Tag Archives: Trump

Sessions asks all remaining attorneys appointed by Obama to resign

Better late than never: Attorney General Jeff Sessions today asked the attorneys appointed by Obama that remain in the Justice Department to resign.

The article says that this is standard operating procedure, but that is not entirely true. Until Clinton was president most Justice Department attorneys were long term prosecutors who remained in office from administration to administration. They were not partisan appointees. Clinton changed that when he fired them all. I do not know if Bush followed through and did the same thing, but I tend to doubt it. Obama however would have certainly fired any Bush appointees when he took office.

What makes this significant is that it appears to be the first time that a Republican president since Clinton is fighting back and cleaning house of Democratic appointees.

A Ted Cruz telecon

Last night I did a long radio appearance with Robert Pratt in Texas. While I was on the air with him he received a notice from Senator Ted Cruz’s office, announcing a press telecon today on the just-passed NASA authorization bill. Pratt asked me if I would be willing to attend that telecon as his press correspondence. I agreed.

The telecon has just ended. Cruz’s statements about that NASA authorization were very uncommitted and vague, though he clearly wants to encourage private space. He also was careful not to say bad things about SLS/Orion, since it sends a lot of money to Texas.

I asked him about the lack of any mention of Earth science research in the authorization bill. He noted that during the Obama administration NASA’S climate research had become politicized, and it is his hope that this will now end, that NASA will continue to do this research but that “it will no longer be used for political purposes.” Like his comments about SLS/Orion, this was a careful answer that avoided setting off a firestorm of controversy.

Cruz did say two things of note however during the press teleconference.

  • Cruz and family is having dinner with Trump tonight
  • Cruz has reservations about the Republican proposal on Obamacare

It appears that Cruz is putting aside the ugly events of the campaign in order to try to exert influence on Trump now. It also appears that he intends to discuss the bad Obamacare replacement bill with Trump, pushing for changes to it.

Anti-Trump protesters who threatened violence during inauguration get off scott free

The three protesters who were filmed planning violence during the Trump inauguration by undercover agents of Project Veritas have all pleaded guilty and gotten off with no jail time.

An anti-Trump protester pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiracy for his role in plotting to shut down an inaugural ball by setting off stink bombs and sprinklers. Scott Ryan Charney, 34, was sentenced to community service after agreeing to plead guilty to a charge of conspiracy to commit assault after he was caught on videotape discussing the scheme by Project Veritas.

Charney was the third of three members of the D.C. Anti-Fascist Coalition charged with conspiracy after being captured on hidden-camera video at the Comet Ping Pong pizza parlor in Washington, D.C. Paul “Luke” Kuhn and Colin B. Dunn were sentenced Thursday to community service but no jail time after entering guilty pleas in D.C. Superior Court on unlawful conspiracy to commit an offense.

This is par for the course. Leftwing and Democratic protesters can do whatever they want, including planning and even committing life-threatening violence, and receive no punishment. Rightwing and Republican protesters can sneeze in the wrong direction and end up spending years and their life savings trying to avoid heavy prison sentences or the destruction of their lives.

House approves NASA authorization

The NASA authorization act that the Senate passed on February 21 was approved by the House today.

As I discussed in reviewing the act on February 21, the bill’s overall focus is to shift NASA from running “a space program” to facilitating the success of competing private enterprise. It also eliminates all of NASA’s climate budget so that the money can be spent instead on space exploration.

Trump is expected to sign it. Then will come the hard work, actually writing the budget for NASA.

Democrats make no gains in special elections

Despite their screaming and protesting since the election of Donald Trump, the Democratic Party’s effort to win elections continues to falter.

The Democrat resistance may be generating a lot of noise in Washington, D.C., but so far in 2017, it has shown little impact on elections in the states. Even with hefty financial investments and high profile Democrats lending star power to state-level candidates, Republicans won control of every district they previously held across multiple states that Democrats have won in the last three or more presidential elections, including as recently as yesterday in Connecticut.

Read the whole thing. Essentially, the protests and wild mindless opposition to Trump by Democrats nationwide has failed to persuade anyone who voted for Trump or the Republicans to switch their votes. In fact, the failed Democratic election effort, which included significant campaign spending in some very small local elections, suggests that the voters have been turned off by their almost hateful opposition. Not only did vulnerable Republicans win their special elections, they appear to have generally done so comfortably.

Cuts to NOAA, EPA, and the environmental bureaucracy

Two articles today outline some of the proposed cuts the Trump administration is considering for the EPA and NOAA and their generally bloated and politicized administrative bureaucracies.

The first article focuses on the proposed cuts to the EPA, which would reduce the overall budget to that agency by about 25%.

