Saturday, August 31, 2013

A different point of view of a space shuttle launch

Not much more to say about this next video, just sit back and enjoy.  The title sums it up well.  The audio is also fascinating.

"Absolutely mindblowing video shot from the Space Shuttle during launch"

From the article:
Try to let what you're witnessing sink in. See those numbers flying past in the upper right hand corner? That's the Shuttle's airspeed. See that gleam of light against the inky backdrop of space at 2:08 and 3:11? That's the Shuttle continuing on its flight path into low Earth orbit. Hear the eerie rattling, haunting moans, and weird dinosaur noises? That's what it sounds like to be a Solid Rocket Booster, falling to Earth from an altitude of 150,000 feet.

Friday, August 30, 2013

To declare war

Did you happen to catch all the leftist protests about potentially going to war in Syria for no good reason?  Here's one:

Interesting.  What do you think would be happening if President Bush had done the exact same things Obama is doing now?  The hypocrisy is deafening.  Proves once again that leftists have no principles, they're just cheerleaders.

Well, maybe that's not strictly true.  Obama and Biden both have clear points of view regarding taking these United States to war, following the Constitution and all that.

Remember the War Powers Clause in the Constitution?  Anyone?  Bueller?  It states:
[The Congress shall have Power...] To declare War, grant Letters of Marque and Reprisal, and make Rules concerning Captures on Land and Water;
What?  You mean that the President is not authorized to declare war unilaterally?

"Obama and Biden's Own Words on War and Congressional Approval" by Collin Roth

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

As Commander-in-Chief, the President does have a duty to protect and defend the United States. In instances of self-defense, the President would be within his constitutional authority to act before advising Congress or seeking its consent. History has shown us time and again, however, that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the Legislative branch. It is always preferable to have the informed consent of Congress prior to any military action.

As for the specific question about bombing suspected nuclear sites, I recently introduced S.J. Res. 23, which states in part that "any offensive military action taken by the United States against Iran must be explicitly authorized by Congress." The recent NIE tells us that Iran in 2003 halted its effort to design a nuclear weapon. While this does not mean that Iran is no longer a threat to the United States or its allies, it does give us time to conduct aggressive and principled personal diplomacy aimed at preventing Iran from developing nuclear weapons.
-Barack Obama in 2008

It is precisely because the consequences of war – intended or otherwise – can be so profound and complicated that our Founding Fathers vested in Congress, not the President, the power to initiate war, except to repel an imminent attack on the United States or its citizens. They reasoned that requiring the President to come to Congress first would slow things down… allow for more careful decision making before sending Americans to fight and die… and ensure broader public support.

The Founding Fathers were, as in most things, profoundly right. That’s why I want to be very clear: if the President takes us to war with Iran without Congressional approval, I will call for his impeachment.

I do not say this lightly or to be provocative. I am dead serious. I have chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee. I still teach constitutional law. I’ve consulted with some of our leading constitutional scholars. The Constitution is clear. And so am I.

I’m saying this now to put the administration on notice and hopefully to deter the President from taking unilateral action in the last year of his administration. If war is warranted with a nation of 70 million people, it warrants coming to Congress and the American people first.

-Joe Biden in 2008
So I'm confident that Obama and Biden will ask Congress for authority to use U.S. military power in Syria, or anywhere else.  They wouldn't change their position just because they're in power now, would they?

Interesting that this subject was also raised in 2011, regarding Libya.  From the Huffington Post:
"Joe Biden Warned In 2007 That He'd Impeach Bush For Waging War Without Congressional Approval"

Interesting thing to note in that article was the big government spineless Republican reaction, as illustrated by the weasel Lindsay Graham:
As Dave Weigel pointed out Tuesday, the prevailing attitude in Congress over the matter of congressional approval is best exemplified by the statements made by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jack Reed (D-R.I.), who each basically said they'd simply rubber-stamp whatever Obama wanted to do. "I'd be glad to vote on it afterwards," said Graham, all but cementing Congress' ornamental role in military conflict.

