Conservative firebrand Loomer easily wins Republican primary

A good sign: Conservative firebrand and outsider Laura Loomer easily won her Republican primary today in Florida, beating five opponents by a large margin.

Loomer gained prominence on social media over the past few years for a number of stunts, including handcuffing herself to Twitter’s headquarters to protest her suspension from the platform and hopping the fence at Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s house to protest immigration. In addition to her suspension from Twitter, Loomer has also been suspended from GoFundMe, Facebook, Uber, and Lyft.

After being suspended from multiple platforms, Loomer’s campaign message was that of free speech, “making America safe again,” and the Second Amendment. With the help of large donors, Loomer raised more than $1 million while campaigning.

She will now face the Democratic incumbent, Lois Frankel, in the November election.

House authorization bill focuses on pork

A new House authorization bill for NASA would shift the agency’s focus from commercial space and getting to the Moon to building Artemis and Gateway and going to Mars.

A NASA authorization bill released by the House Science Committee Friday proposes major changes to the direction of the agency’s human spaceflight programs, with a goal to land crews on the moon by 2028, not the 2024 schedule set by the Trump administration.

The House version for NASA Authorization Act of 2020, which would set NASA policy if enacted into law, calls for the space agency to develop plans for sending a crewed mission to orbit Mars by 2033.

The bipartisan legislation would appear to stand in the way of any plans to build a permanently-occupied moon base or develop methods to mine water ice inside craters at the moon’s poles, which could be converted into breathing oxygen, drinking water and rocket fuel.

The bill, not yet approved by the House committee despite support from the committee heads from both parties, differs significantly from the Senate bill, which places more emphasize on having NASA use private enterprise. For example while the Senate bill calls for NASA to hire privately-built lunar landers, the House bill wants NASA to build the landers entirely.

Read the whole article. The House bill could I think also be labeled the “Orange Man Bad for Space” bill, as it clearly seems designed to block almost all of the Trump initiatives to encourage private space and get a manned mission to the Moon sooner rather than later.

Justice Dept to provide House Russian probe documents

This could get very interesting: The Department of Justice has reached an agreement with the House to provide a variety of long requested documents connected with the department’s investigation on whether the Russians interfered with the 2016 election.

The deal was reached after FBI Director Chris Wray and Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein made a surprise visit to House Speaker Paul Ryan It was announced by House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes, who had sought the information and threatened more drastic action if his panel continued to be denied access to the information. “After speaking to Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein this evening, I believe the House Intelligence Committee has reached an agreement with the Department of Justice that will provide the committee with access to all the documents and witnesses we have requested,” Nunes said in a statement. “The committee looks forward to receiving access to the documents over the coming days.”

Nunes has in recent months lashed out against the DOJ over its failure to respond to requests for the documents, suggesting the department was doing so deliberately. “At this point it seems the DOJ and FBI need to be investigating themselves,” Nunes wrote in a letter to Rosenstein last week.

What puzzles me is how long the Trump administration allowed the Trump Justice department to stonewall House investigators. Trump is legally in charge. The people at Justice work for him. Either Trump was involved with the Russians somehow and was stonewalling to protect himself, or he allowed Obama appointees to run things there for way too long. This agreement suggests the latter, assuming it is what the article says it is.

Either way, should House investigators get the documents they want, it could very well blow apart the Mueller investigation, based on everything I have read recently. There really does not appear to be anything of substance in the “Russian” scandal, except what appears to be a conspiracy in Justice by those who opposed Trump, a legally elected president, to harm him enough to get him overthrown.

And that could be the biggest scandal we have seen in Washington ever, even worse than Watergate.

House Republicans push for big spending in Defense and NIH budgets

Failure theater: Two different House committees have chosen to ignore the budget cutting recommendations of the Trump administration and add billions to the budget of the National Institute of Health while approving — against the objections of the administration — the creation of a military “space corps.”

The first story is especially galling. Instead of cutting NIH’s budget to $25.9 billion, which is about what the agency got in the early 2000s, the increase to NIH would raise its budget from $31.8 billion to $35.2 billion. Worse, the House proposal would continue the policy where NIH pays the overhead for any research grants, which has been an amazing cash cow for American universities, most of which are leftwing partisan operations whose focus these days is often nothing more than defeating Republicans and pushing agenda-driven science.

Trump was right to push for those cuts. The Republicans are fools to eliminate them.

As for the second story, as I noted yesterday, the limitations of the Outer Space Treaty are almost certainly what is pushing Congress now to create a separate military space division. That and a greedy desire to establish another bureaucracy where they can take credit for any additional pork barrel funding. While such a force will certainly be necessary should the Outer Space Treaty not be revised to allow sovereignty and the establishment of internationally recognized borders, it is simply too early to do so now. The result will be a bureaucratic mess that will only act to waste money and possibly hinder private development in space.

But then, that’s what too many Republicans, like Democrats, want. They aren’t really interested in the needs of the country. They are interested in pork and power, for themselves.

