Archive for category Government
Mo. State Rep. Wants To ‘Eliminate’ Daylight Saving Time By Adopting It Permanently | St. Louis Public Radio
Mo. State Rep. Wants To ‘Eliminate’ Daylight Saving Time By Adopting It Permanently
Legislation in the Missouri House would permanently adopt Daylight Saving Time as the new Standard Time, but only if 20 other states also agree to do so.
House Bill 340 would create a pact with other states to “eliminate” Daylight Saving Time by renaming it the new “Standard Time.” And once 20 or more states join the pact, they’ll spring forward one hour and permanently remain there. It’s sponsored by State Representative Delus Johnson (R, St. Joseph).
“The only question I had on this (is whether) children are gonna be at bus stops in the dark,” Johnson said. “The majority of accidents that have occurred at bus stops occur in the daytime between 3:00 and 4:00 in the afternoon.”
Johnson says having an extra hour of afternoon sunlight year-round would also spur more economic activity.
“In the fall, it’s going to incite more tourism – people are gonna be able to travel a little bit later in the day with sunlight,” Johnson said. “It’s gonna spur a little bit more economic development with that extra sunlight where people are out visiting (during) retail hours, and then when it’s been in effect for a year we’ll see the same effect the following spring when we still have sunlight earlier in the year, instead of having to change our clocks.”
The bill is scheduled for a House committee vote next week.
A reminder: Daylight Saving Time begins March 10th at 2:00 a.m.
- Remember to set clocks for daylight saving time (kfwbam.com)
- In case you missed it: Shaved heads, daylight saving time, and more (momentumblog.bcm.edu)
- Daylight Saving Time (techlearning.com)
- Spring into daylight science time (science.nbcnews.com)
- Daylight Saving Time (United States) 2013 Begins At 2:00 AM On Sunday, March 10 (theobamacrat.com)
- How To Adjust To The Shock of Daylight Savings Time 2013 (empowernetwork.com)
- Before You Spring Ahead This Weekend, Here’s Some Fun Facts On Daylight Saving Time (wncx.cbslocal.com)
- Lawmaker calls time on Daylight Savings (krqe.com)
- Spring Forward: Why do we change our clocks? (wgno.com)
- Four things you might not know about Daylight Saving Time (which starts this Sunday) (news.nationalpost.com)
The pre-sequester illegal immigrant release: Is Obama playing politics?
By Peter Weber | The Week – 8 hrs ago
Immigration officials have released hundreds of pending deportees, citing sequestration-related belt tightening. Republicans say they smell a rat
The Republicans arguing that the upcoming $85 billion in cuts to the federal budget are no big deal are facing their first big test. On Tuesday, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE)confirmed that it has released hundreds of immigrants awaiting deportation trials over the past few days to prepare for the sequestration slated to kick in March 1. “As fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE has reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE’s current budget,” explained ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.
The released detainees are “noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories,” ICE says, and they will still be monitored through mandatory visits, ankle bracelets, or other supervised release while they await their court dates. But some Republicans smell a rat. “It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,” said Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee. And even as he was urging senators to collectively get “off their ass” and pass a sequester-replacement bill, House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) told CBS News it is “very hard for me to believe that they can’t find cuts elsewhere in their agency.”
I frankly think this is outrageous, and I’m looking for more facts, but I can’t believe that they can’t find the kind of savings they need out of the department short of letting criminals go free…. I think that the administration is trying to play games — play games with the American people, scare the American people. This is not, this is not leadership. [CBS News, via Politico]
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, whose department includes ICE, issued a sort of prebuttal on Monday. “Look, we’re doing our very best to minimize the impacts of sequester, but there’s only so much I can do,” she said. A sudden 5.3 percent cut in the budget is a lot of money, and “I’m supposed to have 34,000 detention beds for immigration. How do I pay for those? We want to maintain 22,000-some odd Border Patrol agents. I got to be able to pay their salaries.”
But even supporters of easing America’s immigration laws say the mass release of detained immigrants is “unusual,” especially “as the sequester won’t even take effect until March 1,” says Suzy Khimm at The Washington Post. Politically motivated or not, “immigration advocates welcomed the news, having long been frustrated with a detention policy they consider draconian and wasteful.” The 30,773 people in ICE detention are each costing the government between $122 and $164 a day, according to the National Immigration Forum, and alternative, effective forms of detention, like ankle bracelets, cost between 30 cents and $14 a day. “It shouldn’t take a manufactured crisis in Washington to prompt our immigration agencies to actually take steps towards using government resources wisely or keeping families together,” said Carolina Canizales at the immigration reform group United We Dream.
None of that will stop Republicans from insisting “that this is some kind of publicity stunt by Obama to make ‘his’ sequester look bad to put pressure on the GOP to cave into his ‘unreasonable’ demands,”says Justin Rosario at Addicting Info. Well, welcome to “the Law of Unintended Consequences.” The GOP “gives a lot of lip service to ‘smarter government spending’ as well as cutting government spending,” and you might think they’d applaud Obama doing both in one fell swoop. But of course immigration hits a nerve with Republicans. They played with fired by pushing for big spending cuts. They’re getting burned.
The illegal immigrant release is “a great political move on the part of the White House,” says Mark Krikorian at National Review. Yes, Obama “achieves two goals in one fell swoop,”agrees Allahpundit at Hot Air, ”turning up the heat on the GOP to cave on cuts, yes, but also tossing the amnesty fans in his base a bone by reducing border enforcement.” But it could come back to bite him if it scuttles the delicate negotiations on an immigration overhaul bill. Still, Obama’s big preemptive strike “makes me more enthusiastic about the sequester, just because now I’m curious to see how derelict he’s willing to be in his duties to in the name of putting political pressure on the GOP. Next up: Suspending TSA checkpoints at America’s airports, maybe?”
“On its face, this is a brazen, outrageous move, indeed,” says James Joyner at Outside the Beltway. But when you read the details, you have to wonder why Obama didn’t just do this earlier. His administration has drastically ramped up the number of deportees, and some of them spend years in detention, in what amounts to legal limbo.
This isn’t a “supervised” release; it’s a supervised release. The use of electronic monitoring and other safeguards actually makes good sense as an alternative to incarceration for all sorts of minor criminals, much less those waiting to adjudicate immigration disputes. It’s massively cheaper and more productive. Not to mention less cruel.
