Geert Wilders, Western Sages

…and Islam:

During a March 2009 interview with the Boston Globe’s Jeff Jacoby, Wilders had earlier rejected the notion he “hates Muslims,” while providing a frank characterization of the totalitarian nature of Islam:

I have nothing against the people. I don’t hate Muslims. But Islam is a totalitarian ideology. It rules every aspect of life — economics, family law, whatever. It has religious symbols, it has a God, it has a book — but it’s not a religion. It can be compared with totalitarian ideologies like Communism or fascism. There is no country where Islam is dominant where you have a real democracy, a real separation between church and state. Islam is totally contrary to our values.

By making this latter claim, Wilders shattered a corrosive modern taboo, enforced rigidly and without forgiveness by cultural relativist politicians and government bureaucrats as well as influential “savants” in media, academia, and religion.

But Wilders’ assessment not only comports with scholarly observations made (primarily) before the advent of the postmodern Western scourge of cultural relativism, it is supported by contemporary hard polling data from 2006 -2007, and a more recent follow-up reported February 25, 2009. At present, overwhelming Muslim majorities — i.e., better than two-thirds (see the weighted average calculated here) of a well-conducted survey of the world’s most significant and populous Arab and non-Arab Muslim countries — want these immoderate outcomes: “strict application” of Shari’a, Islamic law, and a global caliphate.

We keep our head in the sand (or in the case of Joy Behar and Whoopie, up our fundament) at our peril.

Advertising Fraud

If Barack Obama were a commercial product, his campaign staff would be liable for a false-advertising lawsuit:

On the intelligence claims, no proof has ever surfaced that any of the Obama brainiac hoopla was anything other than gratuitous accolades granted via affirmative action and white-liberal racial guilt. No transcripts. No professional articles. Nothing. Nada. From kindergarten through law school, not a single shred of evidence has ever surfaced to show that Barack Obama was ever even a good student, much less the brainy wizard of his advertisers’ imaginations. Since the candidate openly admitted to lots of high-school and college drug use, plenty of hoops-shooting, but nary a blip of organized sports rigor, it’s entirely within the realm of probability that those transcripts have been buried with the same malevolent intent as tobacco companies who deep-sixed their own negative research.

Tsk. Tsk. That would be one mighty big class action suit if politicians had to follow the same credibility rules they set for business.

Then, let’s take those godlike claims. The ones to end the rising of the seas and heal all the sick. Well, anyone who bought that overstuffed load of narcissistic hype is a candidate for the evolutionary throwback pail, but still, it was a heap of fraudulent advertising, the likes of which would put any American business on the bankruptcy auction block in a Chicago minute. The fact that the candidate did nothing to discourage such over-hyping garbage and the fact that he even indulged it to the nth degree would make him lawsuit-fodder in anyone’s book.

It would be nice if we could sue the media outlets that refused to vet him as well.

And on a related note, thoughts on Mad Men from James Lileks.

RIP, Outpost

And RIP, Apollo mentality:

The Outpost was an icon of the previous generation of NASA – test pilots, rough-and-tumble guys who blazed trails into outer space with their grit and determination. Or so the story went – when you delve deeper into the details, you find out that really it wasn’t their grit at all – the Right Stuff that we all know so much about really had very little to do with humanity reaching space. The world, America, even NASA allowed the myth to continue because it made much better press – some superhuman beings stretched us from the ordinary to the extraordinary. To glamorize the engineers who actually made it happen: how boring!

Unfortunately, that view was allowed to persist long after it was useful. Today’s NASA is hampered by many forces; one of the most detrimental is the crew office. The crew office is the greatest bastion of the Space Ego, where test pilots, sports heroes, and other mythical creatures can take refuge in perceived greatness.

Time to let go of the Cold-War past, and face a bright new free-enterprise future.

[Update Sunday afternoon]

A lot more (depressing) discussion in comments at NASA Watch. What this comes down to (a recurring theme here) is that space isn’t important. If it were, we’d fix things.

[Bumped]

[Update a few minutes later]

I think that this is related. As far as I’m concerned, shrinking the astronaut office is a good thing — they’ve had too many for years. And what they’ve really had too many of (with exceptions, of course) is people with attitudes like this:

Ross personally does not like the idea of turning to commercial providers to fly astronauts to the International Space Station.

“My personal druthers are to keep the program totally within NASA like we’ve done in the past – the vehicle, the launch team, control, everything – because I know, I’ve seen, how difficult it is to do and I’ve seen what happens when you don’t pay attention to details,” he continued. “Even as hard as we’ve tried to pay attention to details, being what I will call a professional flight launch team, and processing team and flight crew team and flight control team, we still miss things.

