The non-partisan Congressional Research Service (CRS) has confirmed that Congress has the authority to defund any Obama Administration efforts to issue green cards to millions of illegal immigrants, as he attempted to do by imperial edict last week.
Beitbart.com reported that the CRS, a legislative authority on Capitol Hill, wrote “In light of Congress’s constitutional power over the purse, the Supreme Court has recognized that ‘Congress may always circumscribe agency discretion to allocate resources by putting restrictions in the operative statutes,’” in a report sent to incoming Senate Budget Committee chairman Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL).
President Obama, declaring last week that he had authority that he had previously had emphatically claimed he didn’t have, announced last week that he would order federal agencies to not enforce America’s immigration laws. He further stated that he would have the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, a subagency of the Homeland Security Department, issue green cards and work permits for up to 5 million illegal immigrants in the US. But printing those green cards and other documents costs money. The report makes it clear that Congress can legally strip funding from America’s immigration enforcement agency – including funds the agency raises on its own through fees. This is a key point because it is these internally generated fees that Obama and many on the left were saying could be used regardless of Congress to pay for the immigration edict. By making it very clear that even those fees are subject to Congressional approval, Obama’s big announcement on immigration just became very toothless.
Gene Cernan was the last astronaut to walk on the moon. It is said that his last act in December of 1972 before climbing back into his lunar module was to carve his daughter’s initials into the lunar dust. Unless commercial space initiatives succeed, it is likely that the next person to see those initials will speak Chinese.
Human space flight efforts can be categorized into government and commercial space programs. On the government side (by which I mean the US Government), America has spent the last few years in the embarrassing position of having to pay the Russians almost $70 million each to fly our astronauts up to the International Space Station (ISS). With it’s structure long ago completed, 2014 news on the ISS was mostly limited to resupply, crew transfers and scientific experiments. In January it was announced that ISS operations would be funded until at least 2024. House and Senate members from both sides of the political spectrum have protected their constituencies by ensuring the continued financing of the SLS, a huge rocket under development for as yet unidentified missions.
NASA is also continuing development of the Orion spacecraft, completing ocean retrieval missions with the US Navy. NASA also completed the Vertical Assembly Center (VAC) at the Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans which will be used to build the core stage of the SLS. To give some basis for the development of both systems, the Obama Administration cobbled together an asteroid retrieval mission that may be of dubious scientific value but would be exciting and would provide valuable data and experience for commercial asteroid endeavors. Also, DARPA recently announced first phase contracts awarded to several companies for the development of the XS-1 experimental space plane. And there are some other interesting government sponsored human spaceflight projects including a commissioned design of a futuristic starship using the “faster-than-light” travel Alcubierre drive. There was also continued work on a fusion propulsion system., and an interesting announcement about a successful test of what is supposed to be an impossible means of propulsion that may turn out to be something revolutionary or may go the way of Cold Fusion. These are interesting and deserve funding and any other support we can give. But every government space program seem to have some inherent faults that make them incapable of reaching our goals.
All government space initiatives have two inherent problems. First, a program implemented by one administration is often not the priority of the next administration. Often, the Office of President of the United States gets filled by someone from the opposite party of the previous administration and they are all too quick to defund the previous administrations initiatives. This, by the way, is a serious defect that is not suffered by China or Russia and which could lead to America one day falling seriously behind the competition.
The second defect is more institutional. It is a sad fact that both NASA and the US Air Force are both so committed to safety and reliability that they establish levels of bureaucracy that ensure no project is done on time or on budget. Each example of progress requires so much testing, signing off from one agency to another or other paperwork that the next step is held in limbo for months or even years. They do not have investors clamoring for ROI so there is no rush for advancement. There is no competition so there is no drive for completion or incentive for constant improvement of their product.
Clearly, NASA is not capable of leading a sustained course of human spaceflight development. It requires an organization that does not totally change focus every four to eight years. It requires a mindset that embraces competition, profit margins, innovative product improvement and the acceptance of a risk level that would not happen in a government agency. With that said, let’s examine some commercial/non-government human spaceflight programs that are active in 2014.
SUB-ORBITAL AND ORBITAL
A very robust commercial launch industry is active in 2014.
