ISDC

The National Space Society’s annual conference starts today in Chicago. I’m unable to attend this year — finances don’t allow, but you can find Twitter feeds here and here. It’s nice to see that Space Adventures is actually funding Armadillo to build a tourist vehicle.

[Update a few minutes later]

John Carmack is reportedly saying that he’ll be delivering payloads above a hundred thousand feet in a year, and above a hundred kilometers in two years.

Hearing Wrap Up

Alan Boyle has the story on yesterday’s space-policy farce on the Hill. Jeff Foust also has a couple posts, with meeting notes, and a description of the “ruckus” caused by Jeff Hanley’s abrupt reassignment from the Constellation program.

I wish that someone (like a staffer, or former staffer) would suggest to Dana Rohrabacher that the next time Tom Young is brought forth to testify at one of these joke sessions, he ask him what experience he has with human spaceflight. Because the answer is pretty much zip.

[Update a few minutes later]

As usual (and this isn’t Alan’s fault, obviously) but ignorance abounds in his comments section, with one commenter saying we should just “…finish the Aries-1 [sic] capsules for LEO…”

Maybe It Wasn’t Rahm?

I wonder if one might infer from the White House behavior that Sestak’s job offer was made by the president or vice president?

It’s technically an impeachable offense, but there’s no way this Congress would do anything about it. Anyway, the nightmare scenario would be a president Pelosi, which wouldn’t be rectified until 2012, regardless of what happens this fall. Maybe Issa should just let sleeping dogs lie. So to speak…

We Are So Fortunate

…to have a president wise enough to know how much money we should all have.

For all these wealth gluttons, I have a suggestion: stop earning any more money for the next two years. Since most of you voted for him anyway, grant the president his wish. Stop.

Withdraw all your money from all investments. Shutter your stores, restaurants, factories, movie studios, banks and financial brokerages. Evict all tenants from your apartment buildings and shopping centers, and board the buildings up. Invent nothing, bring no products to market, write no books and hire no one. Stop adding to your unjust, unfair, beyond-the-point income or wealth. Take a vacation. File next year’s federal, state and local tax returns with big, fat zeroes written on the payment-due lines.

While you’re at it, buy as little as possible too. After all, at other times, the president has indicated he thinks many of us keep our homes too warm or too cool, drive around too much (on under-inflated tires), eat too much salty food, buy ‘Cadillac’ health plans that are too good. He has a point of too much in mind about everything. He is the Decider of your too-much. Everybody at the too-much point could relieve him of a lot of worry by spending nearly nothing for the next two years.

I wonder if he thinks he has enough, or too much?

Finally

It looks like they’ve staunched the flow in the Gulf.

There was never much the administration could have done about this, but they haven’t acquitted themselves well, with the finger pointing at the finger pointers, and fascist talk of boots on necks. It was stupid to think that there was anything that the White House could do to make BP move any faster — they were in an existential crisis, and there was no reason for them not to be working as fast as they could. If the White House is getting too much blame, it has only its own rhetoric to blame for that. When you campaign and take office with the promise that you’re going to make the seas recede, it’s not surprising that people expect you to stop a pesky little oil leak with a wave of your hand. The president should have taken his cue from King Canute.

Now, where they’re really falling down is not in capping the well, but in not dealing with what’s happening on the coast as an emergency, with the EPA dragging its feet as the oil infiltrates the wetlands, and Jindal calling for relief. As Glenn says, I’ll believe it’s a crisis when people start acting like it’s a crisis. The governor is acting like it’s a crisis. The White House isn’t.

[Update a few minutes later]

It strikes me as deeply ironic that, with all of the things that the president has done to actively damage the nation over the past year and a half, the thing he seems to be taking the most heat for is one over which he had no control. But you know, justice is justice, even if it isn’t fair.

[Update a while later]

Here’s a nicely detailed description of how they finally plugged the leak. Note that this was all done via telerobotics. I think there are some interesting implications for things like asteroid mining, but in that case, the time delay would make things a lot more difficult.

