Tag Archives: Trump

Are you a decent human being?

In recent weeks I have grown so horrified by the blatant hate being screamed by Democrats and leftists in the mainstream press against Republicans, conservatives, and Trump supporters that I have found myself unable to write about this stuff.

It is just too disgusting. Here are just a few examples that barely represent the full gamut of anger and hate being expressed by Democrats and their willing accomplices in the press:

All of the accusations against Trump and Republicans in these stories are outright lies, worthy of Joseph Goebbels. And the actions of Democratic politicians like Biden and Castro to attack and smear Trump and his supporters is equally vile, and worthy of the worst form of scapegoating done by anti-Semites. Worse, these people are using terrible mass murders, committed by clearly unstable and sick individuals, to score political points. Such behavior is beyond the pale.

One might, if one was willing to stretch the truth beyond the breaking point, to find some justification in the criticisms of Trump. However, though Trump’s twitter comments are often ugly and crude and insulting, the one thing a careful reading of all those statements reveals is that he has always tried to state the truth, honestly and bluntly. Moreover, there is no evidence of racism in any of his comments. He has merely been attacking those who deserve attacking.

The Democratic attacks, however, on the decency of the American population, especially its non-minority population, are especially vile and dishonest. Remember, this is the same population that only a few years ago twice voted for a black president. For Democratic politicians and mainstream press pundits to accuse it of being in favor of white supremacy is more than just absurd, it is a lie and slander.

The problem I have is that I try to be a decent human being. I don’t like to give these liars and slanderers a platform to spread their hateful lies. In fact, I don’t even wish to read or discuss their childish and mean-spirited behavior. Thus, I have posted nothing until now about the mass murders that occurred this past weekend and the reactions to them.
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Senate passes budget-breaking bill

A coalition of Democrats and Republicans in the Senate today passed the Trump budget deal that will end sequestration and other budget limits.

Congress sent a two-year budget and debt ceiling deal to President Trump over the objection of 22 Senate Republicans. Many Republicans failed to heed a last-minute tweet from President Trump urging them to back the accord. It passed by a vote of 65-28. Five Democrats voted against the deal.

Once signed by Trump, the deal will permit unfettered federal borrowing through July 31, 2021 and busts federal spending caps by $320 billion over the next two fiscal years. It leaves out an extension of the Budget Control Act, which expires in two years. The act imposed spending restraints meant to force lawmakers to impose fiscal reforms.

“This may well be the most fiscally irresponsible thing we have done in the history of the United States,” Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky, declared ahead of the vote.

Republicans bolted away from the deal much the same way they rejected it in the House when it passed the measure last week over the objections of 132 GOP lawmakers. [emphasis mine]

These votes reveal the real political battle going on right now in the U.S. This spending bill passed because about half the Republicans in both houses of Congress teamed up with the majority of Democrats. Those that voted against are the remains of the tea party movement, and are also the remains of the original American dream. They are also now a minority with little power, so little that they do not even have Trump on their side.

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Trump gets asylum deal with Guatemala

After Trump threatened Guatemala with tariffs earlier this week, that government suddenly decided yesterday to agree to an asylum deal it had previously rejected.

After President Trump invited the media into the oval office, he announced Guatemala was signing a “safe third country” asylum agreement with the United Stated. Effectively blocking Central American asylum seekers from reaching the United States and filing asylum applications. [As an outcome of the agreement asylum seekers who travel through Guatemala can no longer seek U.S. asylum.]

This agreement combined with recent Mexican efforts, also agreed to after a Trump threat of high tariffs, probably means there will be a significant reduction in illegal immigration. For certain the caravans from two years ago will cease.

As always, this does not mean the U.S., Trump, or his supporters do not welcome immigrants. What is demanded is that they follow the law.

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Mueller’s testimony today proves witch hunt failed

There have been numerous stories today in all the press, both left and right, about Robert Mueller’s testimony today in Congress, mostly concluding that Mueller came off very badly, thereby bursting the balloon of the continuing empty and largely disproved accusations by the Democrats that Trump colluded with Russia during the 2016 election. If anything Mueller proved by his stumbling answers plus his refusal to answer more than 150 questions that his effort was at best incompetent, and at worst a partisan witch hunt.

This conclusion is not a surprise however to anyone who has paid even the slightest close attention Mueller’s work, both now and in the past.

However, the short clip below the fold, taken from Mueller’s testimony today, best represents how corrupt and incompetent Mueller really is. It took place during questioning by a friendly Democratic congressman as he was attempting to demonstrate how honorable and fair-minded Mueller is. Instead, it proved why almost everything attempted by our so-called elites in Washington fails. They don’t have to be corrupt because they are also incompetent.

The clip comes from a story at PJ Media. For Mueller and the Democrats, it is embarrassing. For Trump and the Republicans it is laughable. For the American people it is distressing, because we all know that Mueller is very stereotypical of most of those running Washington.
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Agreement on bankrupt budget deal today?