The Trump administration wants to cut spending by EPA’s Office of Research and Development (ORD) by more than 40% from roughly $510 million to $290 million, according to sources that have seen preliminary directives from the White House’s Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The cuts target scientific work in fields including climate change, air and water quality, and chemical safety. EPA’s $50 million external grant program for environmental scientists at universities would disappear altogether. Such erasures represent just part of a larger plan to shrink EPA’s budget by 25% to $6.1 billion, and cut its workforce by 20% to 12,400 employees, in the 2018 fiscal year that begins 1 October.

The second article focuses on proposed cuts aimed at NOAA and within the Commerce Department, with cuts in specific departments ranging from 5% to 26%, with an overall cut to NOAA of 17%.
» Read more

Senate passes NASA budget that slashes environment spending

While keeping NASA’s overall budget the same, the Senate has passed a NASA budget bill that will slash NASA’s environmental spending and pass the money to other programs within the agency.

The budget zeros out all budget items dedicated to climate research. The budget also outlines a number of important space policy approaches that are now endorsed by Congress:

  • Commercial crew and cargo are fully supported
  • Privatizing ISS is encouraged
  • Congress reaffirms its support of SLS and Orion
  • NASA is asked to prep Orion for ISS flights, using other rockets
  • NASA is tasked to create a roadmap for reaching Mars
  • The Mars roadmap is not restricted to using SLS or Orion
  • An alternative to Obama’s asteroid redirect mission is requested
  • Funding is provided to pay for astronaut health needs
  • NASA science is to focus on astronomy, planets, exoplanets, asteroids, aviation, and space technology

It is expected that the House will also pass the bill, and that Trump will sign it.

I also expect that most of NASA’s climate work will now be shifted to NOAA, under new management. Thus, the climate budgets are adjusted, and the people in charge are changed. A nice way to drain the swamp.

Tilleson starts State Department purge

Cleaning house: The Trump administration carried out major lay-offs in the staffing at high levels of the State Department on Thursday.

Much of seventh-floor staff, who work for the Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources and the Counselor offices, were told today that their services were no longer needed. These staffers in particular are often the conduit between the secretary’s office to the country bureaus, where the regional expertise is centered. Inside the State Department, some officials fear that this is a politically-minded purge that cuts out much-needed expertise from the policy-making, rather than simply reorganizing the bureaucracy.

In addition, it appears that the new Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is also pulling the fangs from many other State Department managers, many of whom have indicated a partisan hostility to the Trump administration.

There are clear signals being sent that many key foreign policy portfolios will be controlled directly by the White House, rather than through the professional diplomats. Not a single State Department official was included in the White House meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu this week.

Good. It is important that federal employees of all stripes learn that a new administration has been elected by the American people, and it is there job to do what that administration wants, not what they want.

NASA considers putting astronauts on first SLS/Orion flight

Faced with indications that Trump wants a manned lunar mission during his first term, NASA’s acting administrator has asked his engineers and management to look into the possibility of putting humans on the first SLS/Orion launch, now set for late in 2018.

As the Acting Administrator, my perspective is that we are on the verge of even greater discoveries. President Trump said in his inaugural address that we will “unlock the mysteries of space.” Accordingly, it is imperative to the mission of this agency that we are successful in safely and effectively executing both the SLS and Orion programs.

Related to that, I have asked Bill Gerstenmaier to initiate a study to assess the feasibility of adding a crew to Exploration Mission-1, the first integrated flight of SLS and Orion. I know the challenges associated with such a proposition, like reviewing the technical feasibility, additional resources needed, and clearly the extra work would require a different launch date. That said, I also want to hear about the opportunities it could present to accelerate the effort of the first crewed flight and what it would take to accomplish that first step of pushing humans farther into space. The SLS and ORION missions, coupled with those promised from record levels of private investment in space, will help put NASA and America in a position to unlock those mysteries and to ensure this nation’s world pre-eminence in exploring the cosmos.

This is incredibly stupid. That first flight will be the very first time SLS will fly. It will also be flying with an upper stage engine that has also never flown before. It will take the Orion capsule to the Moon, when the capsule itself has not yet even done one orbit around the Earth. To put people on it makes no engineering sense at all.

American citizen detained and forced by Customs to unlock his JPL secure phone

Unacceptable: An American citizen, with a legal passport and already part of the TSA security program designed to expedite his passage through customs, was detained at the border and forced to unlock his secure JPL phone so that Customs could access its contents.

Bikkannavar says he arrived into Houston early Tuesday morning, and was detained by CBP after his passport was scanned. A CBP officer escorted Bikkannavar to a back room, and told him to wait for additional instructions. About five other travelers who had seemingly been affected by the ban were already in the room, asleep on cots that were provided for them.

