we stick our head in the sand and hide from the evil thunder gods rather than look up to try to figure out what thunder is!

For myself, I do not find the Falcon 9 failure this past weekend depressing in the slightest. This is a company and a rocket that hadn’t even existed a little more than decade ago, and in that short time they have revolutionized the rocket industry. Rockets fail. This is no surprise. Their track record, however, tells us that they will figure out what went wrong and start flying again, as soon as they can.

What I do find depressing is the failure culture of today’s modern intellectual society. It is one reason I do not depend on them for news, and in general try to depend on them for as little as possible for anything else.

Cubesat company raises $80 million

The competition heats up: Spire, a cubesat satellite company focused on data gathering from space, has raised an additional $40 million in investment capital, bringing the total it has raised since 2012 to $80 million.

With the new funds, the company will support further growth and expand its constellation from 20 satellites in 2015 to more than 100 by the end of 2017.

The latest round of financing comes at a time when the need for advancements in weather and maritime data is at an all-time high. With the potentially catastrophic 2016 Weather Gap right around the corner, Spire offers a solution to the $2.4 trillion dollar global problem. Emerging as a leader in the ‘Space Race 2.0,’ Spire is the only commercial weather data provider with scheduled launches in 2015. The company will begin deploying its satellites on a near monthly basis beginning September 2015.

Though the company is willing to gather data in more ways than just weather, its offer to provide weather data suggests that the transition from government to private weather satellites is soon approaching. And there is no reason it shouldn’t. Weather data is very valuable. Just as private cable companies put up satellites to provide communications, so should weather outlets like the Weather Channel. It will pay for itself, and will likely provide us better data than any NOAA satellite.

In addition, this story indicates once again that the age of cubesats is now upon us.

Contractor’s assets seized at Vostochny

In the heat of competition: Government officials have seized the assets of one of the contractors at Russia’s new Vostochny spaceport, still under construction, for failing to pay its debts to another contractor.

For a project that has been under the close supervision of Vladimir Putin since September, there sure has been a lot of hanky-panky going on.

New Horizons gets closer

Pluto and Charon

Cool image time! Even as the engineers successfully completed last night their last course correction engine burn, the New Horizons science team released an image showing both Pluto and Charon.

The 23-second thruster burst was the third and final planned targeting maneuver of New Horizons’ approach phase to Pluto; it was also the smallest of the nine course corrections since New Horizons launched in January 2006. It bumped the spacecraft’s velocity by just 27 centimeters per second – about one-half mile per hour – slightly adjusting its arrival time and position at a flyby close-approach target point approximately 7,750 miles (12,500 kilometers) above Pluto’s surface.

The image, which I have cropped to focus on the planets, is still somewhat fuzzy, though it also shows the increasing sharpness as the spacecraft gets closer.

Only two weeks to go!

Another Dawn image of some of Ceres’ bright spots

The double bright spot, not over-exposed

Cool image time! As part JPL’s regular release of images from Dawn, one image of Ceres’ bright double spots was purposely not over-exposed. Thus, the surface is almost black (as it really looks), while the small cluster of spots stands out brightly but with some additional detail. (If you download the full image and use a graphics program to brighten it you will see that this is the double bright spot located inside a large crater.)

I have cropped and enlarged the original image to focus on the double spot. As you can see the brightest spot has a mottled look, almost like we are looking down at a snow-capped peak.

Though the leading theory remains that this is ice, this theory has not been confirmed yet. Make no assumptions or you may discover you are wrong.

Road to Mauna Kea to remain closed for the rest of the week

The University of Hawaii, which manages the astronomy facilities on top of Mauna Kea, said today that the road to the summit will remained closed for at least the rest of this week so that they can do repairs and maintenance resulting from the protests last week.

I think I finally understand what is going on, and why the protesters themselves offered last week to remove the boulder barricades they had built, something that had not made sense to me at the time.

Because of landslides and the hostile environment, the road needs constant maintenance. The barricades prevented that, which gave the governor and the University the justification to shut the road. And by shutting the road, the University has essentially locked the protesters out. I am sure that the repairs could be done much faster, but the University is probably dragging its feet to make sure they get all the protesters out and things cool down. When the reopen the road, I expect them to make sure it is secure and only official personal use it.

This is why the protesters suddenly offered to remove the barricades. They realized that they had shot themselves in the foot, and wanted to remedy the situation in a way that would allow them to continue protesting. It appears they have failed.

Russian sets record for most time spent in space

Russian astronaut Gennady Padalka has now set the record for the most total time spent in space, passing the previous record of 803 day set by Sergei Krikalev.