Update: It does appear a deal has been reached, and it appears at first glance to be as bad as I suspected.

Initial post: It appears that the White House and House Democrats are about to finalize a budget deal that will guarantee the national debt will continue to balloon for years to come, thus growing the power of Washington.

These sources tell FOX Business that the deal includes spending caps and debt ceiling increases for two years each, respectively. The deal reportedly includes spending increases for defense and non-defense spending.

A source close to the negotiations tells FOX Business that, for now, the deal would put no restrictions on reprogramming money for spending items – like a border wall.

Sources tell FOX News’ Chad Pergram that the deal would permanently end the sequester and also suspend the debt limit until July 31, 2021. [emphasis mine]

The highlighted words will also continue the decades-long shift of power from Congress to the President. Congress might allocate money to specific projects, but this deal, if agreed to as described, will now allow the President to rearrange the budget however he sees fit.

While Republicans might celebrate this change so that Trump can build his wall, in the end we will all suffer, because this arrangement ends up putting almost unlimited power in the hands of a single individual.

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House kills Trump impeachment articles, despite large Democratic approval

The House today defeated articles of impeachment against President Trump by a vote of 332-95, with all 95 votes for coming from Democrats.

While the Democrats voted 137 to 95 to defeat the articles, this vote demonstrates that a very large minority of that party, 40%, are now on record in favor of overturning a legal election, merely because they disagree with the choice of the electorate.

For any ordinary citizen who happens to be a registered Democrat, these events today should cause significant pause. This is no longer a party that believes in elections. Instead, it believes in power and maintaining it, by any means necessary, with a large contingent in that party hostile to the United States. Some are downright anti-American.

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CNN panel of Republican women back Trump unequivocally

Pushback: A CNN panel of Republican women, when asked about Trump’s tweets attacking the Democratic congresswomen who have been pushing for communist policies, backed Trump unequivocally.

Furthermore, when the CNN reporter kept trying to slander Trump by claiming his tweets were “racist”, these women quickly challenged that false and slanderous description.

“Isn’t that what the president does with some of his own comments? His own racist comments?” the CNN reporter wondered.

“He didn’t say anything about color,” O’Briant responded.

“We know the president is not racist, he loves people from Hispanics, and black people, all across the board,” said Cami Dean, another of the eight women.

Video of this panel is below the fold. Watch it all. The panelists take the CNN reporter to task for claiming what Trump said was racist, quickly pointing out both the reporter’s bias and ignorance.

And just in case you have been living in a cave and missed it, this is what Trump tweeted:

So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.

Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime-infested places from which they came. Then come back and show us how it is done. [emphasis mine]

There is nothing in this statement that has anything to do with race. What Trump is criticizing is the anti-American, bigoted, and communist agendas of congresswomen Omar (D-Minnesota), Ocasio-Cortez (D-New York), Pressley (D-Massachusetts), and Tlaib (D-Michigan).

Granted, Trump is crude. He also is wrong to suggest all of these women came from elsewhere (only one did). Nonetheless, he is bluntly noting that these congresswomen have expressed nothing but hate and hostility to America, and should be called out on it (something that the Democratic Party seems unwilling to do).

The CNN panel shows that, for at least these women, the effort by the Democrats and their agents in the mainstream press to slander Trump is not working. They can read what both Trump and these Democrats have said, and recognize who the real racists in this battle are.
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France to set up military space command within its Air Force

Copycat! French President Emmanuel Macron announced yesterday that he is proceeding with the creation of a space corp within this country’s air force.

Addressing military personnel a day before the Bastille Day parade, Macron said the new military doctrine setting up a space command would strengthen protection of French satellites. He said the investment involved had yet to determined. “To give substance to this doctrine and ensure the development and reinforcement of our space capabilities, a space command will be created next September in the air force,” Macron said, adding that it would later become the Space and Air Force.

Remember the ridicule heaped on Trump when he first proposed the need for reorganizing the U.S.’s military space operations into a single bureaucracy? He first pushed for a new military branch, but I think that was a negotiating tactic to force Congress and the Pentagon to act. As a result, it looks like the U.S. is almost certainly going to get a space corps as part of the Air Force, with all military space operations unified, as many in the military have been begging Washington to do for probably a decade. (This second link describes a bill by the Democratically-controlled House that includes authorization of the space corps, that has now been approved by the entire House.)

Now Macron recognizes the need to reorganize his military space operations as well. Surprise, surprise! Maybe those who kneejerk criticize Trump on everything should learn to think a bit before doing so. You might not agree with everything he does, but he is no fool, and there is almost always logic behind his actions.

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Major management shake-up at NASA’s manned program

NASA today did a major shake-up in its manned program, most specifically relating to the management of its SLS/Orion program.

In a major shakeup at NASA Headquarters, agency Administrator Jim Bridenstine said Wednesday that Bill Gerstenmaier, the widely respected director of human spaceflight, has been replaced in the midst of an ambitious push to meet the Trump administration’s directive to send astronauts back to the moon within five years.

