Leftist activist arrested for inciting riot at Capitol

A leftist activist who is very anti-Trump and heads an organization founded in support of Black Lives Matter causes has been arrested by the FBI for participating and inciting the riot that occurred at the Capitol Building on January 6th.

[John] Sullivan, the founder of “an activist group formed after the killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020” entitled Insurgence USA which “calls itself anti-fascist and protests police brutality,” insisted he was only inside the U.S. Capitol on January 6th to “record.”

…The 18-page affidavit reveals that Sullivan allegedly incited violence by exclaiming “we gotta get this [expletive] burned” and “it’s our house mother[expletive].” … During one of his interactions with others, Sullivan can be heard in the video saying, “We gotta get this [expletive] burned.” At other times as he is walking through the Capitol, Sullivan can be heard saying, among other things, “it’s our house mother[expletive]” and “we are getting this [expletive].”

At this link you can see a video of Sullivan speaking at what appears to be a DC rally, threatening violence and insurrection against Trump.

He is not the only one arrested, and his leftist agenda only illustrates that the politics of the individuals who attacked the Capitol Building were not all the same. It also adds weight to the possibility that many who were there were not there in support of Trump, as has now become the accepted but very unproven wisdom, but might actually have been there to help slander those Trump supporters.

And I still want to know more about that woman in the pink hat.

Blacklists are back and the Democrats have got ’em

The Bill of Rights, cancelled

They’re coming for you next: Oh boy, it’s the 1950s again and its time for witchhunts from Congress and big corporations.

Unlike the 1950s, however, the question will not be whether you have ever been a member of the Communist Party. No, now the question will be much more effective and to the point. It will be “Have you ever been conservative or a member of the Republican Party?”

And as always, today’s progressive Democratic Party is on the ball! Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has revealed members of the House are planning to form a commission to “rein in” conservative media, to prevent them from “spewing disinformation and misinformation.”

During a lengthy Instagram Live on Tuesday evening where she revealed that she feared for her life during the siege, the “Squad” member accused the mainstream media of “spewing disinformation” ahead of the deadly riot in which five people died.

“There’s absolutely a commission that’s being discussed but it seems to be more investigating in style rather than truth and reconciliation,” she said. “I do think that several members of Congress in some of my discussions have brought up media literacy because that is part of what happened here,” Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) went on. “We’re going to have to figure out how we rein in our media environment so you can’t just spew disinformation and misinformation,” she said.

Hey, Alexandria, I’ve got the perfect name for your congressional commission. Why not call it the House Un-American Activities Committee? You could subpoena right-wing writers and journalists to testify against their will in Congress, demanding to know their party affiliations. You could also set up lists of these proven conservatives so that businesses nationwide can blacklist them and keep them from working.

In fact, many of big corporations, their boards dominated by Democrats, are already ahead of the curve, cutting off all donations to all Republicans who simply wanted to find out if there was election fraud in the 2020 election. Other businesses in turn have begun firing anyone who worked for Trump.

It is obvious, Alexandra, that the work will be rewarding and productive. Get that committee going. Send out those subpoenas. Harass those witnesses.

We can’t have those evil Republicans poisoning our glorious socialist paradise, can we?

Space Force picks Alabama for its future headquarters

In a victory for Alabama and its politicians, the U.S. Space Force has chosen the Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville as the location for its future headquarters.

The selection of Redstone Arsenal is a huge win for Huntsville, nicknamed “Rocket City.” U.S. Space Command is currently based at Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs. Alabama was considered a long shot and Colorado was the front runner, given its incumbent status and concentration of military installations and space industry contractors.

U.S. Space Command was established in August 2019 as the military’s 11th unified combatant command. The future headquarters will have approximately 1,400 military and civilian personnel.

While there are many good reasons to pick Huntsville, I guarantee a major factor was the clout exercised by Senator Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), head of the Senate appropriations committee. He will no longer be in charge of the committee with the new Senate, but in his final act as head he likely used it to get the Space Force to move to his state.

This decision however is not yet final. According to government officials, it will take six years (!) to make the move, and already the politicians in Colorado, where the Space Command is presently based, are lobbying to rescind it.

Republican congressman Doug Lamborn, who represents Colorado Springs, sent a letter to President-elect Biden urging him to reverse what he called a “political decision” to move U.S. Space Command to Alabama. “I am disappointed by the horrendous decision to rip U.S. Space Command out of its home in Colorado Springs and move it to a new location,” said Lamborn.

As always, pork is the goal, not defending the U.S. in the most effective manner.

NASA moves up static fire test of SLS core stage

NASA today announced that it has rescheduled the full duration static fire engine test of the core stage of SLS’s first stage, moving it up one day to this coming Saturday, January 16th.

During the test, engineers will power up all the core stage systems, load more than 700,000 gallons of cryogenic, or supercold, propellant into the tanks and fire all four engines at the same time.

If all goes right, that test will last about 8 minutes, the full time those engines are intended to fire during launch.

