Curmudgeons Corner

Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.

Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

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Sunday, September 25, 2016
If Hillary Clinton loses the Democrats could face a generation in the wilderness

With a Hillary Clinton defeat beginning to appear at least conceivable, and some think even likely, the incomparable Michael Barone looks into his crystal ball and delves into the possible effects on the Democratic Party. To put it succinctly, the Democrats can look forward to a generation in the wilderness, ruling over only the West Coast, the Northeast, and a few enclaves in what they contemptuously call “flyover country.” The Democrats will have accepted the far left agenda of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, both too elderly to become candidates in 2020, and will have been repudiated. Moreover, no Democrat seems to be positioned to become the next generation of a national candidate.

Texas Democrats are thinking of running Wendy Davis against Ted Cruz

While Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-#Texas is mulling the Catch 22 situation he finds himself in by having been hated for not endorsing Donald Trump and then being hated for endorsing Trump, Democrats, sensing some vulnerability, are casting about for a candidate to run against him in 2018. The Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that some have fixed their gaze entirely on #Wendy Davis, the former Texas state senator who ran for governor in 2014 and was handed an epic thumping by the current Gov. Greg Abbott.

Saturday, September 24, 2016
Rick Perry survives for yet another week on 'Dancing with the Stars'

Former Texas Governor and twice presidential candidate #Rick Perry may not be the oddest contestant to appear on “Dancing with the Stars” but he has certainly failed to impress the judges thus far. Twice in as many weeks he has turned in subpart dance performances, the latest to the tune the theme from Green Acres, as CBS News noted. However, voters at home urged on by Perry’s fellow Texas politicians such as Sen. Ted Cruz, have saved him from elimination thus far. One suspects that the folks back home will continue to keep Perry in the running whether he improves his dance step or not.

Scene in 'Transformers' film depicting Churchill birthplace with Nazi flags causes outrage

For some reason, a fifth Transformers movie is being produced. The studio has not offered any word about plot details about the latest big budget epic about giant robots fighting each other while humans run for cover. However, one photo published in the British tabloid The Sun shows Blenheim Palace, where Winston Churchill was born, decorated with Nazi flags with German military vehicles parked outside. The photo has caused outrage in certain quarters, which some suggesting that the transformation of a British icon into a Nazi military headquarters shows disrespect to the dead Churchill, the man who saved Great Britain and the world from Adolf Hitler’s tyranny.

Ted Cruz endorsement of Donald Trump causes a mixed reaction

As widely reported, Sen #Ted Cruz, R-Texas officially endorsed Donald Trump for president, stating his reasons in a Facebook post. Essentially, Trump is the only person who stands between the United States and the horrors of a Hillary Clinton presidency, so Cruz has decided to support his erstwhile political foe. While Trump himself was gracious in his reaction, the same cannot be said for some in the media and social media.

Friday, September 23, 2016
More of my wisdom via Foreign Policy Journal Was NASA’s Charles Bolden right all along about Muslim outreach?

Report: Ted Cruz to endorse Donald Trump

According to the Washington Times, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas has decided to endorse Donald Trump, a move that could happen as early as Monday, Sept 26. The development that broke the ice between the two men was Trump’s support of Cruz’s effort to derail President Barack Obama’s plan to hand over control of the Internet to an international group. Cruz contends that the move would give authoritarian regimes such as Russia, China, and Iran undue influence over the Internet. A number of supporters of the move, including many tech companies, dispute this assertion.

Team Donald Trump using psychological analyses to beat Hillary Clinton during the debate

Classic debate prep consists of boning up on the various issues that are likely to come up during the event, stuffing the debater’s head full of facts and figures. But political debates are more performance combat than anything else. Toward that end, Team Trump is conducting a sophisticated analysis of Hillary Clinton’s debates dating back to her first 2000 Senate race with the idea of ferreting out weaknesses, Politico notes. Team Hillary, for its part, will also use psychological techniques to throw Donald Trump off his game with the idea of provoking him into misbehaving and saying something alarming.

Sequel to 'Magnum PI' featuring the daughter of the original Tom Selleck character

“Magnum PI” was one of the great action series of the 1980s, starring Tom Selleck as a former Navy SEAL who used his skills developed in the Vietnam War to fight crime and international espionage in Hawaii. Of course, no successful show ever made has not been considered for a remake, reboot, big screen version, or reimagining. Deadline Hollywood reports that this is the case for “Magnum PI.” The twist is that the proposed new series will feature Magnum’s daughter, Lily “Tommy” Magnum, a character established in the original series.