Effective immediately, Bridenstine wrote in a letter to agency employees, Ken Bowersox, a five-flight shuttle veteran, space station astronaut and Gerstenmaier’s deputy, will take over on an acting basis while Gerstenmaier serves as “special advisor” to NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.

…Bill Hill, deputy associate administrator for Exploration Systems Development within HEO also has been replaced. A long-time NASA veteran, Hill helped manage development of the agency’s new heavy lift rocket, the Space Launch System, or SLS, needed to carry astronauts back to the moon.

While the long delays and cost overruns at both SLS and Orion can partly be blamed on micromanagement by Congress and a lack of interest by the previous Obama administration, the internal management by Gersternmaier and Hill during this time is also at fault. They have allowed these programs to drag on, and were in charge when numerous major screw ups occurred, from badly built test stands that went overbudget to dishonest budget manipulations to cracks in the first Orion capsule to contamination in SLS’s rocket engines to the dropping of an SLS oxygen tank to brittle and weak welds in those tanks to establishing an overall slow motion pace for construction of the entire project.

I suspect that this shake-up is linked to the story earlier this week where NASA hinted it was going to have to delay the first SLS launch for another year.

I wrote then that the Trump administration would not take kindly to such a new delay, even if it was justified so the agency could do a required full stack static fire test of SLS’s core stage. I am willing to bet that this shake-up occurred because Gertenmaier and Hill had finally revealed the need for this delay, and the shake-up was the Trump administration’s response.

This doesn’t mean that SLS won’t be delayed. It just means the Trump administration has decided it was time to put new people in charge.

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Trump drops plan to establish independent climate review panel

The Trump administration has abandoned a plan to create a more balanced climate science review panel to review the climate change claims within government research.

It appears that while the idea to put government-paid research under a wider range of scientific review was laudable, the White House could not figure out how to do it, even as factions within the administration fought the proposal.

The idea to create the panel has caused strife within the White House. Among its critics are deputy chief of staff Chris Liddell; Kevin Hassett, the outgoing chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers; Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council; and Kelvin Droegemeier, the president’s science adviser. Those supporting the plan include Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and Brooke Rollins, assistant to Trump in the Office of American Innovation.

An official at NSC disputed the characterization that the panel was dead, even while confirming that it had been indefinitely delayed. The plan has suffered several downgrades over the months. It was initially proposed as a rapid response team of climate science critics who would challenge government publications on human-caused warming. Recent discussions have centered on the idea of forcing government climate scientists to participate in a debate with critics of their work who deny that humans are causing widespread changes on Earth (Climatewire, June 6). Most recently, the plan was diminished to creating dueling white papers that would elevate climate denialism to the level of consensus science.

The bottom line remains that a lot of climate research being done on the government dime today is, at a minimum, very suspect, and at the worst, demonstrably corrupt. A house-cleaning is necessary, even though it will likely be accompanied by a lot of squealing from those who get cleaned out.

It seems that the Trump administration is not prepared to deal with that squealing, especially because it appears that Trump himself is not passionate about this subject. He went after EPA aggressively, cutting the size of the agency and changing how it did business, but these actions were because he saw EPA as an out-of-control government agency imposing inappropriate regulations on American citizens. Corruption and data tampering and the politicization of the climate research field does not concern him so much. It appears he does not see this as directly affecting the American citizen.

For now.

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White House objects to House language on military space

The White House today released a detailed statement listing its objections to the House language on the upcoming military space authorization bill and threatening a veto if the Senate version is not passed.

Their objection seem to center on two issues. First, while the administration has accepted the idea of a space corp within the Air Force rather than a separate new military branch, they appear prefer the Senate language for this change. This disagreement appears relatively minor in the entire scheme of things.

Second, and more significantly, the White House has objections to the planned launch contract set up the Air Force has been pushing that would have them pick two launch providers now for all their launches through 2024, rather than allow all comers to bid on those launches as they came up.

On the National Security Space Launch program, the administration “strongly objects” to HASC [House Armed Services Committee] Chairman Adam Smith’s Section 1601 language “as it would increase mission risk for the nation’s national security satellites.”

Section 1601 would mandate that the Air Force compete contracts for any launches beyond 29 launches during the period from fiscal year 2020 to fiscal year 2024. This section would also mandate that the Air Force provide up to $500 million to launch companies that either win a Phase 2 contract after fiscal year 2022 or win a Phase 2 contract but are not part of a Launch Service Agreement, in order to meet national security-unique infrastructure and certification requirements for a Phase 2 contract. This section also require a notification of the selection in fiscal year 2020 of the two providers for Phase 2 launches.

The administration opposes these provisions. “After careful and considered study, DoD determined that a contract for national security space launch requirements over the course of five years would optimize warfighter flexibility, minimizes mission risk, and provides exceptional value to the taxpayer,” says the White House statement. “Confining Phase 2 to fewer missions would increase per-launch cost while simultaneously introducing risk and costs for some intelligence payloads. Finally, notifying Congress prior to a contract would be a departure from long-standing tradition and might put DoD at a greater risk of a protest.”