For SLS a lot rides on this test. Should anything go wrong, it will likely delay the launch, presently scheduled for November (though there are rumors this date is no longer likely). And since we now have a new administration taking power that is also linked politically with the previous Obama administration that was generally uninterested in SLS, a failure during this test could very well signal the death knell for this vastly over-budget and far behind schedule project.

For SLS to survive, this test must succeed, and fire for its full duration.

Congress frees Europa Clipper from SLS

It appears that Congress has at last removed its requirement that the unmanned probe Europa Clipper must be launched on the continually delayed and very expensive SLS rocket.

Almost unnoticed, tucked into the 2021 fiscal NASA funding section of the recently passed omnibus spending bill, is a provision that would seem to liberate the upcoming Europa Clipper mission from the Space Launch System (SLS).

According to Space News, the mandate that the Europa Clipper mission be launched on an SLS remains in place only if the behind-schedule and overpriced heavy lift rocket is available and if concerns about hardware compatibility between the probe and the launcher are resolved. Otherwise, NASA is free to search for commercial alternatives to get the Europa Clipper to Jupiter’s ice-shrouded moon.

Not only will this secure Europa Clipper’s launch schedule, which had deadlines imposed by orbital mechanics that SLS was not going to meet, the more than $1 billion in savings by using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy will allow the probe to do more while giving NASA more money for other planetary missions.

This is excellent news. It signals that Congress’s long love affair with SLS because of the ample pork it sends to many districts might finally be waning. If so, there is a good chance it will finally be killed, freeing up its bloated budget.

Sadly, in a sane world some of those savings would be used to reduce the overall federal deficit even as some was also used to expand NASA’s space effort. We are not in a sane world, however, so expect no reduction in the federal budget, at all.

Still, this is a move by Congress towards some fiscal responsibility that will make NASA’s efforts more efficient. For that small improvement we should be grateful.

Is the ultimate Republican Party failure theater about to happen?

The dead Constitution

For the past thirty years the Republican Party has been amazingly consistent in almost every political battle put before it by the increasingly leftist and radical Democratic Party. Almost every single time, the leaders of this so-called conservative political party have put on a big show of resisting the leftist and radical proposals put forth by Democrats, only in the end to back down, making a deal that allows those policies to take effect in some manner or another.

I am not sure who originally coined the term, but in recent years this incompetence has often been called “failure theater.” The Republican Party justifies its failures by citing the big theatrical fight they put on. They then promise they will fight harder next time, only to fail again. And again. And again.

This failure theater has been going on repeatedly for decades, since Ronald Reagan was president. Then Donald Trump came along. Unlike the establishment Republicans who ran for president since Reagan (Bush Sr., Dole, Bush Jr., McCain, Romney), Trump generally does not back down easily. He does not participate in failure theater. When he fights he fights to win, which has made the corrupt leadership in the Republican Party very uncomfortable for the past four years.
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Eleven senators announce decision to challenge election results

A group of eleven senators, led by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) today announced that they will challenge the election results in the disputed states, demanding that Congress set up a commission to investigate the results and prove them legitimate before certification. From their statement:

To wit, Congress should immediately appoint an Electoral Commission, with full investigatory and fact-finding authority, to conduct an emergency 10-day audit of the election returns in the disputed states. Once completed, individual states would evaluate the Commission’s findings and could convene a special legislative session to certify a change in their vote, if needed.

“Accordingly, we intend to vote on January 6 to reject the electors from disputed states as not ‘regularly given’ and ‘lawfully certified’ (the statutory requisite), unless and until that emergency 10-day audit is completed.

This group joins Senator Josh Hawley (R-Kansas), who has already announced he will vote against certification, and about 140 House Representatives, who have said the same.

Their statement is thoughtful and detailed, not an emotional soundbite. It also states the following:

We are not naïve. We fully expect most if not all Democrats, and perhaps more than a few Republicans, to vote otherwise. But support of election integrity should not be a partisan issue. A fair and credible audit-conducted expeditiously and completed well before January 20-would dramatically improve Americans’ faith in our electoral process and would significantly enhance the legitimacy of whoever becomes our next President. We owe that to the People.

These are matters worthy of the Congress, and entrusted to us to defend. We do not take this action lightly. We are acting not to thwart the democratic process, but rather to protect it. And every one of us should act together to ensure that the election was lawfully conducted under the Constitution and to do everything we can to restore faith in our Democracy. [emphasis mine]

That election integrity is now a partisan issue is the real problem. There are more than enough reasonable allegations and evidence suggesting widespread fraud in the disputed states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Arizona, and no election should be accepted until those allegations are investigated properly. Otherwise no one is ever going to trust any election again.

And it does not matter who wins. If a proper investigation debunks the allegations and calls Biden the winner, then so be it. Our goal should not be keeping Trump in office, but to make sure the voting process is fair, honest, and reliable.

Puerto Rican government commits $8 million to rebuild Arecibo

The government of Puerto Rico earlier this week announced that it has allocated $8 million to rebuild the Arecibo Observatory.