Republican Trumpcare bill might require another vote

Failure theater: The House Republican leadership has not yet officially sent their Obamacare revision bill to the Senate because they have discovered they may have to vote on it again.

According to several aides and other procedural experts, if Republicans send the bill to the Senate now and the CBO later concludes it doesn’t save at least $2 billion, it would doom the bill and Republicans would have to start their repeal effort all over with a new budget resolution. Congressional rules would likely prevent Republicans from fixing the bill after it’s in the Senate, the aides said…

If Republican leaders hold onto the bill until the CBO report is released, then Ryan and his team could still redo it if necessary. That would require at least one more House vote of some sort…

The Republican leadership is a joke. If required to toss a rock into the ocean while standing at the end of a 500 foot long pier they’d still miss, and hit themselves in the face in the process.

More rumors swirl about replacing Boehner as House Speaker

Link here. The story discusses in detail some of the negotiations that appear to be going in the background within the Republican caucus, all focused on the possibility that Speaker John Boehner could be driven out sometime this fall. It also indicates that the more conservative wing of the Republican Party is pushing the issue, and no matter what happens, is likely to have greater influence in the coming months.

Most Republicans fold to Boehner

It appears there will not be a battle in the Republican Party to replace John Boehner.

Instead, the Republicans in the House appear eager to accept their place as brown-nosing boot-lickers to Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama. Moreover, the leadership that likes licking these boots is getting aggressive about it:

Heightening the party’s intramural angst were new political ads by the American Action Network, run by Boehner’s allies. They began running Tuesday in the districts of about 50 House Republicans who defied him on Homeland Security last week. The $400,000 campaign includes phone calls, a few TV ads, and ads on popular conservative talk radio shows. They urged constituents to call their representatives, not vote them out of office.

For years I’ve argued against splitting off a third party, because I know it will only fracture the right’s strengths and give more power to the left. At this point, however, I see no point supporting this Republican Party. It appears they have no interest in fighting for conservative values, and merely wish to act as a go-between between the left and the right, with their sole goal being to placate the right as they facilitate left wing policies.

If we are to be led by leftists, let’s let them lead, do their worst, and show the world exactly who they are. At least then there will be no doubt to future generations who destroyed this country.

To be fair, let’s watch a montage of the Democratic representatives and their statements during today’s House hearing of IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

To be fair, let’s watch a montage of the Democratic representatives and their statements during today’s House hearing of IRS commissioner John Koskinen.

Watch it, please. For those who are old enough to remember the Watergate hearings, you will be strongly reminded of the Republicans then defending Nixon. It was pitiful when the Republicans did it then, and it is pitiful when the Democrats do it now.

The IRS has admitted it wrongly harassed conservatives. It is also clearly participating in a cover-up. To make-believe these things didn’t happen and that the victim here is the IRS is beyond shameful.

More video from IRS commissioner John Koskinen testimony today during House hearings.

More video from IRS commissioner John Koskinen’s testimony today during House hearings.

Koskinen is so full of crap I think I could fertilize half the farm fields in the state of Iowa with it. This response from Kevin Brady (R-Texas) sums it up quite cogently.

“The IRS denied for two years targeting of Americans based on their political beliefs. That wasn’t the truth. They said it was a few rogue agents in Cincinnati. That wasn’t the truth. You said you were targeting liberal organizations. That wasn’t the truth. Then you assured us you would provide us all the emails in May and that wasn’t the truth. And today, you are telling us out of thousands of IRS computers, the one that lost the emails was a person of interest in an ongoing congressional investigation. And that is not the truth either. This is the most corrupt and deceitful IRS in history.”

» Read more

The scramble in Congress to head the House committee on Space, Science, and Technology after November’s election has begun.

The scramble in Congress to head the House committee on space after November’s election has begun.

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) and Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX) have begun to quietly campaign to replace Rep. Ralph Hall as chairman of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology next year, according to Stu Witt, General Manager and CEO of the Mojave Air and Space Port.

If Rohrabacher gets the chairmanship it will be very be good news for commercial space, and bad news for the NASA-built and very expensive Space Launch System (SLS). He has been a strong supporter of private space, and will likely want to funnel money to it from SLS.

I’m not sure giving private space more cash is necessarily a good thing, as that will encourage these new companies to be less efficient, more expensive, and more dependent on the government. However, getting SLS shut down will certainly help the federal budget deficit.

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $1.4 billion cut in the budget of EPA, also including 31 additional riders limited the agency’s regulatory powers.

The House Appropriations Committee has approved a $1.4 billion cut in the budget of EPA, also including 31 additional riders limiting the agency’s regulatory powers.

That would make the 2013 EPA budget equivalent to its budget in the early 2000s, numbers that would hardly be crippling.

The House yesterday proposed a spending bill that would cut the EPA’s budget to $7 billion, 17% less than what it received in 2012.

Progress: The House yesterday proposed a spending bill that would cut the EPA’s budget to $7 billion, 17% less than what it received in 2012.