- Illegal immigrants released before sequester (abclocal.go.com)
- DHS releasing illegal immigrants before sequester (amresolution.com)
- DHS releasing illegal immigrants before sequester ()
- Detained Illegal Immigrants Released (huffingtonpost.com)
- Decision to release illegal immigrants because of sequester slammed by GOP (thehill.com)
- DHS releasing illegal immigrants before sequester (news.yahoo.com)
- Gov. Brewer ‘appalled’ by illegal immigrant release (azfamily.com)
- DHS releasing illegal immigrants before sequester – Newsday (newsday.com)
- Illegal immigrants being released by DHS before sequester (oregonlive.com)
- DHS Releases Illegals, Blames Cuts (foxnews.com)
Sequestration Shovels Money to the Russians
By Howard Bloom | Scientific American – 2 hrs 34 mins ago
A widespread opinion is that the sequestration–the blunt whack of $85 billion from the national government’s budget–was, as UPI puts it, “a dumb idea when it was created and it’s a dumb idea now.” But the sequestration may be far dumber than most realize. To save money, this budget bash is about to gush over three quarters of a billion dollars from America‘s space budget directly into the coffers of the Russians. Penny wise and billion dollar foolish.
How does this astonishingly self-defeating cash transfusion to Moscow work?
NASA has a little-known but crucial project called the Commercial Crew Program. In the days of the Space Shuttle it cost roughly $37,500 per pound to get an American astronaut into space. Let’s say that you are that astronaut. Adding in all the oxygen, food, water, and equipment it takes to keep you alive, that’s close to $82.5 million to get you into orbit. Which is the price of flying the entire population of Pittsburgh to LA and back with tickets fromcheapoair.com. But if America can get that cost down, it can make space as accessible as, well, airline trips from Pittsburgh to LA.
This is where the Commercial Crew Program comes in. In the Program, three private companies are competing to deliver US astronauts to the International Space Station. Those companies are Boeing, Sierra Nevada, and Space Exploration Technologies (better known as Space X). All are under contract to meet performance milestones on a timetable that would deliver US astronauts to the International Space Station by 2017 or sooner.
And so far, things look promising. SpaceX has already built the rockets it takes to get to orbit and has put them into regular commercial use. What’s more, SpaceX has designed a Dragon Capsule capable of putting seven humans into space, and has launched two of these capsules, orbited them, and brought them safely back to earth. But that’s not all. On launch number two, the Dragon Capsule carried a load of NASA cargo, docked with the International Space Station, uneventfully transferred its 1,200 pound load, took on 1,673 pounds of used hardware, supplies and more than a ton of scientific samples from the Station packed in a GLACIER (General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator) freezer, and brought that crucial payload to earth. SpaceX plans its third launch of the Dragon capsule with 1,268 pounds of crew supplies and scientific equipment for the International Space Station Friday, March 1st, the day the sequestration is scheduled to take effect.
Normally delivering cargo to orbit costs NASA roughly $10,000 per pound, a lot less than delivering people. But SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule and Falcon 9 can cost an estimated $2,500 per pound, a galumphing 75% savings. What’s more, SpaceX’s head, Elon Musk, has stated that his goal is ten dollars per pound. Yes, you read that right: ten dollars a pound to orbit. Which would bring the cost of putting you into orbit along with the oxygen, food, and water necessary to keep you alive down to $22,000. Not exactly the cost of an airline ticket from Pennsylvania to LA. But within the range of reality for a business traveler, researcher, space colonist, or asteroid miner.
What would sequestration do to this cost-reduction drive? And how do the Russians get into the act? There’s another government blunder that’s been hidden from you and me, hidden in plain sight: America’s space gap.
Ever since the retirement of the Shuttle in 2011, America has been unable to launch astronauts into orbit on American launch vehicles. Yes, there is currently no American craft, no matter how modest, that can put humans into space. At a time when even the Iranians are launching monkeys. Embarrassing, right?
As NASA administrator Charles Bolden told a NASA audience in Huntsville, Alabama, on February 22nd: “Budget sequestration will slow NASA’s effort to start a commercial space industry to take astronauts to the International Space Station on American spacecraft. The gap between America andRussia, which can still launch astronauts, will not close. The gap is going to get bigger. Anybody who thinks this is no big deal – it’s a big deal.”
Despite this space gap, the United States has obligations to the fifteen countries it seduced, kidnapped, and recruited into a $35-100 billion project, the vastly underutilized International Space Station. The International Space Station is an incredible achievement, a historically monumental construction on a par with the pyramids and the Parthenon. And to fulfill our obligations to our partners, we are committed to sending roughly 56 more astronauts to the station. Which leaves us with a problem. How do we send our men and women to space when we have no launch vehicle capable of carrying humans?
It’s simple. We rely on a nation some of whose media outlets, believe it or not, still portray us as the enemy: Russia. Yes, Pravda.ru, which has been described as “the largest news and analytical Internet-holding in Russia,” says week after week that the USA is a degenerate and murderous nation. With headlines like the current “Killing Russian Children Not a Tragedy for U.S.”
Only a few months ago, the Russians charged us $55.8 million a ticket to send a single astronaut to space and to bring her back on their Soyuz rockets. But since they have no competitors to drive down the price, the Russians have hiked the fare by 12% to $62.7 million dollars per ticket. And the price could go up farther.
Here’s where the ability of the sequestration to turn the saving of a penny into the loss of a billion comes in. Inside sources at NASA say that the sequestration will only cut $25 million to $30 million from the Commercial Crew contracts. By government standards, that sounds like a mere piffle. Right?
But through the magic of cumulative blunders, that tiny loss of money will turn into a torrent. It will delay the Commercial Crew Program for roughly two years. And every year we go without our own access to space, we are forced to pay another $350 million to $400 million to the Russians. In fact, on March 14, NASA reached an agreement to pay Russia $753 million for twelve round trip tickets to our station in the sky. That’s three quarters of a billion dollars. And if the U.S.’s period without American vehicles stretches out, that figure will increase. Think about it. $753 million or more siphoned from the American space program and used to underwrite Russian research and development and Russian leadership in space. When Russia’s Sputnik went up in 1957 and shocked the USA, the idea of underwriting Russian space development and crippling ours would have been unthinkable.
Nearly as bad, the Commercial Crew Program works by paying the three competing companies only when they meet milestones. Until then, these firms have to advance their own cash. They work “on the come.” If these companies have factored the government payment into their projections of cash flow and if they reach their milestones, the government’s refusal to pay up can bankrupt them. Or seriously set them back. This is NOT the way to encourage American ingenuity, American entrepreneurship, and American job creation. It makes the American government, the government that represents you and me, a bad business partner. A deadbeat.