More videos here, from
"Joe Biden: War Without Congressional Authorization Should Warrant IMPEACHMENT"

My initial reaction to the situation in Syria is to not get involved.  Dictator versus rebels who may turn out to be nutjob Islamists?  This is like a game between the Vikings and the Bears--can't they both lose?  In all seriousness, though, I don't believe that we can police the world.  But if we do want to do so, why would we want the president to do so unilaterally?  Isn't this exactly why we want Congress to be involved, to come to a consensus decision?

In closing, I think this meme pretty much sums things up.  From the All That Spam blog:
"If I put the constitution in my emails would the government start reading it?"

Thursday, August 29, 2013

What I do

Sometimes people ask me what I do at work.  In the future I'm just going to tell him that I do this:

I build the power systems that support the infrastructure that answers all those crazy questions, so I don't answer those questions directly, exactly, but close enough!

But back the cartoon itself.  Don't you just love Google Autocomplete?  It truly gives some insight into what we are searching for. As others have said, and I fully concur, the one place people never lie is when typing to their search engine.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Need a cell phone? Or three?

Did you ever wonder whether government programs are wasteful and inefficient?  Well don't.  That is the very nature of such programs.  Consider what is becoming known as the "Obamaphone" program.

From National Review Online:
"Me and My Obamaphones" by Jillian Kay Melchior
In the past month, I have received three shiny new cell phones, courtesy of American taxpayers, that should never have fallen into my hands.
The author was very clear that she was not on any other government program (required to be eligible for the Obamaphone) and in one case she was actually talking on her own phone while applying for her free phone!
And indeed, while doing research for another story, I had gone through the motions of applying for New York City welfare, which I also don’t qualify for. I showed him my Human Resources Administration paperwork packet and the case number assigned to me. I reiterated that though I had once applied, I had never been approved for any sort of benefit.
He brought out his electronic tablet immediately to sign me up for phone service. He asked if I had an insurance card, so I pulled out my trusty Blue Cross Blue Shield. He looked at it for a second, puzzled, then asked if I had Medicaid. No, I told him, just private insurance through my work plan.
“Private insurance? What’s that?” he asked, maybe not facetiously. My BCBS card was nevertheless photographed, as well as the first page of my Human Resources Administration paperwork. He asked for my name and my home address, and that was about it. The whole process took less than five minutes, and I had to provide no documentation verifying my income level or (nonexistent) welfare status.

The author also got referred to a competing cell phone provider, to get two phones, even though this is a violation of the program rules.
Schaefer also tells me that “consumers are, on their applications, required to certify under penalty of perjury that they will only be receiving one Lifeline discount.”

But when I went around New York signing up for multiple phones, I never even saw the applications; SafeLink and Assurance vendors filled out the necessary forms on their tablets on my behalf, clicking through so quickly that it must have been nearly muscle memory. And nobody mentioned perjury.

Granted, the first question the wireless reps asked was usually whether I was already enrolled in the Lifeline program. I told the truth: I had signed up recently, but the phone hadn’t arrived in the mail yet. Almost always, that got me re-entered into the system without hesitation.
And at one Lifeline location in East Harlem, I walked up to the wireless representative talking very loudly on my own smartphone. I hung up only to answer her questions. Now, keep in mind that the program is supposed to provide cell-phone service to people too poor to afford any phone whatsoever — but my application for a subsidized mobile was happily submitted, even as I dinked around very obviously on my existing smartphone.
So here’s the final count: I was able to apply on the street for one SafeLink phone and seven Assurance phones. I received one SafeLink phone and two Assurance phones, no questions asked. For several other applications, Assurance sent me requests for more financial information.
Why does this happen?  It's pretty easy to figure out, if you have half a brain.
And if you’ve been wondering why the companies are so eager to hand out free phones, the incentive is built into the program. As Griffin explains, “Of course, the way the program was set up, [wireless companies] were getting money for every one they could give out, so they gave out as many as they could.”