“We’re going to have some people that are very much novice in what they’re doing, and trying to do things as inexpensively as possible to make a profit and we’re now going to be putting our crewmembers onto those vehicles and trusting them to launch them safely and that concerns me,” he adds. “You can do it. I’m not going to say that you can’t. It all depends on how much insight, oversight, control, leverage that NASA is given in the overall process. That’s the big key to it,” Ross said.

I grow increasingly weary of the oft-repeated (and much too oft-repeated in the last year) canard that private transportation providers will cut corners and be unsafe because they have to make a profit. The other one is that NASA somehow has some magical expertise and insight that private industry doesn’t have into human spaceflight safety, when in fact much of that, to the degree it exists is in private industry at places like USA and Boeing (who is building a commercial capsule).

Last time I checked, Southwest Airlines had a perfect safety record. Last time I checked, it was one of the most, if not the most profitable airline. And they seem to do both without any oversight by the “professional flight launch team” at NASA. Because, you know, those at Boeing and SpaceX and other places (many of whom are NASA veterans), are just “amateurs.” By these peoples’ theory, Southwest should be killing passengers every week or so. Why don’t they?

Gee, could it be because that they know that killing your customers is bad for business, and that if you go out of business, you don’t make any profits? On the other hand, the agency that not only hasn’t had to worry about profits, but had so much vaunted expertise in human spaceflight, and “knew what they didn’t know,” destroyed two multi-billion dollar Shuttle orbiters, and killed fourteen astronauts, while spending untold billions of dollars of other peoples’ money in apparent futility to make them “safe.” And each time that happened, the agency was rewarded with budget increases and new programs, which they then proceeded to screw up.

So you tell me, who has the more useful incentives, in terms of both cost and safety?

Mind, I’m not complaining that they kill people occasionally — this is a new frontier, and people are going to die. What I’m complaining about is that they’re spending so much money (and again, other peoples’ money) to do so, for so few results.

A New Low

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, Amanpour has Meghan McCain as a panelist on This Week. I really felt for George Will, having to share it with her ignorant blathering.

Who is it, again, that anointed Ms. Ditz to speak for her generation? Oh, yeah. I forgot. She’s the media’s favorite kind of “Republican” — one that will criticize conservatives and real Republicans.

Only A Person Gripped By Fear

..and unable to think clearly could believe in “shovel-ready projects.”

Heh.

The completely unjustified condescension of this lightweight continue to amaze. He’s an arrogant man with much to be modest about.

[Monday morning update]

More thoughts from Mickey:

Maybe Obama was cynically making a pitch to his immediate audience—a small crowd of Massachusetts donors who might be expected to respond to the idea that they were defending “facts” and “science” against confused know-nothings. But Obama should know, especially after the 2008 San Francisco incident, that a candidate can’t keep his words confined to a fundraiser. And this apparently wasn’t a closed-to-press event like the one in S.F. We didn’t have to rely on a donor/blogger like Mayhill Fowler to spill the beans. Reporters reported on it. Obama couldn’t have been trying to cyncially play to the donors—he’s not that naive! This must be what he really thinks.

Now I’m scared! What yesterday’s comments suggest isn’t just that Obama will get clobbered in the midterms. It suggests that after he gets clobbered he won’t be able to adjust and turn the setback into a longterm victory the way Bill Clinton did. Clinton reacted to his 1994 midterm loss by acknowledging his opponents’ strongest arguments and pursuing a balanced budget and welfare reform. Obama seems more inclined to just tough it out until the economy recovers and the scared, confused voters become unscared and see the light. Meanwhile, he’ll spend his time in a protective cocoon.

A few weeks ago a right-wing reporter told me that worried Dem congresspersons who met with Obama left their meetings more worried than when they went in. I discounted the gossip, but now it’s beginning to ring true. We thought he was a great salesman. He turned out to be a lousy salesman. We thought he was a great politician. Instead he makes elementary mistakes and doesn’t learn from them. He didn’t know “shovel-ready” from a hole in the ground, and then somehow thinks admitting this ignorance without apology will add to his appeal.

I continue to be astonished that so many people were mesmerized by this clown two years ago.

An Open Letter From Ken Langone

Stop bashing business, Mr. President:

A little more than 30 years ago, Bernie Marcus, Arthur Blank, Pat Farrah and I got together and founded The Home Depot. Our dream was to create (memo to DNC activists: that’s build, not take or coerce) a new kind of home-improvement center catering to do-it-yourselfers. The concept was to have a wide assortment, a high level of service, and the lowest pricing possible.

We opened the front door in 1979, also a time of severe economic slowdown. Yet today, Home Depot is staffed by more than 325,000 dedicated, well-trained, and highly motivated people offering outstanding service and knowledge to millions of consumers.

If we tried to start Home Depot today, under the kind of onerous regulatory controls that you have advocated, it’s a stone cold certainty that our business would never get off the ground, much less thrive.

Wreckers.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!