Via an executive order, Gov. Wanda Vazquez made reconstruction of the observatory public policy. In a ceremony at La Fortaleza, the seat of the island’s government, Vazquez said that the Puerto Rican government believes that the telescope’s collapse provides a great opportunity to redesign it, taking into account the lessons learned and recommendations from the scientific community so that it remains relevant for decades to come.

…Vazquez said that she and her administration want the scope to once again become a world class center and the $8 million being allocated for reconstruction includes funds to repair the environmental damage caused by the collapse, something that has already begun under the supervision of the National Science Foundation (NSF).

We shall see what happens. $8 million is not really enough to rebuild Arecibo. And the NSF has been trying to unload it from its budgetary responsibility for almost a decade. I would be shocked if that agency now suddenly decided to fund its reconstruction.

Only if Congress gets involved will this likely change, and that wouldn’t surprise me, considering how nonchalant our present Congress is about spending money that doesn’t exist.

NASA budget passed by Congress rejects ’24 lunar landing

No surprise: The NASA budget that was passed by Congress this week as part of a giant omnibus bill only gave NASA 25% of the requested funds the agency says it needs to develop a human lander required for an Artemis manned mission to the Moon by ’24.

Overall, NASA will receive $23.271 billion, almost $2 billion less than requested. Importantly for the Trump Administration’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon by 2024, it provides only $850 million instead of $3.4 billion for Human Landing Systems.

…The Trump Administration requested a 12 percent increase for NASA in order to fund the Artemis program: $25.2 billion for FY2021 compared to the $22.9 billion it received in FY2020. While the goal of returning astronauts to the Moon has broad bipartisan support in Congress, the Trump deadline of 2024 — set because it would have been the end of his second term if he had been reelected — won lukewarm support at best from Republicans and none from Democrats who pointed to both budgetary and technical hurdles.

It was always clear that the Democrats were not going to cooperate with Trump to could get that lunar landing during his second term. Moreover, the real goal of Artemis is not space exploration, but distributing pork. Stretching out these missions so that they take many many years achieves that goal far better than a tight competitive schedule that gets things done. This is why SLS and Orion have been under construction, with no flights, for decades, even as SpaceX moves forward with Starship/Super Heavy in only a few years.

A Biden presidency actually increases the changes that Artemis will get better funding, but that funding will always be designed to stretch out the program for as long as possible. Our policymakers in Washington really do not care much for the interest of the nation. What they care about is their own power and aggrandizement.

House passes bill that attempts to protect Apollo Moon sites

The House today passed a bill that would require any American business planning a Moon mission to agree to not disturb the Apollo lunar landing sites.

[The bill] requires any federal agency that issues a license to conduct a lunar activity to require the applicant to agree to abide by recommendations in the 2011 NASA report “NASA’s Recommendations to Space-Faring Entities: How to Protect and Preserve the Historic and Scientific Value of U.S. Government Artifacts” and any successor recommendations, guidelines or principles issued by NASA.

All well and good, but this does nothing to stop other nations from touching those sites. Moreover, making all of those sites and whatever the astronauts did there totally sacrosanct is not reasonable. On the later Apollo landings the astronauts used a rover to travel considerable distances. Should every spot the astronauts visited by now considered holy? If anything, scientists will wish to return and gather more data at these locations to better understand the initial Apollo results.

Not that any of this really matters. In the long run the decision on how much these sites should be protected will be made by the people who live on the Moon. I suspect, as pioneers living on the edge of survival, they will have less interest in making memorials to past achievements and be more focused on getting things done, now.

A good summary of the status of the election political battle

Link here. The author, William Jacobson, always has a solid legal grounding on the political warfare that is on-going today in America. In this case he argues correctly that the key has always been winning elections, and that the Republicans have consistently failed to play that game hard. They didn’t fight the use of loosely regulated mail-in ballotss They didn’t fight ballot harvesting. They didn’t reject the use of Dominion software. And he gives a classic example in Wisconsin, whose Supreme Court has rejected election lawsuits partly because of the following reason:

There is no better example of why elections matter, and how the 2020 presidential election was lost months ago. Liberal Jill Karofsky defeated conservative sitting Justice Daniel Kelly in an April 2020 election the Wisconsin Republicans completely botched by allowing it to take place the same date as the Democratic presidential primary. Guess who turned out to vote? Democrats. That took the court down to a nominal 4-3 conservative majority, with Justice Brian Hagedorn the weak conservative link.

In many other states, legal and political battles were fought strategically by Democrats over the several months leading up to the election. Democrats organized for a mail-in election, Republicans didn’t. Republicans were out-organized, out-hustled, and out-lawyered.

Even now the Republicans in Georgia are not gearing up to deal with potential election fraud in the upcoming Senatorial runoff elections that will determine who controls the Senate. They are fiddling around as the entire credibility of the election process burns. The odds of them winning even one of those two run-offs I rate is low, because not only will the same cheating take place by the Democrats, Republican voters will not come out to vote, because they don’t see their party as a useful party to vote for.

