Tag Archives: Trump

Trump pushing for major FISA reform or he will let law expire

It appears that President Trump is now demanding a major rewrite of the law that authorizes the FISA court or else he will allow the law to expire.

Congress has approximately 10 working days to reauthorize three expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act, a 2015 bill that overhauled the country’s surveillance laws, with Attorney General William Barr and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) backing a “clean” extension.

But Trump threw a grenade into those already fragile plans Thursday, when Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) told reporters that the president supports his effort to include broader reforms of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) as part of any reauthorization of the intelligence programs. “I’ve talked to the president, and I plan on insisting on getting a vote,” Paul said, asked by The Hill about including broader FISA reforms in a bill would authorize the expiring provisions of the USA Freedom Act.

Paul wants a vote on an amendment that would prevent FISA warrants from being used against Americans. Paul’s proposal would also prevent FISA information from being used against Americans in a domestic courtroom. The president, according to Paul, is supportive of his amendment.

Trump’s apparent support for including broader changes to the surveillance court associated with FISA comes as he’s railed repeatedly about his campaign being “spied” upon by the Obama-era FBI. [emphasis mine]

The simple fact is that the FISA court has always been unconstitutional. As written, it is designed — and been used — to bypass the fourth amendment’s requirement that no searches be conducted of a person’s private property without probably cause and a search warrant. Paul’s amendment would simply bring the FISA court into line with constitutional law.

It would be criminal if both Congress and Trump allow this court to be renewed without making this change, especially considering the abuse committed by the Obama administration and government officials of the court in the past four years. Yet, Attorney General Barr as well as Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) are calling for exactly that.

Barr indicated during the lunch that Trump would support a clean extension of the three programs. McConnell threw his support behind extending the authorities during a press conference after the powwow with Barr. “These tools have been overwhelmingly useful according to our intelligence advisors, and I hope that when the Senate deals with these expiring provisions in a couple of weeks, we will be able to continue to have them in law, which will, of course, provide maximum protection for the American people,” McConnell told reporters.

As good as McConnell has been in getting Trump’s conservative judges confirmed to the courts, he sometimes infuriates me. Considering the abuse of power seen in the FBI, Justice Department, and Obama administration, it makes no sense to renew these laws unchanged.

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More SLS launches planned/proposed?

According to this article from Ars Technica, NASA is considering shifting gears in its Artemis lunar program to become more dependent on SLS rather than a mix of SLS and commercial rockets.

The new plan, if implemented, would substantially cut commercially developed rockets—such as SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy and Blue Origin’s New Glenn—back from the Artemis program. Previously, NASA had said it would launch elements of its Human Landing System on commercial rockets, because such vehicles cost much less than the estimated $2 billion rate per launch of the SLS vehicle. Now, perhaps, private rockets may be called upon to launch smaller pieces such as a lunar rover to the Moon’s surface.

The source document, which appears to be very preliminary and which NASA calls “inaccurate”, also calls for four SLS launches leading up to the 2024 lunar landing, something that seems very very unlikely. Not only would it require Boeing to move faster in building additional SLS rockets, something the company has routinely been unable to do, this schedule assumes funding from Congress for SLS, something that remains unclear.

It also appears from the proposed launch schedule that Lunar Gateway is fading from view. This makes great sense, as the Gateway only causes delays and higher costs for any lunar landing program, something the Trump administration clearly wishes to avoid.

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Chicago demonstrates the abject failure of Democratic Party policies

Two stories in the past week illustrate the routine failure of the urban political policies in cities nationwide that have been traditionally controlled by Democrats:

The first story proves the absurdity of gun control laws. Chicago, like most cities and states controlled by Democrats, has some of the strictest gun control laws in the nation. And Chicago, like most cities and states controlled by Democrats, is also home to one of the highest crime rates, using guns, in the nation. Routinely there are more people shot per week with in Chicago then in any hot spot in the Middle East.

This particular story further demonstrates how pointless those laws are in keeping guns from both criminals and even ordinary citizens. It not only describes the premeditated use of guns by young adults against each other, it documents two examples where children accidently shot a playmate because they were playing with guns that happened to be in their homes.

If those gun control laws had done what the Democrats had promised, those children would not have had those guns available to them. But they did, because first, criminals did not obey the laws and are thus very well armed in Chicago, and second, to defend themselves against these armed criminals Chicago citizens are forced to get guns illegally themselves. Instead of reducing access to guns, the gun control laws appear to have increased it. Worse, because those guns are illegal, proper training in gun use and safety is inaccessible. The result are stories like this.

The second story describes the consequences of these bad Democratic Party policies. Chicago’s population has now shrunk four years in a row, with many of those fleeing coming from the very black community that the Democrats supposedly care so much about. The reasons?

They have been driven out of the city by segregation, gun violence, discriminatory policing, racial disparities in employment, the uneven quality of public schools and frustration at life in neighborhoods whose once-humming commercial districts have gone quiet, as well as more universal urban complaints like rising rents and taxes.

Note that the blame for most of these failures (gun control, corrupt police, bad schools, rising taxes) can be traced directly to the polices of the Democratic Party that has run Chicago unopposed for almost a century, the same party that for decades these same blacks have voted for repeatedly.

As they say, you get the government you deserve. I just hope the blacks remaining in Chicago as well as the blacks who have fled will reconsider their blind loyalty to the Democratic Party. As Donald Trump told them directly during the 2016 campaign, “What have you got to lose?”.

So far, less than nothing, based on the disasters that the Democrats have brought upon them. I pray they will finally realize this.

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NASA get boost in Trump proposed budget for 2021

The 2021 budget request by the Trump administration includes a big budget increase for NASA while also proposing major cuts to many of its science programs.