Padalka is due to return to earth on 11 September, by which time he will have spent 878 days in space – almost two and a half years. On 21 June he celebrated his 57th birthday in orbit. The commander said at a press conference before his flight in March that he would like to try for 1,000 days in space after his current record-breaking mission is over.

NASA to waste $150 million on SLS engine that will be used once.

Government marches on! NASA’s safety panel has noticed that NASA’s SLS program either plans to spend $150 million man-rating a rocket engine it will only use once, or will fly a manned mission without man-rating that engine.

The Block 1 SLS is the “basic model”, sporting a Delta Cryogenic Second Stage (DCSS), renamed the Interim Cryogenic Propulsion System (ICPS) for SLS. The current plan calls for this [interim] stage to be used on [the unmanned] Exploration Mission -1 (EM-1) and [manned] Exploration Mission -2 (EM-2), prior to moving to the [Exploration Upper Stage] – also to be built by Boeing – that will become the workhorse for SLS.

However, using the [interim upper stage] on a crewed mission will require it to be human rated. It is likely NASA will also need to fly the [Exploration Upper Stage] on an unmanned mission to validate the new stage ahead of human missions. This has been presenting NASA with a headache for some time, although it took the recent ASAP meeting to finally confirm those concerns to the public.

Up until now, no one at NASA would admit that their SLS plans called for flying humans with an upper stage that has not been man-rated. They don’t have the funds to man-rate it, and even if they get those funds, man-rating it will likely cause SLS’s schedule to slip even more, something NASA fears because they expect the commercial manned ships to be flying sooner and with increasing capability. The contrast — a delayed and unflown and very expensive SLS vs a flying and inexpensive commercial effort — will not do SLS good politically.

However, if they are going to insist (properly I think) that SpaceX and Boeing man-rate their capsules and rockets, then NASA is going to have to man-rate its SLS systems as well. The result: more problems for SLS, contributing to what I believe will be its inevitable cancellation.

The future roadmap of religious persecution in America

The article describes the inevitable legal consequences of the Supreme Court’s decision on same-sex marriage. Some key quotes:

The first attacks will be on small churches that don’t have the wherewithal to mount a legal defense against the IRS and against civil lawsuits. They will be confronted with a loss of their tax exempt status and the personal bankruptcy of their corporate officers if they do not allow homosexual weddings. The effect this will have on small congregations will be profound. Some will become “house churches”, much like what you see in Communist China. Many, however, will fall in line. The larger Protestant denominations will toe the line. Some, like the Episcopalians, are only nominally Christian as is. The Lutherans (ELCA variety) have had actively homosexual clergy for some time as have the Methodists. The two big targets for the government will be the Southern Baptist Convention — which is a voluntary association of independent churches — and the Roman Catholic Church. The pressure will ratchet up on them until they are confronted with confiscation of property or “discovering” hidden meanings in Scripture that reveal homosexual marriage has always been allowed.

Churches won’t disappear but the churches that you will see on Main Street will be peddling a warmed over and watered down version of Christianity that is a combination soup kitchen and twelve step program sans belief in a higher power. Real Christian churches will go underground but it will be a rearguard action. Christianity that chooses to ignore the very Word of God is not a religion, it is a cultural artifact.

The real price will be paid by those of us who are not actually employed by our churches. Organizing to resist homosexual marriage will bring down the FBI upon you as surely as if you were organizing a KKK chapter and with more alacrity than if you were an al Qaeda cell or blocking a polling station in Philadelphia. If you work for a large corporation or are in the military you can look forward to having your affirmatively support of homosexual marriage becoming an item on your performance appraisal. [emphasis mine]

And then there’s this:

Rather consistently local judges and others have said that religious liberty does not prevail for individuals who own businesses or engage in commerce. In effect, you can have religious liberty, so long as you don’t own a business. Here too there are legal nuances, but the fundamental trajectory is clear: Anyone who opposes the celebration of same-sex unions and lifestyle are going to be increasingly entangled in the courts and face more and more charges. [emphasis mine]

Read it all. If you don’t believe it will happen you are living in a fool’s paradise. Either Americans stand up now and defy the tyrannical strain that is beginning to dominate our society, or we will find all of our remaining but shrinking freedoms gone.

Falcon 9 explodes two minutes into launch

Today’s Falcon 9 rocket launch of a Dragon freighter to ISS ended in failure slightly past 2 minutes after lift-off when the upper stage exploded.

My first thought about this failure is the supply problems it causes at ISS. The Progress failure in April strained the supply lines, making this Dragon flight somewhat critical.

