A new focus for NASA?
Mitch Daniels, former governor and current Purdue University president, will have a new task soon – co-chairing the Committee on Human Spaceflight. Good. Purdue has a long history with spaceflight that includes 21 graduates who have flown into space, so perhaps he’s the one to help NASA get its focus and energy back.
The committee, an offshoot of the National Research Council, is to study the long-term goals, capabilities and direction of the spaceflight program, including missions beyond low Earth orbit, and recommend how to make its mission sustainable.
In the beginning, NASA was one of the greatest points of national pride. Spurred on by a desire to beat the Soviet Union into space, the agency was driven and single-minded. It had but one goal – to get a man on the moon – and threw everything it had into it.
The sequester won't kill us
The near-hysteria over the phony sequestration crisis has, alas, reached into Indiana. The “severe” $85 billion in “cuts” will have a disastrous effect here, the White House warns, and Hoosier media outlets dutifully report the details: furloughs for 11,000 civilian Department of Defense employees, reducing gross pay by $64.4 million; a loss of $13.8 million for primary and secondary education and $12.4 million more for education for children with disabilities; $.3.3 million for environmental funding. And on and on, right down to the loss of $138,000 for services to victims of domestic violence. No clear air or water for us, and forget about battered spouses!
If this were even true, it would be mean a couple of bad things – one, that the government is far too involved in our lives and, two, that it is incompetent to do much of anything.
Free speech is under fire
Can you believe that in this day and age, someone could be jailed just for something he wrote? But that has happened in this state, and unless the Indiana Supreme Court agrees to take up the case of Daniel Brewington, the right of free expression will be so weak here that it is likely to happen again and again.
Brewington was outraged by a southeast Indiana judge’s handling of his divorce case, so he began posting about the case on his blog, hundreds of rants calling the judge’s actions unethical and illegal. His words were so strong that authorities decided he had crossed the line from free speech to criminal behavior. He was convicted in 2011 of intimidation of a judge, attempted obstruction of justice and perjury. He is in jail to this day, and the Indiana Court of Appeals last month upheld the most serious of his convictions.
Drug tests for some on welfare?
The Indiana House has passed a measure that would require some welfare recipients to pass a drug test as a condition of receiving benefits. What you think about that idea depends on what you think about welfare in the first place.
If you think welfare is an entitlement, then the testing is just meant to stigmatize the poor. There is little evidence the poor are any more likely than anyone else to take drugs, and the history of such programs suggests they are expensive but don’t really solve any problem.
But if you think welfare is a privilege, there is nothing wrong with maintaining strict rules for those being granted the privilege. Trying to keep public money from being used to finance drug habits is just plain common sense.
A handful of states already have such an approach on the books.
Long shot to balance power?
Once again a “conservative” proposes a bold new idea and members of the “progressive left” fiercely resist the threat to the status quo.
The dangerous radical is Indiana Senate President Pro Tem David Long, whose resolution calling for a national constitutional convention passed the Senate 32-18. If the Indiana House and 33 other state legislatures approve it, a convention would be called to define limits on the commerce and taxing powers of Congress.
But we’ve never done that before! Who knows what could happen? “The idea of a runaway convention is real,” warns Senate Democratic leader Tim Lanane. A liberal editorial page adds: “Rewriting the Constitution because someone does not like a particular law, a particular court decision or the outcome of an election is a dangerous step and an even more dangerous precedent.”