According to the analysis at the second link, the big gainer is Artemis. The losers in astronomy are the space telescope WFIRST and the airborne telescope SOFIA, both of which the administration wants terminated. Also on the chopping block are two climate satellites.

I plan to go through the budget in the next day or so and do my own analysis, which will also provide a longer term context that I guarantee no other news source will do. For example, routinely when most mainstream sources declare a cut in any program, it only means either a reduction in its growth rate, or a reduction to spending levels deemed entirely satisfactory only a few years before. To understand any new budget proposal, you need to look at the long term spending trends.

I will, as I have done in the past, also include more than just NASA in my analysis, reviewing the budget changes for all the science agencies.

I would do this today, but an eye doctor’s appointment this afternoon takes priority.

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Congress gets first organizational plan for Space Force

The Air Force has delivered to Congress the first of a regularly required series of reports on its organizational plans for creating the Space Force.

At first glance, the article makes it appear that both Congress and the Air Force under Trump are making an attempt to avoid the birth of a new bureaucracy that will coast billions of additional dollars. The following quotes highlight this:

The report delivered Feb. 3, a copy of which was obtained by SpaceNews, stresses that the Space Force will not have the traditional layers of bureaucracy that Congress cautioned it did not want to see in the new service.

…The Space Force in fiscal year 2020 is allotted a total of 200 people. The plan is to grow the staff over the next five years “within existing DoD resources,” says the report.

The article also outlines how the bulk of the Space Force’s staff will be taken from the Air Force.

One would think therefore that the overall military budget would not rise significantly. Hah! Fooled you!

The report says in the future the new service will not require more than $500 million annually over and above what DoD spends currently on space organizations. Total additional costs would not exceed $2 billion over the next five years, says the report.

Only in the government would spending an extra $500 million annually for an office operation taken from other parts of a company be considered inexpensive. For example, the initial capital funding for almost every single one of the new private smallsat rocket companies has generally been under $100 million, total. Later rounds of funding have generally only doubled or tripled that. The extra $500 million the military wants for the Space Force is actually a lot of money, and indicates that the Pentagon is definitely trying to pad the budget.

Our incompetent federal government grows again, and I guarantee we are getting less for our money than we should.

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Trump’s Mideast peace plan: What it really reveals

This week President Trump unveiled his proposed comprehensive peace plan for settling the differences between the Palestinians and the Israelis. The plan has not garnered a lot of press attention, partly because of the media’s general bias against Trump, but mostly because no one expects it to be adopted. The plan is crucially important, however, not because it might become reality but because of what it reveals about the various players involved, telling us everything we need to know about them as well as what they really stand for.

The details of that plan, discussed here at great length, suggest that it offers a mixed bag to both sides. While it will give billions in aid to the Palestinians to help jump start their own sovereign state, carved out of the territories they presently hold, it also recognizes Israel’s hold on the parts of the West Bank it presently occupies.

It also demands the following from the Palestinians:

Before Palestine can unlock any benefit, the Hamas government in Gaza must be removed from power and replaced with the Palestinian Authority. If Hamas wants to remain in power, the group must renounce violence, fully disarm, and accept the existence of the State of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. That’s a non-starter. Hamas faces political and economic pressure, but a capitulation of its ideology or its power is unlikely. The plan also requires the new State of Palestine to safeguard freedom of speech and religion and promote financial and government transparency. [emphasis mine]

The responses to this plan are, as I said, quite revealing.
» Read more

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Another two hard radical Sanders campaign field workers

Project Veritas has released its fourth expose on the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, once again showing us two more radical hard left campaign workers, both field organizers, who seem willing to accept the idea of “destroying property” and using force to obtain power, regardless of whether Sanders is elected.

I’ve embedded the video below the fold. Unlike the radicals exposed in the earlier videos, I find these guys more absurd and intellectually empty than frightening. I do not see how they will be able to achieve a violent overthrow of the American people, especially since their opposition of Trump supporters are also avid and trained gun users who will not take kindly to any attempts to directly oppress them with force.

Regardless, these two Sanders workers do illustrate well the empty-headed policy ideas of Sanders and his campaign. If you jump to 12:00 minutes into the video, watch how Mason Baird struggles when asked how Bernie Sanders is going to carry out his policy. As he admits,

Like, we we get really nuts and bolts stuff, that’s what I really struggle with thinking about is — My answer is kind of like vague. It’s just like the, you know, having the movement and having, and snowballing that movement, and, and thinking more explicit, maybe thinking less about mobilize, or thinking about persuading people and more about mobilizing the people we already have.

He goes on to imply that the use of force against any one who opposes them would likely be the best approach, but he certainly seems very unclear how he and his ilk could do that.

I repeat and beg my Democratic readers, watch and learn. The Democratic Party is not the party you think it is. It is instead becoming a carbon copy of the Communist Party of the early Soviet Union, designed with only one purpose in mind, obtaining power. And we know this by the reaction of the Sanders campaign to these videos, which is to do nothing, to poo-poo what they reveal, and to fire no one.

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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.

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The Democratic Party: Elections are bad, let’s end them!

So, have you all been closely hooked to your televisions or computers, watching nonstop the impeachment trial against President Donald Trump going on in the Senate this week?

Yup, me neither. No one in their right mind and with the freedom to avoid it would spend eight-plus hours each day watching this obscene impeachment effort by the out-of-control and power-hungry Democratic Party. They have nothing to offer but lies and policy differences, hardly sufficient to justify their campaign to remove a duly elected president, merely because he has the audacity to oppose them. Better to read summaries and commentary afterward.

In fact, the ratings of the impeachment trail in the Senate bear this out. On the first day the ratings showed a 20% decline in viewership from the numbers seen during the House impeachment vote, from 13.8 million to 11 million. This trend continued on day two, when the ratings plunged another 19% to 8.9 million.

