Republicans criticize Obama administration for program attacking legal businesses

Fascists: At House hearings yesterday Republican congressmen attacked the FDIC for creating a program that encouraged banks to cease any dealings with businesses the Obama administration happened to dislike.

Rep. Sean Duffy (R-Wis.) called on a top banking regulator to fire top employees or step down himself after certain businesses saw their accounts shuttered as part of a government program known as “Operation Choke Point.” Banking regulators have since walked back guidance that was interpreted by some as calling for banks to halt operations with entire types of businesses, but GOP lawmakers say regulators that pushed that notion still need to be held accountable. “I fear that activists at the Department of Justice and [Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation] are abusing their power and authority,” said Duffy. “They’re weaponizing government to meet their ideological beliefs.”

Martin Gruenberg, chairman of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, told lawmakers Tuesday that bank examiners had misinterpreted regulatory guidance to suggest that entire categories of businesses should be barred from traditional banking services. He said earlier guidance outlining high-risk areas had been “misunderstood,” leading examiners to believe that banks should not be providing services to certain types of businesses, like payday lenders and firearms dealers. [emphasis mine]

The FDIC simply decided that certain legal businesses, specifically businesses liberals in the Obama administration were strongly hostile to, should be barred from access to banks. They weren’t illegal. They simply were disliked by liberals. The result was that many of these businesses were forced to shut down.

This quote best illustrates who was and continues to be willing to use the power of government to attack legal businesses they happen to dislike:

But Duffy accused Gruenberg of “slow walking” the matter, having failed to punish FDIC employees that pushed banks to cut services with certain industries. He went so far as to suggest that if Gruenberg did not punish those employees, he should step down as chief regulator. “I don’t think you want to hold them accountable,” said Duffy. “If you can’t go after the problem in the FDIC…you have no place as the chairman.”

For their part, Democrats largely defended the FDIC as attempting to properly implement policy and protect the banking sector.

So, the Democrats think it’s a good idea. Interestingly, Democrats took an almost identical position in regards to the IRS harassment of conservatives. To me, it seems kind of fascist. But who am I to say?

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Rosetta makes the first detection of nitrogen at a comet

Rosetta has made the first detection of molecular nitrogen in the coma of Comet 67P/C-G.

The in situ detection of molecular nitrogen has long been sought at a comet. Nitrogen had only previously been detected bound up in other compounds, including hydrogen cyanide and ammonia, for example. Its detection is particularly important since molecular nitrogen is thought to have been the most common type of nitrogen available when the Solar System was forming. In the colder outer regions, it likely provided the main source of nitrogen that was incorporated into the gas planets. It also dominates the dense atmosphere of Saturn’s moon, Titan, and is present in the atmospheres and surface ices on Pluto and Neptune’s moon Triton.

It is in these cold outer reaches of our Solar System in which the family of comets that includes Rosetta’s comet is believed to have formed.

Wisconsin to evict Amish family from their home

Fascists: Because an Amish family’s religious beliefs forbid them from using modern technology, the state of Wisconsin plans to evict them from their home.

At a Monday hearing, a Circuit Court judge ordered the Eau Claire County sheriff’s office to evict Amos and Vera Borntreger, a farming couple with four children under the age of six, from their home in the Old Order Amish community of Fairchild, Wisconsin. The order comes as the latest development in a five-year battle with the Borntregers, who like other Wisconsin Amish families say they cannot even sign Uniform Dwelling Code permits without violating their faith.

“The Amish object to the new UDC requirements that require modern technology such as smoke alarms—a modern convenience expressly prohibited by their religion,” said the National Committee for Amish Religious Freedom, Eau Claire Chapter, in a Monday statement. “The Amish are willing to pay the fees, but claim that even signing the permit violates their religious beliefs because the form states they would be ‘subject to’ regulations that require modern electricity and plumbing,” the statement said.

We must remember that humans lived freely without this technology for most of human history. To force someone to have it, even when it is against their religious beliefs, is plain fascism. Under such an oppressive rule, freedom cannot exist.

Russians to offer tourists six-month tour on ISS

The competition heats up: The Russians are considering offering tourists the ability to buy a full six month tour on ISS when they resume tourist flights in 2018.

They don’t yet have any customers for such a flight, but in order to make some money, or “lowering the budgetary load” as they put it, they are considering offering it.

Whose side is Obama on?

I ask this frightening question because it is becoming increasingly clear that Obama’s loyalties do not seem to be firmly lodged on the side of western civilization, the United States, or even our allies in the Middle East, both Jewish and Muslim.

