They Could Use A Gas Station

LCROSS is low on propellant:

LCROSS is now perilously close to its built-in propellant margins, and Andrews said the team will probably have to cancel some activities that are not crucial to the mission.

“Our estimates now are if we pretty much baseline the mission, meaning just accomplish the things that we have to (do) to get the job done with full mission success, we’re still in the black on propellant, but not by a lot,” Andrews told Spaceflight Now late Tuesday.

LCROSS now has between 20 pounds and 40 pounds of extra propellant that could be used in unplanned activities, a relatively thin margin for satellite operations.

“We can finish this mission, but it makes our sensitivity to something happening quite high,” Andrews said.

If we were a space-faring nation, we’d send out a fuel truck.

Looking And Touching

Mark Whittington continues in his foolish mischaracterization of the Deep Space option. We can touch to our hearts’ content. And once (in the process of “touching”) we start to develop the resources of the asteroids and Martian moons, we’ll be able to affordably descend into the gravity wells. In particular, there is no basis for this statement whatsoever:

The development of ships capable of crossing interplanetary distances will likely remain in the purview of governments for the foreseeable future. There would be little if any hope of such space craft being developed commercially in the near term, especially if landing on the Moon and Mars were to be deferred indefinitely. Without actual places to go, the market for commercial space flight would be limited to low Earth orbit and, perhaps, Earth approaching asteroids.

People want to go to the moon. People want to go to Mars. Elon Musk wants to go to Mars. That’s why he started his company. Bob Bigelow wants to go to the moon. Once access to orbit becomes affordable, he will. Once they, and Jeff Bezos, and others, are halfway to anywhere, they’re not going to wait for NASA to send someone before they do. To think that they would is to completely misunderstand their motivations and plans.

The Kael Syndrome

Charles Murray thinks that the White House is extremely prone to it:

The graph is based exclusively on non-Latino whites (because that’s who the book is about). If you want to see a visual representation of the development of the bubble that Barack Obama has been living in since he left Hawaii, that graph is it. Judging from the GSS data, every white socioeconomic class in America has become more conservative in the last four decades, with the Traditional Middles moving the most decisively rightward. But the Intellectual Uppers have not just moved slightly in the other direction, they have careened in the other direction.

They won the election with a candidate who sounded centrist running against an exceptionally weak Republican opponent. But they’ve been in the bubble too long. They really think that the rest of America thinks as they do. Nothing but the Pauline Kael syndrome can explain the political idiocy of letting Attorney General Eric Holder go after the interrogators.

On a related note, polls like the one he’s describing make me crazy. When someone asks how liberal or conservative I am, the answer is no. None of the above. I wouldn’t know how to characterize myself on that simplistic one-dimensional axis. But I don’t know how typical I am in that regard. Apparently they get a lot of people to provide an answer. And it’s not a good answer for the Democrats.

You know, this reminds me a lot of Iran-Contra. For those unfamiliar, that was the affair in which the Reagan administration was doing deals with the Iranians, giving them arms in exchange for hostages and providing financial support to the anti-Sandinista rebels in Nicaragua. Sensible people were upset over the trading arms for hostages, but the loony Dems were outraged that we were helping defeat communism in Central America, and fantasized that the American people shared their love of Danny Ortega. It blew up in their collective face in the Congressional hearings with Ollie North.

The same thing seems to be happening here. The radical left insists on prosecuting people who got valuable intelligence that probably saved American lives, destroying morale at the CIA, and probably putting us at greater risk. And they imagine that the American people share their outrage over “torture” of terrorists, and hope that they will finally get their great white whale, Dick Cheney. But the notion that waterboarding Khalid Sheik Mohammed outrages Americans is nutty. If they persist in this nonsense, the political blowback may make Iran-Contra look like a Sunday picnic. The Republican ads will almost write themselves next fall.

[Late afternoon update]

Charles Murray has a clarification of his post.

[Early evening update]

Andy McCarthy says that no one should be surprised the Holder has politicized the Justice Department:

Lots of indignation out there about Attorney General Holder’s appointment of a prosecutor to go after the CIA. Disgruntled folks include many who voted to confirm him despite the politicized Rich pardon and the politicized FALN pardons and the politicized recommendation against an independent counsel for Gore’s indefensible campaign-finance violation, etc. Lots of quiet, meanwhile, from the Republican cheering section that helped steer the attorney-general to confirmation. Put me in mind of something I wrote weeks before that happened…

Read the whole thing.

[Another update a few minutes later]

Victoria Toensing explains why it’s such awful policy:

“All volunteers step forward. We have a person in custody who is high-ranking al-Qaeda. He taunts that an attack on United States soil is imminent but laughs mockingly when we ask for specifics. We need interrogators.” Such was the threat in the summer of 2002 when the CIA asked the Justice Department for guidance on what its personnel could do to get such information from captured al-Qaeda lieutenant Abu Zubaydah.

Since then, the lawyers who stepped forward to provide carefully structured counsel have been criminally investigated and told that, even if they are not prosecuted, their conduct will be turned over to their state bars. The interrogators who stepped forward were promised in early spring by President Obama that, even if they erred in judgment while protecting our country, the president would rather “move forward.” However, in late summer, they are under criminal scrutiny.