Concludes Dave Dunlop, head of the International Committee for the National Space Society and a member of the group I run, The Space Development Steering Committee, “No wonder recent polls show that colonoscopies are more popular than Congress.” Or, as percussionist Ralph MacDonald once advised, “Don’t stop to pick up the pennies when the dollars are flying over your head.”
- Sequestration Shovels Money to the Russians (blogs.scientificamerican.com)
- Millionaire to send married couple past Mars (cosmiclog.nbcnews.com)
- SpaceX will Resupply ISS for NASA with Dragon Capsule: Win a Front Row Seat (scienceworldreport.com)
- SpaceX Dragon capsule to make third trip to ISS on March 1 (slashgear.com)
- SpaceX on target for Friday launch of next mission to International Space Station (al.com)
- Space Launch System, Orion wouldn’t be affected by sequestration (al.com)
- SpaceX’s Dragon Capsule Slated For ISS Launch On March 1, NASA Says (huffingtonpost.com)
- A New Spaceflight Venture Is Trying to Beat NASA to Mars Within the Decade (motherboard.vice.com)
- SpaceX ready to launch cargo flight to the space station (denverpost.com)
- Next Private Spacecraft Launch to Space Station Set for March 1 (space.com)
Sarah Palin: Feds ‘stockpiling bullets’ to use against us
Palin said on she wants lawmakers to ‘stop the hysterics.’ | AP Photo
By KEVIN CIRILLI | 2/27/13 9:26 AM EST
Sarah Palin says America will eventually default on its debt and claims that the federal government is “stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest” to prepare.
“If we are going to wet our proverbial pants over 0.3% in annual spending cuts when we’re running up trillion dollar annual deficits, then we’re done. Put a fork in us. We’re finished. We’re going to default eventually and that’s why the feds are stockpiling bullets in case of civil unrest,” Palin wrote in a Facebook message Tuesday.
The former GOP governor of Alaska was referring to the sequester, the automatic $1.2 trillion cuts in federal funding that take effect Friday unless lawmakers reach a deal.
“D.C.: Cut the Drama. Do Your Job. Americans are sick and tired of yet another ginned-up crisis. D.C. needs to grow up, get to work, and live within its means,” wrote Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice presidential running mate of Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
She continued: “The real economic Armageddon looming before us is our runaway debt, not the sequester, which the President advocated for and signed into law and is now running around denouncing because he never had any genuine intention of reining in his reckless spending.”
Palin wrote that she wants lawmakers to “stop the hysterics.”
“If we ARE serious about putting our fiscal house in order, then let’s stop the hysterics, tighten our belts, and take our medicine.”
- Sarah Palin: ‘We’re finished’ (oddonion.com)
- Palin: ‘We’re finished’ (politico.com)
- Palin Lifts Bullet Stockpile Conspiracy from Debunked Email, Just for Sequester (theatlanticwire.com)
- Palin: D.C.: Cut the Drama. Do Your Job. (sarahpalinblog.typepad.com)
- Palin: ‘Cut The Drama!’ (huffingtonpost.com)
- Top conservative conference keeps Christie away, because Palin is apparently the future (dailykos.com)
- Why Maria Hutchings is the Tories’ Sarah Palin – and that’s not a good thing (mirror.co.uk)
- Honor: Sarah Palin tweets Todd Palin to donate Iron Dog race winnings to Chris Kyle Memorial Fund (twitchy.com)
- Sarah Palin Fact Checks Obama’s SOTU – He Loses #sotUGottaBKiddingMe (grumpyelder.com)
- Sarah Palin *is not* going to work for Al Jazeera (jimromenesko.com)
The Drones Come Home
Unmanned aircraft have proved their prowess against al Qaeda. Now they’re poised to take off on the home front. Possible missions: patrolling borders, tracking perps, dusting crops. And maybe watching us all?
By John Horgan
Photograph by Joe McNally
At the edge of a stubbly, dried-out alfalfa field outside Grand Junction, Colorado, Deputy Sheriff Derek Johnson, a stocky young man with a buzz cut, squints at a speck crawling across the brilliant, hazy sky. It’s not a vulture or crow but a Falcon—a new brand of unmanned aerial vehicle, or drone, and Johnson is flying it. The sheriff ’s office here in Mesa County, a plateau of farms and ranches corralled by bone-hued mountains, is weighing the Falcon’s potential for spotting lost hikers and criminals on the lam. A laptop on a table in front of Johnson shows the drone’s flickering images of a nearby highway.
Standing behind Johnson, watching him watch the Falcon, is its designer, Chris Miser. Rock-jawed, arms crossed, sunglasses pushed atop his shaved head, Miser is a former Air Force captain who worked on military drones before quitting in 2007 to found his own company in Aurora, Colorado. The Falcon has an eight-foot wingspan but weighs just 9.5 pounds. Powered by an electric motor, it carries two swiveling cameras, visible and infrared, and a GPS-guided autopilot. Sophisticated enough that it can’t be exported without a U.S. government license, the Falcon is roughly comparable, Miser says, to the Raven, a hand-launched military drone—but much cheaper. He plans to sell two drones and support equipment for about the price of a squad car.
A law signed by President Barack Obama in February 2012 directs the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to throw American airspace wide open to drones by September 30, 2015. But for now Mesa County, with its empty skies, is one of only a few jurisdictions with an FAA permit to fly one. The sheriff ’s office has a three-foot-wide helicopter drone called a Draganflyer, which stays aloft for just 20 minutes.
The Falcon can fly for an hour, and it’s easy to operate. “You just put in the coordinates, and it flies itself,” says Benjamin Miller, who manages the unmanned aircraft program for the sheriff ’s office. To navigate, Johnson types the desired altitude and airspeed into the laptop and clicks targets on a digital map; the autopilot does the rest. To launch the Falcon, you simply hurl it into the air. An accelerometer switches on the propeller only after the bird has taken flight, so it won’t slice the hand that launches it.
The stench from a nearby chicken-processing plant wafts over the alfalfa field. “Let’s go ahead and tell it to land,” Miser says to Johnson. After the deputy sheriff clicks on the laptop, the Falcon swoops lower, releases a neon orange parachute, and drifts gently to the ground, just yards from the spot Johnson clicked on. “The Raven can’t do that,” Miser says proudly.
Offspring of 9/11
A dozen years ago only two communities cared much about drones. One was hobbyists who flew radio-controlled planes and choppers for fun. The other was the military, which carried out surveillance missions with unmanned aircraft like the General Atomics Predator.