To put this in simple terms, the House language was an attempt to open up the bidding, while also offering $500 million development money to any company who missed out initially. The White House, and the Air Force, wish to restrict the bidding process, and don’t want to pay that extra $500 million.

All of this I think will become irrelevant the first time the Air Force issues a bid offer for a launch contract but restricts bidding to only two launch companies, even if a third or fourth is available and capable of fulfilling the contract. The excluded launch companies will sue for the right to bid, and they will win.

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University student attacked for wearing MAGA/Trump paraphernalia

They’re coming for you next: A University of Florida student was attacked for wearing a MAGA hat and other pro-Trump clothing, with the attackers screaming obscenities at him while trying steal some of that clothing.

As Weldon grabbed a late-night snack on July Fourth across the street from campus he said he was surrounded by a group of college-aged peers who verbally harassed him, pushed him, ripped a Trump pin off his shirt, and tried to swipe his MAGA hat.

“It just goes to show there is a lot of people on the Left that don’t care or know anything about you, but they see one aspect of who you are and instantly have this blind hatred for you,” Weldon told The College Fix in a telephone interview Sunday. “It’s extremely disappointing.” [emphasis mine]

At first he did not report the incidence to the police because no real harm had been done, but then changed his mind and filed a police report, for this reason:

[H]e thought about it some more, especially the argument that while he was a “big guy” and could handle the situation, what if the next person couldn’t?

I want to focus on the highlighted words “blind hatred.” It encapsulates the modern left and their attitude towards Trump and any of his supporters. They no longer are rational. They simply hate. This vicious emotional response now has them cursing Trump vilely for no reason, and attacking America and our history, merely because Trump happens to have said a good word about America and that history.

This hatred is also causing them to increasingly turn to violence and abuse against anyone who supports Trump, as illustrated by this story and innumerable others. Support Trump and their hatred immediately causes them to see you as a jack-booted thug who deserves to be beaten to a pulp.

The problem is that this hatred then causes the left to act exactly like the jack-booted thugs they imagine Trump and his supporters to be.

Hate is a very bad thing. It is even worse in the field of politics, because there it leads to the abuse of power and oppression, for no reason other than hate. And unless the left takes a breath and starts to use its brain instead of blind emotional hate, we can expect them to do some very bad things to their opponents should they regain power.

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Mueller probe of Manafort initiated based on fake information

The probe by Robert Mueller that put former Trump campaign aide Paul Manafort in prison was initiated using evidence, called “the ledger,” that Mueller knew was unreliable and likely fake.

In search warrant affidavits, the FBI portrayed the ledger as one reason it resurrected a criminal case against Manafort that was dropped in 2014 and needed search warrants in 2017 for bank records to prove he worked for the Russian-backed Party of Regions in Ukraine.

There’s just one problem: The FBI’s public reliance on the ledger came months after the feds were warned repeatedly that the document couldn’t be trusted and likely was a fake, according to documents and more than a dozen interviews with knowledgeable sources.

To get around this fact, which was made very clear to Mueller and his investigators, they leaked the fake data to the press, and then used the press stories to justify the investigation.

Submitting knowingly false or suspect evidence — whether historical or to support probable cause — in a federal court proceeding violates FBI rules and can be a crime under certain circumstances. “To establish probable cause, the affiant must demonstrate a basis for knowledge and belief that the facts are true,” the FBI operating manual states.

But with Manafort, the FBI and Mueller’s office did not cite the actual ledger — which would require agents to discuss their assessment of the evidence — and instead cited media reports about it. The feds assisted on one of those stories as sources.

For example, agents mentioned the ledger in an affidavit supporting a July 2017 search warrant for Manafort’s house, citing it as one of the reasons the FBI resurrected the criminal case against Manafort.

This is beyond corrupt. I would say that it should be grounds for dismissal for the charges against Manafort, even if he admitted to guilt. At a minimum, Mueller and his cohorts should be facing jail time.

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Bridenstine: Artemis to cost $4-$6 billion per year

According to several reports this past weekend, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine is now estimating the cost for the Trump administration’s Artemis lunar program at $20 to $30 billion, or $4 to $6 billion per year.

This has not been officially confirmed. Either way, I am not sure how Bridenstine will get this approved in the House, where the Democrats now have a policy to oppose any Trump proposal 100%. And if it doesn’t get approved, SLS will die after its second launch, as the bulk of this budget is to pay for its future flights to the Moon.

If a lower figure gets approved, that might force NASA to buy private rockets almost exclusively to get back to the Moon, rather than the mix of private and SLS as now proposed.

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Mexico deploys its national guard to its southern border

The Mexican government has begun deploying its national guard along its southern border in order to stem the tide of illegals entering its country aimed at reaching the U.S.

This is a major change from past Mexican policy, which previously had facilitated the movement of those illegals through its country so that they could reach the U.S. as easily as possible.

