The Latest Smear On Space Tourism

Clark Lindsey responds.

[Update a while later]

You know, when supposed captains of the European space industry are both able and willing to submit such an ignorant and illogical piece to a major industry publication, and it’s willing to run it, it tells us something about how screwed up that industry is, and explains why we’ve made so little progress in opening up space after over half a century.

George W. Hoover

Ilya Somin says that George Bush should, finally, stop giving a bad name to free markets:

Bush’s belated support for free markets follows in Hoover’s footsteps. After leaving office in 1933, Hoover wrote books and articles defending free markets and criticizing the Democrats’ New Deal. Some of his criticisms of FDR were well-taken. Many New Deal policies actually worsened and prolonged the Great Depression by organizing cartels and increasing unemployment. But by coming out as a free market advocate, the post-presidential Hoover actually bolstered the cause of interventionism because he helped cement the incorrect impression that he had pursued free market policies while in office, thereby causing the Depression. Bush’s post-presidential conversion creates a similar risk: it could solidify the already widespread impression that he, like the Hoover of myth, pursued laissez-faire policies which then caused an economic crisis.

What should Bush now do if he genuinely wants to help the free market cause? The best thing would be to take up economist David Henderson’s half-joking suggestion that he “express his regret at nationalizing airport safety, carrying out illegal surveillance of U.S. citizens, raiding medical marijuana clinics, bailing out General Motors, AIG and other companies, and socializing prescription drugs for the elderly [the biggest new government program from the 1960s until the present financial crisis].” Bush could also point out that he advocated an ideology of “compassionate conservatism” that included vastly expanded government, and an “ownership society” that (in his own words) involved “us[ing] the mighty muscle of the federal government” to incentivize dubious mortgages of the kind that helped cause the financial collapse of 2008. The greatest contribution Bush can now make to free market policies is to dispel the impression that he pursued them while in office.

Unfortunately, as Somin points out, the likelihood that he will admit his perfidy to markets, or the disastrous nature of many of his domestic policies, is pretty low, so the best thing he can do for free markets now is to just shut up.

Political Trouble Brewing

for the Donkeys:

A Gallup Poll released last week offered a disturbing glimpse about the state of play: just 14 percent of independents approve of the job Congress is doing, the lowest figure all year. In just the past few days alone, surveys have shown Democratic incumbents trailing Republicans among independent voters by double-digit margins in competitive statewide contests in places as varied as Connecticut, Ohio and Iowa.

Obama’s own popularity among independents has fallen significantly, too. A CBS News poll Tuesday showed the president’s approval rating among unaligned voters falling to 45 percent — down from 63 percent in April.

The marks are finally catching on to the game. But this was the part I found most interesting:

Michael Dimock, a pollster for the Pew Research Center — which reported in a new survey that only 45 percent of independents want their own representative to return to Congress — also believes Democrats have suffered for their inability to move the ball on key agenda items such as health care.

Emphasis mine. Usually, people say they hate Congress, but think their own representative isn’t like the rest of the bums to be thrown out. When they say they want to replace even their own, there’s a revolution in the making, and it won’t be a happy one for the majority party. And as for the nonsense that Demos are “suffering for their inability to move the ball on key agenda items such as healthcare,” no. They are suffering because they’re overreaching on those items. But I hope they continue to believe this fantasy. It will make the blowback all the greater a year from now.

[Afternoon update]

When reality catches up with rhetoric:

We are left with two conclusions. 1) A very inexperienced president has discovered that all the easy, Manichean campaign rhetoric of 2008 does not translate well into actual governance. 2) Obama is in a race to push a rather radical, polarizing agenda down the throat of a center-right country before the country wakes up and his approval ratings hit 40 percent.

We may see one of two things happen: Either the country will move more to the left in four years than it has in the last 50; or Obama will take down with him both the Democratic Congress and the very notion of responsible liberal governance, thereby achieving a Jimmy Carter–type legacy.

My money’s on number two.

Prepare To Be Shocked To Your Core

Bob Zubrin is poo pooing the LCROSS lunar water findings:

While the results obtained from the LCROSS mission are of some scientific interest, it needs to be understood that the amount of water discovered was extremely small. The 30 m crater ejected by the probe contained 10 million kilograms of regolith. Within this ejecta, an estimated 100 kg of water was detected. That represents a proportion of 10 parts per million, which is a lower water concentration than that found in the soil of the driest deserts of the Earth. In contrast, we have found continent sized regions on Mars, which are 600,000 parts per million, or 60% water by weight.

…For the coming age of space exploration, Mars compares to the Moon as North America compared to Greenland in the previous age of maritime exploration. Greenland was closer to Europe, and Europeans reached it first, but it was too barren to sustain substantial permanent settlement. In contrast, North America was a place where a new branch of human civilization could be born. The Moon is a barren island in the ocean of space; Mars is a New World. Mars is where the challenge is, it is where the science is, it is where the future is. That is why Mars should be our goal.

Let’s ignore the fact that NASA disagrees that the moon is drier than earth’s driest deserts, in light of the latest findings. As Michael Turner notes in comments, the problem with that analogy is that there is a huge difference in travel time and expense between the moon and Mars, whereas they were essentially equivalent between Greenland and the rest of North America, in terms of the technology required to get there.

Is there more water, easier to process on Mars than on the moon? Sure, as long as you’re on Mars. Therein lies the rub. This sort of reminds me of the old joke about the guy searching for his car keys in the street at night. Someone walks up and asks if he can help. “Where did you lose them?” “A couple blocks over that way.” “Well, why are you looking here?” “There’s better light.” I say sort of, because it’s not clear what are the keys and what is the light in this analogy.