About 40 minutes went by before an officer appeared and called Bikkannavar’s name. “He takes me into an interview room and sort of explains that I’m entering the country and they need to search my possessions to make sure I’m not bringing in anything dangerous,” he says. The CBP officer started asking questions about where Bikkannavar was coming from, where he lives, and his title at work. It’s all information the officer should have had since Bikkannavar is enrolled in Global Entry. “I asked a question, ‘Why was I chosen?’ And he wouldn’t tell me,” he says.

The officer also presented Bikkannavar with a document titled “Inspection of Electronic Devices” and explained that CBP had authority to search his phone. Bikkannavar did not want to hand over the device, because it was given to him by JPL and is technically NASA property. He even showed the officer the JPL barcode on the back of phone. Nonetheless, CBP asked for the phone and the access PIN. “I was cautiously telling him I wasn’t allowed to give it out, because I didn’t want to seem like I was not cooperating,” says Bikkannavar. “I told him I’m not really allowed to give the passcode; I have to protect access. But he insisted they had the authority to search it.”

Even more puzzling: The Customs agents had no interest in Bikkannavar’s carry-ons. It was almost as if they simply wished to humiliate and harass an American citizen, while also accessing his private data (which in this case actually didn’t belong to him).

Trump’s effort to regain control of the borders is perfectly legitimate, especially from countries that are hotbeds of Islamic terrorism. That policy however must not include the abuse of power by border agents. This event, if true, is unacceptable. I can think of no justifiable reason for Customs agents to need to access the private phone of this citizen, especially because he clearly was a legal American and had already obtained government security clearance in several different ways. The agents who did this should be fired.

Trump to the Moon!

Two stories in the past two days strongly suggest that the Trump administration is planning a two-pronged space policy approach, with the long-term goal of shifting most of space to private operations.

From the first link:

The more ambitious administration vision could include new moon landings that “see private American astronauts, on private space ships, circling the Moon by 2020; and private lunar landers staking out de facto ‘property rights’ for American on the Moon, by 2020 as well,” according to a summary of an “agency action plan” that the transition drew up for NASA late last month. Such missions would be selected through an “internal competition” between what the summary calls Old Space, or NASA’s traditional contractors, and New Space characterized by SpaceX and Blue Origin. But the summary also suggests a strong predilection toward New Space. “We have to be seen giving ‘Old Space’ a fair and balanced shot at proving they are better and cheaper than commercial,” it says.

Another thrust of the new space effort would be to privatize low-Earth orbit, where most satellites and the International Space Station operate — or a “seamless low-risk transition from government-owned and operated stations to privately-owned and operated stations.” “This may be the biggest and most public privatization effort America has ever conducted,” it says.

Essentially, they are going to do exactly what I suggested back in late December, give SLS/Orion a short-term realistic goal of going to the Moon. This is what it was originally designed for, and it is the only technology presently available that has even the slightest chance of meeting the three year deadline outlined above. More important, this will give Congress something in the negotiations, as SLS/Orion has been Congress’s baby — pushed and funded by Congress over the objections of the previous administration and without a clear mission to go anywhere — in order to keep the money stream flowing to the big “Old Space” companies like Boeing and Lockheed Martin. Obama tried to simply cancel its predecessor, Constellation, and that did not sit well with Congress. Trump however understands negotiation and how to play the game. In order to eventually eliminate SLS Trump is going to provide Congress some short term excitement and some viable long term alternatives.

The long term alternatives will be private enterprise. Even as they send SLS/Orion on its grand finale to the Moon, the Trump administration will accelerate the restructuring of NASA to make the agency less of a design and construction operation and more a mere customer of private space. All non-military Earth orbital operations will be shifted to the private sector over time, so that once SLS/Orion has achieved that goal of completing a lunar mission there will be a strong enough private space sector to replace it, allowing Congress to let it go the way of Apollo and the space shuttle.

EPA employees protest Trump pick for agency head

The law is such an inconvenient thing: In direct violation of the Hatch Act about 30 EPA employees joined a Sierra Club protest of Trump’s pick to head the EPA, Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt.

In Chicago, around 30 employees of the EPA’s regional office there joined a protest organized by the Sierra Club environmental group and the American Federation of Government Employees to protest Pruitt’s nomination.

Doug Eriksen, a spokesman for Trump’s transition team at the EPA, downplayed the Chicago protest, saying “employees have a right to take action on their private time.”

When I worked for the FAA it was made very clear to me that the Hatch Act made it illegal for any government employee to participate in partisan political activities. Your freedom to vote the way you wished was not denied, nor was your general freedom of speech, but it was considered a clear conflict of interest to engage in political activities, especially activities that might put you in conflict with the policies of the President and his administration, your boss. These EPA employees are violating that law.

I suspect the reason the Trump administration is not very bothered by this is because they intend to cut the staffing at the EPA significantly, which means many of these people will be gone anyway. No need to get into a legal battle with them.Trump will propose slashing the EPA’s budget, the Republican Congress should gladly go along, and these partisan Democratic Party operatives with this government agency will be gone.

