Striking A Blow

…for the First Amendment. SCOTUS has struck down much of the atrocious campaign-finance laws, including the worst parts of McCain-Feingold. It’s a little disturbing that the ruling was so close, though.

[Update a while later]

Bad news for Babs?

“It certainly changes the Boxer race,” Stern said. “It means corporations, without setting up a PAC, can spend as much as they want opposing Boxer.”

While unions would be able to help Boxer, Stern said “they were already able to do it through PACs. Corporations were having more trouble doing so.”

It will be an interesting fall, here in California and elsewhere.

Outlived Its Usefullness

I think that, with the nonsensical report that it released on Friday, the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has demonstrated that it’s no longer a body to take seriously, if it was before. The notion that a paper rocket, that will be so expensive to operate that it will rarely fly, is safer than one with a proven track record is ludicrous. Mark Matthews has a report at the Orlando Sentinel blog. He points to perhaps the most absurd quote:

“To abandon Ares I as a baseline vehicle for an alternative without demonstrated capability nor proven superiority (or even equivalence) is unwise and probably not cost-effective,” notes the 117-page report, issued late Friday evening.

Specifically, the advisory panel attacks the idea of using commercial rockets and international partners to resupply the station, as suggested by a 10-member panel convened this summer under the direction of retired Lockheed Martin CEO Norm Augustine.

The ASAP said NASA warned against putting too much faith in commercial or international spacecraft because there weren’t proper standards for safety.

The notion that anyone defending Ares is concerned with cost effectiveness is lunacy. Clark Lindsey has responded to this nonsense, and Elon Musk has put up a robust defense of his system:

“I have to say I’ve lost a lot of respect for the ASAP panel,” Musk said. “If they are to say such things, then they ought to say it on the basis of data, not on random speculation.”

According to Musk, the panel’s findings are “bizarre.” He says the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft “meet all of NASA’s published human-rating requirements, apart from the escape systems.”

“They’ve spent almost no time at SpaceX,” Musk said. “They’ve not reviewed our data. They have no idea what what our margins are, and what is and what isn’t human-rated.”

In addition, yesterday, the Commercial Spaceflight Federation put up a point-by-point response. It’s appalling to think that this sort of thing might actually influence policy. I hope it won’t.

Meet The New Progressivism

…same as the old progressivism:

Much…could be said about progressivism’s errors. Most damagingly, it argued that because progress had improved humanity and dissolved or overcome legitimate differences of opinion about morals and politics, the Constitution’s checks and balances and separation and dispersing of power were no longer necessary to prevent majority tyranny and officeholders’ abuse of power.

A central paradox of American progressivism arises from the divergence between its democratic aspirations and its aristocratic ambitions. On the one hand, progressives sought to democratize American politics by putting government in the service of, and giving greater say to, the people. On the other hand, they favored the enlargement of a distant national government, and the creation of an administrative elite that reduced popular accountability.

In the progressive classic The Promise of American Life (1914), Herbert Croly identified the source of this paradox with startling candor. Centralization and elite control were necessary to advance democratic ends because American constitutional government was based on “erroneous and misleading ideas,” and “the average American individual is morally and intellectually inadequate to a serious and consistent conception of his responsibilities as a democrat.”

Along those lines, I found the president’s comments yesterday to be not just condescending, but contemptuous of the American people:

OBAMA: Well, here’s what I know is that when they actually find out what’s in the proposals for insurance reform, for making sure that we’re making health care more affordable, those specific provisions are actually very popular.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You made that speech in August.

OBAMA: Well, and one of the things that I have learned in Washington is you have to repeat yourself a lot because because unfortunately it doesn’t penetrate.

See, he just has to keep repeating it to us, like children, because we just won’t get it otherwise. The notion that we realize upon first hearing that it’s nonsense would never occur to him.

And, you know, If there’s one thing that I regret this year, is that we were so busy just getting stuff done and dealing with the immediate crises that were in front of us, that I think we lost some of that sense of speaking directly to the American people about what their core values are and why we have to make sure those institutions are matching up with those values. And that I do think is a mistake of mine. I think the assumption was, if I just focus on policy, if I just focus on the, you know this provision, or that law, or are we making a good, rational decision here —

STEPHANOPOULOS: That people would get it.

OBAMA: That people will get it.