To give you an idea, here is a small selection of links:

The last is interesting in that it includes these comments by Obama:

In a Nowruz (Persian New Year) video address, Obama said that a “reasonable nuclear deal… can help open the door to a brighter future for you, the Iranian people. I believe that our nations have a historic opportunity to resolve this issue peacefully — an opportunity we should not miss,” added Obama.

The collection above is only a sampling in the past week. It ignores past stories, such as Obama’s snub of the Charlie Hebdo demonstrations in France, for example.

I repeat: Whose side is Obama on? The evidence sure is mounting that he is not allied with the United States.

New bill would repeal Patriot Act

Some good news: Two Congressmen have introduced legislation to repeal the Patriot Act as well as end all unconstitutional domestic spying by government agencies.

The article notes that there is bi-partisan support for “doing something” about the out-of-control surveillance of federal agencies like the National Security Agency. I agree. Expect something like this to get passed. Whether Obama will veto it is another question. Despite what he says (which no one should every believe), he likes the idea of prying into the lives of private citizens.

More Democrats discover the Obamacare law they wrote is a bad law

Finding out what’s in it: A group of Democratic senators, all supporters of Obamacare, are now begging Obama to delay implementation of one aspect of the law they wrote and voted for.

In a letter exclusively obtained by The Daily Caller, Senate Democrats pleaded with Health and Human Services secretary Sylvia Matthews Burwell to delay an Obamacare rule change that puts companies with 51 to 100 employees in the costlier “small group” market instead of the “large group” market. The rule change, which will result in higher premiums for many companies, goes into effect in 2016. The letter was signed by Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill, Heidi Heitkamp, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Jon Tester and independent Sen. Angus King, who caucuses with the Democrats.

Some of these Democrats were not in Congress when the law passed, but since then they have all voted against all Republican proposals to change or repeal the law, including proposals that wanted to do this very thing.

But they are Democrats! They are so very smart! And they care! It must be Bush’s fault Obamacare was passed!

Poles cheer as an American military convoy passes through

Those evil American imperialists! As an American military convoy passed through the Polish Bialystok during a NATO exercise the entire town came out to cheer.

Gee, I wonder if the Poles would give the Russians or Germans or maybe any other foreign army the same greeting. In fact, isn’t it strange that this is the same greeting American troops get from ordinary people in every nation they have ever gone to? Could it be because we as a nation have never gone to conquer but only to liberate? Could it be because once we are finished these places have always been better off than before we got there? Could it be because we have always demanded that freedom, justice, and the rule of law be the guidebook for the local regimes we leave behind?

Nah, none of that can be true. My leftwing college professors told me that America is the source of all evil in the world. That must be true. They couldn’t have lied to me.

Curiosity finds nitrates on Martian surface

Using data from Curiosity scientists have for the first time identified nitrates, also called fixed nitrogen, on the Martian surface.

There is no evidence to suggest that the fixed nitrogen molecules found by the team were created by life. The surface of Mars is inhospitable for known forms of life. Instead, the team thinks the nitrates are ancient, and likely came from non-biological processes like meteorite impacts and lightning in Mars’ distant past.


Features resembling dry riverbeds and the discovery of minerals that form only in the presence of liquid water suggest that Mars was more hospitable in the remote past. The Curiosity team has found evidence that other ingredients needed for life, such as liquid water and organic matter, were present on Mars at the Curiosity site in Gale Crater billions of years ago.

The data also suggests that these nitrates are widespread on the Martian surface.

The most important aspect of this discovery to me is not so much that it suggests the faint possibility of past life on Mars but that it makes Mars a more hospitable place for life in the future. Nitrates are essentially fertilizer, and for Mars to have this material in the soil already means it will be easier to figure out how to grow crops there.

Sierra Nevada makes deal with Houston airport authority for Dream Chaser landings

Sierra Nevada has made an agreement with Houston’s airport authority to use Ellington Airport there to land its Dream Chaser spacecraft.

This announcement is part of the public relations push going on right now as NASA prepares to award its next round of cargo freighter contracts to two private companies. Sierra Nevada has bid to use an unmanned version of Dream Chaser to launch that cargo.

Opportunity’s flash memory reformatted successfully

A three month old flash memory problem on the Mars rover Opportunity has finally been fixed by reformatting the rover’s memory banks.

Since the problem came up in December they have been operating the rover without any flash memory, essentially running it on the equivalent of its ram memory. This fix allows them to once again store data on the rover and gives them more flexibility of operation.

A photo tour of Vostochny

The Siberian Times has posted a very interesting photo tour of Russia’s new spaceport, Vostochny, presently under construction.

The article is very much a propaganda piece pushed by the Russian government (some photos were actually taken by Russian First Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin himself), but it still gives you a sense of the scale and size of the project.