And yet, the most important and only task Republican-controlled state legislatures have right now is to insure that fraud cannot happen in future elections. It is their last hill to stand on. That in Georgia they seem uninterested in dealing with this now, before these runoffs, tells us how weakly they will likely fight in other states in the coming years.

And if they don’t fight, they will lose. It is that simple.

Supreme Court dismisses Texas suit on election

The dead Constitution

The Supreme Court today dismissed the Texas lawsuit asking it to invalid the election results in Pennsylvania, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Georgia because of election law changes made by bureaucrats rather than the state legislatures as directed by the Constitution.

The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday evening rejected the state of Texas’ challenge to the 2020 election results in four battleground states, extinguishing one of the last remaining hopes for President Trump’s campaign to reverse Joe Biden’s lead in those states.

“The State of Texas’s motion for leave to file a bill of complaint is denied for lack of standing under Article III of the Constitution,” the justices ruled. “Texas has not demonstrated a judicially cognizable interest in the manner in which another State conducts its elections. All other pending motions are dismissed as moot.”

No one should be surprised by this. It is not the court’s job to give permission to the state legislatures to do their job. It is their responsibility to act, and they have ample evidence that the vote has been, if not stolen, very unreliable and not trustworthy.

They are just too cowardly to do it. They’d rather have an excuse to cop out. They will now do so, saying that they can’t do anything because the Supreme Court told them they couldn’t. This is a lie, and a joke.

The election has been stolen. Do not expect there ever again to be a legitimate election in the United States. Expect Democrats to begin winning every race, in every battleground swing state.

SpaceX’s Starlink constellation wins $885 million in federal subsidies

Capitalism in space: In awarding $9.2 billion in subsidies to providers of rural high-speed internet to rural customers, the FCC gave $885 million of this allocation to SpaceX’s Starlink constellation.

SpaceX was not the biggest beneficiary, however.

Most of the RDOF Phase I subsidies are going to terrestrial broadband service providers, led by LTD Broadband with an award of $1.32 billion. CCO Holdings, a subsidiary of Charter Communications, is due to serve 1.05 million sites around the country, leading the list for that metric.

The FCC said 85% of the 5.2 million sites to be served would get gigabit-speed broadband. SpaceX is due to serve nearly 643,000 sites with download speeds of 100 megabits per second or more.

Regardless of its good intentions, this distribution of federal cash sickens me. These companies don’t need it to do what they are doing, and are all sure to make plenty of profit without it. The federal government meanwhile is trillions in debt. It has to print money to give this away, something that is not going to go well in the long run.

Trump administration asks Senate to remove SLS requirement for Europa Clipper

The Trump administration has requested the Senate to change the language in its NASA spending bill to remove its requirement that Europa Clipper be launched on SLS.

NASA wants the option to launch the Europa probe using commercial rockets, such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy. It also says that there are technical reasons that make using SLS problematic, and worse, the agency simply does not have enough SLS rockets to fly its planned (but unfunded) manned Artemis missions and also launch Europa Clipper.

The House has already removed that requirement in its version of the bill. The Senate has not, probably because the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Richard Shelby (R-Alabama), is a big fan of SLS (much of it built in his state), and has acted for years to pump money into that project.

If the requirement is not removed, Europa Clipper’s launch will likely be delayed by several years, and cost $1.5 billion more.

The coming purge

Hitler's purge in 1934, the night of long knives
Hitler’s violent purge of his opponents in 1934: The Night of Long Knives.

I have just finished reading The Memo: 20 years inside the deep state fighting for America first. Written by military intelligence and national security expert Richard Higgins, it described his long and mostly fruitless effort in Washington to make our foreign military policy more effective.

In 2016, in desperation, he allied himself with Donald Trump, hoping that a victory by this very unconventional outsider might finally put Higgins in a position of some control.

It did not work out that way. At first the established players in Washington blocked his appointment. Eventually he managed to get an assignment at the National Security Council (NSC), but at a lower ranking than initially promised. Worse, the make-up of that council remained largely controlled by Democratic Party holdovers. As Higgins described things at the NSC in the first year after Trump’s inauguration:
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The left is now reaping what it sowed

A Democrat literally responds to Trump's 2016 victory
This is an actual Democrat’s
respond to Trump’s 2016 victory

For four years, since his election, Donald Trump has been met with a never-ending wave of hatred, hostility, and downright total opposition by the Democratic Party and its many very partisan supporters in the mainstream press, the academic community, and in the general public.

If you are conservative, I am sure you’ve all seen it. Not only has it been impossible these past four years to have a reasonable conversation with Democrats about Donald Trump, your opinions and thoughts are routinely treated with insulting contempt and scorn when you tried. Trump was a racist and evil, despite there being no credible evidence to that effect, and if you tried to find out what the evidence was for such a slander you were immediately slandered and called the same.

Trump himself has faced this same level of irrational hate continuously since his election. And it is irrelevant that he often descends to the same tactics. In the climate created by the left since the Obama administration legitimized the use of slander in political discourse, what other choice did he have if he wished to survive?