Trump jokes about “destroying” Texas politician

Uh-oh: In a conversation with a Texas sheriff about that state’s civil forfeiture laws — in which the state’s sheriff’s can rake in a lot of cash by stealing citizen’s property — the sheriff complained about a state senator who was trying to abolish the law, and Trump responded, “”Do you want to give his name? We’ll destroy his career.”

You can see the video of the joke here.

As noted at the first link above, Trump is clearly joking. Nonetheless, this is not something anyone with Trump’s power should joke about. It is similar to a joke Obama cracked early in his administration about using the IRS to squelch his opponents. The leftist press dismissed it, but that was exactly what Obama eventually did, weaponize the IRS as a tool to attack his political opponents.

I might support some of Trump’s policies, but this statement I find disgusting. There are plenty of lawbreakers (such as the rioters in Berkeley) that Trump would be justified in attacking and “destroying.” A legally elected legislator proposing reasonable changes to law is not one of them. It is this kind of behavior that fueled my doubts about Trump from the start. Worse, it is this kind of behavior that gives ammunition to violent rioters like those in Berkeley. As Trump might tweet, “Very bad!”

Whistleblower exposes climate data manipulation at NOAA

The corruption of climate science: A retired award-winning climate scientist has revealed that the publication of a NOAA paper that claimed the pause in global warming since 1998 did not exist was rushed into publication so that it would appear just prior to the Paris climate conference in 2015.

Worse, the paper’s authors disregarded NOAA’s rules for peer review, destroyed their raw data so that no one could check their results, and purposely threw out data that raised questions about their conclusions.

NOAA’s 2015 ‘Pausebuster’ paper was based on two new temperature sets of data – one containing measurements of temperatures at the planet’s surface on land, the other at the surface of the seas. Both datasets were flawed. This newspaper has learnt that NOAA has now decided that the sea dataset will have to be replaced and substantially revised just 18 months after it was issued, because it used unreliable methods which overstated the speed of warming. The revised data will show both lower temperatures and a slower rate in the recent warming trend.

The land temperature dataset used by the study was afflicted by devastating bugs in its software that rendered its findings ‘unstable’. The paper relied on a preliminary, ‘alpha’ version of the data which was never approved or verified. A final, approved version has still not been issued.

None of the data on which the paper was based was properly ‘archived’ – a mandatory requirement meant to ensure that raw data and the software used to process it is accessible to other scientists, so they can verify NOAA results.

Read the whole article. It is remarkably detailed for a modern newspaper story, delving carefully into the kind of details that must be looked at to truly understand the corruption of science that has taken place in government agencies like NOAA and NASA.

Does this story prove that human-caused global warming is not happening? Of course not. What it does show is that there is fraud going on, and that much of the science press releases issued by these agencies cannot be trusted.

Anti-Trump protesters block ambulance with critically-ill patient

How nice: Anti-Trump protesters blocking a highway in Connecticut today refused to move aside to let an ambulance carrying a critically-ill patient pass by.

Roughly 200 demonstrators marched to Route 34 around 5 p.m. carrying a banner emblazoned with the words “No Ban No Wall New Haven,” they blocked traffic on the highway the ambulance was taking. The protesters “obstructed an ambulance carrying a critically ill patient,” the state police report read, according to the New Haven Independent. “Due to this delay, ambulance personnel were required to perform an emergency medical procedure in the ambulance instead of at the hospital.”

One protester in particular who stood in the ambulance’s path refused to move when asked by police to do so. “The officers tried to guide him out of the way. He pushed an officer trying to get back,” Shift Commander Lt. Sam Brown told the Independent, noting that the man was brought to the ground and arrested.

Congress moves to overturn numerous Obama regulations

Using a 1990s law that allows Congress to overturn regulations with simple majorities, Congress has this week passed a slew of bills doing exactly that.

The article provides a detailed list. What is significant here is that this is only the first week. With a Republican Congress and a Republican President, there is little to prevent the passage of numerous such bills in the coming months. As much as conservatives have fretted in recent years about the cowardice of the Republican leadership, now that they have some control over the situation it appears they are moving to do something concrete and conservative with that control.

Hang on. It is going to be an interesting next few years.

Iran officials thumb their noses at Trump

Responding to Trump administration statements “putting Iran on notice” for its ballistic missile tests in violation of UN resolutions, Iran officials responded today by saying they don’t care and that there is nothing the U.S. can do to stop them.

The most frightening quote from this story however is this:

While Iran says its missile program is aimed at displaying the country’s “deterrent power and its ability to confront any threat”, some IRGC commanders have said that Iran’s medium-range ballistic missiles were designed to be able to hit Israel.

Iran refuses to recognize Israel.

Remember, Iran has already had one leader who advocated wiping Israel off the face of the Earth.

