Tag Archives: government

The space program is dead, long live the space industry!

The news following the midterm election results have not sounded good for NASA. Two stories on Monday alone signaled the bad news:

Earlier stories last week were no more encouraging:

While Republicans have, since the 1970s, generally been more enthusiastic than Democrats about NASA and manned space exploration, the new Republican Congress has a tone that seems decidedly different from past years. Above all, it appears the public is finally becoming aware of the recent explosion in the federal debt, as illustrated by the graph below. (hat tip to Gateway Pundit and The Captain’s Comments.)

Federal deficit

The public’s growing concern about these numbers was clearly reflected in the election results. First, there was the success of many tea party candidates advocating fiscal responsibility and a radical shrinking of government. Even in cases where conservatives lost, the closeness of the election in districts or states where liberals have rarely in the past been challenged suggests the mood of the electorate is decidedly shifting in a direction against federal spending.

Second, the electorate seemed surprisingly hostile to pork, expressing little interest in being brought off with baubles for their home districts. Thus, candidates who ran against pork seemed to get far more enthusiastic attention and positive publicity than those elected officials famous for “bringing home the bacon.”

In such an atmosphere, the priorities of Congress will be forced to change. The outlook therefore does not look good for the type of pork funding represented by the NASA authorization bill passed on September 29, with its billions of subsidies for the aerospace industry.

We can see an indication of this new tone by some of the initial plans announced by the Republican leadership. As a first step, the Republicans have proposed cutting the federal budget back 2008 levels. This change alone would reduce NASA’s annual budget by about $2 billion, or 10%.

This solution, however, will not close the budget gap, only shrink it slightly. The Republicans will still be faced with massive amounts of red ink and a public demanding that they deal with it. To prove they mean what they say, the new House leadership will be forced to propose some additional draconian cuts.

Unfortunately, the circumstances at this moment has made NASA a prime budget-cutting target. » Read more

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Warrentless raids and arrests at Florida barbershops

This appears to be an abuse of power: Since August Florida police have conducted two warrentless sweeps, raiding nine barbershops and arresting 37 people (for “barbering without a license,” a misdemeanor), using the state’s business regulations as a cover. Key quotes:

The operations were conducted without warrants, under the authority of the Department of Business and Professional Regulation inspectors, who can enter salons at will.

With the exception of two misdemeanor marijuana charges and Vasquez’s arrest, deputies were unable to connect any of the illegal activity to anyone. Meanwhile, store owners reported property damage from the raids, including a large hole employees said deputies busted into a wall at 809 Barbershop in Ocoee. However, several owners said the damage to their businesses and reputations has been much worse.

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Bankruptcy of U.S. government “mathematical certainty” says banker

The former CEO of one of the nation’s largest banks says that unless the federal government gets its budget under control, bankruptcy is a “mathematical certainty.” I especially like this quote from the CEO, John Allison, in describing the past history of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mack:

“I was on a committee, a Financial Services Roundtable, for nine years trying to do something about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae,” said Allison. “You couldn’t help but see it coming,” he said. “You ran the numbers, particularly the last several years, and it was mathematically certain Freddie and Fannie were going bankrupt.”

“We met with Congress. We met with [House Financial Services Chairman] Barney Frank and [Senate Banking Chairman] Chris Dodd and they absolutely wouldn’t see it,” said Allison.

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Anti-American propaganda from the National Endowment for the Humanities

Anti-American propaganda from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Key quote:

In my thirty years as a professor in upper education, I have never witnessed nor participated in a more extremist, agenda-driven, revisionist conference, nearly devoid of rhetorical balance and historical context for the arguments presented.

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UN conference passes broad ban on “geoengineering”

A UN conference in Japan today approved the extremely broad language that I had noted earlier this week, banning all “climate-related geoengineering activities that may affect biodiversity . . . until there is an adequate scientific basis on which to justify such activities.” You can read some reactions here. Key quote from the ETC group, a Canadian non-profit organization which supports the language:

The agreement, reached during the ministerial portion of the two-week meeting which included 110 environment ministers, asks governments to ensure that no geoengineering activities take place until risks to the environment and biodiversity and associated social, cultural and economic impacts have been appropriately considered. The CBD secretariat was also instructed to report back on various geoengineering proposals and potential intergovernmental regulatory measures.

If the broad language of this policy is accepted by the United States government, it will effectively shut down almost all new construction and development, as practically anything people do “may affect biodiversity.”

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First ticket issued for deadly butter

Our government doing the really important work! Health officials in Baltimore have handed out their first ticket to a restaurant for not using the proper cooking recipe, as determined by the government. Key quote:

“They originally had a margarine that was above 3 grams, actually, which is very high compared to the .5 that is allowed. Then when we came back and they had replaced it, they replaced it with one that was 2 grams, so it still was too high,” [Health Department agent Juan] Gutierrez said.

And then there’s this: Fake health inspectors at restaurants on the rise.

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Why this election is important

Mark Steyn explains why next week’s midterm election and what the next Congress does has very special significance. Key quote:

In a two-party system, you have to work with what’s available. In America, one party is openly committed to driving the nation off the cliff, and the other party is full of guys content to go along for the ride as long as we shift down to third gear. That’s no longer enough of a choice. If your candidate isn’t committed to fewer government agencies with fewer employees on lower rates of pay, he’s part of the problem. This is the last chance for the GOP to restore its credentials. If it blows it, all bets are off for 2012.