Lies in fact has too often comprised the only tactic used by the Democratic Party and the left since Trump’s arrival. » Read more

If election issues are not fixed, elected state Republicans must refuse to certify

The Preamble to the Constitution

The Constitution is very clear: The actual decision on who should be elected President of the United States every four years is actually made by the state legislatures.

Article II, Section 1, Paragraph 2: Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled to the Congress.

12th Amendment: The Electors shall meet in their respective states and vote by ballot for President and Vice-President. … The person having the greatest number of votes for President, shall be the President, if such number be a majority of the whole number of Electors appointed.

In other words, the state legislatures choose the Electors, and only when they are chosen can they vote for President. Furthermore, the winner must win a majority from the expected number of total Electors from all the states, which is presently 270. If not, the vote then goes to the House of Representatives in Congress, which votes not by each representative but by state, with each state’s caucus voting separately to determine the state’s vote (as per the 12th Amendment).

American tradition however for almost two centuries has been for these legislatures to let the popular vote of the state guide them on who to pick as Electors. If their citizens choose the Republican candidate, they picked Republican Electors so their states Electoral votes go to that candidate. If the citizens choose a Democrat, they did the same.

It is because of this tradition that we all assume the popular vote makes the choice. It really does not.

For two centuries, this system worked because everyone trusted the election process. While some fraud has always occurred at some level, at the federal level the counts have generally been carefully done and reliably tabulated. Even in the difficult election battle in 2000 it was clear that the effort was to get the actual count right, by both sides.

This trust is now gone. The number of errors, suspicious actions, and indications of fraud, all designed to steal votes from Donald Trump and give extra votes to Joe Biden, makes every single one of the contested elections in the battleground states of Pennsylvania, Georgia, Michigan, and Wisconsin unreliable. Let’s take a look a just a small sampling of recent stories from each state, detailing rampant election fraud.
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The disputed elections must recounted properly, or the states should refuse to certify the results

Signing the Constitution in 1787
The signing of the Constitution in 1787.

The amount of evidence that there was clear election fraud in the states of Pennsylvania, Michigan, Georgia, and Wisconsin continues to build.

For example, in Pennsylvania a review of absentee ballots found that 100,000 had suspicious postmarks, with 23,000 apparently postmarked one day but then marked by the election authorities as having arrived the day before, an impossibility. Tens of thousands of other absentee ballots had similar problems.

In Michigan numerous residents and poll workers have signed affidavits describing blatant violations of election law and suspicious behavior. In addition, one contractor witnessed poll workers rescanning the same votes repeatedly, essentially double counting those votes.

In Wisconsin thousands of absentee votes were submitted in a manner that required no voter identification.

In Georgia there is evidence that the software used to count the ballots is corrupted, or was corrupted, ending up switching many votes from Trump to Biden in what they innocently claim was merely a “glitch.” Worse, this “glitch” in election software has now been found to be exist in other states as well.

The list above is only a small sampling of the numerous stories in the past week of suspicious and well documented incidents of voter fraud. The problems in these states appears widespread and systemic. The election results are thus suspect.

According to the Constitution, the real arbiters of the election are the state legislatures. » Read more

Senate fails to fully fund manned lander for Trump’s 2024 lunar mission

The Senate appropriations committee’s budget recommendations for NASA, released yesterday, has refused to fully fund the development of the manned lander needed for Trump’s 2024 lunar mission.

The Senate Appropriations Committee released its recommendations for all 12 FY2021 appropriations bills today. The Commerce-Justice-Science (CJS) bill provides NASA with $23.5 billion, $1.75 billion less than requested. The House-passed bill keeps the agency at its current level of $22.6 billion, so the final compromise likely will be somewhere in that range. NASA’s request for Human Landing Systems (HLS) for the Artemis program was particularly hard hit on both sides of Capitol Hill.

NASA had requested $3.4 billion for building the lunar lander in time for 2024. The House appropriated $628 million. Today’s Senate recommendation budgeted $1 billion. This practically guarantees that no manned lunar mission will happen by 2024.

None of this is a surprise. The politicians in Congress from both parties don’t really want to rush this program. For them it is better to stretch it out for as long as possible, spending mucho bucks in their states and districts. Nothing will be accomplished, but they will be able to tell their constituents they brought the jobs home.

Useless and empty jobs, but jobs nonetheless.

Vote for Trump, but even more, vote Republican across the board

Trump

I’ve said it before but I will say it again. Donald Trump is the right candidate for president, and everyone who hasn’t yet voted should vote for him tomorrow, both because he kept his promises and has actually done a decent job as president.

However, it is even more important to vote for Republicans across the board. If Trump is re-elected but the voters do not give him strong majorities in both houses of Congress, his ability to do what the voters want will be seriously circumscribed. And if the Democrats win control of both houses of Congress, expect that their first order of business will be to impeach Trump and then try to remove him from office. The goal will be to quickly nullify your vote for Trump, by the party of segregation, slavery, riots, looting, and stolen elections.

