Behind The Black Postings By Robert Zimmerman

Finding out what’s in it: Endless waits on hold.

What astonishes me here is that anyone is surprised by the terrible customer service being provided by Obamacare. The Democrats were putting our healthcare industry in the hands of the motor vehicle department, and we all know how well that operates!


Working for the Democratic Party: A comprehensive list of Lois Lerner’s partisan effort to use the IRS to attack conservatives.

The Democrats in Congress, who have been circling the wagons to defend Lerner, really do remind me here of the Republicans in Congress in 1973. At that time, the Watergate scandal was unfolding, and Republicans were doing everything they could to defend Nixon, even though the evidence was very much against him. The consequence then for the Republican Party was election day 1974, when they experienced devastating losses.

In the end those loses forced reform in the Republican Party. The time has come for the Democratic Party to undergo the same reform process.


Uh-oh: Forecasters at Colorado State University are predicting the 2014 hurricane season will be quieter than normal.

This is the same team that last year predicted 2013 would be one of the worst hurricane seasons in history. Instead, last year was one of the weakest in history, and as a result they lost their funding. That these same guys are now saying 2014 will be weak makes me fear for the American Atlantic coast. It could be wiped out this time!


What Ayaan Hirsi Ali would have said if the academics at Brandeis weren’t either cowards or queslings for terrorism.

Read her op-ed. That these words are not acceptable to the modern leftwing academic is truly horrifying.


Some real news about SpaceShipTwo: Scaled Composites has posted the logs for several successful engine test results on its webpage.

The information is sparse, but it suggests that these tests are attempts to run the engine through a full simulated flight.


The competition heats up: Houston yesterday signed a letter of intent with Sierra Nevada to provide the company a home at that city’s proposed spaceport.

The competition here is not from the spaceship company but from the spaceport. Houston is in a race with Colorado and Florida for the launch business. In fact, it appears that a lot of American cities are scrambling to attract the new aerospace launch companies, suggesting that they all see a new industry aborning and want their share.

Another example: The California legislature has passed a ten year tax exemption for spaceflight companies.


An update on China’s lunar rover Yutu.

This is an excellent summary of the mission and its status, including detailed maps outlining the rover’s path before it finally lost the ability to move.


“The left is entering a new phase of ideological agitation — no longer trying to win the debate but stopping debate altogether, banishing from public discourse any and all opposition.”

Let there be no confusion about this. On every controversial issue before us the left has decided that any disagreement is unacceptable and that any one who refuses to kowtow to their vicious fascism must be destroyed. While few have linked the IRS scandal with this totalitarian desire, it is part and parcel to it. The left has adopted McCarthyism as their number one tactic for winning the debate.


Idiocracy: An award winning science teacher was suspended when an unnamed school employee thought two student science projects looked too much like weapons.

Schiller got into trouble after two of his students turned in science projects designed to shoot little projectiles, reports the Los Angeles Times. One of the projects used compressed air (but was not actually connected to any air). The other one was coil gun: a tube surrounded by a coil and powered by a standard AA battery.

An unidentified school employee saw the air-pressure projectile device and got scared because, to her, it looked like a fearsome weapon. The amount of knowledge the employee has concerning science – if any – is unclear.

As a result of the unnamed employee’s fears, Schiller – who actually never got to see either the air-pressure project or the coil project except in photos – was dismissed from the classroom indefinitely. School officials impounded both projects as “evidence,” according to the mother of the kid who did the coil project.

Why am I reminded of this movie scene?
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The braided dry stream beds of Mars.


“A lot of investment in green technology has been a giant scam, if well intentioned.”

The quote, and entire interview, are significant for two reasons. First, the interview is seeped with many skeptical opinions about human caused global warming, is very critical of that movement’s effort to politicize science, and the person being interviewed is James Lovelock, the founder of of the concept of Gaia, a former strong advocate of global warming but now a skeptic.

Most significant however is where the interview is published. It is in Nature, one of the most important and influential science journals, which previously has been aggressively pushing global warming politics for years. That they allowed these politically incorrect opinions within their walls and then broadcast them to their readers signals a major cultural shift within the science community. It is beginning to be acceptable to be a skeptic again!


Richard Branson manipulates the press again

Two stories today from Richard Branson of Virgin Galactic:

The quote from the first story is especially entertaining:
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India’s Mangalyaan Mars orbiter is now halfway to Mars.

India, unlike Israel, wants to conquer the stars, so the success of their first interplanetary mission means a lot to them.