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Closing caves for the convenience and power of the government

A variety of federal government agencies are moving aggressively to shut down human access to all American caves, including those on private property. Key quote:

In Wisconsin, where white nose syndrome has not yet appeared, wildlife managers want to get a jump on the disease by declaring G. destructans [the fungus associated with the syndrome] an invasive species, and declaring four species of bats threatened. Those designations would give wildlife agencies access to new sources of funds. They would also “give police power to the agencies to go onto private land to prevent damage to these newly named threatened species,” said [Peter] Youngbaer, [white nose syndrome liaison for the National Speleological Society]. “We fear that private landowners will be fearful of allowing even inadvertent access to caves, and thus move to seal caves shut. They’ll be causing more damage to the bats that they’re ostensibly trying to protect.” [emphasis mine]

As a caver, I not only have a strong personal interest in this story, I know a lot about bats and caves from personal experience. As a science writer who has also written about white nose syndrome for Science, I am also very familiar with the present state of the science. Based on this background, I find the actions of these government officials unconscionable. As one commenter to this article very correctly noted:

“There is currently *no* evidence that humans have spread this disease, but mountains of evidence for bat-to-bat transmission. The possibility does exist that humans *could* spread it, but even at its worst a human vector would be quite statistically insignificant in comparison to the bat-to-bat transmission.

In other words, closing all caves to human access can accomplish no good, and a great deal of harm. Yet, this is exactly what these government officials and environmental bureaucrats wish to do.

Back in March 2008, soon after white nose syndrome was discovered, I wrote the following:

I am beginning to believe strongly that the situation has worrisome political overtones linked to the unstated desire of some people to limit access to caves. . . . Some people are distorting the situation for their own purposes, either consciously or unconsciously. . . . Some of those people might have an agenda (closing caves to cavers) that is entirely irrelevant to the issue of white nose.

The article above only serves to confirm my opinions from 2008. The government officials who are demanding the indiscriminate closure of caves and the unfettered control over caves on private property are not really interested in protecting or saving the bats. In fact, their actions might actually do great harm to the bats, as the closures, the regulatory restrictions, and the threat to private property will antagonize both cavers and landowners, thus guaranteeing their unwillingness to cooperate with scientists.

So what do these government officials want? As far as I can tell, what they really want is power. And they are using white nose syndrome as a hammer to gain it.

Sadly, I fear that they are going to succeed. Today’s environmental laws are rigged to their advantage. The press is generally on their side. And the opposition to this power grab is diffuse and weak.

Once again, we see the death of freedom. And it dies, not by a single devastating blow, but by the death of a thousand cuts.

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It’s the out of control spending, stupid!

Watch this so-called panel of expects on MSNBC as they desperately try to figure out why why women play such a large part in the tea party movement. Totally baffled, the best these out-of-touch “gurus” can come up with is “taxes” and “women pay the family bills.”

Putting aside their blatent bigotry (“Women as we all know are smarter than men.”) and childishly shallow generalizations (“Something about finding a voice.”), these empty headed fools, emblematic of most modern elite intellectuals, can’t see the obvious elephant in the room.

It’s the out-of-control government spending, stupid! On Monday the Treasury Department released numbers showing that since Barack Obama took office just two years ago, the debt of the federal government rose by $3 trillion.

This graph, courtesy of Gateway Pundit, gives some context to the increase in the debt:

Federal Deficit since 1997

Spending was horrible under George Bush. The public was worried about it. Now spending has gone insane under President Obama, and the public is more than worried, the public is outraged and spitting nails. That these elites don’t see this either means they are incredibly stupid, or they want the country to collapse in a sea of debt. In either case, they shouldn’t have the jobs they do.

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Chicago mainstream reporters threaten reporter asking tough questions of Emanuel

Updated and bumped.The police have now issued an arrest warrent against reporter Jay Levin. (This is based on his behavior in the video below. He is the reporter in the red wind breaker, threatening another reporter, William Kelly, who was asking tough questions of Rahm Emanuel.) Key quote:

This morning, I [William Kelly] filed a police report and signed an arrest warrant against Jay Levine for assault. The Chicago police have already reviewed the video and agreed that an assault was committed.

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Is there no wonder people joke about a “state-run” media? Here, Chicago mainstream reporters threaten a reporter when he tries to ask Rahm Emanuel some tough questions. More here. Best line from CBS reporter Jay Levin:

Let him finish or I’m going to deck you!

Watch the whole video. The good stuff begins at around one minute.

Sorry that much of today’s posts relate to politics and not science or space. I can only follow the news where it takes me.

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Charles Lollar vs Steny Hoyer

Steny Hoyer must be in trouble. At the Charles County Candidate Forum on Wednesday, he lowered himself to actually debate his opponents for the upcoming Congressional election, the first time I have seen this happen since I moved to his district in 1999. However, his Republican opponent, Charles Lollar, got the last word, and made Hoyer look bad.

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Prosecutors recommend acquital on all charges for Wilders

Dutch prosecutors have recommended acquital for Geert Wilders on all charges. Though this is a vindication for Wilders, it is tragic that government officials thought they had the right to put Wilders on trial to begin with, merely because of things he said. Moreover, the trial is still scheduled to go on next week, despite these recommendations.

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Two Democratic candidates try to silence their opposition

Freedom of speech alert! Rather than debate their opponents, two Democratic House candidates are trying to shut them up.

In the first case, incumbent Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) is trying to use election laws to block an anti-abortion group from putting up billboards against him. Ed Morrissey at hotair.com has more details.

In the second case, incumbent Kathy Dahlkemper (D-Pennsylvania) is trying to get radio stations to pull the radio ads of another anti-abortion group which attack her for her healthcare vote.

In both cases, the Democratic candidates voted for the Healthcare bill, and seem to want to hide that fact now from the voters. Not only does this illustrate the contempt they have of freedom of speech, it shows us just how toxic the healthcare bill has become politically. I suspect that this law is going to dog the Democrats who voted for it for years to come.

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