And on the local city and state level things are quite simple. » Read more

More evidence the number of COVID-19 deaths is greatly exaggerated

The video report below notes that, according to CDC published data, almost all deaths now listed as COVID-19 deaths were actually caused by other factors.

Specifically, of the approximately 220,000 COVID-19 deaths listed so far, almost 94% were likely not caused exclusively by COVID-19, but by other chronic illnesses. While many of these other maladies, such as a variety of respiratory illnesses, probably worked closely in conjunction with the coronavirus to kill the patient, other illnesses were clearly the real cause of death. For example, the CDC says the 51,000 of today’s 218,000 COVID-19 deaths were caused by heart attacks or heart failure, not COVID-19.

If we subtract these coronary deaths, we are left with about 167,000 COVID-19 deaths. The CDC notes that of these, 88,000 were probably caused not by the coronavirus but by the flu and pneumonia. Hospitals listed them as COVID-19 deaths because the CARES act passed by Congress in the spring gives those hospitals a 20% bonus if they claim the death was COVID-19. This fact might also explain the almost complete lack of flu deaths this year, as listed by hospitals.

Based on this data, it appears that the coronavirus probably caused about 79,000 deaths, on top of the 88,000 flu and pneumonia deaths this year. These Wuhan virus deaths are probably excess deaths this year, but with an average age of 78 the deaths are still occurring almost exclusively among the aged sick, rather than the general population. For everyone else, COVID-19 remains relatively harmless, like the flu.

Interestingly, the CDC recently reported that in 2020 the total number of excess deaths is presently estimated at 300,000. Most significantly, the CDC also stated that
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Europa Clipper to be delayed because of SLS bottleneck

Because Boeing will be unable to provide an SLS rocket in time for the planned 2024 launch of Europa Clipper, once the probe is completed NASA will be forced to put it in storage.

The problem is that Congress has mandated that the Jupiter probe be launched on SLS, but has only funded the first two Artemis launches to the Moon. Boeing will also need at least three years to build it, meaning that even if the money from Congress appeared today, it would likely not be ready for its ’24 launch date.

In terms of rocket science, right now, Europa Clipper can launch on a commercial vehicle, like SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy or United Launch Alliance’s Delta-IV Heavy rocket, although the mission would then need a longer cruise time to reach its destination.

But in terms of the law, NASA’s hands are tied.

“Because of that, we’re planning to build the Europa Clipper and then put it into storage, because we’re not going to have an SLS rocket available until 2025,” Bridenstine said. “That’s the current plan. I don’t think that’s the right plan, but we’re going to follow the law.”

Though the common sense thing for Congress to do would be to release NASA from this mandate and allow the agency to pick the launch rocket, do not expect that to happen. Congress wants SLS because of all the pork it produces. They will not allow NASA to reduce its reliance on SLS one iota, if they can. Unless pressured publicly (which I think is NASA’s goal with this announcement), Congress will let Europa Clipper sit in a warehouse for years, at a cost of between $36 to $60 million per year, waiting for SLS.

New Trump executive order suggests major house-cleaning should he win

The Trump administration has just released a new executive order that would shift many federal managers from civil service positions, where they cannot easily be removed, into a new category that will allow the President to remove them “at-will.”

The order would create a new Schedule F within the excepted service of the federal government, to be composed of “employees in confidential, policy-determining, policy-making, or policy-advocating positions,” and instructs agency heads to determine which current employees fit this definition and move them—whether they are members of the competitive service or other schedules within the excepted service—into this new classification.

…Positions in the new Schedule F would effectively constitute at-will employment, without any of the protections against adverse personnel actions that most federal workers currently enjoy, although individual agencies are tasked with establishing “rules to prohibit the same personnel practices prohibited” by Title 5 of the U.S. Code. The order also instructs the Federal Labor Relations Authority to examine whether Schedule F employees should be removed from their bargaining units, a move that would bar them from being represented by federal employee unions.

The timing of this order is most revealing. If approved it will go into effect on January 19, 2021, the day before the presidential inauguration. This suggests that if Trump wins, he does not want a repeat of his first term, when many civil service employees worked to sabotage his administration and its goals. He wants the power to fire people in large numbers, especially those who are in a position of setting policy, sometimes policy that Trump, legally elected by the American people, opposed strongly.

Be sure that this change will be fought hard by the administrative state in Washington, as well as by their backers in the Democratic and Republican parties. And though it would also give increased power to Biden should he win, it would still be an appropriate change, as the elected president should be the person in charge, not some unelected bureaucrats buried in the DC civil service.

Why Barrett’s confirmation went fast: Senate Republicans finally grew a spine

Link here. The author outlines all the ways the Democrats tried to duplicate their slander campaign against Brett Kavanaugh, then notes this:

The biggest difference is that Republicans simply weren’t playing with these attacks. Each and every one of these stories — and dozens of similar ones — was met with swift condemnation or yawns. Every single one.

