The Appalling Judgement Of Some Voters

Thoughts on John Edwards’ latest escapades:

There’s a saying that when Republicans pick a presidential candidate, they fall in line; when Democrats pick a presidential candidate, they fall in love. The Edwards saga reminds us that while we may think we know the figures we vote for, support, donate to, and volunteer to help elect, we generally don’t really know them. You know your spouse, your family, and your friends. Beyond that, you know the face that someone presents to the world. There’s probably quite a bit of angst, or regret, or pain, or rage, or zaniness or obsessions or any one of a million quirks and traits and secrets behind your neighbor’s pleasant smile. This doesn’t mean that everyone’s a ticking time bomb; it just means we should be cautious before we put anybody up on a pedestal. This particularly applies to the realm of politics, a field that tends to attract the ambitious, the narcissistic, the power hungry, and those who find it hard to resist the notion that they’re “special” and that the rules don’t really apply to them.

Back when OJ Simpson was first accused of murdering his wife and her friend, I recall how many people were shocked. I wasn’t. That is, I didn’t think of OJ Simpson as a thug, but I didn’t think of him as much of anything except a football player and rental-car salesman, so when I heard that he’d done this, I just said, “Meh.” I was also completely unshocked when Edwards was revealed to be a total sleaze bag (not to insult actual bags of sleaze). And in this case, I would have expected it, because he always came across that way to me.

Spaceport America Problems

People are making a big deal of the fact that the new New Mexico governor Susana Martinez has canned Rick Homans, taking it as a sign that she is opposed to the spaceport. Over at Space Politics, some are blaming it on the Tea Party.

My theory? It’s exactly what she says:

“The citizens of Doña Ana County and Sierra County have spoken. They’re the ones who voted on whether or not they wanted to have their tax dollars spent on spaceport,” Martinez said during an interview Thursday before her send-off gala. “We’re going to respect that.”

But Martinez said she wants to “make sure that the spending is in the best way.”

“We can’t just agree to give tax dollars and then not be accountable to the taxpayers,” she said.

Doña Ana County and Sierra County voters in 2007 and 2008, respectively, approved sales taxes to back spaceport construction. However, about three-quarters of financing originated from the Legislature.

Martinez said her transition team had requested information, such as a contract between Spaceport America and anchor tenant Virgin Galactic, from the Richardson administration and, as of Thursday, hadn’t received it. She said she wants to audit that contract and spending on the $200 million construction project.

In addition to scrutinizing spaceport agreements, Martinez said she’s also interested in “how we bring private industry to be part of the spaceport, so that eventually state tax dollars aren’t necessary.”

I actually think that she’s understating things here, and being politic. While I’m unaware of any particular issue with Homans himself, Governor Martinez is surely aware of just how corrupt the Democrat machine in Santa Fe is in general (some have characterized the state as “Louisiana with jalapenos”) and she’s simply assuming the worst, and wants to root out any problems if they exist as soon as possible, and start with a clean slate. I might do the same in her position.

How To Cut NASA

Thoughts from Mary Lynne Dittmar. I disagree somewhat that we should simply appropriate the authorization, but it’s unlikely we’ll get a better authorization any time soon, absent fresh thinking from the usual suspects on the Hill. We do need to think about what capabilities we want to preserve within the agency (though I think that we need to completely restructure federal space policy, not just NASA).

A Glut Of PhDs?

Articles like this don’t seem to take into account what the PhD is in. I think we could use more engineers and fewer “studies” majors, who probably comprise most of the PhDs serving coffee or dressing hair (not that we’re suffering a shortage of lawyers, either). But it’s all part of the (finally) popping higher-education bubble. I suspect that it’s really going to burst in the coming fiscal environment, and no doubt with much wailing and keening from the “liberal” education racket.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!

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