All posts by Rand Simberg

The Enemy Of My Enemy

This post is related to this one. I agree with Ben Shapiro:

Unfortunately, many conservatives have embraced this sort of binary thinking: If it angers the Left, it must be virtuous. Undoubtedly, that’s a crude shorthand for political thinking. It means you never have to check the ideas of the speaker, you merely have to check how people respond to him.

That’s dangerous. It leads to supporting bad policies and bad men. The enemy of your enemy isn’t always your friend. Sometimes he’s your enemy. Sometimes he’s just a dude sitting there minding his own business.

You don’t have enough information to know.

The logic of “if he melts snowflakes, he’s one of us” actually hands power to the Left, by allowing leftists to define conservatives’ friends. It gets to choose whom we support. This isn’t speculative. It happened during the 2016 primaries, when the media attacked Trump incessantly, driving Republicans into his outstretched arms. The media’s obvious hatred for Trump was one of the chief arguments for Trump from his advocates: If, as his detractors claimed, he wasn’t conservative, then why would the leftist media hate him so much?

And yes, many of Trump’s policies are bad, and he is in many ways a bad man. I’m glad she lost, but I don’t have to be glad he won, and because I was never a supporter, I don’t have to reflexively defend everything he does, though I will in fact defend him when the attack is unfair.

Read the whole thing.

The Media

Trump is beating it at its own game.

I’m glad someone finally is, but I wish it were someone both more knowledgable and less childish. It’s possible to play that game without being him. I could certainly do it.

[Update a few minutes later]

Related: Trump haters: Do these two thought experiments. I can easily imagine the latter, and would vastly prefer it. Though I’d prefer him with policies less economically ignorant.

Climate Models

are flawed. That’s putting it mildly:

Professor Curry said: “It’s not just the fact that climate simulations are tuned that is problematic. It may well be that it is impossible to make long-term predictions about the climate – it’s a chaotic system after all. If that’s the case, then we are probably trying to redesign the global economy for nothing”.

I’ve been saying that’s likely the case for years. I’ll look forward to reading her paper.

The EM-1 Analysis

This is a good overview of the issues involved in deciding to fly crew on the first flight. If they decide to do this, I don’t want to hear a single word about delaying Commercial Crew until it is “safe” enough.

[Update a while later]

Wow, never been a big George Abbey (senior) fan, but he’s calling for cancellation of SLS:

Abbey thinks the architecture of NASA’s future plans should be thoroughly examined and redrawn. It won’t even require a budgetary increase — just a smarter allocation of the currently available funding. For instance, he suggests scrapping the SLS program altogether. There’s too much redundancy in the heavy-lift rocket market — SpaceX is working on their Falcon Heavy, Blue Origin is busy developing the New Glenn booster, and United Launch Alliance is drawing up plans for a Vulcan rocket.

From his lips to Trump’s (and Congress’s) ears.

[Wednesday-morning update]

Another call to end SLS/Orion, over at Scientific American, from Howard Bloom:

If NASA ditched the Space Launch System and the Orion, it would free up three billion dollars a year. That budget could speed the Moon-readiness of Bigelow’s landing vehicles, not to mention SpaceX’s Falcon rockets and could pay for lunar enhancements to manned Dragon 2 capsules. In fact, three billion dollars a year is far greater than what Bigelow and Musk would need. That budget would also allow NASA to bring Jeff Bezos into the race. And it would let NASA refocus its energy on earth-orbit and lunar-surface refueling stations…plus rovers, lunar construction equipment, and devices to turn lunar ice into rocket fuel, drinkable water, and breathable oxygen. Not to mention machines to turn lunar dust and rock into building materials.

This new Moon program could be achieved within NASA’s current budget. In fact, members of the group I run — the Space Development Steering Committee — estimate the total cost of what I’ve described (Moon landings plus a permanent moon base) at ten billion dollars. That’s just three years’ worth of the money currently being funneled into the SLS and the Orion.

At some point, this will become conventional wisdom.

[Update a few minutes later]

Wayne Hale has a prescription for NASA that is politically impossible to fill. I’d note that there’s nothing new about this; many of us observed these problems in the 80s and 90s. It’s what happens to a bureaucracy when what it does is not nationally important, it’s captured by its customers, and Congress can do whatever it wants secure in the knowledge that none of it will affect an election.

Trump’s “Chaotic” First Weeks

People complaining about this from Trump (as with many other things they complain about from Trump) have short memories:

Even the Washington Post had to admit all was not well in Obama world when they reported that the White House wasn’t ready for conflicts over policy: “President Obama’s advisers acknowledged Tuesday that they were unprepared for the intraparty rift that occurred over the fate of a proposed public health insurance program, a firestorm that has left the White House searching for a way to reclaim the initiative on the president’s top legislative priority.”

Jay Cost of RealClearPolitics was “stunned” that Obama “would be caught off guard by this,” adding that his “lack of foresight” was “absolutely inexcusable.” “How could they not have anticipated this?” Cost asked. “How could they possibly have been surprised that the left and right flanks of the party would not see eye to eye?”

Seems like things haven’t changed that much, at least rhetorically. “But Trump is worse!” many might claim. Yet that isn’t true at all. What’s worse is the way it’s being reported and repeated. The claims of incompetence are rushing like a torrent from every direction and with such hysteria that you’d think the chaos of Armageddon was upon us.

But that was Saint Barack! How could it be?

Trump And The Crisis Of Meritocracy

Thoughts from Glenn Reynolds:

“The warning lights have been flashing, and the klaxons sounding, for more than a decade and a half. But our pundits and prognosticators and professors and policymakers, ensconced as they generally are deep within the bubble, were for the most part too distant from the distress of the general population to see or hear it.”

Well, now they’ve heard it, and they’ve also heard that a lot of Americans resent the meritocrats’ insulation from what’s happening elsewhere, especially as America’s unfortunate record over the past couple of decades, whether in economics, in politics, or in foreign policy, doesn’t suggest that the “meritocracy” is overflowing with, you know, actual merit.

In the United States, the result has been Trump. In Britain, the result was Brexit. In both cases, the allegedly elite — who are supposed to be cool, considered, and above the vulgar passions of the masses — went more or less crazy. From conspiracy theories (it was the Russians!) to bizarre escape fantasies (A Brexit vote redo! A military coup to oust Trump!) the cognitive elite suddenly didn’t seem especially elite, or for that matter particularly cognitive.

In fact, while America was losing wars abroad and jobs at home, elites seemed focused on things that were, well, faintly ridiculous. As Richard Fernandez tweeted: “The elites lost their mojo by becoming absurd. It happened on the road between cultural appropriation and transgender bathrooms.” It was fatal: “People believe from instinct. The Roman gods became ridiculous when the Roman emperors did. PC is the equivalent of Caligula’s horse.”

There’s nothing “elite” or even educated about them. They’re just credentialed.