It took a few decades of the left playing the exact same games with most confirmation battles, but finally, the right figured out how to render those attacks worthless. It’s not just conservative Americans, but the senators themselves who are playing this differently.

Rather than the Senate Judiciary Committee immediately responding to the Washington Post’s anti-Kavanaugh attack by bending to the will of the Democrats, this time they just didn’t care. As Democrats openly said on national television that they would do anything to stop Barrett’s confirmation, rather than act scared, the Republicans were not moved. They haven’t responded with outrage or drama, but just a steely resolve to get the nomination done. [emphasis mine]

Why it took Senate Republicans decades to figure out this basic premise, that the best way to deal with bullies and temper tantrums is to ignore them, is another question. It suggests that for decades those Republicans really liked bowing to those tantrums, because they really didn’t want to achieve any of the conservative goals their voters wanted and that they always campaigned on.

However, fake conservative senators like Jeff Flake and Bob Corker are gone, replaced with senators who are either more legitimately conservative (Marsha Blackburn) or faced with a tough reelection fight that forces toughness (Martha McSally). The result is that no Republican in the Senate is willing to play the Democrat’s game anymore. They can scream and kick and hold their breath, but on Monday Amy Barrett will be confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It WAS a coup attempt

In the past few days a number of news stories have confirmed, unequivocally, that the effort in the FBI, CIA, and Justice Department to spy on the Trump campaign before the election and then pin the false accusation of Russian collusion on Trump after his election were all an effort to dictate the results of the election, and then overturn it when Trump won.

It was an out-and-out coup attempt by these government officials, apparently aided and abetted by Obama when he was still president.

First we learn that the FBI agents working on the fake prosecution of former National Security were so worried their misconduct would be uncovered by the Trump administration that they bought liability insurance to protect themselves.
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NASA lays out Artemis budget and plan to get astronauts to Moon

In a obvious lobbying effort to get Congress to fund the Trump administration’s Artemis project to land humans on the Moon by 2024, NASA yesterday released a new updated plan and budget for the program.

More here.

The document [pdf] outlines the specific plans for each of the first three Artemis flights, with the first unmanned, the second manned and designed to fly around the Moon, and the third to land a man and a woman on the Moon. Overall the plan is budgeted at about $28 billion, with $3.2 billion needed immediately to fund construction of the lunar lander. From the second link:

Bridenstine said he remains optimistic Congress will fully fund lander development because of what he described as broad bipartisan support for the Artemis program. He said he’s hopeful an expected continuing resolution that would freeze NASA’s budget at last year’s spending levels will be resolved in an “omnibus” spending bill before Christmas or, if the CR is extended, by early spring. “It is critically important that we get that $3.2 billion,” he said. “And I think that if we can have that done before Christmas, we’re still on track for a 2024 moon landing. … If we go beyond March, and we still don’t have the human landing system funded, it becomes increasingly more difficult.”

And what happens then?

“It’s really simple. If Congress doesn’t fund the moon landing program, then it won’t be achieved (in 2024), I mean it’s really that simple,” Bridenstine said. But he quickly added: “I want to be clear, if they push the funding off, our goal will be to get to the moon at the earliest possible opportunity.”

I remain doubtful the present Congress, with the House controlled by the Democrats, will fund this 2024 lunar landing. Since 2016 the entire political platform of the Democratic Party has been “oppose anything Trump.” They will not fund this project if it means he will get this landing during his second term.

If however Trump loses in November, the lame duck Congress might then go ahead and fund it before December, since the landing in 2024 will then occur during the Biden presidency.

Technically the plan reveals that NASA is trying to accelerate the development of the rendezvous and docking software for Orion. During the second flight, the first manned, the crew will do proximity maneuvers with the upper stage of the rocket. Under previous management NASA had not included this ability, as they had not planned to have Orion do any rendezvouses or dockings. That lack makes it impossible for Orion to fly on any other rocket but SLS. This change means the Trump administration recognizes this is a problem, and wants to fix it, especially because they also recognize that SLS is a poor long term option for future lunar missions.

House rejects Artemis; Senate funds Artemis

The Senate gives, the House taketh away: Even as the Democratically-controlled House continues to refuse the Trump administration’s request for $2.6 billion to fund its 2024 manned lunar landing, the Republican-controlled Senate has provided $1.6 billion of those funds in the next COVID-19 stimulus package.

This illustrates why such stimulus packages are utterly corrupt. Much of the money allocated has little to do with helping the country recover from the Wuhan panic, but is instead earmarked for the favorite agencies of the politicians. The Republicans are also trying to use this package to sneak across funding for Artemis without the House Democrats noticing, or being able to object.

It remains to be seen whether that strategy will work. Either way, we continue on the road to bankruptcy and financial collapse, as the federal government is trillions in debt, and simply doesn’t have the money for any of this.