It is quite instructive to compare how the Russians do things, with a giant public works project costing $5 billion and taking more than a decade to build, with how the Americans do things, with a small privately-built space port being constructed by SpaceX in Brownsville for mere millions and in only a few years.

India extends Mangalyaan’s mission by six months

Western slopes of Arsia Mons

Having successfully completed its nominal six month mission and continuing to operate perfectly, ISRO has extended the mission of India’s Mangalyaan Mars orbiter for another six months.

Take a gander at the images the orbiter has been sending down. Quite impressive. The cropped image on the right shows the western slopes of the giant volcano Arsia Mons, with white water vapor hovering above those slopes. (Click on the image for the full resolution version.) The water vapor is significant because scientists believe that this region once had many glaciers, and that much of that water is still present and trapped below the surface as ice, possibly in many of the caves that are there. The vapor’s presence, a routine occurance here, strengthens this theory.

Test flight of rail-guided launcher delayed to October

The competition heats up: The first test flight of a rail-guided military small satellite launcher has been delayed until October 2015.

“Launch delays of the new launch system were driven primarily by technical development challenges on the first stage motor including design and delivery of the rocket motor case and the integrated rocket motor,” Anttonen said in a response to written questions from Spaceflight Now. “This motor is now complete along with the rest of the launch vehicle, and the launch is on hold pending an opening in the range schedule,” Anttonen said.

The launch system is designed to provide launch capability for small satellites like cubesats, with a launch cost of $12 to $15 million. If successful, it will be a direct competitor to Virgin Galactic’s LauncherOne, except that it appears it might be operational first.

Russian tourism flights to resume in 2018

The competition heats up: Faced with the loss of income from NASA in 2017, when private commercial ferries take over the job of bringing Americans to ISS, Russian officials today revealed that they plan to resume launching tourists to the station in 2018.

The problem the Russians will have then is that they will have competition from the American companies, who will likely be able to compete in price with them, and will be easier to work with.

GAO says IRS taxpayer security stinks!

This will make your day: A GAO report has found the IRS financial security system has gigantic holes, including allowing former employees access to taxpayer confidential records long after they have left the agency.

The GAO report says the IRS uses old outdated software without proper security functions. IRS passwords can easily be compromised, the report notes. Even worse, the report says the IRS does not always delete employee access when workers quit or are fired.

But don’t worry. The IRS might not be able to protect your private data, but it is still very good at losing the emails of employees like Lois Lerner, who do the work the Democratic Party needs done, such as using the tax code to harass their political opponents.

Henry Mancini – The Baby Elephant Walk

An evening pause: From the 1962 Howard Hawks film Hatari!, this scene, and the music that goes with it, shows off the film’s light-hearted adventurous tone. And yes, that’s John Wayne following the girl. Since then this music has been reused innumerable times in youtube pet videos.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.

The myth of Netanyahu’s racism

A close analysis of last week’s elections in Israel finds that the place where Netanyahu got the most votes was an Arab village.

The residents were uninterested in any of the accusations of racism being aimed at Netanyahu by the media. Instead they were interested in housing. As one resident put it, “I used to sleep in a cave with my goats. Now I ask my daughter what wallpaper she wants in her room.”

The article provides a very detailed and educational breakdown of the Arab vote, which is far more complicated than portrayed by the leftwing media. For example, in other areas the Arabs voted not for Netanyahu but for another right-wing party in his coalition. If the right was so bigoted, as the left likes to claim, why did this happen?

Supreme Court upholds voter ID again

The Supreme Court today turned down a challenge to Wisconsin’s new voter ID law, essentially allowing it to become fully effective.

This is not the first time the court has upheld voter ID. Moreover, the decision today is another political victory for Scott Walker, who pushed the legislation through, and a defeat for Democrats and the left, which for some reason fear a system that will make sure voter fraud is difficult if not impossible.

Watch the break up of Pangea!

Geoscientists have created a short video showing the break-up of the giant continent Pangea, beginning 187 million years ago and showing the changes in million year increments.

It is very cool to watch today’s continents slowly come into view. Make sure especially that you watch India as it suddenly starts to fly north at a relatively fast speed to smash into Asia.

Largest ancient meteorite impact found?

The uncertainty of science: Scientists doing geothermal research in Australia have discovered evidence of what they think is the largest known impact zone from an meteorite on Earth.