Then came 9/11, followed by the U.S. invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and drones rapidly became an essential tool of the U.S. armed forces. The Pentagon armed the Predator and a larger unmanned surveillance plane, the Reaper, with missiles, so that their operators—sitting in offices in places like Nevada or New York—could destroy as well as spy on targets thousands of miles away. Aerospace firms churned out a host of smaller drones with increasingly clever computer chips and keen sensors—cameras but also instruments that measure airborne chemicals, pathogens, radioactive materials.
The U.S. has deployed more than 11,000 military drones, up from fewer than 200 in 2002. They carry out a wide variety of missions while saving money and American lives. Within a generation they could replace most manned military aircraft, says John Pike, a defense expert at the think tank GlobalSecurity.org. Pike suspects that the F-35 Lightning II, now under development by Lockheed Martin, might be “the last fighter with an ejector seat, and might get converted into a drone itself.”
At least 50 other countries have drones, and some, notably China, Israel, and Iran, have their own manufacturers. Aviation firms—as well as university and government researchers—are designing a flock of next-generation aircraft, ranging in size from robotic moths and hummingbirds to Boeing’s Phantom Eye, a hydrogen-fueled behemoth with a 150-foot wingspan that can cruise at 65,000 feet for up to four days.
More than a thousand companies, from tiny start-ups like Miser’s to major defense contractors, are now in the drone business—and some are trying to steer drones into the civilian world. Predators already help Customs and Border Protection agents spot smugglers and illegal immigrants sneaking into the U.S. NASA-operated Global Hawks record atmospheric data and peer into hurricanes. Drones have helped scientists gather data on volcanoes in Costa Rica, archaeological sites in Russia and Peru, and flooding in North Dakota.
So far only a dozen police departments, including ones in Miami and Seattle, have applied to the FAA for permits to fly drones. But drone advocates—who generally prefer the term UAV, for unmanned aerial vehicle—say all 18,000 law enforcement agencies in the U.S. are potential customers. They hope UAVs will soon become essential too for agriculture (checking and spraying crops, finding lost cattle), journalism (scoping out public events or celebrity backyards), weather forecasting, traffic control. “The sky’s the limit, pun intended,” says Bill Borgia, an engineer at Lockheed Martin. “Once we get UAVs in the hands of potential users, they’ll think of lots of cool applications.”
The biggest obstacle, advocates say, is current FAA rules, which tightly restrict drone flights by private companies and government agencies (though not by individual hobbyists). Even with an FAA permit, operators can’t fly UAVs above 400 feet or near airports or other zones with heavy air traffic, and they must maintain visual contact with the drones. All that may change, though, under the new law, which requires the FAA to allow the “safe integration” of UAVs into U.S. airspace.
If the FAA relaxes its rules, says Mark Brown, the civilian market for drones—and especially small, low-cost, tactical drones—could soon dwarf military sales, which in 2011 totaled more than three billion dollars. Brown, a former astronaut who is now an aerospace consultant in Dayton, Ohio, helps bring drone manufacturers and potential customers together. The success of military UAVs, he contends, has created “an appetite for more, more, more!” Brown’s PowerPoint presentation is called “On the Threshold of a Dream.”
Dreaming in Dayton
Drone fever is especially palpable in Dayton, cradle of American aviation, home of the Wright brothers and of Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. Even before the recent recession, Dayton was struggling. Over the past decade several large companies, including General Motors, have shut down operations here. But Dayton’s airport is lined with advertisements for aerospace companies; an ad for the Predator Mission Aircrew Training System shows two men in flight suits staring stoically at a battery of computer monitors. The city is dotted with drone entrepreneurs. “This is one of the few new industries with a chance to grow rapidly,” Brown says.
One of those entrepreneurs is Donald Smith, a bearish former Navy aircraft technician with ginger hair and a goatee. His firm, UA Vision, manufactures a delta-wing drone called the Spear. Made of polystyrene foam wrapped in woven carbon fiber or other fabrics, the Spear comes in several sizes; the smallest has a four-foot wingspan and weighs less than four pounds. It resembles a toy B-1 bomber. Smith sees it being used to keep track of pets, livestock, wildlife, even Alzheimer’s patients—anything or anyone equipped with radio-frequency identification tags that can be read remotely.
In the street outside the UA Vision factory a co-worker tosses the drone into the air, and Smith takes control of it with a handheld device. The drone swoops up and almost out of sight, plummets, corkscrews, loops the loop, skims a deserted lot across the street, arcs back up, and then slows down until it seems to hover, motionless, above us. Smith grins at me. “This plane is fully aerobatic,” he says.
A few miles away at Wright-Patterson stands the Air Force Institute of Technology, a center of military drone research. A bronze statue of a bedraggled winged man, Icarus, adorns the entrance—a symbol both of aviation daring and of catastrophic navigation error. In one of the labs John Raquet, a balding, bespectacled civilian, is designing new navigation systems for drones.
GPS is vulnerable, he explains. Its signals can be blocked by buildings or deliberately jammed. In December 2011, when a CIA drone crashed in Iran, authorities there claimed they had diverted it by hacking its GPS. Raquet’s team is working on a system that would allow a drone to also navigate visually, like a human pilot, using a camera paired with pattern-recognition software. The lab’s goal, Raquet repeatedly emphasizes, is “systems that you can trust.”
A drone equipped with his visual navigation system, Racquet says, might even recognize power lines and drain electricity from them with a “bat hook,” recharging its batteries on the fly. (This would be stealing, so Raquet would not recommend it for civilians.) He demonstrates the stunt for me with a square drone powered by rotors at each corner. On the first try the drone, buzzing like a nest of enraged hornets, flips over. On the second it crashes into a wall. “This demonstrates the need for trust,” Raquet says with a strained smile. Finally the quad-rotor wobbles into the air and drapes a hook over a cable slung across the room.
Down the hall from Raquet’s lab, Richard Cobb is trying to make drones that “hide in plain sight.” DARPA, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, has challenged researchers to build drones that mimic the size and behavior of bugs and birds. Cobb’s answer is a robotic hawk moth, with wings made of carbon fiber and Mylar. Piezoelectric motors flap the wings 30 times a second, so rapidly they vanish in a blur. Fashioning bug-size drones that can stay aloft for more than a few minutes, though, will require enormous advances in battery technology. Cobb expects it to take more than a decade.