Mexico’s president is going to pay for this operation by selling his presidential plane for $150 million.

These actions are a direct result of the tariff deal Trump forced on Mexico last week. Though it is still unclear how much effect these actions will have, it is clear that Mexico wants the U.S. to believe it is now serious about stopping illegal immigration. The proof however will be in the pudding. The tariff deal gets reviewed in 90 days, and if the U.S. doesn’t see some real progress by Mexico in reducing illegal immigration through its country to the U.S., Trump has said he will then impose those tariffs.

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India sides with Israel in UN for the first time

On June 6 the Indian government for the first time voted in support of Israel and its motion against a Palestinian non-governmental organization linked to jihadi terrorist groups.

The vote took place on June 6, just weeks after Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his allies won a two-thirds majority in the Indian general elections. Since Modi took office in May 2014, India has mostly abstained from voting on UN resolutions targeting the Jewish state but has shied away from siding with Israel at the international body.

…By backing Israel at the UN, Prime Minister Modi has finally broken away from the country’s historical voting pattern of siding with the Arab and Muslim countries.

Modi’s landslide election victory probably helped bring about this change of position. I also suspect that Trump’s decision to cut off funds from Hamas and other Palestinian terrorist organizations, while moving the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem, also made it easier for Modi to make this change. Trump has essentially said that the Palestinian emperor has no clothes (ie they are not interested in peace, only killing Jews), and this has allowed many others to chime in as well.

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House proposes streamlined Space Corps within Air Force

The House Armed Services Committee has proposed a streamlined Space Corps operating within the Air Force.

The bipartisan agreement calls for a single four-star general in charge of Space Force, compared with the three four-star generals the administration envisioned. It would also have fewer personnel transferred from other services into the Space Force, Smith said. “The main difference from the administration’s approach is less bureaucracy,” Smith said.

This is largely the same plan the committee endorsed in the House’s version of the 2018 NDAA, he said. The Senate Armed Services Committee, which has endorsed Trump’s plan, rejected Space Corps and the language did not make it into the final bill.

As always in Washington, the battle is between those who want to increase the size, power, and wealth of government, and those who wish to shrink it, while making it more effective (something it has not been for decades). The Democratic House plan appears to be taking the latter approach, while the Republican Senate wants the former.

Note how the partisan politics here are reversed. The Democrats in the House are pushing for smaller and more efficient government, and the Republican Senate is opposed, preferring a big unwieldy and unneeded Space Force instead.

In other words, politicians from both parties are not to be trusted. We need to make them all understand that we are watching, and that they will lose at the polls if they choose to expand this bankrupt government.

As for this House proposal, I am encouraged that the House is still pushing it. Hopefully the Senate will finally get on board.

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Trump announces immigration deal with Mexico, suspending tariffs

President Trump today announced that an immigration deal has been worked out with Mexico, and that he is indefinitely suspending the tariffs he was going to impose on imports from that country.

A “U.S.-Mexico Joint Declaration” released by the State Department late June 7 outlined the details of the deal, saying the U.S. “will immediately expand the implementation” of a program that returns immigrants who cross the southern border to Mexico while their claims are adjudicated. Mexico will “offer jobs, healthcare and education” to those people, “according to its principles,” the agreement stated.

Mexico has also agreed, it said, to take “unprecedented steps to increase enforcement to curb irregular migration,” including the deployment of the Mexican National Guard throughout the country, starting June 10, especially on its southern border with Guatemala. And Mexico is taking “decisive action to dismantle human smuggling and trafficking organizations as well as their illicit financial and transportation networks,” the State Department said.

The agreement calls for more negotiations over the next ninety days.

We shall see. These kind of government deals never seem to accomplish what they promise, so I therefore remain skeptical Mexico will do much to stem the tide of illegals flowing through their country to the U.S.

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White House to allow ISS commercialization, including tourists

Capitalism in space: The White House today released an interim proposal [pdf] that would allow private enterprise on ISS, including allowing American private companies to fly tourists to the station.

A new interim directive from NASA allows private companies to buy time and space on the ISS for producing, marketing, or testing their products. It also allows those companies to use resources on the ISS for commercial purposes, even making use of NASA astronauts’ time and expertise (but not their likeness). If companies want, they can even send their own astronauts to the ISS, starting as early as 2020, but all of these activities come with a hefty price tag.

This fits with the Trump administration’s overall push to shift the American space effort from a NASA “program” to an independent and profitable American space industry.

Will this work? I cannot see how it can’t. At a minimum, it will tell us if there really is a viable market for space tourism and industry on the space station.

For the Russians this is another disaster. They had planned to sell the available seats on their Soyuz, no longer used by NASA astronauts, to tourists. It is very likely that business will shift to the U.S. manned capsules being built by SpaceX and Boeing.

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Trump considers delaying tariffs as Mexico increases action on illegals

It appears that Trump’s threat to impose escalating tariffs on Mexico if it does not start enforcing its own laws against illegal immigrants is having an effect.