Midnight repost: Freedom dying

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Last night’s midnight repost tried to predict what would happen politically following the big Republican victories in the 2010 midterm election. I was not sure, but worried that the Republicans would not have the courage to do what they promised (cut the budget and repeal Obamacare) and would fold like a house of cards when pressured with government shutdowns by Obama and the Democrats.

They did fold, and the result was that the Democrats were further emboldened, and the Republicans weakened in the long run. Tonight’s repost, written on November 7, 2018, illustrates the consequences of this by taking a look at the just completed 2018 midterm elections. There, the American people had rewarded the Democrats for their endless slander campaigns and power grabs. Times had changed, but not for the better.

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Freedom dying

The results of yesterday’s election, when taken in the context of the stories below, confirm for me the sad belief that freedom in the United States is steadily dying. Freedom might return, but for the next few decades I think we are headed for oppressive times. Be prepared.

The stories are only a sampling, and are cited because of what they show: In every case they describe attacks against individuals defending freedom of speech and diversity of thought, and all the attacks come from the students, the future of our society.
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Midnight repost: Squeal like a pig

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: Tonight’s repost was written just prior to the 2010 mid-term elections. I correctly predicted that the Democrats would get creamed in that election. I then tried to predict what would happen next politically due to that Republican victory. I leave it to my readers to determine how good my analysis was, and how well it applies to what is happening right now.

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Squeal like a pig

Let’s take a trip into the future, looking past Tuesday’s midterm election.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that, come Tuesday, the Republicans take both houses, in a stunning landslide not seen in more than a century. Let’s also assume that the changes in Congress are going to point decidedly away from the recent liberal policies of large government (by both parties). Instead, every indication suggests that the new Congress will lean heavily towards a return to the principles of small government, low taxes, and less regulation.

These assumptions are not unreasonable. Not only do the polls indicate that one or both of the houses of Congress will switch from Democratic to Republican control, the numerous and unexpected primary upsets of established incumbents from both parties — as well the many protests over the past year by large numbers of ordinary citizens — make it clear that the public is not interested in half measures. Come January, the tone and direction of Congress is going to undergo a shocking change.

Anyway, based on these assumptions, we should then expect next year’s Congress to propose unprecedented cuts to the federal budget, including the elimination of many hallowed programs. The recent calls to defund NPR and the Corporation for Public Broadcastings are only one example.

When Congress attempts this, however, the vested interests that have depended on this funding for decades are not going to take the cuts lightly. Or to put it more bluntly, they are going to squeal like pigs, throwing temper tantrums so loud and insane that they will make the complaints of a typical three-year-old seem truly statesman-like. And they will do so in the hope that they will garner sympathy and support from the general voting public, thereby making the cuts difficult to carry out.

The real question then is not whether the new Congress will propose the cuts required to bring the federal government under control, but whether they, as well as the public, will have the courage to follow through, to defy the howls from these spoiled brats, and do what must be done.
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Midnight repost: Shut down fascism in the Smoky Mountains

The tenth anniversary retrospective of Behind the Black continues: In 2013 Diane and I made a trip back east to visit the Smokey Mountains and do some hiking. Coincidentally, our trip took place at the end of September, when the budget battle between Obama and the Republicans in Congress was about to cause a government shutdown. This essay, the first of three, describes the extra effort and money being exerted by Obama’s administration to make that shutdown as unpleasant and as inconvenient to the American public as possible. The later two essays, linked to as an update at the top of the essay, outline what happened next.

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Shut down fascism in the Smoky Mountains

See my October 2, 2013 update here.

Today, October 1, 2013, my wife Diane and I went hiking in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. We did this despite the news from Washington that the federal government had shut down due to the lack of a funding from Congress and that all the national parks were closed.

The news reports had said that the National Park Service would close all roads into the park except for New Found Gap Road, the one road that crossed over the mountains from Tennessee to North Carolina. They couldn’t close this road because it was a main thoroughfare used by the public for basic transportation. Moreover, my research into the hikes we wished to do told me that several of those hikes originated on trailheads along this road. In traveling the road the day before, we had seen that these trailheads would not only be difficult to close, it would be dangerous and stupid to close them. For one, the road was windy and narrow. If there was a car accident or someone had car problems, any one of these parking areas might be essential for the use of the driver as well as local police and ambulances. For another, there are people still backpacking in the mountains who will at some point need to either exit with their cars or be picked up at these trailheads. Closing the trailheads will strand these hikers in the park, with dangerous consequences.

So, despite the shutdown, off we went to hike the Appalachian Trail, going to a well known lookout called the Jump Off, an easy 6.5 mile hike that leaves from the parking area at New Found Gap, the highest point on New Found Gap Road that is also on the border between Tennessee and North Carolina. It is also probably one of the most popular stopping points along the road, visited by practically every tourist as they drive across.
Smokies from the Appalachian trail

The hike itself was beautiful, if a bit foggy and damp. The picture above shows one of the clearest views we had all day. Nor were we alone on this hike. We probably saw one to two dozen other hikers, heading out to either the Jump Off or Charles Bunion (another well known day hike destination along this section of trail).
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