Nor is this drop in ratings surprising. Everyone knows that there no chance Trump will be convicted by a two-thirds majority of the Senate. Not only are the charges against him bogus, the Democratic managers appointed by the House to argue their case in the Senate have done a terrible job making their case. Instead, they have offended the few Republican senators who might have considered conviction. Both Senators Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) were considered unreliable Republicans, willing to listen to the Democrats’ line of reasoning, with the possibility that they might even have voted against Trump.

Instead, manager and congressman Jerry Nadler (D-New York) offended both deeply with his accusations that anyone who voted for blocking the introduction of new witnesses was participating in a “cover-up.”
» Read more

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First head of Space Force to be officially sworn in

First head of Space Force, General John Raymond of the Air Force, will be officially sworn in today at the White House.

Raymond assumed the duties of the first head of the Space Force on December 20, 2019, when U.S. President Donald Trump signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act that officially launched the new force. “The Space Force will help us deter aggression and control the ultimate high ground,” Trump said at the NDAA signing last month. Officials say the Space Force will organize, train and equip military personnel who primarily focus on space operations.

Raymond was named commander of the new United States Space Command upon its creation in August of last year. That command, which sought to better organize the U.S. military’s space assets and operations, is being phased out as personnel are transferred to the Space Force.

Not surprisingly, a twitter mob immediately formed to protest the fact that a bible, officially blessed by religious leaders at the Washington National Cathedral, will be used during the swearing in. I especially like the over-the-top outrage expressed by the childish leader of this twitter mob:

Mikey Weinstein, president and founder of the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, said Sunday’s ceremony displayed overtones of “Christian privilege” within the Defense Department. “The MRFF condemns, in as full-throated a manner as is humanly possible, the shocking and repulsive display of only the most vile, exclusivist, fundamentalist Christian supremacy, dominance, triumphalism and exceptionalism which occurred at yesterday’s ‘blessing’ at the Washington National Cathedral,” he told Military.com on Monday.

My response to Mikey-boy: You are a very bigoted, very anti-Christian, and a very hateful person. You should get a life.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, it remains to be seen whether the establishment of a separate organization for handling the space-related military needs of the U.S. will do more harm than good. The idea makes sense, as the military for the past two decades has had a problem giving priority to space matters because of in-house turf wars between the various military branches, and thus the U.S. effort has stagnated somewhat.

The track record of Washington in the past half century when such things are attempted however is not good. Instead of getting more focused and accomplishing more, Washington has instead consistently grown a bloated bureaucracy that actually gets less done for more money. And in this case, it appears that might be what will happen here, as the giant budgets for the Space Force put forth by the Pentagon have suggested they are aiming to use it to build new empires rather than streamline and focus operations.

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Protests in Iran against Islamic government

The protests in Iran continue, fueled by the admitted shooting down of a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing everyone on board, as well as what appears to be a clear opposition to the Islamic government and the terrorists its supports.

The link has good video of both the protests and the government’s violent reaction. However, the best and most illustrative video indicating where these protesters stand is the one that shows Iranian protesters refusing to walk on the American and Israeli flags, painted on the ground by the government in the hope that they would be trampled.

Meanwhile, other protesters have been ripping down posters of Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Quds forces and master Iranian terrorist leader whom Trump killed last week.

It is unclear what will happen next. The situation in Iran today reminds a great deal of the protests that took place in the Soviet bloc shortly before the fall of the Soviet Union, and helped bring that communist empire down. They also remind me of the same protests in China at the same time, which were met with vicious force, killing thousands, which allowed that communist dictatorship to maintain power.

We don’t know which route the Islamic leadership in Iran will take. They have clearly shown themselves willing to kill thousands. At the same time, they are presently as economically weak as the Soviet communists were, which doesn’t give them the resources needed for resisting an aggressive revolt.

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Senate considers rules change permitting dismissal of House impeachment lacking submission

The Republican Senate leadership is considering a rules change that would allow them to dismiss the House impeachment of Donald Trump if the articles of impeachment are not delivered in a timely manner.

The resolution would give the House 25 days to send articles of impeachment over to the Senate. After that, a senator could offer a motion to dismiss “with prejudice for failure by the House of Representatives to prosecute such articles” with a simple majority vote, according to Hawley’s proposal.

I should note that the Senate is entirely within its rights to do this. The Constitution does not require the delivery of those articles in any specific manner, as has become customary. All it says, literally, is that the House “shall have the sole power of impeachment,” and that “the Senate shall have the sole power to try all impeachments.” That’s it. If the Senate wishes to dismiss an impeachment that the House passed but didn’t deliver officially, it can do so.

This Democratic clown show and attempt to overturn an legal election they lost is about to end quite embarrassingly for these Democrats. Hopefully however the embarrassment will be multiplied many fold come November, with a wipe-out landslide for Trump and the Republicans. It is long past time to clean house in the Democratic Party.

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U.S. kills leader of Iranian Quds Force

In response to Iran’s attack against the U.S. embassy several days ago, the U.S. today killed several key leaders in Iran’s Quds Force, central to that nation’s terrorist attack network.

Hajj Qasem, the “shadow commander,” Israel’s “most dangerous enemy,” has been killed in Iraq alongside his key disciple Abu Mahdi al-Muhandis. An airstrike near or at Baghdad International Airport targeted a motorcade with the men in it just days after their followers stormed the US Embassy compound and scrawled “Soleimani is our leader” on its walls. US President Donald Trump approved the airstrike. The Pentagon confirmed the US killed the Iranian Quds Force leader. The US said Iran was responsible for killing 608 US troops during the Iraq war.

…Reports emerged after four in the morning, Iraqi time. A mysterious airstrike near the airport had led to rumors of its closure hours earlier. Two flights were inbound at the time. A Pegasus and Iraq airways flight. Three or four rockets impacted near the airport. US helicopters were reported buzzing in the distance.