[Via WOC]

[Update a while later]

I agree with Jonah’s reader:

This is so frustrating that no one is really making this point. During Katrina there was also an oil crisis with pipelines and refineries and President Bush was in daily communication with these companies and responded by suspending all kinds of regulations to facilitate pipeline and refinery repair. (I have family members in the industry). Work that was estimated to take months was done in days and weeks. Oil is the fuel of our economy as well as so important to national defense. George Bush understood this and he knew what needed to be done by the executive of the United States. And when the job was done he made personal phone calls and wrote letters of commendation to all the folks who worked so hard and around the clock to get it done. The media and democrats are so wrong to perpetuate this myth about President Bush, and to keep saying “there was nothing Obama could really do”: SUSPEND ALL REGULATIONS, THAT’S WHAT CAN BE DONE TODAY! Get the government out of the way. I wish Republicans everywhere would be shouting this from the roof tops!

I do too, but they’re called the Stupid Party for a reason.

[Update a few minutes later]

Jim Garaghty has a link roundup, and some thoughts:

A lot of righties feel like George W. Bush got an unearned share of the blame for the Katrina mess; Mayor Nagin and Governor Blanco largely ignored pre-written evacuation plans and procedures during the critical hours. School buses were left unused. Several hundred cops walked off the job in the middle of the crisis. Yet somehow the lesson became, “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,” as we were informed during the charity telethon.

The dominant narrative of Katrina made no room for the normal human errors and snafus that mark any response to a giant problem; righties are naturally objecting to the sudden reinstatement of the “Hey, sometimes stuff happens, what can you do?” standard under a Democratic president.

Obama ran as the anti-Bush; he was supposed to be the embodiment of smarts and savvy and a pledge to get government working again. After almost a year and a half on the job, big government is behaving exactly the way it always has — accepting gifts from those they regulate and watching pornography at work, going whitewater rafting with their wives as part of “official business,” attending Democratic fundraisers, etc. Obama is far too focused on expanding the scope of government to spend much time or effort making sure existing government agencies are performing the duties they already have.

I thought that the media went overboard with the Bush criticism during Katrina, and as I’ve said, as far as stopping the the flow itself, there was little or nothing that the administration could do. But I do think that they could have been more prepared for such a disaster on the shore. And when you’ve lost Kirsten Powers, you’ve lost…well, I’m not sure what, other than one of the hottest Democrat pundits, but it doesn’t bode well for the White House. Bush never really recovered from his Katrina moment, and I don’t know if Obama will recover from this.

[Update a while later]

More thoughts from Yuval Levin:

I think it’s actually right to say that the BP oil spill is something like Obama’s Katrina, but not in the sense in which most critics seem to mean it.

It’s like Katrina in that many people’s attitudes regarding the response to it reveal completely unreasonable expectations of government. The fact is, accidents (not to mention storms) happen. We can work to prepare for them, we can have various preventive rules and measures in place. We can build the capacity for response and recovery in advance. But these things happen, and sometimes they happen on a scale that is just too great to be easily addressed. It is totally unreasonable to expect the government to be able to easily address them—and the kind of government that would be capable of that is not the kind of government that we should want.

…We seem to think that given our modern powers, there ought to be no accidents and no natural disasters anymore, and when those happen we blame the people in charge. Well, call me crazy but I don’t want a government so powerful that it could move half a million people in mere hours in response to a hurricane, or would have such total control over every facet of every industry that the potential for industrialaccidents would be entirely eliminated. Such power would come at enormous cost to a lot of things we care about.

We who live in the 21st century West have the least messy, least dangerous, least uncertain lives of any human beings in history. We should be very grateful for that, but we should not let our good fortune utterly distort our expectations of life, and we should not react with unrestrained indignant shock anytime the limitations of our power make themselves seen or the cold and harsh capriciousness of nature overcomes our defenses. We should expect a firm response from the institutions we have built to protect ourselves—science, technology, and modern government—but we cannot expect a perfect response. Not from Bush, and not from Obama.

Not from any human.

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