Friday marked the final flight of the space shuttle program with the launch of space shuttle Atlantis. For many, its a bittersweet day, as it may be up to five years before another astronaut launches from US soil, forcing us to rely on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft—and our budget to afford paying them $56 million per seat.
For others, it’s a day for that well known Washington practice, fearmongering:
Human spaceflight is dangerous — and it’s about to get more so, according to former Johnson Space Center director Christopher Kraft, who says NASA is making a mistake by retiring the space shuttle.
Kraft has co-written a letter, endorsed by a number of Apollo-era NASA veterans and astronauts, contending that the international space station will become more hazardous for astronauts without the shuttle’s resources as an emergency backup.
“In a worst-case scenario, deterioration and loss of systems on an abandoned ISS could result in an uncontrolled, catastrophic reentry with risks to populated areas around the world,” the letter states.
It looks like Mitt Romney is trying to appeal to the populist know-nothings that Donald Trump and Tax Hike Mike Huckabee were able to attract by suggesting that the United States should cut off trade with China:
On Tuesday, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney appeared to ratchet up the rhetoric beyond even that one-liner, suggesting that there was a basis for ending U.S. trade relations with China altogether.
“I’m not sure, whether the intellectual property you have is regularly being stolen by competition around the world, but in the case of China, for instance, we’ve sat idly by as they have stolen — year after year — intellectual property: Designs, patents and so forth,” Romney told a crowd member at a Mosiac Technology Business Roundtable in Salem, N.H. “And I don’t see how you can have a trade relationship, on an open basis, with another nation if they’re stealing a large part of what it is you sell.”
Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Ambassador to China, formally announced yesterday that he will seek the Republican nomination for president:
Former Ambassador to China Jon Huntsman (R) launched his presidential campaign Tuesday with the message that he is a post-partisan political leader.
Speaking with the Statue of Liberty and Manhattan skyline as his backdrop in an effort to evoke Ronald Reagan, who held a campaign event from the same spot a generation ago, Huntsman said he would bring to the presidency a focus on substance and not on politics.
“We will conduct this campaign on the high road,” Huntsman said during his speech, calling modern political debate mostly “corrosive.”
The mounting debt and other problems facing the United States are “un-American,” he said. But he wouldn’t extend that line of attack against his former boss, President Obama.
Huntsman said his campaign against the president for whom he’d served as ambassador would boil down to policy, not attacks on patriotism.
“He and I have a difference of opinion on how to help the country we both love,” Huntsman said. “But the question each of us wants the voters to answer is who will be the better president, not who’s the better American.”
Over at Reuters, James Pethokoukis notes that the Chinese, who own around 1/4 of our foreign held debt, are more concerned with us getting our fiscal house in order than they are about Congress raising the debt ceiling:
If you listen to Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and the rest of Obama administration, failure to raise the debt ceiling by Aug. 2 risks “catastrophic economic and market consequences of a default crisis.”
Funny, the Chinese government — holder of $1.1 trillion in U.S. government debt — doesn’t seem to think so. I recently returned from a fact-finding mission to the Middle Kingdom. And my big takeaway is that Beijing isn’t too bothered by the Washington back-and-forth over raising the debt ceiling — provided the result is a long-term budget fix. For that, even a delayed interest payment might be acceptable. But brinkmanship in Congress that only punts the issue, and shirks from meaningful reform, would quickly turn investors in Beijing and elsewhere off.
While it’s hard to find a Republican running for president that hasn’t supported cap-and-trade - although most of them have magically changed positions, Jon Huntsman, the former Governor of Utah and US Ambassador to China, still seems to support the concept, according to comments recently made in an interview with Time:
Cap-and-trade ideas aren’t working; it hasn’t worked, and our economy’s in a different place than five years ago. Much of this discussion happened before the bottom fell out of the economy, and until it comes back, this isn’t the moment.
So, “this isn’t the moment”? I guess we’ll wait until the economy improves to try it? Sorry, that’s not good enough. The proposal that has been put forward is not something to be so passive about. It would could cost American families a lot of money. The Obama Administration estimated that it would cost the average family nearly $2,000 a year; or as CBS noted, the “equivalent of hiking personal income taxes by about 15 percent.” The Heritage Foundation gave a much higher figure in terms of average costs over the long-term; nearly $7,000 by 2035.