It appears a cryptic tweet from US Defense Secretary Mark Esper announced the US policy to begin pre-emptive strikes against Iranian adversaries or their proxies. “To Iran and its proxy militias: We will not accept the continued attacks against our personnel and forces in the region. Attacks against us will be met with responses in the time, manner and place of our choosing. We urge the Iranian regime to end malign activities.”

The article at the link provides a lot of good information about who these men were and what they have done for the past few decades to initiate violence and terrorist attacks throughout the Middle East.

Here’s the deal: We are still struggling with these bad guys because George Bush Jr. was a disaster as president. Had he been in charge after Pearl Harbor in 1941 he would have invaded France, but then stopped at the German border and declared victory, allowing Hitler and the Nazis to remain in power.

The simple fact is that unless you intend total victory you will lose every war you fight, and Bush demonstrated this fact starkly.

He was then followed by Barack Obama, who’s loyalties were aligned more with Iran and the Islamic terrorists than with the United States and its allies.

I have no idea if Trump understands this. I doubt it. However, it does appear that he is willing to meet violence with violence in the Middle East, the only negotiating tactic these thugs understand.

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White House slashes National Security Council staffing

No more leaks of Trump phone conversations: Under the leadership of National Security Adviser Robert C. O’Brien,the White House is reducing the staffing of the National Security Council, returning it to numbers similar to what it was prior to the Obama administration.

Under President Obama, the NSC staff mushroomed to as many as 450 people. Mr. O’Brien plans to cut the staff to fewer than 120 policy officials by early next year. The downsizing will be carried out by consolidating positions and returning officials to agencies and departments such as the CIA, the State and Defense departments and the military.

Mr. O’Brien noted that the NSC had a policymaking staff of 12 in 1962 when President Kennedy faced down the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis. During the 2000s and the George W. Bush administration, the number of NSC staff members increased sharply to support the three-front conflict in Iraq, Afghanistan and the war on terrorism.

However, it was during the Obama administration that the NSC was transformed into a major policymaking agency seeking to duplicate the functions of the State and Defense departments within the White House. “The NSC staff became bloated during the prior administration,” Mr. O’Brien said. “The NSC is a coordinating body. I am trying to get us back to a lean and efficient staff that can get the job done, can coordinate with our interagency partners, and make sure the president receives the best advice he needs to make the decisions necessary to keep the American people safe.”

Though unstated by O’Brien, a side benefit of these cutbacks is that it will remove Obama holdovers from the NSC, many of whom have been implicated or even admitted to leaking the contents of several of Trump’s private phone conversations with foreign leaders.

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The Navy’s horrible software and the crashes it caused

Apropos to Starliner: This article outlines in detail the causes behind the crash in 2017 of the USS McCain and an oil-tanker that killed ten sailors and injured many others.

It is a horror story of a bankrupt Navy upper management that seemed more in love with cool computer software and automation than making sure the Navy’s ships and its crews can function efficiently and effectively in any situation. Moreover, the story suggests that this same upper management made lower level officers the scapegoats for its bad decisions, while skating free with no consequences.

And worst of all, that same overly complex computer navigation system remains in place, with only superficial patches imposed in both its software and its user instructions.

This story however is hardly unique. It reflects the general and systemic failures of almost any project coming out of the upper managements of the entire federal government for the past three decades, a pattern of failure that partly explains why Donald Trump was elected, and why he is hated so thoroughly by so many in that federal workforce. He more than anyone in decades has been demanding from them quality work, and firing them when they fail to provide it.

It seems, based on this story, that Trump needs to make a harsh review of the Navy’s upper management as well.

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Trump signs defense bill which includes Space Force

It’s official: Trump today signed the annual NDAA defense authorization bill which also includes the creation of a new military branch dubbed the Space Force.

Whether this new branch will function to make the U.S.’s space military more effective, or merely act as a foundation for a bureaucracy in Washington requiring lots of useless jobs and lots of wasteful spending remains at this moment an unknown.

My instincts favor the latter, based on a lifetime of watching how Washington operates. Every time in the past half century Congress has created a new agency that was supposed to make the federal government more efficient it has instead accomplished the exact opposite. I see no reason at this moment to expect otherwise.

Note that for the immediate future not much is going to change, as this new branch will be operating initially from within the Air Force, where space operations have been based for decades anyway.

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FISA court condemns FBI

The FISA court has issued a rare public rebuke of the FBI over its apparent misconduct and illegal tampering of evidence, as documented by the inspector general report released last week, misconduct aimed at misleading the court into issuing uncalled FISA warrants.

[T]he chief judge of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court [FISC] strongly criticized the FBI over its surveillance-application process, giving the bureau until Jan. 10 to come up with solutions, in the wake of findings from Justice Department Inspector General Michael E. Horowitz.

The order, from the court’s presiding judge Rosemary M. Collyer, came just a week after the release of Horowitz’s withering report about the wiretapping of Carter Page, a former campaign adviser to President Trump. “The FBI’s handling of the Carter Page applications, as portrayed in the [Office of Inspector General] report, was antithetical to the heightened duty of candor described above,” Collyer wrote in her four-page order. “The frequency with which representations made by FBI personnel turned out to be unsupported or contradicted by information in their possession, and with which they withheld information detrimental to their case, calls into question whether information contained in other FBI applications is reliable.” [emphasis mine]

This is another independent confirmation that the behavior of the upper echelons of the FBI during the Obama administration was corrupt, apparently acting to take sides during the 2016 election against Donald Trump.

The highlighted words however are to me very distressing. The FISA court is asking the bad apples to come up with new procedures to prevent them from behaving as bad apples again. If this is all that happens then they will have gotten away with it, and will proceed to do worse in 2020 and beyond.

