Since the last space shuttle flight two-and-a-half years ago, our only means of getting NASA astronauts or anyone to the ISS has been on the Soyuz launch system, at an ever-rising cost, now over $70M a seat as of last August. Alternate competing U.S. means to replace it are under development in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, but Congress has been continually underfunding the effort in order to instead funnel money to the Space Launch System, a giant rocket with no funded payloads and no apparent mission other than providing job security in the states and districts of those on the congressional space committees.
It’s not really very “maverick” to go along with everyone else, John. Also, please watch out for power lines when flying low.
Elder Sen. John McCain, who this week engaged in friendly fire when he launched his “maverick” missiles at fellow Republicans seeking clarification on the administration’s drone policies, has upped the ante, deriding Tea Party-backed GOP lawmakers as “wacko birds.”
McCain, who hit the Senate floor Thursday to belittle Sen. Rand Paul’s filibuster, which succeeded in getting an answer from President Obama that drones won’t be used to kill Americans on U.S. soil, even suggested that the Kentucky senator and his allies, like Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, don’t represent the GOP mainstream.
“It’s always the wacko birds on right and left that get the media megaphone,” McCain told Huffington Post’s Jon Ward in a story titled “John McCain: Getting Back To Maverick, With An Eye On Retirement.”
Ted Cruz talks about why he doesn’t trust Hagel as SecDef:
On Iran, Hagel voted against economic sanctions in 2001, 2007, and 2008. Today, he says he supports sanctions.
In 2007, Hagel voted against designating the Iranian Revolutionary Guard — which was then actively providing explosively formed projectiles to kill U.S. servicemen in Iraq — as a terrorist group. Today, he agrees that they are terrorists.
In 2006, he said, “a military strike against Iran, a military option, is not a viable, feasible, responsible option.” Likewise, in 2010, Hagel told the Atlantic Council that he was “not so sure it is necessary to continue to say all options are on the table” regarding Iran’s nuclear program. Today, he says all options (including military force) should be on the table.
On Hamas, in 2005, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 70 senators (including Senators Clinton and Kerry) who signed a letter to President Bush urging that the Palestinians demand that Hamas reject terrorism before participating in the democratic process. Today, he says Hamas must renounce terrorism.
On Hezbollah, in 2006, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 88 senators (including Senators Biden, Clinton, Kerry, and Obama) urging the European Union to designate Hezbollah a terrorist organization. Today, he says Hezbollah is, in fact, a terrorist organization.
And on Israel, no senator in recent times has demonstrated as much consistent antagonism as has Hagel. In 1998, he said that the U.S. had “tilted too far towards Israel in the Middle East peace process.”
In 2000, he declined to join a bi-partisan group of 96 senators (including Senators Biden and Kerry) urging President Clinton to express “American solidarity with Israel at this crucial moment, to condemn the Palestinian campaign of violence.”
In 2006, on the floor of the Senate, he accused Israel of carrying out a “sickening slaughter” in Lebanon (and charged Lebanon with doing the same).
Also in 2006 he said “the Jewish Lobby intimidates a lot of people up here,” and he boasted about his ability to resist their views.
Today, he says he will strongly support Israel.
I am not feeling much sympathy for them.
The Senate is often called the “millionaires’ club,” but some of its members would feel the pain if a blown budget deadline costs them their paychecks.
Provisions in the “No Budget, No Pay” debt ceiling bill that is headed to the Senate floor would impound senators’ salaries if the upper chamber doesn’t approve a budget by April 15.
For most of the upper chamber, the loss of the $174,000 annual salary would be no hardship. Many senators are millionaires many times over, having earned substantial fortunes outside of politics.
But for a small group of senators whose net worth is measured in thousands instead of millions, the passage of “No Budget, No Pay” would put their very livelihoods at risk.
“We’re not all millionaires,” Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) told The Hill. “When I splurge, it’s on a Ravens t-shirt.”
“As much as I love my job and my constituents, I have bills to pay,” said Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).
“As a non-millionaire senator, I am certainly in a different spot that someone who is independently wealthy,” Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said.
The provisions in the bill specify that if the Senate does not pass a budget resolution, pay will be withheld until Jan. 3, 2015, when the 113th Congress ends.