The Obama administration got a rare piece of good news today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to…
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Supreme Court Declines Challenge to ObamaCare’s IPAB

The Obama administration got a rare piece of good news today when the U.S. Supreme Court declined to overturn a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision upholding part of ObamaCare.

The case, Coons v. Lew, is an Arizona-based challenge to the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the 15-member group of experts empowered to reduce Medicare spending below a certain threshold.

In declining the plaintiffs’ appeal, the Supremes did not in any way indicate that this case is without merit. Rather, it may have been filed too early. Courts are typically loathe to strike down parts of laws that have yet to go into effect. IPAB won’t be making any decisions until 2019 at the earliest.

As usual, the issue is whether IPAB is constitutional. “Its decisions cannot be overridden…[more]

March 30, 2015 • 07:23 pm

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Leaving the Heavens Behind: What the End of the Space Shuttle Program Means for America’s Future Print
By Troy Senik
Wednesday, July 27 2011
One does not have to be a cosmological romantic, however, to lament the passing of the space shuttle. Indeed, it raises many earthbound concerns, not least in the realm of national security.

“This is the way the world ends – not with a bang but with a whimper” – T.S. Eliot, The Hollow Men
 
What Eliot said of the world we can now say of our quest to journey beyond it. Man’s early endeavors beyond his own atmosphere were nothing if not a series of bangs: the call to arms of the USSR’s Sputnik launch; the redeeming triumph of the American moon landing aboard Apollo 11; the valiant stoicism of the nearly-doomed Apollo 13, and the visceral tragedy of the Challenger disaster.
 
It was, in short, what exploration has always been: bold, dangerous, occasionally impetuous and, more than anything, illuminating – quite literally. After millennia earthbound, man found himself staring at his home planet from a cold and distant satellite for the first time with the moon landing in 1969. Yet just over 40 years later, the country that led the way in one of the greatest breakthroughs in human history left the new age of exploration behind with a whimper.
 
That faint noise issued from the landing pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where the space shuttle Atlantis returned to earth in the early morning hours of July 21, never to touch the heavens again. Atlantis’s voyage to the International Space Station marked the final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program and marked a transition from an era in which the agency set out in search of worlds to explore to one in which it searched for budget line items to eliminate.
 
To be sure, many of the reasons for NASA’s decline were homegrown. Since the space agency was first established in 1958, it has held to the trend of nearly all organs in the federal government: watching its achievements decline while its payroll expanded. And in recent years, America’s manned spaceflight has generated little to inspire interest, let alone wonder.  Voyages to the International Space Station to study the effects of zero gravity on insects may be edifying for those who read the footnotes in journals of entomology, but they’re not the stuff of dreams – especially when an unexplored Mars looms in the distance.
 
One does not have to be a cosmological romantic, however, to lament the passing of the space shuttle. Indeed, it raises many earthbound concerns, not least in the realm of national security. With the shuttle grounded, America will now be dependent on the Russia of Vladimir Putin and Dmitry Medvedev for its cosmic transit. The cost of a ride for American astronauts on the Kremlin’s dilapidated Soyuz spacecraft? $63 million a pop. That’s a hefty price to pay for second-class accommodations from (at best) a fair-weather friend.
 
America’s regression in space also has dire implications when considered in contrast to China’s interstellar adventurism. As the U.S. is mothballing its hardware, China is preparing for the launch of Tiangong I, the first module of its own space station, this fall. If this mission is successful, the Chinese could have a fully operational space station in less than 10 years. 
 
Were Beijing simply joining the U.S. in a quest for greater cosmic understanding, this development would be relatively anodyne. All indications, however, point in the opposite direction. Earlier this year, Gregory Schulte, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Space Policy, referred to China’s military ambitions for space as a “matter of concern” for the U.S. And this diagnosis isn’t strictly prospective. In 2007, China blew up a weather satellite with a ground-based missile, creating so much space junk that the International Space Station had to change its orbit last year to avoid a collision. An America shorn of its capacity for celestial self-determination is certainly incapable of rising to meet challenges such as these.
 
In the end, perhaps we can take comfort from the fact that a small but growing group of entrepreneurs are looking to make space flight into the preserve of the private sector – a group that includes such luminaries as Virgin Galactic founder Sir Richard Branson. These dynamic risk takers create the hope of something bolder than the bureaucratic morass NASA found itself unable to escape in recent years. But on certain issues unresponsive to private sector calculations of profit and loss – protecting America’s national security interests in space, exploring the galaxy for exploration’s sake and scientific understanding – it’s unlikely that they’ll step in to fill the void.
 
In those areas, we still need a governmental role in space. Yet amidst the spending orgy of the Obama Administration, NASA has been virtually the only component of the federal government asked to scale back its mission. And thus did a president who campaigned on promises of transcendence gut the one government agency that has ever offered it. Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Question of the Week   
Congress in 1876 passed “The Turf Protection Law” to protect which one of the following grassy expanses?
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Quote of the Day   
 
"Recent statements from United Nations officials, that Iran is already blocking their existing efforts to keep track of what is going on in their nuclear program, should tell anyone who does not already know it that any agreement with Iran will be utterly worthless in practice. It doesn't matter what the terms of the agreement are, if Iran can cheat. It is amazing -- indeed, staggering -- that so…[more]
 
 
—Thomas Sowell, Economist, Author and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow
— Thomas Sowell, Economist, Author and Hoover Institution Senior Fellow
 
Liberty Poll   

If convicted of charges of desertion and misbehaving before the enemy, what should be the appropriate level of punishment for Army Sergeant Bowe Bergdahl, who spent 5 years in Taliban captivity?