Even if the economy improves, would you really consider implementing a policy that is clearly going to make energy more expensive? That is the question that Republican voters should be asking Huntsman.
This probably comes as no surprise now that his reality show is done for the season and his future with the program was threatened, Donald Trump has decided against a presidential campaign - though he wants you to know that he would have been totally awesome:
Real estate mogul and television celebrity Donald Trump, who generated a media publicity blitz by saying he might run for president in 2012, announced Monday that he will instead remain a businessman.
“After considerable deliberation and reflection, I have decided not to pursue the office of the presidency,” Trump said in a statement.
With his typical bravado, Trump maintained that he would have won the Republican primary and the general election, but recognized that “running for public office cannot be done half-heartedly.”
“Ultimately, however, business is my greatest passion and I am not ready to leave the private sector,” Trump said in the statement.
Trump was able to harness a lot of media attention as he went on a one man crusade for President Barack Obama’s birth certificate, though that conspiracy theory had long been debunked. He was hit hard by fiscal conservatives for abuse of private property rights, supporting socialized health care, supporting higher taxes and pushing for a trade war with China.
There is little no doubt, even before he made this announcement, that he was trying to drum up publicty for his reality television show.
Who wins with Trump not running? As someone said on Twitter yesterday; America.
In case you missed it yesterday, Erick Erickson unloaded on Jon Huntsman, former Governor of Utah and Ambassdor to China, for planning a presidential run while serving his boss, Barack Obama:
John Huntman’s disloyalty to the President of the United States, regardless of the President or to which party the President belongs, should not be rewarded by any patriot of this country.
No, it is not his terrible record. It is not his lefty record on the environment. Nor is it Huntsman’s willingness to stand against 70% of Utah’s voters as Governor and come out for civil unions without anyone asking him. Nor is it his buddy-buddiness with Ahnuld and their global warming pact.
And no, it is not because Jon Huntsman’s Presidential bid is largely a creation and fixation of the media and backed by key John McCain advisers. The media, led by McCain’s old advisers, have collectively fawned over Huntsman since the end of the 2008 election.
The reason I will never, ever support Jon Huntman is simple: While serving as the United States Ambassador to China, our greatest strategic adversary, Jon Huntsman began plotting to run against the President of the United States. This calls into question his loyalty not just to the President of the United States, but also his loyalty to his country over his own naked ambition.
The Federal Reserve, which has faced much criticism in recent years over its constant intervention in the nation’s economy, did something it hasn’t done in its 98 year history; it held a press conference. Ben Bernanke defended the Federal Reserve’s actions to reporters and alleviate concerns over inflation:
[Bernanke] mostly retraced familiar ground, and the markets rose only slightly as he spoke, suggesting that investors learned little of consequence, although the three major indexes ended the day strongly. The news was in the spectacle of a Fed chairman addressing public concerns on live television.
The central bank, so careful for so long to cultivate a sense that it was above politics, will now hold regular news conferences just like so many others in Washington, hoping to improve its image and build support for its policies.
Mr. Bernanke’s message Wednesday was that the Fed was doing all it could to spur growth and increase employment without causing inflation to rise. He said that inflation must take precedence over employment because inflation would result in job losses.
“While it is very, very important to help the economy create jobs and help to support the recovery, I think every central banker understands that keeping inflation low is absolutely essential to a successful economy, and we will do what we can to make sure that happens,” he said.
He spoke after the Fed lowered its projections for domestic economic growth in 2011, predicting growth of 3.1 to 3.3 percent. In January, the Fed had predicted growth of 3.4 to 3.9 percent, but Mr. Bernanke said that exports, construction spending and military spending had all been lower than expected.
Another issue that I’ve mentioned several times here is his support for destructive trade policies. As noted yesterday, Trump signed the Americans for Tax Reform’s Taxpayer Protection Pledge. However, he included a caveat that makes his pledge worthless; noting that he would support policies against nations - including China - that have “consistently taken advantage of our great country.” This essentially means Trump wants a trade war despite the history of the damage done by protectionist policies, including a significant role in causing the Great Depression because of the passage of the Smoot-Hawley tariff.
But Trump doesn’t apply his populism consistantly. As was noted yesterday by Justin Elliott at Salon.com, some items in Trump’s clothing line are…[drumroll please]…”Made in China”: