California, Too Far Gone

We seem to have reached a tipping point here. Too many Californians think that they can have both lunatic environmental and economic policies, and a viable economy. Almost every initiative went the wrong way, as did the gubernatorial and senatorial elections, though the former was partly a result of an awful Republican candidate — Jerry Brown might have been beatable by Chuck DeVore.

It’s a positive feedback situation with increasingly negative results. The economic ignorami in the electorate vote for idiotic propositions, and send economic ignorami to Sacramento in the legislature and governor’s mansion, resulting in flight by the sensible, continuing to distill and concentrate the idiocy in the electorate. It will end in bankruptcy (the state is basically already there), and then they’ll demand a bailout from the rest of the country. Fortunately, with the new Congress, they won’t get it. But I don’t know if the state is salvageable at this point. It’s some of the best real estate on earth, but its current inhabitants don’t deserve it, and have squandered a great legacy.

It’s an opportunity for other states to poach a lot of space companies, I think.

[Update early afternoon]

California, winner of the Dumbest State Award, by a landslide.

Great Election News For Space

Jim Oberstar has lost. Not just lost his chairmanship of the House committee that oversees the FAA, but he’s completely gone from Congress.

What does this mean? It means that there’s a reasonable chance of getting an extension to the moratorium on FAA-AST regulation of passenger safety, which was due to expire in 2012. The suborbital industry hasn’t advanced as much as anticipated when the Commercial Space Launch Amendments Act was passed in late 2004, so eight years wasn’t enough. The new chairman will probably be current ranking member John Mica of Florida. His district runs from the northern Orlando suburbs up to the coast from Daytona to St. Augustine, which isn’t really part of the space coast, but it’s just north of it, so I imagine he’ll be amenable to legislation that will help business there.

The Aviation subcommittee, currently run by Russ Carnahan of Missouri, will probably go to ranking member Tom Petri of Wisconsin. From his profile:

A persistent foe of government waste, Petri has repeatedly earned high marks from such organizations as the National Taxpayers Union, the Concord Coalition, Citizens Against Government Waste, Americans for Tax Reform, and the Watchdogs of the Treasury. Over many years he has repeatedly been named a “Guardian of Small Business” by the National Federation of Independent Business, and has won the “National Security Leadership Award” from the American Security Council.

Petri is known for his efforts to apply innovative solutions to problems, with a firm commitment to cost-effectiveness. Accordingly, Norm Ornstein, a prominent political scholar and expert on Congress, has called Petri “one of the most thoughtful members of Congress, filled with lots of ideas about how to make government better,” while senior Washington Post columnist David Broder has called him “a notably independent, creative legislator.”

Seems like he’d also be amenable to sensible legislation that promotes commercial spaceflight, which will also help NASA save money.

It’s really hard to appreciate what great and unexpected news this is. There were a lot of indications that Oberstar was in trouble, but it was still hard to believe that he could actually lose his election. The Commercial Spaceflight Federation should plan on trying to move some legislation this year. It’s hard to believe that the administration would be opposed, given its commercial-friendly space policy in general.

[Update a couple minutes later]

I just realized that I didn’t explain why Oberstar was so bad. Go read this article from 2005 at The Space Review.

[Update a while later]

Here’s a little disappointing news on the space front. I was hoping that Gabbie Giffords would lose in Arizona, and she almost did, but it looks like the libertarians kept her in office, by a couple thousand votes. But at least she’ll no longer chair the space subcommittee. Same thing happened to rocket scientist Ruth McClung. If those libertarians had voted for her, they’d have defeated (Arizona-bashing) Grijalva.

I often, even mostly vote libertarian in elections, to make a political point, but never in one that tight. I do prefer the lesser of the two evils, and it was particularly important in this election to remove as many Democrats as possible.

[Update early afternoon]

The Arizona races are still too close to call.

The Enemy Has A Strategy

Do we?

Of course, the White House strategy seems to consist of apologizing to them, and pretending that they aren’t enemies, but just Facebook Friends we haven’t met yet. “Enemy” is a term reserved for American citizens who don’t agree that we should become a bankrupt European social democracy as soon as possible.

[Update a few minutes later]

“Amateur Hour at the State Department.” Thoughts from Claire Berlinski:

I recently interviewed Turkey’s former ambassador to the United States, Faruk Loğoğlu. He is appalled — like many in Turkey — by the soft-headedness of the Obama administration’s diplomacy in this region. He finds Obama’s speeches about his personal warmth toward Islam ludicrous and inappropriate. “Obama can’t play the religious game,” he said. “He should be playing the security game. His policy toward Turkey is a bad imitation of the worst parts of Orientalism.”

It’s not merely the ideological color of the Obama administration’s diplomacy that worries me, but its incompetence. I’ve lately been examining in very close detail the events that led to Turkey’s “No” vote on the Iran sanctions package in the UN. I’ll be writing about this elsewhere, and the details are too complicated to summarize here. But one thing leaps out: our incompetence. How could there have been any ambiguity — and obviously there was — in our communication with Turkey about our negotiating position on the nuclear-fuel-swap deal? How is it possible that Turkey was receiving critically different messages from the White House and the State Department on an issue as significant as the Iranian nuclear program, for God’s sake? It’s inconceivable, but on looking closely at the evidence, it is clear that this is just what happened.

When the State Department spokesman sends a completely inappropriate birthday message to to Ahmadinejad via Twitter, it is, likewise, a symptom of utter amateurism. Apologists for this incident have suggested to me that this wasn’t such a big deal; it was sarcastic, they say, and it wasn’t a diplomatic note or official communiqué. I am guessing that had that Tweet said, “Tomorrow we bomb Iran into rubble,” the same people would have thought it quite a big deal indeed.

Unfortunately, regardless of what happens today, it’s not a problem we can solve for another two years. And it won’t be solved by replacing the president with the current Secretary of State, though that would be a modest improvement.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!