Tag Archives: politics

Government high speed railroad and elections

The federal government’s very expensive and probably unnecessary project to build a high speed railroad line between two cities in Wisconsin — using stimulus money — is having a significant influence on the elections there. Key quote:

With the U.S. economy in shambles and our national debt strangling the country, it doesn’t bode well for Feingold that he supported the wildly unpopular health-care bill, which [challenger] Johnson wants repealed, as well as last year’s big clunker, the stimulus bill. Feingold’s support for the unfunded and bottomless money pit of [high speed rail] doesn’t appear to be working for him either. If an entrenched insider like Feingold loses, it could have serious ramifications for the future of high-speed rail across the country. [emphasis mine]

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ISS’s life expectancy

Engineers are reviewing the life expectancy of the International Space Station, in light of the desire of politicians to keep it operating through the 2020s. Intriguing quote:

Airlines and airplane contractors commonly inspect aircraft for such fractures, but with the space station out of reach more than 200 miles up, engineers rely on complex models to predict their growth in orbit.

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Our Debt Is More Than All the Money in the World

There is a lobbying push among a lot of space activists to get the House NASA authorization bill changed so that more money is spent for commercial space. Unfortunately for these activists, reality is about to strike (almost certainly on November 2). Also see this story: Our debt is more than all the money in the world.

With a new Congress almost certainly dominated by individuals who want to shrink the size of government, I doubt anyone in the space industry is going to get much of what they want in the coming years.

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A question for the baby boomers

If you are a baby boomer who grew up in the 1960s, such as myself, there are some very safe assumptions that anyone can make about your history and political views, both during the 1960s and the decades that followed.

For example, in the 1960s you were almost certainly against the Vietnam War. You were also likely to oppose President Lyndon Johnson and his Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. You cheered Eugene McCarthy’s anti-war campaign for President, and you probably also despised President Nixon and passionately wished that George McGovern had won the 1972 Presidential campaign.

Almost certainly you participated in some anti-war protests somewhere during the 1960s. Some of you were in Chicago for the protests during the Democratic National Convention in 1968, while others were likely to have participated in the numerous university sit-ins that were rampant throughout the country in the late 1960s.

Sadly, many of you at that time would have probably considered the police “pigs” and the military “evil” (even if those insults seem totally unfair, disgusting, and almost unforgivable to you now).

On a personal level, you probably experimented with drugs, had fun with rock ‘n roll, and even more fun with sex. Many of you also probably participated in the hippie culture at events like Woodstock and places like San Francisco and the Lower Eastside of Manhattan.

Above all, you abhorred authority. You were raised to be very independent-minded and » Read more

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Bart Gordon responds to Nobel laureates

The space war continues: On Friday the chairman of the House committee of Science and Technology responded negatively to the letter by 30 Nobel laureates demanding the House revise its budget authorization for NASA and accept the Obama administration’s plans for the agency. Two key quotes from Gordon’s response:

The hard reality is that the Administration has sent an unexecutable budget request to Congress, and now we have to make tough choise to the nation can have a sustainable and balance [sic] NASA program.

Reluctantly, the Committee came to the conclusion that the president’s new human space flight program, much like the current Constellation program, was unexecutable under the current budget projections and other NASA priorities we all agree must be addressed.

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Scientist fired at UCLA because research politically incorrect

UCLA has fired a scientist after 36 years because according to them, his “research is not aligned with the academic mission” of his department. In other words, his research uncovering flaws in the such politically correct subjects as secondhand smoke and diesel emissions is something the academic community at his campus cannot stomach. Key quote:

[The fired scientist] questions the science behind the new [California diesel] emissions standards, and he has raised concerns about the two key reports on which they were based – exposing the author of one study as having faked his credentials and the panel that issued the other study as having violated its term limits.

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IPCC fail

Meltdown of the climate ‘consensus’. Key quote:

What does the best evidence now tell us? That man-made global warming is a mere hypothesis that has been inflated by both exaggeration and downright malfeasance, fueled by the awarding of fat grants and salaries to any scientist who’ll produce the “right” results. The warming “scientific” community, the Climategate emails reveal, is a tight clique of like-minded scientists and bureaucrats who give each other jobs, publish each other’s papers — and conspire to shut out any point of view that threatens to derail their gravy train.

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Republicans lead by 10 in Gallup generic poll

Still doubt the magnitude of the turnover expected in the November 2010 election? Then consider Gallup’s most recent generic poll, which has the Republicans now up by 10 points, the most in history. Key quote:

The Republican leads of 6, 7, and 10 points this month are all higher than any previous midterm Republican advantage in Gallup’s history of tracking the generic ballot, which dates to 1942. Prior to this year, the highest such gap was five points, measured in June 2002 and July 1994. Elections in both of these years resulted in significant Republican gains in House seats.

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Last refuge of a liberal

The last refuge of a liberal. Key quote:

The Democrats are going to get beaten badly in November. Not just because the economy is ailing. And not just because Obama over-read his mandate in governing too far left. But because a comeuppance is due the arrogant elites whose undisguised contempt for the great unwashed prevents them from conceding a modicum of serious thought to those who dare oppose them.

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Space war breakthrough?