First, Mexico today blocked hundreds of illegals as they attempted to cross from Guatemala into Mexico.

Second, Trump has signaled that if this is true he is now willing to consider delaying the first round of 5% tariffs, set to go into effect on June 10.

Mexico’s action might simply be a Potemkin Village, not be be taken seriously. For anyone, including Trump, to take it seriously will require a lot more enforcement. Regardless, it does appears that the tariff threat might be forcing Mexico to give Trump what he wants.

Update: Mexico today also froze the banking accounts of 26 individuals and organizations its says an investigation has found provided funding for the illegal migrant caravans.

The operation tracked financial movements from October 2018 through current dates in an attempt to determine the sources of funding for the migrant caravans. According to their statement, the UIF identified a group of individuals that made several questionable international financial transactions from the cities of Chiapas and Queretaro during the times that the migrant caravans were moving through those places.

Mexican authorities followed the path of the caravans and the financial operations from Queretaro to the border cities of Tijuana, Nogales, Ciudad Juarez, Ciudad Acuna, Piedras Negras, and Reynosa. Based on that information, Mexican authorities were able to trace the source of the funds to the U.S., England, Cameroon, Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala, the statement revealed.

Based on the result of the investigation, the UIF moved to freeze the accounts in Mexico of the 26 individuals and entities that are believed to have helped fund the migrant caravans or contributed to human smuggling organizations, the SHCP statement revealed. While authorities did not name the individuals or the entities whose assets they froze, they revealed that they would be filing complaints with Mexico’s Attorney General’s Office for prosecution.

Once again, this is positive news, but until we see some actual prosecutions I suspect that Trump will remain skeptical.

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New Zimmerman op-ed at The Federalist

In the piece, Trump’s Promising New Space Plan Won’t Work Without Cutting The Pork, I take a close look at Trump’s Moon plan and actually come away somewhat encouraged.

For one, it is pretty clear that Gateway has been dumped, or at least deemphasized significantly. Second, the plan shifts the focus from NASA being the builder of the program to NASA being a customer of the private sector.

Read it all. There’s a lot more.

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Republican senators move to stop Trump’s Mexico tariffs

The stupid party: A half dozen Republican senators have announced their opposition to the escalating tariffs Trump has imposed on Mexico designed to force that country to cooperate on gaining control of illegal immigration.

Joining [Chuck] Grassley [R-Iowa] in opposition to the tariffs were pro-trade Senate Republicans Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania, Martha McSally of Arizona, John Cornyn of Texas, Joni Ernst of Iowa and Rob Portman of Ohio, whose votes Trump will need to pass the USMCA.

This is the same pattern I’ve seen from Republicans for the past half century. Anytime anyone attempts to do anything that might clean up any of the mess we are in, a bunch jump in, for their own aggrandizement, to stymie it.

The article makes the claim that a border state like Arizona will be hurt by these tariffs. Bah. I live here, and see the harm the illegal immigration is actually doing. First, the flood of illegals is damaging the state’s natural environment, as they leave an incredible amount of trash throughout the wildernesses they travel.

Second, the flood has caused the government to make entering the U.S. a miserable and time-consuming experience for people doing it legally, one that is actually discouraging trade. You want to go to Mexico? You walk or drive across the border in seconds. You want to come back? Expect the wait to be one to two to three hours.

Third, the flood is distorting the market. Illegals have to work in the black market, which means they get badly taken advantage of. At the same time, their presence hurts legal workers, who can’t get work.

Fourth, and most important, the flood of illegals is fueling a rising contempt of the law, both by the illegals as well as American citizens. This in the long run is likely the worst consequence of the federal government’s inability to do its job here effectively.

And as usual, we have a lot of dumb Republicans who will team up with the partisan Democrats (who only want power) to block Trump’s effort, an effort that has already shown a positive effect and might actually fix the problem.

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Mexico’s president responds to Trump’s imposition of tariffs

Mexico’s president Andres Manuel López Obrador has issued a response to Trump’s announcement yesterday of the imposition of tariffs, set to escalate monthly, until Mexico makes some effort to help with the illegal immigration problem.

In his letter (pdf) translated by the Wall Street Journal, the socialist leader pushed back at Trump’s announcement, accusing him of transforming the United States from “a country of fraternity for the world’s migrants into a ghetto.” He also attacked Trump’s “America First” slogan, calling it a fallacy as they should be seeking instead the socialist principles of “universal justice and fraternity.”

Obrador then proposed to “deepen the dialogue” instead of using “taxes or coercive measures” to resolve the illegal immigration issue, which has overwhelmed the immigration system at the U.S.-Mexico border. “It is worth remembering that, within a short period of time, Mexicans will not need to migrate into the United States and that migration will become optional, not compulsory. This is because we are fighting corruption, the main problem in Mexico, as never before!” Obrador said as he tried to convince Trump to “seek alternatives to the immigration problem.”

He added that the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico is leading a delegation to Washington to discuss with the Trump administration in order to seek “an agreement for the benefit of the two nations.”