SpaceX – SpaceX racked up some serious wins in 2014 both in space and in court. Among their several successful launches, SpaceX had their first controlled landings of the first stage of their rockets, a key milestone in their efforts to bring down the costs of launches dramatically by reusing the rockets. In July of 2014, the Air Force confirmed that all three of it’s recent Falcon 9 launches were successful, a strong step towards their ability to win Air Force certification that would allow it to compete with United Launch Alliance for launches of national security payloads. SpaceX successfully sued the Air Force in 2014 to enable them to compete for those missions. One of the biggest milestones for SpaceX in 2014 was repeated demonstrations of their ability to perform soft-landings of their first stage of the Falcon 9. This should cut many more millions off of launch costs and make the Falcon 9 a leader in commercial space.
Boeing – The CST-100 Space Taxi continues development. Boeing has done reentry and launch abort testing and a lot of PR in 2014.
Virgin Galactic – Richard Branson continues to insist commercial launches are “just around the corner” and has a wait list of 650 people that have already paid the deposit for the flight. In May of 2014, VG announced they had changed the fuel to enhance engine performance. In June, the company reached an agreement with NASA to fly 12 technology experiments on SpaceShipTwo ‘s first commercial research flight.
XCOR Aerospace – This company’s 30ft-long, two-seater Lynx space plane could beat VG’s initial commercial flight and do so at a fraction of the cost. In July 2014, DARPA selected XCOR (partnered with Masten Space Systems) as one of the teams that will be working on a new experimental space plane.
Sierra Nevada Corporation – The Dreamchaser craft was initially based on a NASA initiative but subsequent years of refinement have made it a very interesting candidate for ferrying astronauts to the International Space Station. In August of 2014, they revealed the first completed composite airframe, made in conjunction with Lockheed. They also announced a joint agreement with the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to collaborate missions and technologies.
Blue Origin – Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos’ secretive company has been developing rocket-powered Vertical Takeoff and Vertical Landing (VTVL) vehicles for access to suborbital and potentially orbital space. It is also actively pursuing the development of a reusable orbital vehicle. They have teamed up with Boeing as one of the teams working with DARPA on the experimental space plane project.
Bigelow Aerospace – This company’s main focus is the development of expandable space habitats. The company is currently working on the Bigelow Expandable Activity Module (BEAM), which will be added to the ISS in 2015 as a test module. Bigelow has recently hired former NASA astronauts that will be the be the crew of a private space station that Bigelow plans to launch sometime after 2017. Rather than developing a launch capability, they plan on using the winner of NASA’s commercial crew program to launch and retrieve their crews. Their habitats could also be used on the Moon and Bigelow Aerospace made news in July 2014 when it requested the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) Office of Commercial Space Transportation (FAA-AST) conduct a “payload review” which would give US government recognition of ownership by the company and other U.S. firms of resources they extract from the Moon.
Ad Astra Rocket Company – They continue the development of their VASIMR propulsion system.
Space Adventures – This space tourism company arranged all eight of the orbital space flights completed by private citizens and offers circumlunar and suborbital flights with the hope that one of the above companies will be able to supply the hardware to complete such trips.
Outside of the US, there is the very interesting Skylon UK space plane project. And the European Space Agency, convinced the SpaceX is about to make their Ariane rockets no longer commercially viable, is finally getting serious about building a next-generation rocket. India and Japan are both ramping up their space programs, with stated goals of manned space programs. In Russia, they recently conducted the maiden launch of the new Angara rocket, the first new Russian rocket since the Soviet era. Russia announced in July 2014 that they are starting to phase out the old Soyuz rocket in favor of the newer Soyuz-2 rocket.
The US’s formal plan for human moon exploration ended when President Obama ended the Constellation program.
Google’s Moon Prize: Google Lunar X Prize. It’s literally NASCAR on the moon, happening live, transmitting back here to Earth.” Technically, the $20 million grand prize would go to the first rover to roll more than 500 meters (three-tenths of a mile) on the moon and send back HDTV video. While not directly involving human space flight, the competition has the obvious intent of spurring development on the Moon. Such steps are needed to get the initial knowledge and experience needed to begin mining the moon.
Golden Spike: This company plans on using spacecraft developed by the companies listed above to provide Moon trips to paying customers. These customers could be nations wanting to explore or companies wanting to set up shop to begin using lunar resources.
China’s recent moon rover is just their latest step in their stated goal of putting a manned base on the moon.