In a presentation to a committee of the NASA Advisory Council here April 9, NASA officials said that food supplies on the ISS would reach a threshold called “reserve level” on July 24, and go to zero by Sept. 5. That assumed that the station received no more supplies beyond a SpaceX Dragon cargo mission launched to the station in April.

The other major limiting consumable is a solid waste container known by the Russian acronym KTO. Without additional cargo missions beyond the Dragon flight, KTO supplies would reach the reserve level July 20 and be exhausted on Sept. 2. Other consumables, including water, would not reach reserve levels until later in the year or early 2016.

In other words, some of the station’s toilets are going to begin to overflow without more supplies. It is possible however that this problem will be alleviated by the planned July 3 launch of the next Progress, especially since NASA officials claimed just prior to the launch failure today that ISS had enough supplies to last through October.

As for the launch failure, I expect that SpaceX will quickly pinpoint the problem and schedule another launch. I have embedded video of the launch below the fold. Prior to the explosion of the first stage all looks completely normal. In fact, immediately before the failure the announcer notes this fact, making what happens next especially shocking.

Update: I have corrected the first paragraph, correcting it from “first stage” to “upper stage.”
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Audi joins race to the Moon

The competition heats up: The carmaker Audi has joined one of the teams competing for the Google Lunar X-Prize.

Audi’s part in the project will be to supply technical know how though its Audi Concept Design Studio, including the application of its quattro all-wheel drive technology and its experience in lightweight construction, electric mobility, and piloted driving. The company says it will also help in testing, trials, and quality assurance.

The rover, now named the “Audi lunar quattro,” is scheduled to launch sometime in 2017 and is aimed at a landing zone north of the lunar equator somewhere near 1972 Apollo 17 mission landing site, through the law prevents the rover from actually visiting it because it’s a protected area. “The concept of a privately financed mission to the moon is fascinating,” says Luca de Meo, Audi Board Member for Sales and Marketing. “And innovative ideas need supporters that promote them. We want to send a signal with our involvement with the Part‑Time Scientists and also motivate other partners to contribute their know‑how.”

I should note that the article is wrong when it states “the law prevents the rover from actually visiting” the Apollo 17 site. This law was passed by the U.S. Congress, and this Google team and Audi are not based in the U.S. They are not under its jurisdiction.

Hawaii governor condemns protesters

Pigs fly! The liberal Democratic governor of Hawaii today strongly condemned the protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) for blocking the roads to Mauna Kea and made it clear that his administration will do what is necessary to prevent that from happening again.

To quote his statement:

“We expected there to be a protest when construction resumed, and there was. We hoped we would not have to arrest people but were prepared to do so, and we did when they blocked the roadway. We also saw, in what amounts to an act of vandalism, the roadway blocked with rocks and boulders. We deployed to remove the rocks and boulders, but the protesters wisely chose to remove them themselves. And then we saw more attempts to control the road. That is not lawful or acceptable to the people of Hawai‘i. So let me be very direct: The roads belong to all the people of Hawai‘i and they will remain open. We will do whatever is necessary to ensure lawful access.”

Forgive my cynicism and hostility to the Democratic governor. In my experience, it is rare for a Democrat to actively oppose liberal protesters such as these. Normally, Democrats encourage their misbehavior, and do what they can to aid them. For example, in Ferguson, Missouri Democrat governor Jay Nixon intentionally delayed calling out the National Guard in order to allow the riots to continue. Similarly, the Democratic mayor of Baltimore intentionally restrained the police in order to allow the demonstrators, in her own words, “space to destroy”. And then there was the entire Occupy Wall Street protests, all of which trespassed illegally in Democratically controlled urban areas. In every case, there trespass was allowed, and even applauded, by Democrats.

David Ige however has made it clear that he will no longer tolerate any blockage of the road to Mauna Kea, and will do what is necessary to allow the legally agreed construction of the the TMT to go forward. Hooray for him!

Cruz proposes requiring judges to face voters periodically

In response to this week’s decisions by the Supreme Court, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today proposed several laws and constitutional amendments, one of which would require judges to face the voters periodically and be removed if rejected.

Cruz’s analysis here is interesting in that he recognizes the right of Congress to impeach and remove judges, but also recognizes that this Congress, under this Republican leadership, just won’t do it. As he notes,

A Senate that cannot muster 51 votes to block an attorney-general nominee openly committed to continue an unprecedented course of executive-branch lawlessness can hardly be expected to muster the 67 votes needed to impeach an Anthony Kennedy.

He also correctly notes that if something isn’t done, the movement to amendment the Constitution using Article V convention of the states will likely gain momentum, something that we all know carries its own risks, including changing the Constitution in ways that are not beneficial.

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