The last paragraph is the important part. Everything else is bluster. Obrador needs to get those tariffs lifted, so he needs to negotiate something with the U.S. to get Trump to remove them. Whether he is really willing to help shut down the illegal traffic remains to be seen.

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Trump imposes escalating tariffs on Mexico

President Trump announced today the imposition of escalating tariffs on Mexico until it acts to stop illegal immigration traveling through its country from Central America.

From the White House statement:

To address the emergency at the Southern Border, I am invoking the authorities granted to me by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act. Accordingly, starting on June 10, 2019, the United States will impose a 5 percent Tariff on all goods imported from Mexico. If the illegal migration crisis is alleviated through effective actions taken by Mexico, to be determined in our sole discretion and judgment, the Tariffs will be removed.

If the crisis persists, however, the Tariffs will be raised to 10 percent on July 1, 2019. Similarly, if Mexico still has not taken action to dramatically reduce or eliminate the number of illegal aliens crossing its territory into the United States, Tariffs will be increased to 15 percent on August 1, 2019, to 20 percent on September 1, 2019, and to 25 percent on October 1, 2019. Tariffs will permanently remain at the 25 percent level unless and until Mexico substantially stops the illegal inflow of aliens coming through its territory.

It seems to me a perfectly reasonable position, considering how unwilling Mexico has been to enforce its own immigration laws in connection with illegals heading to the U.S. The illegal immigrant caravans crossing Mexico last year from other Central American countries could have been stopped if the Mexico government had taken action. Instead, it provided aid and comfort to these illegals, often to the distress of its own citizens.

Since then that government’s policies on illegal immigration have been very mixed.

Trump’s action here might serve to clarify the situation.

The bottom line remains the same as always. The law should be obeyed. The federal government is obligated to enforce that law. And, as the White House statement noted, “Workers who come to our country through the legal admissions process, including those working on farms, ranches, and in other businesses, will be allowed easy passage.” Nothing the Trump administration has done has contradicted that statement.

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Turkey releases jailed American citizen

Turkey yesterday released an American citizen and former NASA researcher whom they had arrested in 2016 during their effort to squelch a failed coup.

39-year-old Serkan Golge has been in Turkish custody since 2016 when he was arrested in the southern part of the country while on vacation. The arrest occurred in the midst of a failed coup attempt where thousands were detained on dubious evidence as suspicions swirled in the Turkish government. Golge was sentenced to five years on terrorism charges.

…Golge was accused of working with U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gülen, whom the Turkish government alleged was the mastermind behind the failed coup attempt. The only evidence authorities had against Golge was a $1 bill they found after searching his brother’s house. Turkish prosecutors alleged that Gülen would give blessed $1 bills to his followers.

Though the decision to release Golge was made by the Turkish courts, don’t be fooled. This was done for political reasons. It occurred only hours after Trump and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan completed a phone conversation about trade and tariff issues. They apparently did not discuss Golge, but I am sure Erdoğan realized that getting Gloge released would make negotiations with Trump easier.

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Trump give Barr authority to declassify documents related to campaign spying by Obama

President Trump yesterday gave Attorney General William Barr the authority to declassify any documents related to the campaign spying by the Obama administration that occurred during the 2016 presidential election.

Trump also ordered all intelligence agencies to cooperate completely with Barr’s investigation, an order that common sense says should be unnecessary, as Barr is their boss and they should therefore always cooperate with him. However, we live in interesting times, when federal employees now think they have the right to tell elected officials what to do, and to even act to overthrow those elected officials if they don’t like them.

Not surprisingly, the Democrats who repeatedly scream for transparency and the public release of all documents are protesting Trumps orders.

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House ignores request for more NASA money for moon mission

A House committee today approved a NASA budget that ignored the Trump administration’s request for $1.6 billion more money to support its attempt to land a manned mission on the Moon by 2024.

Instead, the committee shifted more money into earth science and Gateway.

Whether this budget is what ends up being enacted remains to be seen. It does appear however that Trump will have great trouble funding his Moon project. Sadly, that lack of funding does not mean the overall federal budget is coming under control. On the contrary, it appears the Democratic-controlled House simply wants to spend lots of money, but on different things.

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Trump walks out of infrastrucure negotiations

President Trump immediately walked out of a meeting with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) and Senator Chuck Schumer (D-New York) yesterday, saying he will hold no discussions on infrastructure as long as the Democrats continue their investigations into his administration.

Trump’s anger appears to have been sparked by comments Pelosi made earlier in the day when she said, “We believe the president of the United States is engaged in a cover-up” by blocking White House aides from giving testimony and responding to document requests from ongoing congressional investigations.

“I don’t do cover-ups,” Trump insisted Wednesday.

The article suggests that Trump planned this as a way to get out of the negotiations. Maybe, but I think his goal is to get the investigations stopped. He is quite willing to make a deal to spend trillions that we don’t have on “infrastructure,” as are the Democrats. By walking out he is putting pressure on the Democratic leadership to shut those investigations down in order to get him to work out a deal to spend the money they also want.