Hillary Clinton screams 'why aren’t I 50 points ahead you might ask?'

Hillary Clinton raised some eyebrows recently when she was addressing the Laborers International Union of North America meeting in Las Vegas via conference call, according to the Daily Caller. While inveighing against Donald Trump’s support for right to work laws, she demanded, in an alarming, screaming tone of voice, “Now, having said all of this, why aren’t I 50 points ahead you might ask?” The video is below.

Thursday, September 22, 2016
Why Hillary Clinton has embraced nuclear energy

A lot of people are focused on Hillary Clinton’s various prevarications and the state of her health to the detriment of examining some of her more nuanced stands on the issues. The sharp-eyed Robert Bryce at National Review noticed that Clinton, in response to a questionnaire on various science and technology issues, has come out for nuclear power. In so doing she has defied the environmental orthodoxy that has adhered for the past 40 years. And yet, given her acceptance of the global warming gospel, her position was all but inevitable.


Why the rioting in Charlotte may elect Donald Trump president

#Charlotte, North Carolina has become the latest American city to devolve into chaos because of a high-profile police shooting of an African-American. Because of an initial narrative of the man holding a book, mobs took to the streets, attacking bystanders (and each other), looting stores, and battling with the police. The National Guard has been turned out to restore order. Ironically, as a video has proven, the man came at police officers with a gun and thus gave them no choice. The cop was not a white racist, but also an African American. But the truth no longer mattered.

Kiefer Sutherland's 'Designated Survivor' flirts with liberal cliches

‘Designated Survivor’ is the latest series depicting machinations in Washington D.C. against an increasingly chaotic world. The hook of the series is that the Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Tom Kirkman played by Kiefer Sutherland, finds himself president of the United States after the Capitol Building explodes, taking out the president, most of the cabinet, Congress, and much of the rest of the government in the worst terrorist attack since 9/11. Unfortunately, the pilot episode flirts with the hoariest cliché of them all, a crazy, right-wing general who wants to start blowing things and people up without discrimination before all the facts are known.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Elizabeth Warren asserts veto power over Hillary Clinton's presidential appointments

Sen Elizabeth Warren. D-Mass., presents herself as Hillary Clinton’s warmest supporter. But, as the Nation reported, she has also served her favorite candidate notice that she will not allow her to appoint any of her Wall Street backers to high-level government positions, especially the cabinet. In effect, Warren is claiming veto power on Clinton’s appointments even before the candidate is elected president.

Is Ted Cruz about to endorse Donald Trump?

Is Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas about to endorse Donald Trump? Hot Air is reporting that Jeff Roe, Cruz’s old campaign manager, thinks so and that the senator thinks about it every day. Cruz, it is reported, is impressed at how Trump has managed to get control of himself, maintain campaign discipline, and thus catch up with Hillary Clinton in the polls. Of course, Roe may not know any such thing and he is trying to push his old boss in that direction.

Last night's Space Show appearance is now archived for the ages.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016
For those readers who intend to listen to my wisdom on "The Space Show" podcast with Dr. David Livingston, here follows a reading list that will cover some of the topics that will be discussed.

Space articles in The Hill Newspaper

Space articles in Forbes

A Giant Lunar Leap For Private Enterprise - The Wall Street Journal

Sell the space station, explore Mars - USA Today

Chinese mulling a radar station on the moon to observe the Earth

More ways that Moon Express could make money in the short term

Nanoracks being paid by NASA to study making space habitats out of fuel tanks

Russians claim that eight people are interested in a private voyage around the moon

Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump should reveal their plans for NASA

Is the signal from HD 164595 from a natural source or is it from ET?

Report: NASA scientists to publish an EM drive paper in a peer reviewed journal

SpaceX Falcon 9 destroyed during static pad test (Video)

The HD 164595 signal turns out not be aliens or even from space

NASA's Dawn discovers ice volcano on dwarf planet Ceres

First space test of the 'impossible' propellantless Cannae Drive announced

NASA's Juno probe gets a first look at Jupiter's north and south poles

NASA OIG report suggests delays of commercial crew vehicles

Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo makes first flight in almost two years

NASA sends to OSIRIS-REx probe to the asteroid Bennu

Portions of 'Hidden Figures' screened at the Toronto Film Festival

Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos announces the orbital launch vehicle New Glenn

Could a NASA return to the moon provide unity to a divided United States?

A three pronged approach to cheap access to space proposed

Is Blue Origin's Jeff Bezos planning a return to the moon?

Hillary Clinton says that she supports NASA's Journey to Mars

Does it matter what NASA's Charles Bolden thinks of the Falcon Heavy and the New Glenn?

SpaceX president expresses confidence that Falcon 9 can return to flight in November

Ted Cruz proposes new NASA bill to ensure continuance of programs in the next presidency

What if NASA and SpaceX were to merge their Mars efforts?

China launches the Tiangong-2 space station module into Earth orbit

SpaceX's Elon Musk is already setting his sights beyond Mars

Milo Yiannopoulos goes to the University of Houston to make trouble

Proving that the University of Houston, the author’s alma mater, has not quite been taken over by the sorts of social justice warriors who oppressed student government vice president Rohini Sethi, Breitbart News’ Milo Yiannopoulos was allowed to speak on campus with only one serious disruption. The said disturbance is in the video below and, trigger warning, at least one use of bad language and is therefore not safe for work.

Student team at Cornell creating a CubeSat with water as propellant to orbit the moon

A team of students at Cornell University is creating a #CubeSat, a tiny satellite no bigger than a breadbox, that it hopes to fly in orbit around the moon as part of a NASA-sponsored competition, according to #moon Daily. The innovative part of the Cornell Cubesat is that it will carry water as propellant. Water, which covers most of the Earth’s surface, is one of the more common substances in space. The moon is filled with deposits of water ice in permanently shadowed craters. Individual asteroids and comets contain water as well. The idea is that eventually spacecraft will top off from water supplies found in celestial bodies and thus can continue, in theory, indefinitely.

Hillary Clinton accuses Donald Trump of Treason

The level of hysteria coming from Team Hillary about Donald Trump has reached heights rarely seen in a presidential contest. According to the Associated Press, Hillary Clinton stood on the tarmac in front of her campaign plane and accused Trump of giving “aid and comfort” to ISIS by providing an incentive for the terrorist army to make more recruits. He has done this, she asserted, with his “anti-Muslim” rhetoric.

Monday, September 19, 2016
Hillary Clinton supporters are already making excuses for her election defeat

#Election 2016 is just around a month and a half away but some Hillary Clinton supporters are already starting to make excuses for her increasingly likely defeat. Toward that goal, Rebecca Onion wrote a recent piece in Slate entitled “America Has Always Seen Ambitious Women as Unhealthy.” The theory is that Americans are rejecting Clinton because they think her relentless drive for the Oval Office is making her sick. The problem is that the author has had to reach back to the Edwardian age to find examples of ambitious women being demonized as being less than healthy. She offers no explanation as to why very healthy and determined women on the right – Carly Fiorina and Sarah Palin come to mind – were smeared by people on the left.

SpaceX's Elon Musk is already setting his sights beyond Mars

#SpaceX’s Elon Musk intends to open his mind further about his plans to colonize Mars, which included starting robotic probes by 2018 and a crewed expedition as early as 2025, at a conference in Mexico late in September. But the sharp-eyed Eric Berger at Ars Technica has noticed a series of tweets from the commercial space tycoon that suggest that his ambitions are already expanding beyond #Mars.

The top Emmy winners, 'Game of Thrones' and 'Veep,' are shows about politics

The prime time Emmys were handed out the night of September 18. Two shows about cut throne politics (one using the term literally) won the top honors according to the Washington Times. “Game of Thrones” the epic fantasy series airing on HBO won the award for best drama. “#veep” the series depicting a Hillary Clinton-like politician who starts as vice president but spent the last season as an unlikely president won the Emmy for best comedy series. Of course, all seemed appropriate in an election year.

Sunday, September 18, 2016
President Barack Obama rages against black voters turning to Donald Trump

President Barack Obama’s supporters used to present their man as a cerebral man, a kind of “President Spock,” calling him “No Drama #Obama.” People who think calling a leader Spock is a complement never watched “Star Trek.” In any case, the man who will shortly become a private citizen is capable of boiling, white hot rage, as he demonstrated at a speech before the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation dinner in Washington according to Politico. He said, among other things, that if African American turnout declines for Hillary Clinton, he would regard it as “a personal insult, an insult to my legacy.”

