Howdy All, a few Interesting Items for your information. Enjoy –
In this issue:
1. Dragon. In the best news of the week, the SpaceX Demo2 Dragon capsule returned back to earth last Sunday. This was the first manned commercial flight and the first water landing by an American spacecraft since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project in 1975. The landing took place on a beautiful day off Pensacola.
The capsule is reusable and currently designed for 5-10 flights before being retired. It is important to note that this capsule is essentially a Block 2 design, something that was improved with lessons learned following the first several unmanned commercial Dragon capsules. Block improvements is a common iterative incremental way to upgrade aerospace systems and has worked well in the aircraft world (commercial and military) for decades. It was something that was not done to Shuttle, eventually leading to its demise. Dragon Block 2 will not be the last design. There will be more. SpaceX is on track to start providing commercial service to passengers, likely in the next year or two. The current design can hold four people and travel to and from ISS. There has been some discussion about a manned, commercial circum-lunar flight in late 2022. I would not discount this possibility out of hand.
Media questions in the post-flight press conference first focused on the fleet of private boats surrounding splashdown site and recovery. They were outside the splashdown area until the landing, at which they made a beeline to the recovery where they maintained a respectful distance. Like I said earlier, it was a beautiful day.
2. NRA. In one of the more interesting lawfare gambits this election season, the NY Attorney General announced a lawsuit against the NRA last week, accusing its leadership of diverting millions for lavish personal trips, no-show contracts, and other questionable expenditures. The requested remedy is dissolution of the organization which is based in NY. Dissolution would allow NY to garnish the NRA’s funds and transfer those funds to groups and organizations of their own choosing, most likely to anti-gun groups. Nice little game, that. The NRA responded with a lawsuit of their own, accusing NY Governor Cuomo of violating their first amendment rights as he attacked their insurance product, sending the entire mess to court. Should this work, I would expect this sort of thing from all the blue state attorneys general in the not so distant future, as they use the power of their offices to bludgeon unpopular (with them) conservative organizations into oblivion or compliance, not unlike what they have done to corporate America. They should be careful what they with for, as this sort of game can go both ways, with red state attorneys general using the same techniques to remove left wing orgs (ACLU, Tides Foundation, anything Soros-related, Planned Parenthood, etc) from the political battlefield. I don’t think they are going to enjoy playing under their new rules.
3. ANC. I wrote last week about Anchorage Mayor Berkowitz’ second lockdown. It has not been a good week for our Boy Mayor, with multiple restaurants refusing to close their doors. Most prominent of these has been Kriner’s Diner, whose refusal to play along has the Mayor going nuts. He has used his code enforcement people to cite the establishments with various code violations and closure orders, all of which have bene ignored. He went to state court last week and got an order in support of his closure order. Both were ignored the Battle of Kriner’s Diner. He has threatened to have the Muni Electric Utility shut down power to the restaurant. Apparently, there is a generator lined up. All this civil disobedience and pushback led the Mayor to a bizarre press conference bewailing lack of compliance at week’s end. He now wants to go back to state court and get a contempt ruling and a $15,000/day fine imposed. Here’s where it gets fun. As long as all this was happening at the local level, there was nothing that Governor Dunleavy was able to do. Now that he is attempting to use the state courts to sanction and fine the diner, he has opened the door for the Governor to commute any sentence or penalty levied. There is little love lost between the state courts and the governor, so this will be pretty easy to do should his staff decide it is the right path to travel. One other thing that these festivities will put into play will be a state constitutional convention. We here in AK make a decision every 10 years to hold one. Haven’t done one since statehood, though a first attempt a decade after statehood was shot down in state court after the first vote was challenged. A court-ordered second vote came up well short. Our next opportunity comes in 2022. Now that the leftist state courts system have become actively hostile to a large segment of the population of Alaska and chosen sides in the political wars, perhaps it is time to turn these black-robed politicians into actual politicians and force them to run for office. We could even term-limit them. Only way to make that change is via a convention, which becomes a bit more likely every single day this goes on.
4. Quiet. A Cato poll on self-censorship found that nearly two-thirds of Americans, 62% self-censor, saying that the political climate these days prevents them from expressing their political views in public. This is up from 58% in 2017. The fears cross party lines with 52% of democrats, 59% of independents, and 77% of Republicans holding this view. The only group of those surveyed who feel comfortable expressing their political views are strong liberals at 58%. 52% of centrist liberals feel they must self-censor, as do 64% of moderates and 77% of conservatives. The opinion that you cannot share your political views in public has grown in all groups surveyed. These views cross racial lines also, with 65% of Latinos being afraid to share their political views, 64% of whites and 49% of blacks. Similar breakdowns also hold for people with different income ranges. So much for the First Amendment. It is the future the left has for all of us.
5. Pebble. The proposed Pebble Mine north of Lake Iliamna finally got their requested Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) from the Army Corps of Engineers. This allows them to proceed to the next step of permitting. This is great news for resource development here in Alaska and not so good news for the greens who have been fundraising in opposition to the mine since 2001 when Northern Dynasty purchased rights to the Pebble West prospect in 2001. The mine was originally proposed as a massive copper and gold mine. It also will target rare earths that are also present in the mining district. The district itself exists on State of Alaska lands north of Lake Iliamna, so the feds need to be somewhat more creative than normal to shut it down. This watershed lies in the northern part of the Bristol Bay watershed, home of the most productive salmon returns in the state. It is also home to multiple rivers used by sports fishermen, lodge owners, and guided fishing, all of whom are in vociferous NIMBY mode. It is that location that has been the heart of anti-Pebble opposition, mostly based on the notion that any mine will kill all fish in the region instantly and for all time, something patently fraudulent with a region that hosts a line of volcanic calderas all of which popped following the end of the last ice age. Any one of those multiple eruptions ejected cubic miles of material in a matter of days blanketing the entire state in some instances, and the fish seem to have done ok afterwards. Following the announcement, Donald Trump Jr Tweeted that he opposes the mine. Trump Jr is pretty good at persuasion also and he is a big game hunter, so he is familiar with Alaska. While I haven’t seen any follow-up, I expect this is pacing from a persuasion standpoint. When this mine gets done, I do expect it to get done correctly if for no other reason than to prove it can be done safely, with due consideration of taking care of the wildlife in the region. All in all, this is very good news and progress, however delayed. For his part, Biden announced he would shut down Pebble should he be elected president.
6. MD. Interesting food fight shaping up around reopening public schools in Maryland between a very liberal Republican governor Larry Hogan and health officials of Montgomery County. Last week, the top health official decreed that ALL schools (including private and parochial schools) in Montgomery County be shuttered from attendance until at least Oct 1. Hogan sharply rebuked the county and invalidated the county directive, ordering that the decision to open school systems and private schools belongs exclusively with those entities. This didn’t go over all that well with the county or educrats, working furiously to ensure working mothers had to spend another 6 weeks at home homeschooling. Initial response was to go ahead with the ordered closing of all schools anyway. This was reversed on Aug 7. Isn’t it amazing that the public schools, teachers’ unions and educrats have used the current festivities as a vehicle to shut down all competition for their services? And in doing so, they are busily building a bulletproof case for vouchers in public education. You would think they are smart enough to know what they are doing to themselves. Apparently not, which works for me.
7. Fauci. At long last, Dr Anthony Fauci is starting to come under some very well earned and richly deserved criticism for his adamant refusal to recommend or even consider use of the HCQ cocktail in the treatment of the Wuhan Flu. First was a piece in John Solomon’s Just the News accusing Fauci of running a misinformation campaign against HCQ. This piece reprised Yale epidemiologist Dr Harvey Risch piece a couple weeks ago. The writer, Daniel Payne reported the growing criticism of Fauci by Risch, who’s piece in Newsweek a week ago called the HCQ cocktail the key to defeating COVID-19. Fauci has been demanding a randomized controlled trial and calling everything else without value. Worse, Fauci and the CDC’s recommendations for use of the cocktail withholds any treatment until the patient is short of breath and hospitalized. This is in direct conflict with the recommended, most effective use, starting immediately on an outpatient basis for high risk people whenever they come up with a positive test. In doing this, Fauci and the CDC have undermined the effectiveness of this treatment and doomed tens of thousands of Americans to extended hospital stays, weeks long quarantines and death, as the later you wait, the less effective the cocktail is. For the record, it is not the infection that kills you. Rather it is the body’s immune system response to the infection. The cocktail tends to suppress that response a bit, opening the virus for attack, which the zinc finishes off. Why is he doing this? Unknown, though there have been at least a couple wild rumors over the last several months, the most recent one was that Fauci has some ownership of a vaccine patent. I haven’t seen any verification for that as yet. Perhaps the best explanation is that Fauci is simply a swamp creature, someone who has worked in the highly politicized Washington DC swamps for nearly 52 years, with little experience in the private sector. When you spend most of your life in the swamp doing essentially the same job, you tend to adopt that worldview. I expect Trump to remove him from government service shortly after the election whether or not he is reelected.
More later –