The Air Force has nonetheless already constructed a “micro-aviary” at Wright-Patterson for flight-testing small drones. It’s a cavernous chamber—35 feet high and covering almost 4,000 square feet—with padded walls. Micro-aviary researchers, much of whose work is classified, decline to let me witness a flight test. But they do show me an animated video starring micro-UAVs that resemble winged, multi-legged bugs. The drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head. The video concludes, “Unobtrusive, pervasive, lethal: micro air vehicles.”
What, one might ask, will prevent terrorists and criminals from getting their hands on some kind of lethal drone? Although American officials rarely discuss the threat in public, they take it seriously. The militant Islamic group Hezbollah, based in Lebanon, says it has obtained drones from Iran. Last November a federal court sentenced a Massachusetts man to 17 years in prison for plotting to attack Washington, D.C., with drones loaded with C-4 explosives.
Exercises carried out by security agencies suggest that defending against small drones would be difficult. Under a program called Black Dart, a mini-drone two feet long tested defenses at a military range. A video from its onboard camera shows a puff of smoke in the distance, from which emerges a tiny dot that rapidly grows larger before whizzing harmlessly past: That was a surface-to-air missile missing its mark. In a second video an F-16 fighter plane races past the drone without spotting it.
The answer to the threat of drone attacks, some engineers say, is more drones. “The new field is counter-UAVs,” says Stephen Griffiths, an engineer for the Utah-based avionics firm Procerus Technologies. Artificial-vision systems designed by Procerus would enable one UAV to spot and destroy another, either by ramming it or shooting it down. “If you can dream it,” Griffiths says, “you can do it.” Eventually drones may become smart enough to operate autonomously, with minimal human supervision. But Griffiths believes the ultimate decision to attack will remain with humans.
Another Man’s Nightmare
Even when controlled by skilled, well-intentioned operators, drones can pose a hazard—that’s what the FAA is concerned about. The safety record of military drones is not reassuring. Since 2001, according to the Air Force, its three main UAVs—the Predator, Global Hawk, and Reaper—have been involved in at least 120 “mishaps,” 76 of which destroyed the drone. The statistics don’t include drones operated by the other branches of the military or the CIA. Nor do they include drone attacks that accidentally killed civilians or U.S. or allied troops.
Even some proponents insist that drones must become much more reliable before they’re ready for widespread deployment in U.S. airspace. “No one should begrudge the FAA its mission of assuring safety, even if it adds significant costs to UAVs,” says Richard Scudder, who runs a University of Dayton laboratory that tests prototypes. One serious accident, Scudder points out, such as a drone striking a child playing in her backyard, could set the industry back years. “If we screw the pooch with this technology now,” he says, “it’s going to be a real mess.”
A drone crashing into a backyard would be messy; a drone crashing into a commercial airliner could be much worse. In Dayton the firm Defense Research Associates (DRA) is working on a “sense and avoid” system that would be cheaper and more compact than radar, says DRA project manager Andrew White. The principle is simple: A camera detects an object that’s rapidly growing larger and sends a signal to the autopilot, which swerves the UAV out of harm’s way. The DRA device, White suggests, could prevent collisions like the one that occurred in 2011 in Afghanistan, when a 400-pound Shadow drone smashed into a C-130 Hercules transport plane. The C-130 managed to land safely with the drone poking out of its wing.
The prospect of American skies swarming with drones raises more than just safety concerns. It alarms privacy advocates as well. Infrared and radio-band sensors used by the military can peer through clouds and foliage and can even—more than one source tells me—detect people inside buildings. Commercially available sensors too are extraordinarily sensitive. In Colorado, Chris Miser detaches the infrared camera from the Falcon, points it at me, and asks me to place my hand on my chest for just a moment. Several seconds later the live image from the camera still registers the heat of my handprint on my T-shirt.
During the last few years of the U.S. occupation of Iraq, unmanned aircraft monitored Baghdad 24/7, turning the entire city into the equivalent of a convenience store crammed with security cameras. After a roadside bombing U.S. officials could run videos in reverse to track bombers back to their hideouts. This practice is called persistent surveillance. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) worries that as drones become cheaper and more reliable, law enforcement agencies may be tempted to carry out persistent surveillance of U.S. citizens. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects Americans from “unreasonable searches and seizures,” but it’s not clear how courts will apply that to drones.
What Jay Stanley of the ACLU calls his “nightmare scenario” begins with drones supporting “mostly unobjectionable” police raids and chases. Soon, however, networks of linked drones and computers “gain the ability to automatically track multiple vehicles and bodies as they move around a city,” much as the cell phone network hands calls from one tower to the next. The nightmare climaxes with authorities combining drone video and cell phone tracking to build up databases of people’s routine comings and goings—databases they can then mine for suspicious behavior. Stanley’s nightmare doesn’t even include the possibility that police drones might be armed.
The invention that escapes our control, proliferating whether or not it benefits humanity, has been a persistent fear of the industrial age—with good reason. Nuclear weapons are too easy an example; consider what cars have done to our landscape over the past century, and it’s fair to wonder who’s in the driver’s seat, them or us. Most people would say cars have, on the whole, benefited humanity. A century from now there may be the same agreement about drones, if we take steps early on to control the risks.
At the Mesa County sheriff ’s office Benjamin Miller says he has no interest in armed drones. “I want to save lives, not take lives,” he says. Chris Miser expresses the same sentiment. When he was in the Air Force, he helped maintain and design lethal drones, including the Switchblade, which fits in a backpack and carries a grenade-size explosive. For the Falcon, Miser envisions lifesaving missions. He pictures it finding, say, a child who has wandered away from a campground. Successes like that, he says, would prove the Falcon’s value. They would help him “feel a lot better about what I’m doing.”
- National Geographic: Unmanned Flight: the Drones Come Home (cfr.org)
- The Drones Are Coming Home (infiniteunknown.net)
- Drones an option for Australia’s defence (bigpondnews.com)
- Ohio Plans Drones to Hunt Lost Kids as They Bring Jobs (bloomberg.com)
- Washington could become the new home for drone testing (mynorthwest.com)
- Biss Proposes Bill To Manage Drone Use (progressillinois.com)
- Hobbyists finding there’s no place like drone (hamptonroads.com)
- Seeking A ‘Field Of Dreams’ For A Rising Drone Industry (npr.org)
- Drones Large and Small Coming to US (livescience.com)
- The debate over domestic drones (utsandiego.com)
Making Sense, by Michael Reagan
We have junk food, junk mail and junk bonds.
Now, thanks to our dysfunctional and devious Congress, we have junk laws like the “Taxpayer Relief Act.”
