Thoughts On The Revolution

…from London:

The British are less religious these days than Americans are (although both the Anglican and the Catholic churches I saw this Sunday had quite large congregations), but the persistence of an established church has something to do with this feeling that the state is and should be an important moral agent in the life of the nation. The church, supporting and supported by the state, projects values into society and all good people are expected to rally around. (A Puritan version of this vision made it over into the New England states; the desire of many American liberals to use government to reshape society ultimately traces back to this English sense of the union of throne and altar.) In America, there were always too many sectarians who saw these attempts to unify the moral and the political as a form of tyranny, and in the US the ‘great and the good’ have had a harder time imposing a unified moral vision on society as a whole.

There are other ways in which the British are more comfortable with centralization than Americans are. We have no city like London: it is Britain’s New York, Washington and Los Angeles rolled up into one. The American founders debated keeping the capital in Philadelphia or New York, but decided to place it out in the boondocks. (In the same way many American states deliberately chose to establish their political capitals in smaller towns.) We don’t want too much power flowing to a single city and we don’t want the members of the elite to get too clubby and know each other too well; the rest of the country is suspicious of anyone who works on Wall Street or inside the Beltway. We don’t think America would be a better place if Wall Street and Pennsylvania Avenue got closer together.

America is too big, too diverse and too disputatious to settle down with one social model and one big establishment the way Britain has. This has its costs; ever since Franklin’s time Americans have looked with envy on British governance that often seems more effective, organized and, since the middle classes nudged the aristocrats out, more honest and competent than our own raggedy system. But although over time we have built a stronger and more effective central government, somehow we never quite go all the way. Thomas Jefferson and his allies ultimately defeated Alexander Hamilton’s effort to model our financial and political systems on Britain’s. Daniel Webster, Nicholas Biddle and Henry Clay were beaten by Andrew Jackson and James K. Polk.

In that sense, the forces that drove the American Revolution are still coursing through our politics now. While a significant number of Americans (usually relatively affluent and well educated) want a transformational government acting in the service of a coherent moral vision, larger numbers of Americans start getting nervous when they see too much movement in that direction.

Read the whole thing.

Happy Independence Day

Sadly, I think that too many take our freedom for granted, and are too willing to trade it for government cheese. But I think that the past couple years have seen a reawakening of the principles on which the country was founded, as a backlash against the current political class, which to the degree that it isn’t entirely ignorant of them, seems to hold them in contempt.

Part of that backlash is two promising web sites, debuting today, Declaration Entertainment, and Big Peace, another Breitbart production. I wish them luck in their efforts to help restore the Republic.

It Just Makes You Want To Cry

Here we go again. No one at this American Thinker piece, neither the author or any of the commenters, has clue one about the new policy:

Now, with the Obama administration’s new “plan” for NASA effectively ending nationally funded human spaceflight, we drop a torch others are grabbing.

Where do they come up with this nonsense? How can one sanely characterize a policy that extends ISS until at least the end of the decade, and that has billions of dollars budgeted to buy crew services, as “ending nationally funded human spaceflight”?

NASA has long been planning to cancel the Shuttle program, which is understandable, considering budget constraints and the priority of the Constellation program. But to cancel both programs leaves the U.S. with no viable human space transport. The International Space Station, which represents a $100-billion investment by U.S. taxpayers, will be unreachable by scientists and astronauts from the U.S. without hitching a ride on Russian or Chinese space transport. This is unacceptable.

Or from commercial American services, which will be available much sooner than Ares/Orion. And later, he finally gets around to discussing this:

With the ending of the Constellation program, there are no future human missions for the U.S., except those made possible in commercial spaceflight. While commercial spaceflight is tremendous in its future implications, it will progress only in areas that have demonstrated a possible fiscal return…and space operations are so expensive and difficult that it is highly unlikely that any true exploration would occur. Commercial space flight is space exploitation, not space exploration. For the foreseeable future, an entity like NASA — which is nationally funded and not constrained by profits and losses — and a project such as Constellation is the best way to extend our reach into and knowledge of space. Robotic missions are all well and good for certain applications, but one does not learn anything about putting humans in space by putting robotic vehicles in space.


Where to start?

Look. We are simply transitioning from a mode in which NASA develops and operates its own earth-to-orbit vehicles to spec, to one in which it purchases transportation services to LEO for crew from private providers, as it has been doing for years for satellites and probes. No one said that NASA was “getting out of the planetary exploration business” when it launched LRO and LCROSS on a commercial Atlas, and if they had they would have rightly been considered insane. Why is it any different for astronauts?

Exploration starts when we get into LEO, not at Cape Canaveral.

And you cannot simultaneously know anything about Constellation and state that it is “the best way to extend our reach into and knowledge of space.” Constellation was a fiscal disaster waiting to happen. It was unaffordable both in terms of its development costs, and its operational costs. There are many better ways to accomplish that goal. The new policy is one of them.

Jeebus crow.

Jobs Americans Can’t Do

Scott Ott, on the disastrous state of the American educational system, thanks to the unions and collectivists. They’ve achieved Dewey’s dream.

And this seems related:

There’s good news for American education. About three-quarters of residents — 74% — know the U.S. declared its independence from Great Britain in 1776. The bad news for the academic system — 26% do not. This 26% includes one-fifth who are unsure and 6% who thought the U.S. separated from another nation. That begs the question, “From where do the latter think the U.S. achieved its independence?” Among the countries mentioned are France, China, Japan, Mexico, and Spain.

Actually, as a commenter points out, it raises the question — it doesn’t “beg” it (a phrase that confuses many people). Which is also a symptom of deteriorating education, even among the supposedly educated.

As Predicted

It’s a media blackout for the Black Panthers and the (In)Justice Department.

[Update a few minutes later]

Well, at least the Al Gore sexual assault allegations have gone mainstream. As some have pointed out, part of his problem was his hubris in making himself a celebrity, which opened him up as fair game for the entertainment rags.

I wonder if he’s past his media sell-by date? Or they’re happy to toss him under the bus to give them a distraction from having to report corruption at the Justice Department?

[Afternoon update]

Well the Philadelphia EInquirer is finally covering a local story.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!