- The Washington Times - Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The unkindest cut

NASA budget cuts were done with a chain saw rather than a scalpel, and with a few hidden costs, some say.

“The space program has a lot to do with American pride, technology and inspiration, and to diminish that seems, well, not the right thing to do. The benefits from this program have come back to us in many ways,” Glynn Lunney, flight director of the Apollo 11 moon mission, tells Inside the Beltway.

“What creates true wealth for a nation in the long run? People can lose track of that. It doesn’t come from the lawyers or the journalists — but engineers? They have consistently contributed to the American portfolio of ideas, which must be replenished or it will shrivel up. We’ll run out of innovations,” Mr. Lunney said.

“The space program has also consistently inspired kids to take up ‘hard’ science, to keep at it, to find meaning in it. Even now, China and India are prepared to stake their own claims on the moon or in space. These are high stakes. Can we really walk away from the space program? Not all the votes are in yet, but it appears that yes, we can walk away from it all. Then you have to ask: Is this worthy of the U.S.?” he said.

Keep bailing

Well, OK. Use a bailout to create another bailout, step back and see what happens.

President Obama has gone to great lengths to assure us that he’s trying really hard to get our money back from that TARP bailout. Nonetheless, traditions must be respected. And since today is a day ending in ‘y,’ it’s time for another bailout,” the Republican Study Committee said in response to the president’s proposal to create a $30 billion Small Business Lending Fund from the big fat Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“If businesses have learned anything about TARP, it’s that where there’s a carrot, there will be sticks. Big sticks with just a hint of a Chicago accent that say, ‘You should strongly consider cooperating with our agenda’,” the Republican group said.

Trials and tribulation

Are there any takers yet for the city of Newburgh, N.Y. — which offered to host the trial of professed Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Shaikh Mohammed as a way to jump-start the local economy?

Well, no.

“I have not heard from any officials,” Newburgh Mayor Nick Valentine tells the Beltway, but he is still hopeful — and still the lone suitor of the trial.

“Let Newburgh have them,” said Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings.

“These criminals should have been tried, convicted and sentenced years ago,” said William Himaras, an alderman in nearby Middletown. “These evil individuals should be tried and convicted swiftly as war criminals during a military tribunal at a United States base off shore.”

Frankly speaking

Behold: Pork barrel royalty. Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) on Tuesday named Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, the “Porker of the Year” by virtue of his “relentless and garrulous role in the failure of the government-sponsored enterprises Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.”

Mr. Frank won the title in an online poll, garnering half of all the votes.

“The seeds of the government sponsored enterprises meltdown were sown by politicians like Barney Frank. He has no intention of giving up federal control over housing finance,” said CAGW President Tom Schatz. “Taxpayers can be certain that he is already cooking up a new and obscenely expensive scheme to permanently nationalize housing finance.”

Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, Texas Republican, placed second. Rep. Maxine Waters, California Democrat, was in third place, with President Obama “the overwhelming favorite in the write-in category.”


Conservatives are positively blog-friendly these days. About 100 of them will descend upon the annual Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) later this month at the hoity-toity Washington Marriott Wardman Park, garnering top-drawer treatment in their own designated “Bloggers Lounge.”

“It is a pretty big deal this year,” said Erick Erickson, editor of Redstate.com, which is sponsoring the lounge. “This is the first year Bloggers Lounge will be located inside the ballroom where the main event happens. Conservatives from across the country will hear people like Marco Rubio and Glenn Beck and bloggers will, for the first time, be in the room with them.”

Interested scribes should send an e-mail to [email protected]

Bumper patrol

“Obamacare: Bend Over and Cough.”

Bumper sticker spotted by Beltway reader Chuck Dunlap in Falls Church, Va.

Stupid chic

Uh-oh, it’s “next big thing” time. Look for a massive new advertising blitz from Diesel jeans that urges the nation to “Be Stupid.” Stupid is the new smart, Diesel claims. “It’s about having guts to risk, to take on the new and inventive, however dangerous.”

The company advises, “Stupid is the relentless pursuit of a regret-free life. Smart critiques, stupid creates. Smart may have the brains, but stupid has the [nerve]. Smart may have the plans, but stupid has the stories. … The stupid aren’t afraid to fail. The stupid know there are worse things than failure, like not even trying.”

Could there be some “tea party” instincts mixed up in this somewhere, or that hard-wired American maverick instinct? Maybe. Some political strategist is bound to co-opt the “stupid” idea and create a “stupid bloc” of voters, who are fed up with politics as usual. Stay tuned. Diesel will have none of it, however.

“Unfortunately, we don’t comment on politics in any realm,” said spokeswoman Erin Hawker.

Poll du jour

• 49 percent of Americans overall oppose health care reform legislation.

• 85 percent of Republicans and 16 percent of Democrats oppose it.

• 76 percent of Americans support simplified administration of health insurance.

• 67 percent agree that coverage of illegal immigrants should be prevented.

• 54 percent support a “public option,” or a government-run plan, as a choice for the uninsured.

• 25 percent support a requirement that says all Americans who do not have insurance pay a penalty.

Source: Harris Poll of 2,576 adults conducted Jan. 18 to 25.

Choruses, monotones, arias to [email protected]

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