Junk laws are really nothing new. The people we send to Washington to represent us have been passing legislation larded with pork or special privileges for their friends in business, agriculture and labor since the country was born.
Adam Zyglis / Buffalo News
Insiders have always known how this cynical bipartisan game is played. But now, thanks to the failure of Congress to deal with the government debt crisis it in large part created, the average American is starting to become aware of these junk bills.
Even the liberal media were outraged by what went on when Congress passed the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012″ — which, ironically, raised the taxes of every working American by 2 percent by returning the Social Security tax to its usual 6.2 percent level.
The “Fiscal Cliff Bill” did virtually nothing to solve the federal government’s money problems or create a single job. But it was junked up with nearly $70 billion of pure pork — including tax credits for the owners of NASCAR racetracks, wind turbine makers, Hollywood moviemakers and rum-makers in Puerto Rico.
While President Obama was promising to raise taxes on the rich but really shafting the working poor, congressional folk were so busy loading up the “Fiscal Cliff Bill” with presents for their friends that they forgot to pass the relief bill to benefit victims of Hurricane Sandy.
Members of Congress are grandmasters of deceit and dishonesty. Taking maximum advantage of every crisis or disaster that comes along, they attach their favorite pieces of pork to dishonestly named bills such as the “American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012″ and the “Affordable Healthcare Act.”
Members know these big important super-bills have to pass to avert a crisis, so they junk them up with their $200 million “Bridges to Nowhere” and their $59 million tax credits for the algae-growing industry.
A perfect example of how Congress gets its junk bills passed has to with the way it funds FEMA. Congress always underfunds the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Why?
Because Congress knows each year there will always be a natural disaster like Hurricane Sandy that FEMA will need billions of federal dollars to address.
And when FEMA comes asking for emergency funding, members of Congress will clean out their closets and throw every piece of junk legislation they have into the relief bill, which they know will automatically pass without scrutiny.
Another reason we get junk laws is that few members of Congress actually read these monster bills before they vote for them. Nancy Pelosi’s career quote is going to be her comment on the healthcare bill, “But we have to pass the bill so you can find out what is in it.”
Law-making is not supposed to work that way. There’s a rule in Congress that a bill has to be posted for 48 hours before it can be voted on. But that rule has become a joke.
Just watch C-SPAN the next time a vote is being taken in the House. You’ll probably hear someone say something like, “Under suspension of the rule, we’ll now vote.”
What arcane parliamentary rule are they talking about? The 48-hour rule. No wonder Congress is always finding out after they vote what they just voted for. If members of Congress don’t read the damn bill, they shouldn’t vote on it.
I’m getting real tired of people saying, “My guy’s a good guy and your guy’s a bad guy.” They’re all acting like bad guys.
We need to start holding every member of Congress accountable. And we need more up-and-down votes in Congress, so that the next important piece of legislation doesn’t become another “Fiscal Cliff Junk Bill.”
- Congress to vote on Sandy aid as FEMA warns funds low (cnn.com)
- Sandy Shows Disaster-Relief Funding Is a Disaster – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Sandy Relief Bill Filled With $9 Billion of Pork (theburningplatform.com)
- Voting Against Sandy Relief is the Only Moral Option (txwclp.org)
- Long funding process to follow irate Sandy rhetoric (nbcpolitics.nbcnews.com)
- The Pork Filled and Expensive Non-Relief Sandy Relief Bill (conservativeread.com)
- HARD TO ARGUE: Taxpayer Advocate Says Tax Code is “Unconscionable Burden,” Suggests Junking the… (pjmedia.com)
- House passes $9.7B Sandy relief bill (cbsnews.com)
- Republican Congressman Says He’s Not Convinced Sandy Victims Need Relief (politicususa.com)
- Not So Fast, Governor Christie (personalliberty.com)
Political Disaster — Members of Congress Expected to Spend 5 Hours a Day Begging for Money | Alternet
Political Disaster — Members of Congress Expected to Spend 5 Hours a Day Begging for Money
Why politics is so dysfunctional, in a nutshell.
January 9, 2013
Members of Congress don’t know anything about “the issues” and they spend all their time fundraising, according to both a new Huffington Post story and “an easy inference to make after observing Congress for almost any length of time.”
The HuffPo’s Ryan Grim and Sabrina Siddiqui obtained a PowerPoint presentation given to incoming Democratic freshmen legislators by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, and the DCCC’s recommended schedule for House members includes four hours spent on the phone begging rich people for money and one hour spent begging rich person for money in person. This is the daily schedule.
As Kevin Drum notes, this leaves no time for studying or homework. Members rarely know much about anything, policy-wise. An unnamed member confirmed to HuffPo that these guys basically are exactly as ill-informed as you feared:
One member of Congress said that the fundraising takes up so much time that members don’t even have time to become experts on bills they sponsor. “One thing that’s always been striking to me is even the members playing a leading role on specific issues actually could not talk about the issues,” said the member, who didn’t want to be quoted by name. “They didn’t have enough knowledge on their own issues to talk about them at length. I’m probably guilty of that.” He recalled one meeting early in his career, where he brought several members together to try to hash out a compromise, just as he had done earlier as a state legislator.
“Staff members were all twitching at the discussion, because their principals were saying things that were just flat-wrong or uninformed or wondering aloud about what the industry practices really were,” he recalled. “The staff members of course had a pretty good idea. … The members were sitting around the table having a remarkably uninformed and unproductive discussion.”
This, as much as anything else, is why our Congress is both dysfunctional — legislators have no clue what they’re voting for or against most of the time — and so attentive to the priorities of the very wealthy.
Newt Gingrich completely dismantled the internal institutions that used to provide Congress with objective information and research, both because that information frequently contradicted conservative dogma and because he knew that doing so would force Congress to rely on outside (ideological) organizations for information, which would strengthen the corporate-funded policy shops and think tanks that powered the conservative movement. Now nearly everything Congress “knows” about policy comes directly from self-interested, industry-funded groups. Simultaneously, as Lorelei Kelly recently wrote, congressional staff began shrinking, which means expertise was, once again, outsourced — now, increasingly, lobbyists perform the educational function that well-versed staffers used to.
So: the constituents members of Congress have the most direct contact with, and the ones they see themselves as reliant upon to remain in office, are the ones who have the ability to write massive checks. And the people the members talk to to understand the issues are either think tank ideologues or paid representatives of industry or both.