While there is basically no movement in the government sector regarding a manned mission to Mars, NASA did have some advances regarding Mars in 2014. MOXIE, the Mars OXygen In situ resource utilization Experiment is a device developed by NASA to take carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere and use it to produce oxygen for breathing and for rocket fuel purposes. And the continued development of the SLS could be associated with efforts to put humans on Mars if it actually ever gets used. In the meantime, NASA’s rovers continue to excite and to find items of interest that will no doubt one day be examined by humans.
The distance of Mars limits the current amount of commercial activity but there are a couple of commercial projects dedicated to getting humans to Mars. Inspiration Mars, founded by First-Space-Tourist Dennis Tito aims to have a flyby mission. And Mars One hopes to have a permanent colony on Mars by 2025.
This is one human spaceflight subject that does have some government involvement. President Obama implemented a program for a future rendezvous with an asteroid. It’s scientific usefulness has been hotly debated and, as mentioned above, no one knows if it’ll ever be more than just an ongoing excuse for continued funding of the SLS rocket system. Also government related, U.S. Rep. Bill Posey introduced the American Space Technology for Exploring Resource Opportunities in Deep Space (ASTEROIDS) Act of 2014, a bill that would establish property rights for future private asteroid miners.
On the commercial space side of things, there are a few interesting organizations working towards manned asteroid missions. Planetary Resources has built an awesome team and an equally awesome list of investors to get towards their goal of eventually mining asteroids for profit. Also with an eye on profiting from the incredible resources locked in asteroids is Deep Space Industries, which plans to launch a fleet of small semi-automated probes to track and analyze target asteroids.
So what and where do all of these developments get us in the foreseeable future? One begins to see a convergence of technologies advancing to the point where they may combine to create a maturing space industry. A Bigelow module space station that acts as a base for companies using VASIMR engine-powered spacecraft that remove space debris or even crewed vehicles that provide in-orbit servicing on satellites could become a quick reality. After years of stagnation, it is an exciting time for human space flight.
He begins his interview talking about the subject which he is most known for: space. He said the most fascinating thing he can imagine would be finding other intelligent life. He thinks that alien microbes would be most likely found and possibly even in the near future. He said in the next 50 years he expects much more advanced robotics to enable there to be a large number of robotic activity throughout our solar system. He was less impressed with our possibilities of putting humans much further out in the solar system in the next 50 years but he thought it highly likely in the next 100 years
His comments on energy were perhaps the least insightful of us otherwise very interesting interview. He did talk about advances in solar energy being particularly useful for currently under developed countries in providing their energy needs. He talks about how he used to think very highly on the prospects of nuclear energy but does not anymore. He basically does not discuss fusion, the perpetually 30-Years-Away technology. Maybe he’s just been disappointment with the number of times it’s showed promise and then failed.
I particularly enjoyed his comments on climate change and the dismissal of those who believe they understand climate models and the effects of carbon dioxide. He described them as being arrogant and presumptuous of their knowledge of the effects of climate change and he dismissed the efforts they propose that would hurt our economy is around the world.
When he was asked what he thinks the most fascinating things will be next 50 years he, as a humble genius should, said that the most fascinating things will be the things that he doesn’t think of and the catch us totally by surprise
He in particular thought that it would be a very interesting to see the advances in biotechnology in which technology advances mix with our understanding of genomes.
As to be expected of such a great mind, it was a great interview.
President Obama’s ideological disconnect from reality leaves him incapable of providing the leadership America needs.
On Fox News’s “O’Reilly Factor” on June 13th, 2014, Bill O’Reilly said:
“When Putin invaded Crimea, the Administration was “surprised”. When terrorists killed 4 Americans (one a U.S. Ambassador) in Benghazi…the Administration was surprised. When the VA Scandal came to light…the Administration was…caught by surprise. When thousands of illegal children started crossing the border…the Administration was…caught by surprise. Now Baghdad is failing and the Administration…is caught by surprise.”
Bill O’Reilly was talking about the President having an incompetent team that was not advising him on important matters. I believe the problem is much worse that that. I believe President Obama is so committed to his ideology that he only listens to those in his Administration that share that ideology and together they make an echo chamber that makes them deaf to the realities that crash up against that ideology. I believe that he and his core followers within his administration believe that it is best for America for them to implement the far left agenda as much as possible during his time left in office regardless of Constitutional restrictions or other laws of the land and regardless of how bad their actions hurt the average American taxpayer.