On Wednesday Israel launched its tenth satellite, spy satellite Ofek 10.

This story is only noteworthy in that the launch shows Israel’s very capable abilities to independently launch its own rockets and satellites into orbit. The country however really isn’t competing with the rest of the world in the race to conquer the universe. Their focus is solely surveillance and reconnaissance for security reasons, plus having the missile capability to deliver payloads long distances.

Culturally, the bulk of Israel’s population is in Israel because that’s where they want to be. Going to the stars is not their priority.

Update: Nor does it matter that there is an Israeli team competing in the Google X Prize contest to land an unmanned private rover on the Moon. While there might be individual Israelis who want to settle Mars, the culture’s focus is still going to be on strengthening Israel itself.


The competition heats up: XCOR today took delivery of the cockpit assembly of its Lynx suborbital space plane.

They have said they will begin flight tests later this summer, followed by tourist suborbital flights at some point thereafter.


A Russian Progress freighter successfully docked with ISS on Wednesday, rendezvousing with the station using the fast track approach of six hours.


Working for the Democratic Party: Emails now show that IRS officials Lois Lerner and Holly Paz fed private tax information of True the Vote to Democratic Congressmen Elijah Cummings (D-Maryland).

True the Vote was aggressively harassed by multiple federal agencies, including the IRS. Cummings is on the House committee investigating the IRS and Lois Lerner.

You think he has a conflict of interest? I do. And so does the head of the committee, Darrell Issa (R-California).


Scientists have found that Saturn’s hexagon-shaped jet stream is deeply rooted and that its rotation might be revealing the planet’s rotation as well.

Due to the tilt of approximately 27º of the planet Saturn, its polar atmosphere undergoes intense seasonable variations with long polar nights lasting over seven years, followed by a long period of 23 years of variable illumination. However, the seasonal variations do not affect the hexagon and its jet stream at all, so both are part of an extensive wave, deeply rooted in Saturn’s atmosphere. The UPV/EHU researchers suggest that the hexagon and its stream are the manifestation of a “Rossby wave” similar to those that form in the mid-latitudes of the earth. On our planet the jet stream meanders from west to east and brings, associated with it, the system of areas of low pressure and anticyclones which we have been seeing regularly on weather maps.

On Saturn, a hydrogen gas planet, ten times the size of the Earth, cold in its upper clouds, without a solid surface, and with an atmosphere as deep as that of an ocean, “the hexagonal wavy motion of the jet stream is expected to be propagated vertically and reveal to us aspects of the planet’s hidden atmosphere,” pointed out Agustín Sánchez-Lavega, Head of the Planetary Sciences research group. “The movement of the hexagon could therefore be linked to the depths of Saturn, and the rotation period of this structure, which, as we have been able to ascertain, is 10 hours, 39 minutes and 23 seconds, could be that of the planet itself,” he added. Saturn is the only planet in the Solar System whose rotation period is not yet known.


Geologists, using computer models, have reconstructed the size and impact velocity of a giant asteroid that hit the Earth approximately 3.26 billion years ago.

This is a fascinating result, but it is very important to recognize its very large uncertainties. The article for example says almost nothing about how these conclusions were reached, except for this one paragraph:

Lowe, who discovered telltale rock formations in the Barberton greenstone a decade ago, thought their structure smacked of an asteroid impact. The new research models for the first time how big the asteroid was and the effect it had on the planet, including the possible initiation of a more modern plate tectonic system that is seen in the region, according to Lowe. [emphasis mine]

I have highlighted that one word because it reveals a great deal. What they did was to create a computer model of the data they had, which was merely very unusual geology spread over a certain region called the Barberton Greenstone Belt. Note also that this region is not where the impact occurred. “The study’s co-authors think the asteroid hit the Earth thousands of kilometers away from the Barberton Greenstone Belt, although they can’t pinpoint the exact location.”


From a Democrat! Liberal mob rule.

Even for those of us who support same-sex marriage, the virtual manhunt of Mozilla chief Brendan Eich was scary to watch. His heresy was a private donation in support of an anti-gay marriage initiative six years ago. Mob rule enforcing groupthink is as illiberal as it gets, and yet it was liberals demanding uniformity of thought — or else.

Another incident of muzzling those without the proper worldview received less attention. Kickstarter, the nation’s biggest crowd-funding site,refused to accept a film about convicted abortion doctor Kermit Gosnell unless descriptions of his crimes were removed.