The result is Congress as it’s been since the second Clinton term: Hundreds of dim bulbs, a couple of brilliant-but-evil guys, and a handful of dedicated and intelligent people who frequently do weird and inexplicable things like “voting for the horrible 2005 bankruptcy bill.”
The annoying thing is that the solutions to these problems are incredible simple: public financing of elections and huge increases in congressional staff budgets. But you might notice that both of those solutions involve spending more money on the government, making them non-starters in our age of bipartisan agreement that government spending is unseemly.
The alternative to constant fundraising by the members is for outside groups to take care of it for them, which is a model conservatives already sort of practice. In their “Behind the Caucus” column on Rep. Tom Cotton, an Arkansas freshman who will vote against raising the debt ceiling because he explicitly wants the United States to default, Politico’s Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei explain that Cotton won his primary because the ultra-conservative Club for Growth simply sent Cotton “a FedEx envelope full of checks that he didn’t ask for.” And that certainly saves some time. Allen and VandeHeil also note that Cotton, and his peers, explain why we are probably about to induce a recession for no reason:
Many in the media — us included — often underestimate just how conservative and how impervious to criticism and leadership browbeating these members are when appraising the chances for change in the next two years.
Hey, Mike and Jim, that’s what we’ve been saying for a while now. We’re screwed, because the people who spent thousands getting Cotton elected are the ones explaining the issues to him and his dumber peers.
- Political Disaster — Members of Congress Expected to Spend 5 Hours a Day Begging for Money (alternet.org)
- Congress is awful because members spend all day long talking to rich people (salon.com)
- 6 Reasons the Fiscal Cliff is a Scam | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- “Dumb And Dumber”: Congress Is Awful Because Members Spend All Day Long Talking To Rich People (bell-book-candle.com)
- “Dumb And Dumber”: Congress Is Awful Because Members Spend All Day Long Talking To Rich People (cadesertvoice.com)
- Tea Party Republicans Flaunted Their Nihilist Extremism During Fiscal Cliff Negotiations | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- CRS – Roles and Duties of a Member of Congress (bespacific.com)
- Life Among the Plutocrats – What Unimaginable Wealth Does to a Person | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
- “Dumb And Dumber”: Congress Is Awful Because Members Spend All Day Long Talking To Rich People (mykeystrokes.com)
- America’s White Male Problem | Alternet (mbcalyn.com)
Meet the Genius Behind the Trillion-Dollar Coin and the Plot to Breach the Debt Ceiling | Wired Business | Wired.com
Meet the Genius Behind the Trillion-Dollar Coin and the Plot to Breach the Debt Ceiling
BY RYAN TATE
Photo: Kurtis Garbutt/Flickr
It was a December 2009 Wall Street Journal article that ultimately inspired the Georgia lawyer known online as “Beowulf” to invent the trillion-dollar coin.
The article, “Miles for Nothing,” detailed how clever travelers were buying commemorative coins from the U.S. Mint via credit cards that award frequent flier miles. The Mint would ship the coins for free and the travelers would deposit them at the bank, pay off their cards, and accumulate free miles.
More than six months later, during a wonky online discussion about the debt ceiling, Beowulf thought of the article and, egged on by fellow monetary-system obsessives, came up with his own clever plan to exploit the powers of the U.S. Mint. His idea to issue a single trillion-dollar coin to the U.S. Treasury, thus letting it avoid borrowing and bypass the debt ceiling, is now much discussed among Washington elites, including at the White House, where a spokesman Wednesday wouldn’t rule out the scheme.
It’s been a remarkable journey. The path of the trillion-dollar coin, as Beowulf described it to Wired, began with a “silly question” in a “pointless … online bull session” in the comments section of financier Warren Mosler’s blog. Anonymous supporters helped spread the concept to the comments of other economics blogs and ultimately into posts on such sites. The idea soon attracted attention from more prominent liberal economists like James Galbraith and Paul Krugman, and then from writers like Matthew Yglesias and Ezra Klein. From there it was a short hop into the center mainstream. NBC’s Chuck Todd hammered a White House spokesman about the coin possibility on Wednesday.
It’s one thing for bloggers to help bring down a senator; it’s quite another to re-engineer all federal spending.
If the president uses such a coin to bypass intransigent Republicans who refuse to raise the debt ceiling, or even if he merely uses the possibility of such as leverage in negotiations, it will underline how ad-hoc online communities, like the anonymous international band of commenters to which Beowulf belonged, are increasingly able to move their ideas from the fringes into the middle of political debate. It’s one thing for bloggers to help bring down a Mississippi senator or to embarrass a presidential frontrunner, as they have in years past; it’s quite another for commenters to re-engineer the funding of the entire federal budget.
Their initial ambitions weren’t nearly so grand, to hear Beowulf tell it. (Though Beowulf’s real name is relatively easy to discover online, he spoke to Wired on the condition that we leave it out of this story.)
“It was really a pointless conversation,” Beowulf says, referring to the discussion that unfolded underneath a post on Mosler’s blog about government debt and the differences between the U.S. and Greek monetary systems. “I think it’s funny something we were chatting about a few years ago is now in the news.”
“It was almost a contingency plan, a silly question… What would happen if the government couldn’t get the debt ceiling raised?”
Ever the lawyer, Beowulf dived into Title 31 of the U.S. Code: “Money and Finance.” That Journalarticle was still rattling around in his head. He was also inspired by ideas from attorney-turned-finance-author Ellen Brown, who in her 2008 book Web of Debt quoted a 1980s-era director of Treasury’s Bureau of Engraving and Printing as saying the government could solve its debt problems by printing large coins. He wasn’t talking about circumventing the debt ceiling, which hadn’t yet become a political football, but he may have been on to something.
A comment thread begun nine days after the original post focused on the relationship between the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury and on whether the Fed can legally help the Treasury circumvent the debt ceiling by, for example, overdrafting its account with the Fed.
But Beowulf added a new wrinkle: Why not seize upon the peculiar power of the U.S. Mint to issue platinum coins at the discretion of the Treasury Secretary, an unanticipated side effect of legislation intended to provide for a miniscule trade in commemorative coins?
Beowulf, a leading contributor to the blog Monetary Realism, explained his thinking to us this way: “If you go through the Federal Reserve, you’re borrowing money. If you go through the Mint, you’re making money.” (He hastens to add that the latter is actually more expensive for the government at the moment, but it does have the virtue of getting around a debt ceiling.)