What needs to happen is firm contempt citations against specific individuals, people like James Comey, followed by prosecution. Until that happens the bad guys will still be in charge, and the American justice system will still be corrupted.

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Spygate from a scientific perspective

Back in February 2018, Republican-controlled committees in both the House and the Senate released detailed memos, dubbed the Nunes and Grassley memos respectively, accusing the FBI and the Obama Justice Department of using unverified and false information that was nothing more than opposition research paid for by the Clinton campaign to illegally obtain Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court (FISC), warrants that allowed them to spy on the campaign of Donald Trump as well as his administration following his election victory in 2016.

Put more bluntly, the Republicans accused the Clinton campaign, with the help of the Obama administration, of weaponizing the surveillance powers of the FBI and the Justice Department in order to defeat their political opponents.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats and former Obama officials denied these allegations, calling both memos partisan and false. In the House the Democrats issued their own memo, claiming the Republican memos left out key information that made their arguments invalid.

Who was right? What was true? How was an ordinary citizen going to determine which of these competing political positions properly described what had actually happened?

At the time I admit my instincts and own personal biases led me to believe the Republicans. Even so, the allegations were so horrifying — suggesting a clear abuse of power and a willingness of people in Washington to subvert an American election — that some skepticism of the Republican accusations was certainly reasonable.

In fact, the best thing one could do in this situation is to take a scientific approach to the problem. The Republicans had put forth a theory, citing some data that suggested the Obama administration, the Justice Department, and the FBI had abused their power in the worst possible manner. To prove that theory the Republicans would require both corroborating evidence as well as independent reviews that confirmed their conclusions.
» Read more

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Harris’s exit from presidential race highlights again the bigotry of the Democratic Party

Today Kamala Harris announced she is dropping out of the race to be the Democratic Party’s presidential candidate.

Not surprisingly, activists in the Democratic Party immediately blamed racism for her failure. From the leftist New York Times:

Still, Ms. Harris had already qualified for the next presidential debate, scheduled for Dec. 19, the only non-white candidate to do so thus far. Without her, Democrats may have an all-white debate stage after beginning the primaries with the most racially diverse field in history, though candidates like Representative Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii and businessman Andrew Yang may still qualify in the coming days.

“No matter your candidate, you have to recognize that going from the most diverse field ever in January to a potentially all-white debate stage in December is catastrophic,” wrote Leah Greenberg, a co-executive director of Indivisible, a national progressive group, on Twitter.

…“She really showed the importance of having different perspectives on the debate stage,” said Amanda Hunter, research and communications director at the Barbara Lee Family Foundation, which supports women in politics and studies double standards. “Her personal story about being bused to school was something that a historically typical older white man would not bring to the conversation.”

But “there is still a very entrenched stereotype of what a presidential candidate looks like in this country,” Ms. Hunter said. “Simply by running, Senator Harris challenged that and broke down stereotypes. But a lot of the questions around electability and the challenges she faced were probably motivated by that entrenched stereotype that so many people held.” [emphasis mine]

Note how everything to these Democrat officials is based on race. Everything. To them, Harris lost because she wasn’t white, and because Americans can only conceive a white man as president.

Of course, this thinking is quite idiotic, considering that these same Americans voted twice for a black president, in 2008 and 2012. That’s hardly ancient history.

The only diversity that should matter is diversity of thought, of ideas, of policy suggestions. Among Democrats that’s the last thing we’ve seen in the past three years. All they have shown us is hate and opposition to all things Trump, followed by a desire to destroy the free capitalist United States and replace it with their warped view of the Soviet Union.

If you are normal decent person who happens to belong to the Democratic Party and routinely vote for them, be aware that this party is not the party you think it is. These comments above illustrate again the corrupt, racist, and bigoted make-up of the party’s power structure. They hate Trump, they hate ordinary whites, they hate freedom, and they hate you, if you oppose them in any way at all, even if you have been a loyal Democrat for decades.

For my part Harris’s exit is a great relief. She has repeatedly demonstrated her fascist tendencies in recent years.

I suspect this history had a lot more to do with her failure than her skin color.

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Ukraine’s president reiterates: No quid pro quo from Trump

Democratic Party coup update: The president of the Ukraine yesterday once again stated that President Trump applied no pressure on him to begin an investigation into Joe Biden.

Once again, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has denied again that President Trump withheld military aid in order to pressure him to investigate the Bidens or Ukrainian election interference. In an interview with TIME magazine, Zelensky made this absolutely clear. “Look, I never talked to the President from the position of a quid pro quo. That’s not my thing,” he said. “I don’t want us to look like beggars. But you have to understand. We’re at war. If you’re our strategic partner, then you can’t go blocking anything for us. I think that’s just about fairness. It’s not about a quid pro quo. It just goes without saying.”

This is not the first time he has stated this publicly. Furthermore, his foreign minister has said the same thing, as has the U.S. ambassador during testimony to Congress.

On the other side, the accusations of misbehavior from Democratic Party witnesses have either been hearsay from people not even present during Trump’s phonecalls with Zelinsky, or from low-level bureaucrats who merely have a difference of opinion with Trump about U.S. foreign policy. I don’t remember however ever voting for them for President. Do you?

This ridiculous effort by the Democrats to overturn a legal election would be hilarious if it wasn’t so offensive. However, increasingly it appears it is serving a good end, as it is revealing their power-hungry, totalitarian, and anti-democratic culture to the entire country. They don’t support democracy and elections, only their guaranteed unopposed right to rule. Such people should never be given positions of power, and if they manage to do so, they should be removed by the voters as soon as possible.

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NASA expands list of companies certified to bid on lunar launch/payload contracts

Capitalism in space: NASA today announced that it is expanding the list of companies eligible to bid on lunar launch/payload contracts from 9 to 14.