Considering the federal debt, this is a reasonable cut, as a $7 billion budget would be comparable to the EPA’s budget numbers in the early 2000s, and would hardly cripple that agency.

On a more depressing note, the Senate is moving forward on a bi-partisan deal to pass a massive farm bill, loaded with pork that would spend almost a trillion dollars over the next decade.

The House today passed the Republican 2013 budget, 228-191.

The House today passed the Republican 2013 budget, 228-191.

Ten Republicans voted no. All Democrats voted no.

Though this budget might not be perfect, at least it makes an effort to face the budget situation. Note also that the Democrats have now rejected their own President’s budget as well as the Republican budget. In addition, the Democratic leadership in the Democratically-controlled Senate has already said they won’t pass a budget this year, the fourth year in a row.

The country is sinking in debt caused by the federal government. It behooves these elected officials to deal with it. That the Democrats won’t tells us much about their lack of qualifications for office.

House Panel Lays Out Spending Preferences for science programs

The Republicans on the House science panel lay out their recommended spending plans for science.

Updated and bumped: First a correction: in my original post I had incorrectly assumed these recommendations were from the entire House panel, not from the Republicans alone. (You can read their actual letter here [pdf].)

Second, that these recommendations come from the Republicans alone is quite depressing, as it seems they don’t have the guts to cut much of anything. All these recommendations do is trim some programs around the edges. Overall, very little is cut at all, with almost all departments ending up with budgets greater than they had in 2008. Even NASA, whose budget is cut from the 2011 $18.8 billion down to $16.6 billion, still includes the billions allocated for the Congressionally-designed Space Launch System. As these Republicans depressingly enthuse, “We also strongly support proposed funding levels for the Space Launch System and the Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle.”

With this kind of budget-cutting wimpiness from the Republicans, I expect the federal government to continue to grow in an out-of-control manner, even as the rest of the economy continues to tank.

House proposes a budget increase for NIH

The Republican-controlled House has proposed a budget for National Institutes of Health (NIH) that is one billion more than last year’s budget, an increase from $30.7 to $31.7 billion.

What evil budget-cutters these Republicans are! Their mean-spirited budget increase has the nerve to reduce Obama’s budget request by about $120 million, equivalent to a whopping one third of one percent!

This is all shameful. For context, in 2008 NIH’s budget was $29.2 billion. Considering the state of the budget it seems unconscionable for the House to agree to any increase over $30.7 billion. In truth, it is perfectly reasonable to reduce NIH’S budget back to its 2008 number.

Too bad our present Congress, both Democratic and Republican, isn’t reasonable.

No House Democrat will sponsor Obama’s job bill, preventing it from being introduced

Boy, does this tell us how politically weak Obama has become: No House Democrat will sponsor Obama’s job bill, preventing it from being introduced for consideration.

Correction: it turns out that a Democrat did finally introduce Obama’s jobs bill to the House, though it took until September 22, three weeks after the President’s speech first demanding that Congress “pass this bill immediately.”

The Republican-controlled House today passed legislation raising the debt ceiling and cutting federal spending by $6 trillion

Now it’s in the Democrats’ court: The Republican-controlled House today passed legislation raising the debt ceiling and cutting federal spending by $6 trillion.

Republicans have now passed their second bill this session that attempts to address the exploding deficits and the debt crisis, the first being Paul Ryan’s budget plan in April. Meanwhile, Democrats in the Senate haven’t bothered to pass any budget resolution in over 800 days, and the White House still refuses to offer any specific ideas.

House Panel Slams Obama’s Decision to Shut Yucca Mountain

A House panel today slammed President Obama’s decision to shut the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility.

The House committee’s report challenges the basis for the Administration’s rejection of the site, which was submitted for licensing review in 2008. “Despite numerous suggestions by political officials—including President Obama—that Yucca Mountain is unsafe for storing nuclear waste, the Committee could not identify a single document to support such a claim,” it says. The report includes a number of documents to support its charge that career government officials and scientists opposed the decision to close Yucca Mountain but were not consulted. In recent testimony to the committee, a former acting director of the Yucca Mountain program, Christopher Kouts, said of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s decision to terminate the program, “Technical information was not part of the secretary’s decision making process.”

The report highlights a section of an unpublished safety evaluation report by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission on the facility’s potential long-term effects. The evaluation, according to the committee, found that, in most details, the project proposed by the Department of Energy (DOE) met the government’s technical, safety, and environmental requirements—including the need to safeguard the site 200,000 years into the future.

House torpedoes unconditional hike to $14.3 trillion debt ceiling

Good news indeed: The House tonight overwhelmingly voted down an unconditional hike to $14.3 trillion debt ceiling.

The vote was 318-97, with 82 Democrats joining every Republican in rejecting legislation that would have authorized $2.4 trillion in additional borrowing by the federal government. Seven Democrats voted present on the legislation.

Now comes the business of tying the increase in the debt ceiling to some real spending reduction.