Bombings in Chelsea and New Jersey likely to benefit Donald Trump

As of this writing, no one knows whether the dumpster bomb in the Manhattan neighborhood of Chelsea, the nearby possible pressure cooker bomb, or the pipe bomb set at a Marine charity run in New Jersey are terrorist acts. However, the three possibly related events are likely to redound to the political benefit of Donald Trump, if for nothing else for reminding people how dangerous the world has gotten under President Obama and how much more dangerous it is likely to get under Hillary Clinton should she become president.

'Barry,' a second film about the young Barack Obama, finds a distributor

The announcement that “#Barry,” the second independent film with the young Barack #Obama as the central character, has found a distributor has proven that even though the president has demonstrably failed to repair the American economy, he has created a new cottage industry in small budget #Movies. “Barry” finds the president to be in his first year at Columbia University struggling with issues of his racial identity and wondering how he fits in the vast scheme of things. Ashley Judd plays his mother, Stanley Ann Dunham, who was more interested in her anthropology research than being a mother to her son. Newcomer Devon Terrell plays young Obama. Vikram Gandhi directed.

Dreams of Barry's Stepfather

Saturday, September 17, 2016
Now reading Marching With Caesar: Birth of the 10th Legion. It's the origin story of Titus Pullo, played with such zest by Ray Stevenson in the Rome: The Complete Series HBO miniseries.

Why Oliver Stone's 'Snowden' is failing at the box office

Oliver Stone’s latest movie, “#Snowden,” about the NSA analyst and traitor Edward Snowden, is not doing very well at the box office, opening far below more entertaining and uplifting fare such as “Sully.” A piece in the National Review, which deconstructs his image as a public-spirited whistleblower and suggests that he damaged national security by handing over secrets to Russia would suggest why. Most filmgoers get it and do not care to watch #Movies about creeps.

China launches the Tiangong-2 space station module into Earth orbit

The Chinese have just launched their #Space station module #Tiangong-2 into Earth orbit with a crew to follow shortly on board the Shenzhou spacecraft, according to AFP. But already #china is looking ahead to its larger space station, scheduled to begin construction in 2017 and enter service in 2022. The Chinese intend to send crews up to the future space station, which will consist of a large, central module and two attached lab modules, for stays of over a year. They will conduct experiments in a wide variety of scientific specialties including bio-medicine and physics.

Donald Trump suggests he will reverse course on normalizing relations with Cuba

Clearly aiming at the Cuban-American vote in Florida, Donald Trump told a rally in Miami that as president he would suspend the normalization of relations with #cuba unless the Castro brothers meet certain conditions. Those conditions would be to grant the Cuban people certain religious and political freedoms that the rulers of that island nation have denied them for decades, according to the Washington Examiner.

Friday, September 16, 2016
Donald Trump fools media into covering campaign infomercial with birther announcement

As the Daily Caller noted, Donald Trump pulled one over on the media. He announced that he would appear in the presidential ballroom of the Trump International Hotel in Washington and address the so-called #birther issue. Trump once had lots of fun with the idea that President Barack Obama was actually born in Kenya and not Hawaii. Naturally, the media was very interested because a major presidential candidate trafficking in conspiracy theories is always something fun to cover.

Ted Cruz proposes new NASA bill to ensure continuance of programs in the next presidency

A bipartisan group of United States senators, led by Sen. #Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has introduced the #NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2016. The other cosponsors of the bill include Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, Sen. Gary Peters, D-Mich., Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M. The act seeks to codify continuity of NASA programs, heading off the sort of disruptive changes by the next president such as the one perpetrated by President Barack Obama when he canceled the Constellation #Space exploration program without consulting Congress.

What if NASA and SpaceX were to merge their Mars efforts?

According to Inverse, William Gerstenmaier, #NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration and operations, was posed an unusual question at a recent panel discussion at the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics’s annual Explore SPACE Forum. What will NASA do if Elon Musk’s #SpaceX beats the space agency to #Mars?

Donald Trump appears on 'The Tonight show with Jimmy Fallon'

Ever since then-candidate Bill Clinton appeared on “The Arsenio Hall” show and played the saxophone, late night has been a must-go stop for presidential candidates. Late night hosts, except for some of the edgier ones like Jon Stewart, tend to be friendlier to even controversial politicians than people on the cable news networks. Such was the case when Donald Trump appeared on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. Allowing the host to mess up his orange hair, thus proving that it is not a toupee, was just one instance of the candidate humanizing himself.