From the NASA press release:

NASA has added five American companies to the pool of vendors that will be eligible to bid on proposals to provide deliveries to the surface of the Moon through the agency’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.

The additions, which increase the list of CLPS participants on contract to 14, expand NASA’s work with U.S. industry to build a strong marketplace to deliver payloads between Earth and the Moon and broaden the network of partnerships that will enable the first woman and next man to set foot on the Moon by 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis program.

…These five companies, together with nine companies selected in November 2018, now are eligible to bid on launch and delivery services to the lunar surface. [emphasis mine]

The added companies are SpaceX, Blue Origin, Ceres Robotics, Sierra Nevada, Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems.

I have highlighted the most important word in this press release, which is most interestingly buried to make it as little noticed as possible. The addition of SpaceX to this list and the mention that the program has now added the ability to for the companies to bid on launch contracts means that NASA’s goal here is to create a situation where it can replace SLS with a bidded contract to private industry that will costs far less and can launch frequently and on time, features that SLS is completely incapable of, and SpaceX can provide easily and reliably. This analysis by me is further reinforced in that Boeing, the builder of SLS, was not included in this list, even though only last week that company offered SLS to NASA in a wider array of launch configurations, for exactly this purpose.

If NASA had made this fact too obvious it might upset certain people in Congress (I’m talking to you Richard Shelby R-Alabama) who are wedded to SLS and its wasteful pork spending in their home states and districts.

The fact remains however that eventually SLS is going to go away. The Trump administration appears very wedded to its Artemis program to get back to the Moon by 2024, and it is apparently discovering that to make that landing happen the administration needs better alternatives.

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Youtube and Facebook censoring name of Ukraine leaker

It is now being reported that both Youtube and Facebook are removing any content that mentions the name of CIA analyst Eric Ciaramella, the so-called “whistleblower” is really a leaker of classified information from a telephone conversation between President Trump and the president of the Ukraine.

From the original story at The Federalist:

For the record, it is perfectly legal to say or write the whistleblower’s name, unless you are the intelligence community inspector general (ICIG).

The federal whistleblower statute only requires the ICIG keep a whistleblower’s identity confidential, unless the ICIG determines the name necessary to disclose. No other government official or private citizen is required to protect the anonymity of a whistleblower. No such statute exists. So why the censorship on the whistleblower’s name?

Because disclosing the whistleblower’s name will likely lead to research that makes public what many on the right already know — the whistleblower blew his whistle based on a partisan agenda.

Ciaramella’s name is no secret. Not only has RealClearInvestigations revealed it, he was mentioned in the Mueller Report, and was even identified in published testimony from the secret hearings of Congressman Adam Schiff’s intelligence committee on impeachment.

For so-called news organizations to team-up to help fulfill the Democratic Party’s impeachment strategy is beyond disgraceful. This is one reason I do not allow Google advertising on Behind the Black. Google, which owns youtube, is a very corrupt company that is also a hand-in-glove supporter of the Democratic Party. This is why I also do not use it for my searches, going instead to either Startpage or DuckDuckGo. It is also why I encourage my readers to send me Evening Pause suggestions from video sources other than youtube.

Facebook is equally corrupt, and acts to block conservative sites from getting traffic. Now it is acting as an agent of the Democratic Party in its effort to overthrow the 2016 election.

One more point: It is also disgraceful for all news services, from the left and the right, to label Ciaramella a “whistleblower.” He is no such thing. All he did was leak the contents of Trump’s phonecall, based not on direct knowledge but on hearsay, and then express his objections to Trump’s foreign policy based on what he falsely thought had happened during that call. The transcript of that call demonstrates this unequivocally.

Moreover, Trump is the president. He sets foreign policy, not some lowlife CIA bureaucrat. Ciaramella broke his CIA security clearance by leaking and then spreading this tale. He should be fired, not anointed the honorary title of “whistleblower.”

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Boeing proposes manned lunar lander that bypasses Gateway

Capitalism in space: Boeing today announced its bid to build a manned lunar lander for NASA’s Artemis program, with its lander launched to go directly to the Moon rather than stopping at the proposed Lunar Gateway lunar space station.

The company said its “Fewest Steps to the Moon” proposal, submitted for NASA’s Human Landing Services program, minimized the number of launches and other “mission critical events” needed to get astronauts to the surface of the moon. “Using the lift capability of NASA’s Space Launch System Block 1B, we have developed a ‘Fewest Steps to the Moon’ approach that minimizes mission complexity, while offering the safest and most direct path to the lunar surface,” Jim Chilton, senior vice president for space and launch at Boeing Defense, Space and Security, said in a company statement.

The two-stage launched would launch on the enhanced Block 1B version of the rocket, which uses the more powerful Exploration Upper Stage (EUS), and go into lunar orbit. It would either rendezvous with the lunar Gateway or directly with an Orion spacecraft, where astronauts would board it for a trip to the lunar surface. The lander is designed to be launched as a single unit, rather than in separate modules that would be aggregated at the Gateway. The lander also doesn’t require a separate transfer stage to maneuver from a near-rectilinear halo orbit to low lunar orbit, as some other designs have proposed.

This approach, the company said in a statement, reduces the number of mission critical events, such as launches and dockings, to as few as five. Alternative approaches, Boeing claims, require 11 or more such events. [emphasis mine]

Boeing is essentially proposing a plan that makes Gateway unnecessary, a bidding ploy that very well might work with the Trump administration, which has already reduced Gateway’s initial construction to speed up its attempt to get to the Moon by 2024.

More important, Boeing’s proposal makes it very clear how unnecessary Gateway is, and how that boondoggle actually slows down our effort to return to the Moon. This is great news, for several reasons. First it shows that Boeing, one of the old big contractors that historically has depended on government dollars, is now publicly stating that it is not in favor of Gateway. This in turn makes it more politically acceptable for politicians to take this position. Expect more public advocacy against building Gateway.