Almost 200 federal workers to take “civil disobedience” class

One hundred and eighty federal workers have signed up to take “civil disobedience” class on how to resist the Trump administration.

Dozens of federal workers have reportedly attended a support group for civil servants that serves as a forum for discussing opposition to the Trump administration. Some federal employees have already expressed defiance against the Trump administration following a gag order, which has since been lifted, that restricted the Environmental Protection Agency and departments of Agriculture and Health and Human Services from contacting the press or posting about the administration on social media.

This will not end well for these federal workers, which in the long run will be good for the American public. These people are not qualified to work in the federal government, because they think they are there to tell us what to do, rather than work for the American taxpayer who pays their salary. They will “resist”, Trump will find out who they are, and then he will fire them.

The private weather industry moves forward

Link here. Key quote:

Early next month, aerospace start-up Spire Global of Glasgow, UK, will send a mini-satellite into space aboard an Indian government rocket. This ‘cubesat’ will join 16 others that are beaming a new type of atmospheric data back to Earth — and some scientists worry that such efforts are siphoning funding away from efforts to push forward the science of weather forecasting. Spire will begin providing observations to the US government on 30 April.

The probes track delays in radio signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites as they pass through the atmosphere — a technique known as radio occultation. Researchers can use the data to create precise temperature profiles of the atmosphere to feed into weather-forecasting models — and eventually, perhaps, climate models.

Spire and its competitor GeoOptics of Pasadena, California, are participating in a pilot project announced in September by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which is under pressure from the US Congress to determine whether it can cut costs by using commercial weather data. But scientists worry that such efforts are hampering the development of radio occultation. For years, they have sought federal funding for a project to advance the technique, but Spire and its competitors say they can offer high-quality data for a fraction of the price. [emphasis mine]

The quotes I have highlighted illustrate the hidebound leftist scientific opposition to introducing private enterprise into weather research. The article, published in the journal Nature, never once articulates in any way how these private efforts will hurt scientific research. What it does show is that the private effort will cost a tenth of the government effort while getting launched much faster. The money, however, will go to these private companies, and not the scientific factions that up until now have lived on the government money train.

The complaints here are the same as those I saw in NASA back about a decade ago when NASA first considered hiring private companies to provide it cargo to ISS. This is a turf war. NOAA is now being pressured by Congress to do the same: stop building big expensive weather satellites and buy the service for much less from the private sector. The scientific community sees this as a threat to its funding and is trying to stop it.

With Republicans controlling all three branches of the federal government I think this opposition will be fruitless, and we shall see the shift to private enterprise in weather data-gathering to accelerate.

Gorsuch picked by Trump for Supreme Court

President Trump tonight named Neil Gorsuch as his pick to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

My fear that Trump would go for the more moderate Thomas Hardiman has proven unfounded. Instead, this more conservative choice once again suggests that Trump is shifting increasingly to the right.

In fact, I think the insane and insulting attacks brought against Trump by the left have actually served to make him more conservative. As Rush Limbaugh noted today,

Would you like an illustration of what I mean by Donald Trump not being ideological and how it’s a problem? He understands he has opposition. How could he not? (chuckles) I mean, I’m sure he knows that he’s got opposition. Don’t misunderstand me, now. And I’m sure that he may have had his eyes opened about some of these people. In his mind, they’re Democrats. Liberal, conservative, that’s not in his lexicon, folks. I’m not offering this as a criticism. It’s just a truth. It’s something that, if you want to understand Trump, then there’s no better deconstructor of Trump and explainer of Trump who’s not in the inner circle than me.

All during the campaign I did my best to explain to everybody — leftists, media, conservative, Republicans, Never Trumpers — who Trump is, why Trump is, why Trump was winning, who Trump’s supporters are. And the thing that I kept saying is, “He’s not ideological.” So he knows he’s got opposition, he knows Democrats, and he’s probably had his eyes opened here. I’m sure that over the course of his life some of these people now calling him names trying to destroy him have been his friends. So his eyes are no doubt opened. I don’t doubt that.

When Trump first announced his candidacy, everything he did and said at that time fit with Limbaugh’s analysis, except that at the time I think Trump was much more middle of the road. I think he truly believed his liberal background working closely with Democrats would make them treat him decently. Instead, they have come at him guns blazing, calling him the worst sort of names, making the most vile accusations against him, and even attacking his family and his children.

The result? Trump has, as Limbaugh notes, had “his eyes opened.” He might not be a philosophical conservative, but more and more it appears that he recognizes the corrupt hate coming from the left, and is less and less inclined to give them an inch. Instead, he moves rightward. I also think this is the same pattern we are seeing nationwide among voters.

Right now the Democrats in the Senate look like they are planning to copy the strategy to try to block Trump’s Cabinet appointees used by Texas and Wisconsin Democrats in 2003 and 2011 respectively.

