Just Say No

…to ethanol subsidies:

If Republicans fail to take action on ethanol, it will demonstrate the shallowness of their commitment to limiting government largesse and give credence to arguments that Republicans are only for less government when it’s good for special interests.

And once again confirming the reason that I’m always reluctant to vote for them, and always wish I had other, better choices. And they don’t even have to take action — inaction will suffice.

[Update a couple minutes later]

I would also note that Al Gore’s volte face on the issue is probably more indicative of the fact that he’s no longer seeking votes in Tennessee or Iowa, and a newfound allegiance to other biofuels, than any newfound allegiance to the market.

Bag The Exploration, Lou

OK, so I read this essay by Lou Friedman, and what’s obvious to me, and completely not so to him, is the reason that he and others have made so little headway in selling human space flight. It’s because they continue to use the wrong reason. He uses the word “exploration” a dozen times, by my count. Not once does he use the words “development,” “exploitation,” “colonization,” “settlement.” Once you agree that the purpose of human spaceflight is mere exploration as an end, and not as a means, you completely cede the rhetorical field to the robots, as he points out himself:

Unlike in the 1980s, the lack of new accomplishments in human exploration will be paralleled by the greater accomplishments in robotic exploration. And the danger is that the public will join those politicians who say, “Save money, let the robots do it.”

Hey, if all we’re doing is “exploring,” then count me in with the robots, at least if we’re going to insist on doing human exploration the way we did it in the sixties, and the way that many insist that we continue to do so, including Lou himself:

…we can’t even seem to develop the rockets to take us beyond what we achieved four decades ago.

Lou, if you want to see humans go beyond earth orbit for any purpose at all, including exploration, go write on the board five hundred times, “We don’t need new rockets.”

[Update a few minutes later]

One other amusing point:

Looking at the political history of US human space flight decisions, the only two positive ones were based on international (or more precisely, geopolitical) considerations. They were Kennedy’s decision to take on the Soviets in a race to the Moon, and Clinton’s decision to engage the Russians in the International Space Station. (The shuttle decision by Nixon resulted in a flight program, to be sure, but was a negative decision to ratchet back space objectives and not let NASA build a space station or go beyond Earth orbit). It is also worthwhile to note that neither of these Presidents was interested in space science or exploration.

While it’s true, he writes this as though there has ever been a president interested in space science or exploration. There never has been, and there likely (barring some weird political accident) never will be. The kinds of people interested in those things are unlikely to become president. The closest politician I can think of with that kind of interest, with the slightest chance of becoming president, is Newt Gingrich. And he’s not actually particularly interested in space science or exploration. What he’s interested in is…wait for it…space development.

On The Anniversary Of Climaquiddick

…the watermelons show their true colors:

Watermelons: green on the outside, red on the inside. This is the theme of my forthcoming book on the controlling, poisonously misanthropic and aggressively socialistic instincts of the modern environmental movement. So how very generous that two of that movement’s leading lights should have chosen the anniversary of Climategate to prove my point entirely.

I think he’s right. This nonsense is politically dead in the US.

GM’s IPO

Suckers found:

Suckers: GM found a lot of them, even though a) by its own admission, it lacks “effective internal controls” over its finances; b) it’s still saddled with the UAW, which is already pledging ‘no more concessions’ and even making some trouble; c) its Opel subsidiary is hemorhaging money at a rate of billions a year; d) a high Opel official declared the IPO “premature” while noting that “there is still too much red tape and inefficiency;” e) it has surrendered a majority stake in its promising Chinese joint venture to its Chinese partner f) its bailout plan assumes it will maintain a market share of 19 percent, but its share most recently fell to 18.3 percent, part of a decades-long decline; g) who knows what accounting gimmickry was used to dress up the books; h) the government has intervened in GM’s decisionmaking more than it’s let on; i) we don’t know if GM’s new products (like the Chevrolet Cruze) will have traditional GM reliability–the company better hope not; and j) the name “General Motors’ is now so tarnished that the company is removing it from auto show displays, hoping buyers will not associate “Buick” or “Chevrolet” with such a negative brand …. P.S.: GM stock purchasers won’t be suckers, of course, if their shares rise. So far, they’ve risen 3.6 percent, even though the NYT reported that “several of the people involved in the offering said they expect to see a potential 10 to 20 percent jump in the share price on Thursday, typical for an initial offering.”