Some of Beowulf’s buddies on Mosler’s blog, whose prodding had helped him come up with the trillion dollar coin idea in the first place, then fanned out to promote the idea. For example, a commenter who goes by Ramanam – Beowulf believes he’s from India – posted the idea within a week to Bill Mitceh’s “bill blog” on Modern Monetary Theory. Another supporter, management consultant Joe Firestone, alsowrote widely about the coin idea, crediting Beowulf.
“[Joe] and Cullen Roche were out there banging the drum for it,” Beowulf says. “You say it was my idea, [but] it was a group of people – it was really a group thing… It’s fascinating that I can have a bull session with people all over the country.”
After one of Firestone’s blog posts about the coin, Beowulf says, left-leaning economist James K. Galraith messaged Firestone about the idea, and shortly thereafter other prominent liberal economists began discussing the coin.
Interestingly, although the coin has been embraced by liberals as a useful political hack and rejected by Republicans as absurd and dangerous, the man who came up with it voted for Mitt Romney. Beowulf says he would have advised the 2012 Republican presidential candidate to use the same trick had he been elected president.
“We’re not real political,” he says of his circle of online pals, who he likens to players in a fantasy football league, but for the monetary system. “It’s like 4chan says – we’re just in it for the – what is it? LOLs? – lulz, lulz.”
Though, when Beowulf stops laughing, he finds the whole notion absurd. “It’s more a disappointment than anything,” he says. “There’s really no reason for a trillion dollar coin, it’s kind of sad that it’s gone this far.”
It may have started as a game, but Beowulf and his pals are poised to inject an important new tactic into oversight of the government’s monetary institutions.
The coin hack even surprised and impressed former U.S. Mint director Philip Diehl, who co-authored the law that enabled the platinum loophole in the first place.
“When I first heard about the idea to mint a trillion-dollar coin, I was very surprised,” says Diehl. “But because I know that law backwards and forwards, I knew immediately that the guy who came up with the idea was right.
“It’s an ingenious use of the law to avoid a ridiculous and irresponsible situation, in which the country would be driven to default.”
(For more from Diehl, see Why Stealing a $1 Trillion Coin Isn’t Worth the Price of a Getaway Van.)
Clever though it may be, the trillion-dollar coin may not be Beowulf’s last monetary parlor trick. He described to us a borrowing scheme involving the Treasury and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, which could potentially allow ready access to funds totaling “90 percent of infinity.” Congress, you may have met your match.
- Can a $1 trillion coin end debt ceiling crisis? (mbcalyn.com)
- Can We Avert The Coming Debt Ceiling Crisis With A Magic Coin? (mbcalyn.com)
- Judge Napolitano Weighs in on the Trillion Dollar Coin Proposal: ‘It Would Be Economically Catastrophic’ (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Why #MintTheCoin Is A Good Strategy (crooksandliars.com)
- Trillion-dollar coin politically alluring (upi.com)
- The #1 Mistake People Are Making About The Trillion Dollar Platinum Coin (businessinsider.com)
- The story of the $1 trillion coin (mnn.com)
- Refuses to rule out minting $1 trillion coin… (politico.com)
- Trillion dollar coin: The new nuclear option (washingtonpost.com)
- Mint That Coin (managed-futures-blog.attaincapital.com)
Republican Senator Calls For Repeat Of 1995 Government Shutdown: ‘If We Hold Strong We Can Do That Again’ | ThinkProgress
By Scott Keyes on Jan 7, 2013 at 10:43 am
Tea Party-aligned Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), within days of being sworn in, is already calling for a government shutdown unless Congress agrees to massive budget cuts.
During an appearance on Mark Levin’s radio show Friday, Cruz waxed poetic about the last time Republicans successfully shut down the government in 1995, arguing that a shutdown leads to better economic policies. “Because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets,” Cruz said. He went on to call for a repeat as Republicans hold the nation’s fiscal solvency hostage in the debt ceiling fight next month. “If we hold strong we can do that again,” the Texas Senator declared:
CRUZ: What would happen if the debt ceiling isn’t raised is it would be a partial government shutdown. We’ve seen this before, we saw this in 1995, when Republicans in the House shut down the government. What happened was it was a partial shutdown, there was some political cost to be paid but at the end of the day, because Republicans stood strong in 1995, we saw year after year of balanced budgets and some of the most fiscally-responsible policies Congress has produced in the modern-era. If we hold strong we can do that again. It just comes down to Republicans. Are we willing to stand strong and face the wrath of the mainstream media criticizing us and the president saying nasty things about us?
Listen to it:
Were Cruz and his Republican allies to succeed in shutting down the government, the effects would be felt widely. Over 800,000 federal workers would likely be furloughed, Social Security processing could be delayed, newly-eligible Medicare patients wouldn’t be able to obtain benefits, police and public safety officials could be cut, and veterans’ services would be impacted.
In addition, a debt ceiling negotiation itself is costly; last time Republicans held it hostage in 2011, the debacle cost taxpayers $19 billion.
The larger problem, however, is that by not raising the debt ceiling, Congress risks defaulting on the United States’ credit. If Cruz and his allies block a debt ceiling increase, the Treasury won’t be able to pay all its bills. As Matthew Yglesias notes, “The result won’t be a ‘shutdown’ of government functions; it’ll be a deadbeat federal government. Some people won’t get money they’re legally entitled to.” That’s why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) warned in 2011 that not raising the debt ceiling would cause “financial disaster” for the entire “worldwide economy.”
In his first week in Congress, Cruz is already earning a reputation as an unwavering firebrand. As he explained on Fox News Sunday this past weekend, “I don’t think what Washington needs is more compromise.”
- Republican Senator Calls For Repeat Of 1995 Government Shutdown: ‘If We Hold Strong We Can Do That Again’ (thinkprogress.org)
- No Surprise! Republicans Are Already Foolishly Promoting Government Shutdown (newsone.com)
- GOP increasingly ready for government shutdown (washingtontimes.com)
- The Mother of All Government Shutdowns (talkingpointsmemo.com)
- One-on-One with Senator Ted Cruz (kudlowsmoneypolitics.blogspot.com)
- How Obama Can Prevent Another Debt Ceiling Crisis (theatlantic.com)
- ‘Temporary, Partial Government Shutdown’: The New Frank Luntz Debt Ceiling Lie (crooksandliars.com)
- Cruz: Government Shutdown Is on the Table (nationalreview.com)
- The GOP Is Already Threatening A Government Shutdown To Win Spending Cuts (forbes.com)
- The 5 Top Republicans Open to Shutting the Government to Get Their Way. (greatriversofhope.wordpress.com)