This is not the first time Democrats have blocked a Republican majority from proceeding by refusing to take their seats and thus denying Republicans a quorum. In 2003, 11 Democrats in the Texas House of Representatives literally fled the state for weeks in order to prevent a redistricting plan favored by Republicans. Eventually, one of them returned and the redistricting plan was passed. More recently, in 2011, Wisconsin Democrats fled to Illinois for three weeks to avoid a vote on Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s budget bill because of provisions that were opposed by Wisconsin unions. However, the GOP-controlled legislature defeated the Democrats’ maneuvers by separating these bills from the budget and passing them separately.

In both cases, the Democrats not only failed to win, but their actions caused the voters to move to the right, voting in more Republicans and significantly reducing Democratic influence in both these states. With Wisconsin the result has been the shift of that state from a blue to a red state.

They say that Einstein called insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. I think this nicely defines the Democratic Party these days.

Trump fires acting AG for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration

At last! President Trump this evening fired the acting attorney general because of her announcement earlier today saying that the Justice Department would not defend in court his executive order on immigration.

The Trump announcement:

The acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, has betrayed the Department of Justice by refusing to enforce a legal order designed to protect the citizens of the United States. This order was approved as to form and legality by the Department of Justice Office of Legal Counsel.

Ms. Yates is an Obama Administration appointee who is weak on borders and very weak on illegal immigration.

It is time to get serious about protecting our country. Calling for tougher vetting for individuals travelling from seven dangerous places is not extreme. It is reasonable and necessary to protect our country.

Tonight, President Trump relieved Ms. Yates of her duties and subsequently named Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, to serve as Acting Attorney General until Senator Jeff Sessions is finally confirmed by the Senate, where he is being wrongly held up by Democrat senators for strictly political reasons.

For more than a quarter century I have watched Republican leaders back down the instant a Democrat whined at them. Every. single. time. This time is different. Trump is not a fearful politician. He is a businessmen, an executive, and someone who expects his employees to support his actions. My first reaction when I read Yates statement earlier today was, “Fire her!” I then laughed because I haven’t seen that common sense reaction from a Republican for decades. I have seen it now.

There is still no guarantee that Trump’s policies or actions are going to be very conservative. For example, the one person out of five listed for possible Supreme Court nominee that I have found very questionable has now risen to the top of the list. Yuch. Nonetheless, Trump seems determined to make significant and positive changes in a number of areas, from immigration to environmental policy and administration. If he only does these things, he will have accomplished much.

Update: State Department officials are putting together a memorandum that will announce their opposition to President Trump’s executive order on immigration. I wonder how long these individuals will survive working for Trump after they do this.

Iran tests ballistic missile despite UN ban

Does this make you feel safer? In direct defiance of a UN ban on such tests, Iran on Sunday completed a new test of a medium range ballistic missile.

The Khorramshahr medium-range ballistic missile flew 600 miles before exploding, in a failed test of a reentry vehicle, officials said. Iran defense minister Brigadier Gen. Hossein Dehqan said in September that Iran would start production of the missile.

I am very curious what Trump will do to try to rein in Iran. I suspect his options will be as limited as Obama’s were, except that he is not likely to sign any make-believe nuclear deals, as Obama did.

A review of Trump’s first 17 executive orders

Link here. The leftwing gnashing of teeth over Trump’s first actions since becoming president have routinely been based not on reality but on their false bigoted perceptions of Trump. The review at the link reveals how incredibly ordinary almost all of Trump’s initial actions have been. Most have been similar to the actions of past newly arrived presidents, from both parties. Many are no more than memos giving his subordinates guidance on what they should do.

Most disturbing has been the uproar over Trump’s suspension of the refugee programs from the seven Middle Eastern Arab countries. He hasn’t banned Muslim immigration. He hasn’t banned travel by those with legitimate green cards. All he has done has taken the seven countries listed by the Obama administration as the worst sources of terrorism and temporarily suspended any immigration from those countries pending a review of the vetting process. This seems completely reasonable, especially considering the number of terrorist attacks the west has experienced in recent years coming from immigrants from these countries. For politicians and academics and entertainers to try to turn this into something it is not out of what seems a blind hatred of Trump tells us how much western intellectual society has declined in recent years.

Trump’s top five picks for Supreme Court

Link here. The author argues, that though some of these individuals have made decisions that some conservatives dislike, their general philosophical and analytical approach to their court decisions make them all strong conservative picks.

I’ve spent the better part of a week researching many of their writings and talking to stalwart constitutionalist leaders about them. All of them are clearly textualist-originalists to a degree Chief Justice Roberts never appeared to be, even when many on the right were applauding Roberts’ 2006 nomination due to his clear sense of one sort of judicial “restraint” and generally conservative political leanings.