Is the space war over NASA’s future ending? I wonder, reading this report in which NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver confidently announces that a compromise between Congress and the administration is pending. More importantly, she said the following:

Many things are still uncertain, but one thing is not uncertain. Marshall [Space Flight Center] will lead the heavy-lift launch program.

Considering Garver’s previously strong opposition to Constellation, this statement indicates that she and the administration have backed down, and are willing to accept the heavy-lift part of Constellation, once called Ares V, as long as no one uses those Bush-era names.

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Obama’s traffic jam

The charade in Los Angeles on Monday when President Obama arrived for a fundraiser and shut down traffic during rush hour — causing a storm of angry protest — is another very obvious illustration of the great disconnect between today’s ruling class and the general public.

It’s not just that Obama seemed oblivious to the traffic chaos he created. It is that he, as well as most politicians today (from both parties), truly expect large areas of a city to be closed down for their convenience, and don’t seem to give a damn that by doing so they make life miserable for everyone else.

To paraphrase what Glenn Reynolds likes to say, traffic jams are for “the little people.”

Obama’s actions here are far from new and have actually been deeply institutionalized since the 1960s, following Kennedy’s assassination. Originally designed to protect a president from attack, the shutting down of highways quickly became a tool to make the president’s life as easy as possible while demonstrating to all his lordly superiority.

For example, I personally experienced this kingly arrogance back in 1979. I needed to get from my house in Astoria, Queens, to LaGuardia Airport, normally a very short 10 minute drive. But as I pulled into the ramp for the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway I found myself being waved to a stop by a policeman. The expressway was being closed so that President Jimmy Carter could use it. I, along with hundreds of others, was forced to sit there for thirty minutes, waiting for his entourage of approximately thirty limousines finally go by. To say that this infuriated me is to put it mildly.

Nor do I think this behavior is reserved to Democrats. I am sure that my readers could easily cite similar events during past Republican administrations.

Nor is it limited to American political leaders. The ruling class of the defunct Soviet Union made it offical policy. There, those in power built many urban roadways with special lanes reserved exclusively for communist party officials. Moreover, when they used those lanes the street lights could be commandeered, turning them all green so that anyone on a cross street had to wait.

In the U.S. we have not yet come that far. Yet, that presidents feel it their right to shut down entire transportation systems for their mere convenience suggests that sadly we don’t have that far to travel.

Unless of course the public, which still has the vote, does something about it.

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Reporter arrested for discussing politics

Freedom of speech alert. In this post, I noted that though it seemed as if the arrest of four protesters on the University of Texas campus during a visit by President Obama seemed a violation of their rights, there wasn’t enough information in the reports to know for sure. We now have more information. Read this report also. And watch this video of the arrest of one protester, while wearing a press badge, and tell me if this isn’t an abuse of power.

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Rebuilding the American space program — the right way

In reading my post, Both for and against the Obama plan, reader Trent Waddington emailed me to say that this “is so fatalistic that it seems you don’t think it is worthwhile even spending a few minutes explaining why the policy is good. It’s easy to dismiss something a politician says as the stopped clock that is right twice a day. It’s harder to set aside your skepticism and explain why something is good policy.”

Trent is absolutely correct. What I wrote was very depressing and fatalistic. However, I think it very important to be coldly honest about things, no matter how bad they look. Once you’ve done that, you then have the right information necessary for fixing the situation.

My problem with most of the debate about the future space policy of the United States, — as well as innumerable other modern issues faced by our government — is that people don’t seem to want to face up to the reality of the problem. In the case of space and Obama, I doubt any advice, gentle or otherwise, is going to move him into putting forth a plan for NASA that has any realistic chance of getting passed by Congress. As I noted in a different post, he doesn’t play the game. He acts like the worst sort of autocrat, convinced that if he simply says what he wants to do, everyone must agree.

The reason the good part of his plan (commercial space) is not passing Congress is not because people think it is a bad idea. It is being rejected because » Read more

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Griffin’s take on the Obama space plan

On August 6 former NASA administrator Mike Griffin bluntly attacked the Obama proposals for NASA in a speech at the 13th Annual International Mars Society convention in Dayton, Ohio, Key quotes:

We’re not going anywhere and we’re going to spend a lot of money doing it.

The US space program has not accomplished as much in its last 15 years as in its first 15 years, given more money. So, if you like that, you’ll really like the next decade, in which we do almost nothing and spend just as much.

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PG police kill another dog

Yesterday a sheriff’s deputy from Prince George’s County, Maryland, shot and killed a family dog while trying to serve an eviction notice. This comes two years after a mistaken raid by Prince George’s police of the home of the mayor of Berwyn Heights killed his two dogs. Key quote:

[Mayor] Calvo, who is suing Sheriff Michael A. Jackson, alleging his deputies engaged in excessive force when they killed his dogs, said deputies have shown a disturbing propensity to kill family pets. “This is part of a pattern,” Calvo said. From 2005 to 2008, deputies shot at least nine dogs in eight incidents, according to sheriff’s department records.

The real horror of this story for those of us who live in Prince George’s County and own dogs (as I do) is that Michael Jackson is running for county executive, and in some polls, is leading the pack.

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