The result, for the moment, is that we have no infrastructure deal. I hope this stalemate lasts forever.

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Trump seeks $1.6 billion more for NASA, cuts money to Gateway

The Trump administration, in order to support its desire to accomplish a lunar landing by 2024, is requesting a $1.6 billion increase in NASA’s budget for fiscal year 2020. The key detail however is this:

NASA shortly thereafter published a summary of its budget amendment, which calls for nearly $1.9 billion in new funding for developing lunar landers and accelerating work on the Space Launch System and Orion. It would also go towards exploration technology development and additional science missions to the moon. That increase would be offset by cutting funding for the lunar Gateway by $321 million, reflecting the agency’s plan for only a “minimal” Gateway needed to support a 2024 landing.

In other words, in total Trump wants $1.6 billion more. The good news: He is de-emphasizing Gateway in his future plans. This might even lead to its cancellation as a project.

The bad news? He is pumping more money into SLS/Orion. However, this might not be that bad, when one considers how our bankrupt Washington government functions. Trump doesn’t have the political backing to cut SLS/Orion outright. Instead this proposal is that project’s Hail Mary pass for a touchdown. While private efforts continue to mature to develop cheaper rockets and manned capsules, SLS/Orion will have this one last chance to finally prove itself. If it finds it can’t get it done, and those private options show that they can, then Trump might finally be able to harness the political will in our dumb Congress to dump SLS/Orion.

And if SLS/Orion does succeed? The victory will likely still be a Pyrrhic one. SLS/Orion will still be too expensive and too slow to do much else but a single lunar landing, a stunt much like Apollo, with far less long term possibilities. Meanwhile, those private efforts will continue to develop. By 2024 a switch by NASA to private enterprise and competition will still make sense anyway, even if SLS/Orion gives the nation a spectacular lunar landing.

This action indicates that the Trump administration is paying attention to these matters. They are creating a situation that will put them in a strong negotiating position to get what they want, for the nation. One way or the other, we will be heading back to the Moon.

One minor detail: NASA has chosen “Artemis” as the name for its project to land on the Moon by 2020.

Bridenstine also … announce[d] that this 2024 lunar landing mission will be named Artemis, after the sister of Apollo and the Greek goddess of the moon. “I think it is very beautiful that, 50 years after Apollo, the Artemis program will carry the next man and the first woman to the moon.”

No one should be fooled by this. Apollo was a full program, with a well-thought slate of missions designed to get us to the Moon quickly. This SLS/Orion project is still an off the cuff mishmash, with only two or three flights at most, and without much of a plan behind those flights. It has been and continues to be an improvised mess.

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Blue Origin unveils proposed lunar lander

Capitalism in space: Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Blue Origin, today unveiled his company’s proposed lunar lander, dubbed Blue Moon, that Bezos claims will land on the Moon by 2024.

It harnesses many of the same ‘propulsion, precision guidance, vertical landing and landing gear systems’ utilized by New Shepard, Blue Origin’s rocket meant to ferry humans to the moon. The craft is equipped with fuel cells to provide ‘kilowatts of power’ that are capable of lasting for long-distance missions. Once Blue Moon arrives at its destination, it uses machine learning algorithms to land with precision on the lunar surface.

Blue Moon can deliver several metric tons of payload to the moon, thanks to its top deck and lower bays, the latter of which will allow for ‘closer access to the lunar surface and off-loading,’ the firm said.

With this technology, Blue Origin hopes it will prepare us to be able to send humans back to the moon as soon as 2024.

The article also mentions a new rocket engine that Bezos said Blue Origin is developing, called the BE-7, specifically designed for these lunar landers.

Blue Origin is clearly lobbying to get the job of building the lunar landers NASA needs and has said it will buy from the private sector. And its New Shepard reusable suborbital craft, with a booster that has successfully landed vertically now eleven times, shows that it understands this technology.

Nonetheless, I must admit that Bezos is beginning to remind me of Richard Branson, big with promises but late on delivery. New Shepard was going to start flying humans in 2017, then 2018, now this year. New Glenn was supposed to fly by 2020. They have now delayed that until 2021. Development of the BE-4 engine that Blue Origin wants to use in New Glenn and also sell to ULA for its Vulcan rocket seems to have stalled. The last update on its status was more than a year ago, which was also about the time of the last mention of any engine tests. They could be keeping things quiet, but I wonder. At that time they appeared close to certifying the engine for flight. They have never announced that this has happened, though ULA subsequently did choose the engine for Vulcan.

In fact, in writing the last paragraph and reviewing my posts on Behind the Black, I realized that there has been little or no press for the past year on either New Glenn or BE-4. I wonder why. I can’t imagine any reason at all for not announcing the engine’s certification as operational, yet no such announcement has ever been made.

Anyway, if Blue Origin delivers on today’s hyped-up press announcement, it will be very exciting. He definitely is pushing the right buttons for getting the government work from NASA.

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