Even though an earlier investigation by career prosecutors reviewed the same conduct and refused prosecution of all but one contract employee who was brought to trial in 2007. Even though congressional leaders had knowledge of the interrogation techniques and made no attempt to stop them. Even though the conduct is more than six years old. Even though the CIA has taken administrative action against some of the personnel involved in the interrogations. Even though being just a target of a criminal investigation costs thousands of dollars in legal fees. Even though being just a target of a criminal investigation takes a horrendous mental toll. Even though the morale of the CIA will plunge to the depths it did in the wake of the Church Committee attacks. Even though the release of the names of those being scrutinized will make them terrorist targets for the rest of their lives. Even if they are cleared.

The next time our government employees are asked to step forward to get information of a possible, even probable, imminent attack, no one will. Even though…

No good will come of this.

The End Of Liberal Fascism

Alas, the only thing that is ending is the blog of that name — I’m sure that the ideology itself will persist and continue to have adherents. Jonah has a farewell post, with some thoughts on the book and current events:

…in the current issue of NR I have a short item on the recent spate of “Obama as Hitler” epithets being thrown around by a few people on the Right (and a lot of idiot Larouchies). A link is unavailable but here’s the relevant passage:

The simple truth is that I do not think it is in the cards for America to go down a Nazi path. I never said otherwise in Liberal Fascism, either….

….Indeed, while I don’t think it is remotely right or fair to call Obama a crypto-Nazi (if by that you mean to say he’s a would-be Hitler), the real problem with all of this loose Nazi talk is that it slanders the American people. Daniel Jonah Goldhagen may have overstated his case in Hitler’s Willing Executioners, but he was certainly right that the German people were Hitler’s willing enablers. The overwhelming majority of the American people — in their history, culture, bones, hearts, souls, DNA, and carbon molecules — are not like that. That goes for American liberals and leftists too. The extent and depth of liberalism’s obtuseness on the subject of fascism (and much else) stews my bowels, but American liberals are still Americans, and Americans will not goose-step behind a Hitler, period.

As I make clear in Liberal Fascism, the obvious and pressing threat is not from a Hitlerite-Orwellian dictatorship but from a Huxleyan namby-pamby mommy state. That sort of system could seduce Americans into becoming chestless subjects of the State in exchange for bottomless self-gratification and liberation from the necessity of adult decision-making. Yes, there’s a danger that such a society could then be susceptible to some darker vision that lionizes the lost manhood of a half-forgotten past. But, by that point, this would be America in name only, if even that (“U.N. District 12″ has a nice ring to it).

I should note that I am not quite agreeing with David Frum’s recent broadside against conservatives who find relevance in fascism and Nazism. David writes “can we get a grip here” and I certainly agree that if people think Obama will become a Hitler, or even a Mussolini, they need to do some more thinking. But I think this bit from David is a sort of sleight-of-hand I’ve encountered many times before. He writes:

Contra Rush Limbaugh, history’s actual fascists were not primarily known for their anti-smoking policies or generous social welfare programs. Fascism celebrated violence, anti-rationalism and hysterical devotion to an authoritarian leader.

That’s all true, but misses an important point. What the fascists were or are primarily known for is not necessarily dispositive to the question of what they actually were. Speaking for myself, the relevance of the generous social welfare programs and anti-smoking programs is to point out that the Nazis weren’t exactly what we’ve been told they were. Sure, they were violent and hysterically devoted to an authoritarian leader, but they were also more than that and their popularity with the German people cannot be easily chalked up to those features either.

The Nazis did not rise to power on the promise of bringing war and violence. They just didn’t. They rose to power by promising national restoration, peace, pride, dignity, unity and generous social welfare programs among other things including, of course, scapegoating Jews. People forget how Hitler successfully fashioned himself a champion of peace for quite a while. Limbaugh’s counter-attack on liberals, specifically Pelosi, is exactly that, a counter-attack. He was saying that if liberals are going to call conservatives Nazis for opposing nationalized healthcare maybe they should at least account for the fact that Nazis agreed with them on the issue, not conservatives. If liberals want to have a fight over who is closer to fascism, I see no reason why conservatives should cower from that argument, particularly since the facts are on our side. But I reject entirely the idea that liberals today are literally Nazi-like, particularly if we are going to define Nazism by what “they were known for.” Liberals don’t want to invade Poland or round up Jews. As I’ve said many times, one naive hope I had for my book was that it would remove the word “fascist” from popular discourse, not expand its franchise. Alas, on that score the book is a complete failure.

As I’ve said many times, all Nazis are fascists, but not all fascists are Nazis.

The Romance

of typewriters?

I don’t find them romantic. I wouldn’t be able to write anywhere near as much (or as well) as I do without a computer. When I hear about Dick Cheney writing his memoirs in long hand, I cringe. I could never do it — I find the act of dragging a writing implement across paper (and not writing, but actually, printing — I gave up on cursive about the eighth grade) sheer physical drudgery. It’s kind of amazing that I managed to get through college in the pre-word-processing days. I was so desperate for a keyboard with an editor that I actually used a DECWriter and text processor as one. I learned to type on my step-mother’s Selectric, but when I went to college all I could afford was a cheap Remington (manual) portable. I banged out some papers on it, some all nighters, but they would all have been better if I could have edited them. Give me the computer age.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!