With the landing last week of America’s last space shuttle, the nation stands at a critical point in the history of space exploration. For some, the last flight of Atlantis — a mission officially designated as STS-135, was “bittersweet,” as one writer termed it. The landing of Atlantis may presage a difficult era in the “Space Age,” or it may herald the beginning of the end of the government’s virtual monopoly on mankind’s exploration of the heavens.
As reported previously for The New American, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden has been marked by significant controversy regarding both the future of his agency, and the future of manned space flight. The Obama administration quickly killed George Bush’s “Constellation” program, which had set a return to the Moon and an eventual mission to Mars as part of U.S. space policy. However, NASA’s new, Obama-era goals quickly put the Moon and Mars back on the timetable — but pushed them farther away. Meanwhile, NASA’s budget remains fundamentally stable, despite the end of a shuttle program which had previously consumed a substantial portion of the budget. As Mike Wall recently wrote in an article for Space.com:
JBS CEO Art Thompson's topics this week -- Norwegian Mad Bomber a Christian? Think not! China continues to buy America as we buy Chinese; Latin America continues its march into communism.
President Obama’s open letter to the American people published yesterday in USA Today challenges them “to do something big and meaningful" and stand behind his efforts to raise the debt ceiling.
This debate [over the debt ceiling] offers the chance to put our economy on stronger footing, and [to] secure a better future for our children. I want to seize that opportunity, and [to] ask Americans of both parties and no party to join me in that effort.
Obama's letter is carefully crafted to persuade the average reader that the country’s present perilous financial condition was not caused by the Ruling Class at all but by all citizens working out their daily lives.
A lot of good people who believe, as I do, that we need to balance the federal budget have fallen for a very bad idea. I’m referring to the notion that a balanced budget amendment will somehow help solve the fiscal disaster our country faces.
I just got a promotional email from Regnery Publishing, one of my all-time favorite book-publishing companies. I can’t count the number of truly important titles it has issued, from Witness to the whole “politically incorrect guidelines” series. My shelves are filled with things it has done, including numerous best-sellers.
But the most recent email I got from Regnery stopped me short. The subject line read, “Amending the Constitution Is Our Only Hope.”
House Speaker John Boehner walked away Friday from debt ceiling negotiations with President Obama, saying that the White House had “moved the goalposts” in their weeks-long effort to come to terms acceptable to both Republicans in the House and Democrats in the Senate.
In his letter to members of the House, Boehner said, "During these discussions ... it became evident that the White House is simply not serious about ending the spending binge that is destroying jobs and endangering our children’s future… In the end, we couldn’t connect. Not because of different personalities, but because of different visions for our country."
The first time I recall having exercised my right to vote was in 1992, when I was 20 years old. From that time to the present, I have never voted for any candidate who wasn’t a Republican. In spite of this, I refuse to identify myself as a Republican, and as any reader of my work knows all too well, I am at least as critical of Republicans as I am of Democrats and leftists. Truth be told, it is probably the case that I am disposed to be even more critical of Republicans and establishment or movement rightists than I am of their Democratic and leftist peers, for the audiences for which I am accustomed to writing consist of people who know that Democrats are their foes. Of Republicans, on the other hand, things aren’t usually so clear.
I realize that politics is indeed the art of the possible, and that the artist who is the politician must possess the will to compromise and the practical wisdom to know when to do so. It also must be admitted that, although it is without exaggeration that it has been said by some that our two national parties differ in degree, not kind, the Republican Party is less prone to accommodate leftist sensibilities than is its main competitor. What this means is that from a conservative perspective, the GOP promises to be less destructive to the nation than the Democratic Party.
The bi-partisan "Gang of Six" plan, billed as a $3.7 trillion deficit-reduction package, might better be described as a bi-partisan wish list. Rather than call for reductions in or elimination of any programs or departments of a federal government now $14.3 trillion in debt, the plan contains a long list of savings over the next ten years to be "found" by various committees of Congress. The plan begins by proposing enactment of a "a $500 billion down payment that would secure immediate debt relief…” Since our government is currently running in deficit at the rate $1.3 trillion a year, this amounts to borrowing another half a trillion dollars for a "down payment" on the debt we've already accumulated.
The committees would be seeking "real deficit savings in entitlement programs," including the following list:
Now that the Minnesota state government shutdown has ended, details of the compromise between Governor Mark Dayton and the Republicans are now public — and no one is happy.
At issue was the $5-billion shortfall between revenues and spending. Liberal Governor Mark Dayton had his own plan for bringing in more revenue: “I believe the wealthiest Minnesotans can afford to pay more taxes,” he commented. Conservative Republicans in the state House and Senate, including House Speaker Kurt Zellers and Senate Majority Leader Amy Koch, dug in their heels on any tax increase whatsoever. In the end, both sides lost. As noted when the Minnesota state government shut down, the real bottom-line question had little to do with taxes and spending, and everything to do with the proper role of government. Political science professor David Schultz at Hamline University in St. Paul observed: “There’s just a huge gulf here basically between Dayton and the Republicans over their view of government. This is a … dispute over what the role of government should be.” In other words, is government the servant, or the master? Can spending actually be cut? Will legislators stick to their guns?
William F. Jasper, Senior Editor of The New American Magazine and National Correspondent for Liberty News Network reporting from the China – U.S. Governors Forum in Salt Lake City, Utah (July 15-17, 2011).