Too bad the taxpayers weren’t given an option of whether to buy or not.

What A “Bargain”

Courtney Stadd pled guilty to a single count and got 41 months in prison?

I have to say, I agree with the commenter over at Space Politics, this seems fishy:

One wonders if there are any investigative reporters left on this planet.

Stadd pleads to conspiracy and no one else is similarly charged. Stadd is sentenced for two crimes within a year and both are related to MSU. Stadd is charged six years after the crime occurred, just before the statute of limitations would otherwise expire. Stadd is sent to jail with more time than Jack Abramoff. Anyone else smell dead fish around here?

When did all this happen? Let’s see. If memory serves, right around the time O’Keefe was booted out and Griffin took the NASA helm. And along with Griffin in walks Stadd (oh, and Sarsfield too – ain’t it amazin’). Stadd was fired by O’Keefe in 2001. Definitely a dust up going on inside of NASA I would say. Now add the befouled NASA IG Moose Cobb to the mix. Cobb was repeatedly investigated and accused of being an O’Keefe crony and incompetent tyrant. O’Keefe was also investigated for malfeasance and was later sacked from LSU (gee, Louisiana – O’Keefe’s home town and the state right next to good ‘ole Mississippi, what a coincidence!). O’Keefe and Cobb were stepchildren of Dick Chaney and, naturally, neither were prosecuted. And who would have led the investigation against Stadd? – you guessed it, Cobb.

Prosecution or persecution? None of the facts makes a lot of sense. Stadd, who’s not a registered lobbyist, was sentenced for steering an earmark while in his NASA position. Okay maybe that’s a no-no, but a criminal charge is way out of line. Sarsfield pled guilty to a conflict of interest charge which also makes no sense. NASA offered him a personal sole-source contract in 2005 worth a lot of money which he turned down. I guess we’re supposed to believe he was too busy stealing money from the same agency. Then six years after the “crime” Sarsfield suddenly pleads guilty and Stadd is immediately indicted – again. This reads like a dime store detective novel.

And speaking of ATK; wasn’t it Griffin who quickly ditched the O’Keefe/Steidle plan. Let’s see, a few billion to ATK for a rocket to nowhere; the same company which otherwise would have taken a shellacking from the termination of Shuttle.

Money and politics, a crushing combination – especially if your name happens to be Courtney.

I hope he can get it reduced on appeal.

Conservative Porkers

on parade in Utah:

The idea of alternatives to shuttle- and Ares-derived concepts, both of which used solid rocket motors, is anathema to the Utah senators and congressmen. “I join my colleagues in admonishing NASA to strictly adhere to the law and use solid rocket motors in the development of the new Space Launch System,” Sen. Bob Bennett (R-UT) said in the statement. “Today’s meeting confirms that we are in a long-term fight over the future of NASA’s manned space flight program,” added Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT). “I remain very concerned that NASA continues to delay the transition from Constellation systems toward the new heavy-lift program while they needlessly explore private start-up technologies that remain unproven, require more money and are unfit for human-rated space travel.”

What complete nonsense. They require much less money, and are far safer than solids. And ULA doesn’t employ “start-up technologies.” Both Atlas and Delta have been flying for years, with no major failures. I wonder if he really believes this, or if he’s lying? Time to get Pork Busters and the Utah Tea Party after them. And this is a battle over the future of NASA’s manned space flight program, they’re the ones endangering it, by insisting on unaffordable solutions that will wipe out its budget. But it’s not — it’s just a battle over Utah jobs. I hope that Hatch loses his primary in 2012, as Bennett did this year. I sure won’t miss him.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!