Second, it shows that Boeing is trying to sell SLS. It wants Congress to appropriate more launches, and by showing Congress a cheaper way to use it the company is hoping legislators will buy into their proposal. SLS might be an exceedingly expensive rocket, but Gateway only makes it worse. Boeing is showing the world that there is a better and cheaper way to do things.

This also suggests that Boeing is recognizing the competition coming from SpaceX and others that might kill SLS, and is now trying to make SLS more competitive. While I am not a fan of SLS, if this proposal indicates an effort by Boeing is finally to make SLS more efficient and affordable I can only celebrate. The rocket has capabilities that are unique, and if its cost can be reduced in any way that can only benefit the U.S. effort to compete in the exploration and settlement of the solar system.

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U.S. formally begins exit from Paris climate agreement

On Monday the Trump administration fulfilled one of Trump’s campaign promises and formally began the year-long process to exit the Paris climate agreement.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced the move in a statement. “President Trump made the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement because of the unfair economic burden imposed on American workers, businesses, and taxpayers by U.S. pledges made under the Agreement,” Pompeo said. “The United States has reduced all types of emissions, even as we grow our economy and ensure our citizens’ access to affordable energy….The U.S. approach incorporates the reality of the global energy mix,” he added, arguing “innovation and open markets” will drive emissions reductions.

There is ample data that indicates the U.S. is beating the targets of the Paris accord, even though Trump made it clear very shortly after taking office that the government would no longer require its implementation.

The article is amusing in its biased effort to provide a soapbox for every special interest (from environmentalists to Democrats) to express their horror at Trump’s decision. Like most
mainstream outlets, it devotes practically no effort to give the whole story.

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House Democrats vote to move forward on impeachment effort

House Democrats yesterday voted to move forward on their very partisan impeachment effort to throw Donald Trump out of office, without any evidence that he had committed “treason, bribery, or other high crimes or misdemeanors,” as required by the Constitution.

Only two Democrats voted with all the Republicans against this resolution, which establishes some very fishy rules for running this already fishy impeachment inquiry.

The resolution directs the House Intelligence, Foreign Affairs, Financial Services, Judiciary, and Ways and Means Committees to “continue their ongoing investigations as part of the existing House of Representatives inquiry into whether sufficient grounds exist for the House of Representatives to exercise its constitutional power to impeach Donald John Trump.”

The Democrats’ resolution specifies that Republicans in the minority on the Judiciary and Intelligence Committees will have the authority, with the concurrence of committee chairs in the majority, to subpoena witnesses and compel their testimony. If the chair does not consent, the minority can appeal to the full committee. It is common in other proceedings for committee chairs to essentially have veto authority over subpoenas sought by ranking minority members.

The measure also sets the stage for proceedings to move into a public setting soon. The resolution authorizes the Intelligence Committee to conduct an “open hearing or hearings” in which minority Republicans have equal time to question witnesses.

And, after that hearing is concluded, “to allow for a full evaluation of minority witness requests, the ranking minority member may submit to the chair, in writing, any requests for witness testimony relevant to the investigation described in the first section of this resolution within 72 hours after notice is given.” [emphasis mine]

Meanwhile, the only accusation the Democrats have against Trump are statements by two very partisan government bureaucrats that they had policy differences with some of Trump’s statements during his phone conversation with the new president of the Ukraine. No one however has identified anything Trump said that was in any way criminal and would justify impeachment, and you can read the transcript of the conversation yourself to see how relatively harmless it was.

This is the Russian collusion hoax all over again. Some partisan Democrats in the bureaucracy make some partisan accusations against Trump, based on nothing, and then the Democrats (and their willing accomplices in the media) run with these accusations. With the Russian hoax, the Democrats relied on a hack prosecutor, Robert Mueller, to play their partisan games, and discovered that this strategy didn’t work because Mueller was legally exposed. If he had proceeded with fake prosecutions based on no evidence he could have been very liable, personally.

The solution? The Democrats have foregone legal investigations, and are now doing a partisan and sham political investigation in Congress, based on nothing. And according to the rules above as well as their consistent behavior since 2016, I fully expect the Democrats to consistently block any testimony from any witnesses suggested by the Republicans. They will run this kangaroo court in a manner that will guarantee conviction, merely because they still refuse to accept the results of a legal election where they lost.

In a sane and more rational world, these Democrats would be out of office in the next election. We do not live in such a world. Their behavior was as partisan and as slanderous leading up to the 2018 election, and the voters rewarded them with control of the House.

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Comparing Trump vs Obama against ISIS

This very interesting article does a nice job of reviewing the history of ISIS since 2010, the year that the Obama administration released just killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, using multiple news sources and stories.

Here is a rough timeline:

Obama presidency:
2008: ISIS forces estimated to be about 700 fighters, holding practically no ground.
2010: al-Baghdadi is released.
2011: al-Baghdadi takes over ISIS.
2014: Obama refers to ISIS as a “JV team.”
2015: ISIS forces estimated to be between 20,000 to 31,000 fighters.
2015: ISIS establishes global terrorism network resulting in terrorist attacks worldwide.
2016: ISIS occupies 17,500 square miles, with 35,000 fighters.

Trump presidency:
2017: (July): ISIS pushed out of Mosul.
2017 (October) ISIS in full retreat to U.S. backed forces, loses its capital Raqqa.
2017 (December): ISIS forces now estimated to be 1,000 fighters, holding 1,900 square miles.
2019: al-Baghadi is killed.

At this moment ISIS remains a threat, but a significantly reduced one from its peak in 2016.

Like Trump or hate him, an objective look at how he has handled this issue versus Obama’s handling once again puts the victory mark in Trump’s column. Obama’s policy made things worse in the Arab Middle East. Trump has so far improved things.