Read it all. It is refreshing to see a liberal Democrat recognize and condemn the modern oppression of the left.


Pigs fly! An op-ed in Ebony (!) notes that despite getting an Obamacare insurance policy the writer cannot get any doctor to take her as a patient.

What makes this article even more shocking, coming from a black publication, are the comments, which are almost all strongly critical of Obama and Obamacare, while actually complementing tea party advocates and conservatives for warning that this might happen, beforehand.


Working for the Democratic Party: A government investigation has found evidence of numerous IRS employees of performing illegal political activity, while working, in support of President Obama and fellow Democrats.

These activities were independent of the IRS’s management effort to harass conservatives, and provide further evidence that the tax agency was aggressively using its power during the 2012 election to get Democrats elected.


Congress and NASA administrator Charles Bolden battled over ISS, Russia, crew transport, and commercial space yesterday in a hearing before Congress.

Not surprising. Congress wants to know what NASA will do if Russia pulls out of ISS and Bolden really has few options if they do. He in turn was trying to get Congress to focus on funding commercial space so that we can launch our own astronauts to ISS and not depend on the Russians. A true confederacy of dunces. More here.


Brandeis University withdraws planned honorary degree for Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali.

More than 85 of about 350 faculty members at Brandeis signed a letter asking for Ali to be booted off the list of honorary degree recipients. And an online petition created Monday by students at the school of 5,800 had gathered thousands of signatures from inside and outside the university as of Tuesday afternoon.

Our modern academic community: Willing partners to violent terrorists and to the oppressors of the innocent and weak.


An update on the story of the BLM’s attempt to confiscate a man’s cattle in Nevada while outlawing free speech in vast parts of the land the agency administers.

From the details in this story, it sounds as if the BLM might have some justification to take the man’s cattle. Voiding the Constitution while they do so, however, is unacceptable.


Finding out what’s not in it: From now until January 1 Obamacare does not allow you to buy health insurance.

“It’s all closed down. You cannot buy a policy that is a qualified policy for the purpose of the ACA (the Affordable Care Act) until next year on January 1,” says John DiVito, president of Flexbenefit which has 2,500 brokers.

John Goodman of the National Center for Policy Analysis in Dallas adds, “People are not going to be able to buy individual and family policies, and that’s part of ObamaCare. And what makes it so surprising is the whole point of ObamaCare was to encourage people to get insurance, and now the market has been completely closed down for the next seven months.” That means that with few exceptions, tens of millions of people will be locked out of the health insurance market for the rest of this year.

An open enrollment period has been standard for federal healthcare for decades, but in the private sector you were always free (what a word!) to buy insurance whenever. Obamacare has ended that freedom.


Finding out what’s in it: A survey of health insurance brokers suggests that health insurance rates are increasing at the fastest rate ever seen since these surveys began.

The average increases are in excess of 11% in the small group market and 12% in the individual market. Some state show increases 10 to 50 times that amount. The analysts conclude that the “increases are largely due to changes under the ACA.”

The analysts conducting the survey attribute the rate increases largely to a combination of four factors set in motion by Obamacare: Commercial underwriting restrictions, the age bands that don’t allow insurers to vary premiums between young and old beneficiaries based on the actual costs of providing the coverage, the new excise taxes being levied on insurance plans, and new benefit designs. [emphasis mine]


According to the deputy head of Russia’s space agency, they are not planning any retaliatory sanctions against NASA.

Whew! That’s a relief.

Seriously, I never expected them to do anything, as the sanctions NASA has imposed, excluding ISS, are so minor that they mean nothing to Russia. The only people NASA really hopes will react to these sanctions are Congressmen and Senators when they realize how dependent we are on the Russians to get to space.


Curiosity catches a mysterious flash of light on the Martian horizon.

Be assured, despite what some reports are suggesting, it isn’t an alien flashing a mirror at us. The top theory now is that Curiosity caught a reflection off a “glinty” rock.


The Sun continues to hiccup

It’s sunspot time again! On Monday NOAA posted its monthly update of the solar cycle, showing the sunspot activity for the Sun in February. I am once again posting it here, below the fold, with annotations.

Like it did in January, the Sun’s second peak of the solar maximum continued to beat its first peak, an unprecedented event. Though activity dropped slightly, it still remained above prediction and was only slightly below the first peak’s maximum. Overall, the second peak has been much stronger than the first, something that scientists have never seen before. In the past, when the Sun had a double peaked solar maximum, the second peak was always weaker. Not this time!
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