There are many examples of the President putting his ideology ahead of the law and America’s interests:
The Keystone XL Pipeline: His ideology tells him that opening up this pipeline will just enhance our use of carbon-emitting fossil fuels and that it is better for America not to get the benefits of the Keystone pipeline, which would add tens of thousands of jobs and reduce our dependency on Middle Eastern oil.
Releasing the 5 Taliban from Gitmo: Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl being released in exchange for 5 Taliban despite the law requiring Congress to be notified 30 days prior to any such release.
The EPA Mandates-by-Decree: The liberals have given up the idea of using the Constitutional process to enact laws to force America to accept their Man-Made Global Warming ideology on America. They realize that too many Democrat Senators and Representatives will vote against that type of legislation because it would cost them their jobs come the next election. So now they just put fellow ideologues in positions of power within the EPA and have them issue decrees such as new carbon emission requirements for coal power plants that Congress has always refused to pass.
Using the IRS as a political tool: It has been proven now that the Obama Administration used the IRS to prevent groups opposed to his reelection from completing their registration process as a non-profit. This prevented them from doing the activities they wanted to do during the 2012 campaign. Meanwhile, the IRS processed many pro-Obama nonprofits so they could assist with his reelection efforts. Using the IRS as a weapon against political opponents is as bad or worse than what was done during Watergate.
Dozens of Changes-by-Decree to Obamacare: He has unilaterally made numerous changes to the law without any regard to what the disasterous law he pushed through actually says. Regardless of how horrible the law is for America, it is a law passed by Congress. A president that can take a law and enforce what parts he chooses and make unilateral changes to it without bothering to follow the Constitutional process is a danger to our country’s future.
The Benghazi Cover Up: The administration is covering up their attempts at portraying the attack as protests over a video other than a large, coordinated Al-Qaeda linked terrorist attack. They knew from the moment it was happening that it was a terrorist attack…but that would have undermined Obama, who was in the middle of his reelection campaign and was saying in speech after speech that he’d beaten Al-Qaeda. It wouldn’t do at all to have to admit that a major Al-Qaeda terrorist attack had killed a US Ambassador and 3 SEALS. So the Obama Admin began the cover up while the attack was still going on..,not even allowing the military to try to save them. THAT is the true cover up.
It is expected that presidents, the highest level of a politician, act political. It is expected that they decide that they were put into office by those that felt they were the best candidate to lead our country. But there is also an expectation that a president will surround themselves with capable staff members who will provide them with the information they need to lead. It is expected that the president will have those on his staff who can go up to the president and tell him that what he is doing is actually harming the country regardless of what their ideology tells them. It is expected that the president will take the lead in international affairs to ensure America’s best interests are met. Several recent polls show that pretty much everyone other than those that share his far left agenda have concluded that President Obama is incapable of meeting these expectations. And America and many other parts of the world are being hurt by his inability to be an affective leader.
The world cannot afford to have an American president that is incapable of leading efforts of both war and peace on the world stage. It makes that world a much more dangerous place and hurts America in many long-lasting ways. Beyond his ideology, President Obama is an empty suit, incapable of leading and uncaring of the consequences of his agenda.
At this point, all we can hope for is a Republican House (and hopefully Senate come November) that can limit the amount of damage caused by this failed leader. Let us hope that the voters of 2016 are not so enamored of a “cool” candidate that they forget to see if the candidate is actually capable of the job.
I would not normally be so rude as to tell someone that their views on a subject don’t matter. It is, after all, considered a very bad character trait to not respect differing viewpoints. But in the case of believers in man-made global warming (anthropogenic global warming), I think it makes sense because it truly doesn’t matter if this group of believers are right or wrong.
The articles on both sides of the man-made global warming issue are legion so feel free to Google just about any variation of those words to read up on it to your hearts content. I tend to fall more on, but not totally on the side of “mankind has little to do with global warming” things but my sides beliefs don’t matter much more than the other side. If there is a difference in “mattering” it is that those that reject man as the majority cause of global warming are not asking all of humanity to change every aspect of their lives to conform to their beliefs. The other side of the argument however, declares the argument over, they won and that if we do not heed to their demands, then the seas will rise, the masses will starve and we evil humans will be responsible for the deaths of polar bears and many other species. These demands often include items such as:
Massive redistribution of wealth for “environment justice”. This would be done within individual countries through a Carbon Tax that would make everything from filling your gas tank, flying on a plane and use of electricity in your house much more expensive. It would also be done internationally through payments to poorer countries to “offset the damage” supposedly inflicted on them by larger, richer and more industrialized countries.