Sure, these judges may reach differing conclusions from each other in particular cases, but these will likely be with the infrequency and integrity of, say, the occasional differences between Justice Clarence Thomas and the late Justice Antonin Scalia. What’s important is that each one of them is clear and forthright in applying the same basic method of analyzing each case — namely, by hewing closely to the facts at hand, and carefully considering those facts in light of the exact language of the statutes and/or Constitution (whichever applies) relevant to that case.

All of them do so while clearly operating from a legal-philosophical framework/understanding very much in line with the philosophies so well explained in the seminal Federalist Papers that explained how and why our Constitution was designed as it was.

If that honest decision-making process sometimes leads to individual case results that do not comport to the policy preferences of a subset of conservatives, so be it. The real safeguard for our liberties lies in that analytical process undertaken by those well steeped in a Federalist-paper worldview. The reality is that in the vast majority of cases, the right constitutional approach will lend aid to the right policy results, because the Constitution and conservative policies both tend toward limited government, maximum liberty under straightforward law, and a respect for the realms in which traditional institutions of family and faith are honored and cherished. For every policy disappointment that might result from such an approach to constitutional jurisprudence, surely 15 or 20 policy triumphs will occur. [emphasis in original]

While I agree with the author in general, his discussion of one particular candidate, Thomas Hardiman, did nothing for me. Based on what I read, Hardiman is now my least favored choice among the names Trump is considering.

Regardless, read it all. The article indicates once again that while Trump might have once been a liberal Democrat, his leanings now are increasingly in a conservative direction.

Trump “clamp down” no different than past transitions

It seems that the so-called clamp down on press releases and announcement by the Trump administration is not that unusual and is actually comparable to what was done when Obama took power.

The memo at the USDA was especially routine, despite the reports.

Similar news came out about a “gag order” for a small branch of the Department of Agriculture, which led to Buzzfeed to report “USDA Scientists Have Been Put On Lockdown Under Trump.” “Starting immediately and until further notice” the Agricultural Research Service “will not release any public-facing documents,” reads the memo obtained by Buzzfeed. The memo was rescinded Tuesday after a media firestorm.

But Trump never ordered the “lockdown.” In fact, the memo to USDA researches was sent by Agriculture Sec. Tom Vilsack, President Obama’s appointee. “This memo is not some sort of creative writing exercise,” Michael Young, acting deputy secretary of the Agriculture Department, told NYT. “This is almost exactly what was issued eight years ago. I just updated it a bit.”

As much as I want such a clamp down, especially for those agencies that have become badly politicized, it does appear that the only thing happening here is a bit of panic by the left, by the media (I repeat myself), and by some federal workers. Essentially, they are squealing like pigs out of fear that they will no longer have their way, and the press is picking up the oinks and running with it.

Trump threatens to “send in the Feds” to control Chicago violence

Not good: In a tweet late Tuesday President Trump threatened to send federal officials to Chicago if that city doesn’t do something to reduce its out-of-control homicide rates.

No one knows what Trump really meant, since this was merely a tweet on Twitter, but to suggest that he thinks the federal government has a place fixing local police crime is very inappropriate. Even if the federal government succeeded once in shutting down Chicago’s crime rate, it would set a bad precedent, expanding terribly the power of the federal government into very local matters.

Trump has enough problems to fix at the federal level, in his own executive branch. He should stay focused on that.

Project Veritas videos lead to one arrest

The undercover videos released last week by Project Veritas, showing evidence that anti-Trump protesters were planning violent acts of terrorism during the Trump inauguration, have now led to one arrest.

More important, the police think the videos acted to stop much of the mayhem the protesters were planning.

A D.C. police spokesman has confirmed that a secret video recording made Dec. 18 by one of O’Keefe’s operatives led to the arrest of one man and foiled an alleged plot to spread acid at the DeploraBall for Trump supporters at the National Press Club. It was not clear whether the alleged plotters ever obtained the acid.

Law enforcement authorities said they think that the successful penetration of DisruptJ20, an umbrella organization for a number of groups that police said sought to wreak havoc at the inauguration, forced it to abandon plans to try to shut down Metro trains and block entrances into the District, according to two law enforcement officials with knowledge of the investigation.

The police are also looking for two other men on the videos.

Trump shuts down public communications at numerous federal agencies

As part of their effort to gain control of the executive branch, the new Trump administration has ordered a range of federal agencies to cease all press releases and other forms of public communications.

New restrictions on social media use and interaction with press and lawmakers at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the departments of Commerce, Health and Human Services, Agriculture and the Interior have sparked concerns of a President Trump-backed effort to silence dissenting views.

The Trump administration’s newly imposed communications rules vary at different agencies. At the EPA, staffers were ordered to stop issuing press releases, blog updates and social media posts, according to a memo to employees. The Agriculture Department’s research arm was reportedly told by its chief of staff to stop issuing news releases, photos and other “public-facing” documents — although the agency disavowed the order late Tuesday, saying that new guidance would replace it.