Oh, the people do get it, Mr. President. The problem is that the “good, rational decisions” seem to have been pretty thin on the ground in Washington this past year. The best evidence that people get it occurred on Tuesday in Massachusetts.

The Insularity Of The Left

Some thoughts on why they were surprised yesterday.

President Obama is as insular as any president we’ve had. It is laughable to imagine Obama as the liberal Ronald Reagan, because Reagan himself was a Hollywood liberal and union head until the 1950s. Reagan knew how the other side lived and thought. He even liked some of them. Obama has had no such experience. He has had almost no personal relationships or consequential political dealings with conservatives during his whole life. In Obama’s mental map, conservatives are space aliens.

This puts Obama and insular liberals like him at a substantial political disadvantage. But even after Tuesday’s Brown Revolt, do they know it?

I think that when it comes to understanding small-government types, the left is don’t know squared. They don’t know what they don’t know. And it’s easy to defeat them in argument, because they’ve never really had to defend their positions, taking them morally and intellectually for granted in their hot-house environs.

Why Coakley Lost

Iowahawk has the scoop, from deep within the campaign:

When I move to the Massachusetts Senora Coakley is first a very good lady. She no make me do the windows, only to bring the grocery and the morning tracking polls. She is very happy with the 30% lead and she is always the phone with Senor Reid and the real eastate brokers in Washington. But one morning I am bring her the tracking poll and she is now only up 15% and she is very angry. “Rosa! Why are you to bring me this! Throw this bad poll away and bring me the grapefruit.”

Then, Dio mio, every day the poll is more bad, and she keep yelling louder. She stop asking for the grapefruit and ask for the Ben and Jerry ice cream. She say, “Rosa, why do the stupid voter people fall for the stupid Senor Brown and his stupid truck?” I say, I do no know Senora, maybe because he is the very handsome and against the health care taxes. This is make her very angry and to throw her Ben and Jerry across the kitchen.

When I am clean up the mess Senora Coakley say, “You are the Mexicana, yes Rosa? You must have the old pickup truck I can borrow for the campaign.”

I say, “no Senora, I am from Guatemala. My cousin Estaban has the pickup, but it is need the new transmission.”

Every day it is getting worse with yelling and the polls. Senora Coakley is on the phone with the Senator peoples and the White House peoples, especially after she say the bad things about the Red Sox man. “Why do I have to know all this things about the beisbol players?” she is yelling on the phone. “Nobody at the Harvard cares!”

Then she looks at me and she say, “Rosa! You are the Hispanic like the many beisbol players. Why can no you get me the endorsement from the Pedro Gomez or Lopez or what is his name? You are not being very good to help me!”

I am say, “I am sorry Senora, I know Pedro Gomez but he is not this beisbol player. Maybe you talk to Senor Steinbrenner. Do you want me to go to the Stop and Shop for more Ben and Jerry?”

Well, it has to be someone‘s fault.

What A Concept

There’s an old saying about having to hit a mule between the eyes with a two by four to get his attention. Apparently the same is true of donkeys, and the Democrats, after a year of “change,” finally get it:

There are ways Democrats can jam through the current health care bill with procedural tricks or legislative creativity. But what seemed a certainty a week ago feels unlikely today. Don’t take the word of Republicans or even reporters on this one. Listen to what Democrats are saying as they appraised the results overnight:

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) told a local reporter, “It’s probably back to the drawing board on health care, which is unfortunate.” Rep. Bill Delahunt (D-Mass.) told MSNBC this morning he will advise Democratic leaders to scrap the big bill and move small, more popular pieces that can attract Republicans. And Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) said his leadership is “whistling past the graveyard” if they think Brown’s win won’t force a rethinking of the health care plan.

Sen. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.), who now might draw a challenge from Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.), said the party needs to rethink its entire approach to governing.

Gee, ya think?

“Should Have Stuck With Hillary”

Isn’t the web wonderful?

[Update a couple minutes later]

“He’s done everything wrong.”

I’m not surprised.

[Another update]

Did the recession end last night? I know that I’m a lot more upbeat about the future, now that the wreckers’ power has been dramatically reduced.

[Another update]

Did Barney Frank kill ObamaCare? I don’t think so. The Tea Partiers did that. He just closed the lid on the coffin. And I have to say that I’m glad to see that he (finally?) respects the democratic process.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!