Drastic cuts in energy consumption that will be enforced by making the price of electricity and gasoline ridiculously expensive. When your electricity bill increases even more drastically than it has recently, you can thank President Obama. The Obama Administration, thwarted by Congress, has used the EPA as a hammer to knock out coal fired power plants and taken other actions that are crippling the coal industry. As the power plants close, the price of electricity increases (basic supply vs demand). They talked big about making it easier to get new nuclear reactors approved but that’s just not happening. And you can be sure that continuing to put off the approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline has everything to do with wanting to limit availability of affordable fossil fuel and not wanting to anger environmental activists right before election season.
In other words, we have to give our wealth as individuals and as countries to those that know better what to do with it. And we must change our lifestyles, our industries and our very cultures to prevent the aforementioned disasters. Many very personal choices such as where you live, what you drive, when you travel, what you eat, etc would have to be altered and regulated by the government to “reduce your impact”. Thus we get back to their beliefs not really mattering much. We are not going to do any of that. We are not going to hobble our economies by drastically reducing our consumption of energy. We are not going to change our way of life as individuals by drastically reducing our individual energy consumption. We are not going to accept having our electricity and our gasoline prices be raised to the point that we can’t afford them. We are not going to change our lifestyles to accommodate limiting gas emissions. So what will we do?
ACCEPTING THE CONSEQUENCES: Let’s say for a minute that the believers in the cult of Man-Made Global Warming are correct and that we are having a much bigger impact on the climate than those with opposing viewpoints believe. Even if they were proved to be 100% correct, we humans will not change our lives, economies or cultures to prevent global warming. Humans will do as they’ve always done. They’ll adapt to the new environmental realities. They will change coastal cities to be able to handle the rise of sea levels, which even the IPCC says will be much, much smaller than previously predicted. We will adjust the management of our crops and herds to weather or seasonal changes. Water management, food distribution, water desalination, job training and whatever else is necessary will be done. But we will not shut down factories and power plants, turn over all our money to the socialists and become kumbaya, kale-eating Al Gore worshipers.
The more cynical side of me is convinced that man-made global warming activists know we are never going to change our behavior. They know that the efforts that could be brought to “fighting man-made global warming” are more accurately called redistribution of wealth from richer states to poorer states and the enhancement of power of the UN as it would have control over the huge sums they propose countries contribute to the cause. Whatever their motivation, their beliefs are inconsequential because we will never do what they believe we must do. Ever since man first put on an animal fur to get warm as the weather got colder, he has used his intelligence to adapt and prosper regardless of environmental changes. We will continue to do so, without destroying our planet or our way of life.
I’ve been reading the various MSM/Democrat Party Press Releases that pass for news on many sites lately and you’d almost think that Obama’s troubles are over…or at least you would if that was all you read. The reality is that the program is already an utter failure and has no chance of redeeming itself. It’s only hope had been to get enough people, specifically young people, enrolled and thinking positively of the program before the 2014 elections. As even all but the most fervent liberals in the media will admit, Obamacare is not going to get the enrollment numbers it needs and young people are rejecting the “duty to pay for older people’s healthcare” mantra that the Obamacare cheerleaders have tried to push lately. So the Republican candidates will use Obamacare very successfully against their Democrat rivals and the Senate is all but assured to become a Republican majority after the 2014 election.
Once the newly elected senators are sworn into office, the Republican controlled House and Senate will begin passing legislation that Obama will have to veto to prevent the repeal of his only “accomplishment” as president. Around this time, it will have become very apparent that the initial several million that have signed up for Obamacare by that point are mostly people with pre-existing conditions that made it too expensive to ensure previously. So the expensive nature of insuring those people will raise the costs of everyone’s insurance, creating the dreaded Death Spiral of Obamacare. You will begin to see a combination of Death Spiral stories and Obama vetoes of Republican repeal legislation dominating the news. With The Democrats now facing a majority Republican Congress and an approaching 2016 Presidential Election cycle, Democrat leaders will see the writing on the wall and Obamacare will effectively be repealed.