The new prohibitions come as Trump seeks to reverse many of former President Barack Obama’s policies, which requires the cooperation of a federal workforce that is broadly perceived to be hostile to him.

As is typical for an article written by a mainstream Washington news outlet, the story does whatever it can to take the side of these federal employees, all of whom work for us and for the President. They don’t have a say in this. If they don’t like Trump’s policies, then they can quit and find jobs in some leftwing Democratic political organization, not paid for by tax dollars.That is their right, just as it is Trump’s right to clamp down on their leftwing advocacy.

Or they can be fired, as will likely happen to many managers at the National Park Service, based on the following quotes from the article:

In an apparent act of defiance, the official Twitter account for Badlands National Park in South Dakota on Tuesday afternoon posted information about climate change.

And this:

The moves come after Trump was reportedly infuriated over reporting on the turnout at his inauguration, which included a viral photo comparison showing Friday’s crowd next to the one that attended Obama’s 2009 swearing-in. The tweet was retweeted by the National Park Service (NPS).

In the first case whoever runs the official Twitter National Park service account at Badlands acted in outright defiance of his employer, certain grounds for firing anywhere in the real world. In the second case the Park Service very clearly was pushing a political agenda, something that is none of their business, and also justifiable grounds for dismissal.

Then again, the management at the National Park Service has been working for the Democratic Party and its political goals for years. Firing the entire upper management there would probably be entirely appropriate, even if they didn’t do something defiant at this particular moment.

Trump’s 1st NASA appointees suggest future policy

A memo released January 20 from NASA’s acting administrator accepting the job also announced the first Trump appointees to NASA. The history and policy positions of those two appointees I think once again give us a very clear indication of where NASA might be going in the coming years.

[Acting administrator Robert] Lightfoot, in the memo, said that the administration has appointed Erik Noble to serve as White House senior advisor and Greg Autry to be White House liaison. The two are the first members of the so-called “beachhead team” of administration staffers assigned to NASA, at least on a short-term basis.

Autry is an assistant professor of entrepreneurship at the University of Southern California who has been a proponent of commercial space activities. Autry was one of eight members of the agency review team, or “landing team,” assigned to NASA by the transition office of then President-elect Trump.

Noble did not serve on the landing team, but worked on the Trump campaign as a political data analyst. Noble, who earned a Ph.D. in environmental studies from the University of Colorado, spent seven years at the NASA Goddard Institute of Space Studies in New York, working on weather and climate models. [emphasis mine]

Autry, believes strongly in private space, and has also been a critic of SLS/Orion. Being placed at NASA as Trump’s first appointee strongly suggests that a Trump administration is going to accelerate the commercial space push that was begun by the Bush administration and then strongly supported by the Obama administration. It also suggests that the SLS and Orion projects are going to face a difficult future and will likely be phased out.

Noble’s appointment is more important. As a former scientist at the Goddard Institute, he is now well positioned to possibly appoint a new head to that organization, or even become its head himself. The present person in charge there, Gavin Schmidt, has increasingly become suspect as a scientist, instead appearing more as global warming political advocate. Since he took over that Institute, the climate data there has been increasingly tampered with, with past data being cooled and recent data being warmed, thus creating the impression that the Earth’s climate has been warming more than indicated by all previous research. Schmidt’s explanations for these “adjustments” (the term he uses) have never been satisfactory. He then uses the results from these “adjustments” to make annual press releases declaring each year as the “hottest” ever, though the raw data shows no such thing.

Even if Noble does not replace Schmidt, Noble appears well positioned to force Schmidt to either finally justify his data adjustments, or remove them from the data stream so that the raw data will be allowed to dominate policy decisions once again.

Anti-Trump protesters riot in DC

Fascists: Anti-Trump rotesters from the same coalition that Project Veritas taped planning violence in DC on inauguration day are now rioting and committing violence in DC on inauguration day.

The violence includes blocking roads, checkpoints, breaking windows, and setting fires, among other nasty behavior. The link provides a nice roundup, with videos.

Note that I call these protesters fascists not because the oppose Trump, but because they are willing to commit violence against him and his supporters, merely because they disagree. Note too that I myself would even support such violence, if a president started abusing the consitutional rights of citizens and begin ruling like a dictator. So far, however, no one has the right to accuse Trump of doing this, as there is zero evidence of him being anything more than a moderate liberal who appears to be shifting rightward as he ages.

One more point: These protesters are probably doing more to encourage a second Trump term than they can imagine. They are revealing their fascist nature for all to see. And I strongly believe that most Americans will be turned off by this.

Posted from lovely McCarran airport in Las Vegas, where I am stuck for an extra hour because of weather delays.

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