The zone is thought to be about 250 miles across, and suggests the bolide split in two pieces each about 6 miles across before impact. The uncertainty is that the evidence for this impact is quite tentative:

The exact date of the impacts remains unclear. The surrounding rocks are 300 to 600 million years old, but evidence of the type left by other meteorite strikes is lacking. For example, a large meteorite strike 66 million years ago sent up a plume of ash which is found as a layer of sediment in rocks around the world. The plume is thought to have led to the extinction of a large proportion of the life on the planet, including many dinosaur species.

However, a similar layer has not been found in sediments around 300 million years old, Dr Glikson said. “It’s a mystery – we can’t find an extinction event that matches these collisions. I have a suspicion the impact could be older than 300 million years,” he said.

In other words, they find some evidence that an impact occurred, but not other evidence that is expected to be found with such an impact. Moreover, the rocks at the sedimentary layer where the impact is found are dated around 300 million years ago, a time when no major extinction took place. Either this impact didn’t really happen, or it didn’t happen when it appears it should have, or it shows that large impacts don’t necessarily cause mass extinctions.

Further SLS delays loom

A report by NASA’s inspector general finds that the planned first launch of the SLS rocket in November 2018 is threatened with delay because the ground facilities at Kennedy might not be ready.

In a report released Wednesday, NASA’s Office of Inspector General warned that Ground Systems Development and Operations, or GSDO, may be hard-pressed to have Kennedy Space Center’s launch facilities ready on time. Ground systems are a critical piece of the SLS-Orion infrastructure. All three elements are tightly integrated, with ground systems requiring significant input from the rocket and capsule designs. “GSDO cannot finalize and complete its requirements without substantial input for the other two programs,” said Jim Morrison, the assistant inspector general for audits. “And NASA is still finalizing the requirements for those programs.”

Gee, I guess SLS isn’t getting enough money, as its budget is only about $3 billion per year (about six times what the commercial space program gets per year, a program that has already created two freighter systems for ISS and is now creating two manned ferry systems for ISS). Why don’t we give them more, so that even more won’t be done with the money we spend?

“No Republican should vote for her confirmation.”

Guess who said it. You will be surprised.

As noted at the webpage, these comments raise the likelihood considerably that Loretta Lynch’s appointment for U.S. attorney general will be voted down by the Senate. Such a defeat would be a first by the Republicans against a liberal appointee, in my lifetime.

Federal government moves to seize water rights from Montanans

Under the radar theft: The federal government, in league with the Montana state legislature, is moving to seize the privately-held water rights of 100,000 Montana citizens and hand those rights over to the Flathead Indian Reservations, after which the rights would be controlled and administered by the federal government.

The tale of woe begins with the Hellgate Treaty of 1855 that created the Flathead Indian Reservation. Article III of the Treaty is the point of contention, as it states the Indian tribes have an established “right of taking fish” in waters not on the reservation. The article has been selectively interpreted and further manipulated to this end: the tribes must be able to ensure water quality of their fishing sites; therefore, the water rights in 11 counties must fall under the Tribal jurisdiction.

Enter the EPA to set standards of water quality, the Water Compact Commission, a board that is relentlessly pushing the compact on the populace, the Department of the Interior, the bureaucracy that will collect and manage revenue “on behalf” of the tribes, and the DHS, the enforcement arm of compliance. Should the tribes and the aforementioned players win this fight, all surface water and wells (private wells, mind you) within the boundaries imposed by the Compact will be metered and taxed.

The whole thing is a travesty and should be a moot point in reality: Article I of the same treaty ceded, relinquished, and conveyed (by the tribes) all rights or claims to any land and waters except the Reservation. The State Senate just voted on it a few weeks ago. The Senate holds 29 Republicans and 21 Democrats; however, 11 Republicans voted for the Compact and the measure passed, 32-18. The bottom line: there was not one dissenting Democratic vote on the whole measure.

The conflict here is obviously complex, but the result seems pretty simple. While before private citizens owned their own private wells (dug with their money and sweat), afterward those wells would be controlled by government bureaucrats, who will use that power to tax and regulate the use of those wells. As the article notes, if this should pass it will “set a precedent for the courts throughout the United States by the Federal Government to deprive us of our water rights.”

But who cares? Let’s instead go ga-ga over a stupid ill-advised publicity campaign from a stupid overpriced coffee company.

Want to help name Pluto’s features? You can!

The New Horizons science team is asking the public to help name the planet’s features it expects to see when the spacecraft flies past Pluto on July 14.

I should mention that the project scientist for New Horizons is Alan Stern, who also happened to be a major player in the private space effort called Uwingu, which previously offered the public the opportunity to name features on Mars, without IAU approval.

In the case of New Horizons, Stern is kind of forced to work with the IAU, since the project is funded by NASA and NASA would never challenge a fellow bureaucracy like IAU.

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