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Is Justice investigation really getting serious about anti-Trump coup attempt in FBI/CIA?

Two stories that have been trending like crazy through the conservative news media in the past 24 hours suggest that the investigation by the Justice Department into the anti-Trump spying and coup attempt by the FBI and the CIA might finally be heating up.

I remain somewhat skeptical. The first story is based on two anonymous sources, which makes me very suspicious. I purposely waited before reporting on it because I have found such stories too often turn out to be either fake or unreliable.

I also don’t take the second story very seriously because Horowitz has been promising his FISA report now for months. His promises, and non-delivery, have increasingly reminded me of Richard Branson’s endless promises that “SpaceShipTwo will be flying in space in mere months!”

At the same time, it is important to note both stories. Horowitz’s FISA probe will be released. And Durham’s investigation, under Attorney General William Barr’s direction, has appeared to be so far aggressive and pointed. If both deliver what these stories suggest, then we might finally get some real prosecutions of some real villains, people in the FBI and CIA who conspired for the past three years to try to overturn a legal U.S. election.

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Blue Origin partners with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Draper to build lunar lander

At a science conference yesterday Jeff Bezos announced that Blue Origin has formed a partnership with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper to propose building a manned lunar lander for NASA.

In the first major update on the company’s lander program since May, Bezos said Blue Origin has assembled a “national team” of aerospace contractors to develop, build and fly the three-stage spacecraft, which is based on Blue Origin’s previous work on the Blue Moon landing system.

“Blue Origin is the prime contractor, Lockheed Martin is building the ascent stage, Northrop Grumman is building the transfer element and Draper is doing the GNC (guidance, navigation and control),” Bezos said Tuesday at the International Astronautical Congress in Washington. “We could not ask for better partners. Blue Origin, in addition to being the prime, is going to build the descent element.”

Blue Origin is competing for a NASA contract to develop a crewed lunar lander, or Human Landing System, for the Artemis program, which aims to return astronauts to the surface of the moon by the end of 2024.

This partnership reminds me of the way the aerospace industry functioned before the arrival of SpaceX. No one would compete. Instead, they would meet like a cartel and divvy up the work so that everyone had a share. The result was that very little new stuff got built, and over time the entire industry began to die.

The goal of this partnership now seems aimed at Congress and convincing legislators (especially the Democrats who control the House) to drop their opposition to Trump’s 2024 Moon proposal and fund it. Whether this will work remains unknown, and will likely have to wait until after the results of the 2020 election.

Meanwhile, it is very interesting that Blue Origin is the prime contractor, considering how very very little Blue Origin has so far achieved in space. I wonder if Bezos has committed some of his personal capital to this venture (more than $2.8 billion cash intended for his space ventures), and doled it out to Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Draper as an incentive to become subcontractors.

Bezos’ presentation also provided an update on Blue Origin’s BE-7 engine, designed as part of this lunar lander. It appears however that he said nothing about the BE-4 engine that the company is building for both ULA’s Vulcan rocket and its own New Glenn rocket. Except for one update in August, there has been little said about this engine in about a year and a half. As this engine is key to the entire company’s financial future, this silence makes me continue to wonder if it has issues.

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Pence endorses property rights in space

In a speech yesterday at a meeting of the International Astronautical Congress in Washington vice president Mike Pence pushed the importance of property rights in space, noting that the Trump administration is looking for ways to protect those rights.

He made clear that the United States would continue to observe international agreements on space activities — presumably including the Outer Space Treaty, which rules out claims of sovereignty on the moon or other celestial bodies. But Pence also said America’s partners should respect private ownership in space, which is a less settled legal frontier.

“As more nations gain the ability to explore space and develop places beyond Earth’s atmosphere, we must also ensure that we carry into space our shared commitment to freedom, the rule of law and private property,” he said. “The long-term exploration and development of the moon, Mars and other celestial bodies will require the use of resources found in outer space, including water and minerals. And so we must encourage the responsible commercial use of these resources.”

Pence hinted that the United States will be developing new policies relating to the use of space resources. “We will use all available legal and diplomatic means to create a stable and orderly space environment that drives opportunity, creates prosperity and ensures our security on Earth into the vast expanse of space,” he said.

I’m not sure how the U.S. can do this, however, under the limitations placed on us by the Outer Space Treaty. Without the ability to apply U.S. sovereignty to any private operations on the Moon, Mars, or asteroids, it will be impossible to apply U.S. law to those operations.

One avenue that the Trump administration might be considering is an amendment to the treaty that would allow nations to apply their laws to their citizens in space, not the territory on which they land and develop. Such an approach would avoid breaking the treaty’s restrictions on not claiming territory, but it would still achieve essentially the same thing.

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Large numbers of minorities and Democrats attend Trump rallies

According to statistics issued by the Trump campaign manager, significant numbers of Democratic voters, minorities, and non-voters have been attending Trump rallies.

In Dallas: “The data revealed that nearly 54,000 voters signed up for the event, with almost one in eight (12 percent) who didn’t vote in the last four elections and more than one in five (21.4 percent) who identified as Democrats. Eleven percent of the registrants were Hispanic.”

In New Mexico: “Of the 45,000 who registered, 94 percent were from within the state and 78 percent were matched to voter files. More than one in five voted in one or none of the past four elections, and 40 percent were Hispanic, the data showed. Nearly one in three were Democrats.”

In Minnesota: “More than 42,000 voters were identified in the data, of whom 13 percent voted in none or one of the past four elections. Also, 30 percent were Democrats.”

If these numbers reflect reality even vaguely, they strongly suggest two things. First, that large numbers of Democrats are abandoning that party. Second, that Trump is bringing in voters who had habitually not voted in the past. Both trends, if true, suggest disaster for the Democratic Party in 2020.

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