Anyway, if we can use lunar water to facilitate trips to Mars, isn’t that a desirable goal? Not to Bob, who wants to go Right Now, which would be fine if he were doing it with his own money. He understandably fears that lunar activities will prove a diversion from The One True Goal, in both money and time, as ISS has. But whether or not that would be the case is a function of the reason for the lunar base. If its focus is on utilizing resources (and indeed, if it has a focus, which iSS never did, other than as a jobs program for NASA and later the Russians), there is no need for it to be a diversion — it could in fact be a major stepping stone to not just Mars but the entire solar system. On the other hand, the way that NASA currently plans to get back to the moon (the “Program of Record”) would almost certainly bear out Bob’s worst fears. But the argument shouldn’t be about destinational priorities; it should be about the most cost-effective means of developing the capability to affordably go wherever we want.

A Vision Of The Future In Space

In comments over at Space Politics, “Ray” responds to the Ares boosters over there (who are hilarious in their blind adulation of the program, or would be were it not so sad — as I say over there, they haven’t just drunk the kool aid, but are snorkeling around in an Olympic-sized pool of it):

Kaylyn63: “…fasten your seatbelt and hang on for the ride Ares is going to give the United States”

Ares has already taken the United States on quite a ride, so I can only imagine what’s next:

– ISS science and engineering cut beyond the bone
– ISS dumped in the ocean in 2015
– Ares 1 delivered in 2017 – 2019 to service the long-gone ISS
– huge commercial space opportunities lost for U.S. industry
– NASA Aeronautics vanished
– Planetary science robotics, including missions to scout human spaceflight destinations, fading to a shadow
– NASA research, development, and technology demonstration work cut and limited to Ares investigations
– NASA Earth science missions few and far between
– Ares V delivered in 2030, but no budget to put anything on it
– EELVs, Falcons, and Taurus II greatly underutilized (and thus more expensive per launch than necessary) by the loss of commercial crew transport to LEO, fuel launches, early destruction of the ISS, and lack of budget to launch robotic missions – resulting in U.S. launch industry not being competitive in the global marketplace

Thanks, Ares!

So speaketh the ghost of Christmas future. If the goal was to destroy most of the useful things that NASA is, and could be doing, then perhaps it is the “Invention of the Year” after all. It has managed to accomplish much along those lines already, even though it won’t fly for years…

The frightening thing is that Chairwoman Giffords has bought into the hype as well. Of course, she has sort of a conflict of interest, in that she’s married into NASA.

Bringing Martial Law To America

That will be the result of this insane decision to try KSM in New York:

For over two hundred years we were careful to keep a firewall between civil and martial law. We did so because civil and martial law are polar opposites. Civil law is focused on protecting the rights of the accused against the overwhelming power of the state. When there is doubt, the accused walks free. Martial law is focused on imposing a minimal order on bloody chaos. It was focused on allowing the military to complete its mission and win wars. When there is doubt, the accused is presumed guilty.

Now, Obama wants to bring martial law into a civil court room in Manhattan. In order to let a civil conviction of KSM stand, the higher courts will have to overturn almost all the current constitutional protections of the accused.

They will have to overturn the requirement for Miranda warnings. They will have to overturn the Fifth Amendment protection against self incrimination. They will have to overturn the right to face one’s accusers and to examine all evidence and evidence gathering methods.

Even if the courts throw out his conviction, the government will never allow him to go free, so we will toss out protection against double jeopardy if they try to convict with a military tribunal, and toss out the right of no imprisonment without trial if they don’t.

Our system of justice relies on precedent and equality of procedure. The same rules apply to every civil trail. We can’t say that it’s okay to deny the right against self-incrimination in one person’s trial while saying it’s okay in another. If the courts overturn the rights of one individual accused, it must overturn the rights of all of them.

Nothing good will come of this trial.

Of course it will. It will show how evil the BusHitler was.

[Afternoon update]

Memo to Obama: these detainees are not soldiers in this war, they are the weapons.

[Update mid afternoon]

How hard will it be to convict KSM?

[Update late afternoon]

Here’s a hall of shame: the list of Senate Republicans who supported Eric Holder for Attorney General.

[Update a few minutes later]

A history lesson:

Remember what KSM said after his capture: He would tell us everything when he got to New York for his trial. We told him: You’re not going to New York. First, you’re going to spend a little time talking to the CIA. And under CIA questioning, KSM — together with other CIA detainees — gave us vital intelligence that helped stop a number of attacks, including a plot to fly an airplane into the Library Tower in Los Angeles; a plot to fly airplanes in the Heathrow Airport and buildings in downtown London; a plot to blow up our consulate in Karachi; a plot to blow up our Marine camp in Djibouti; and many others. His interrogation produced thousands of intelligence reports, and helped us wrap up the two main terrorist networks still at large at the time of his capture: the remaining members of the KSM network that had planned the 9/11 attacks, and the key members of the Hambali network that was working with al-Qaeda on follow-on attacks.

Once we had exhausted KSM as an intelligence source, President Bush transferred him and 13 other detainees from CIA custody to Guantanamo Bay so that they could face justice. If it had not been for the legal obstacles Andy cites, their trials would have begun soon thereafter.

And had it not been for the Obama administration, KSM and his partners would now be sitting on death row. KSM and his co-conspirators offered to plead guilty once their military commissions got underway and proceed straight to execution — until the Obama administration suspended the proceedings. This means that, with his decision to give KSM a civilian trial, Eric Holder effectively rejected KSM’s guilty plea, and told him, “No, Mr. Mohammed, first let us give you that stage you wanted in New York to rally jihadists to kill Americans and incite new attacks.”

Thanks, Eric.

[Evening update]

The worse the terrorist, the more rights he gets. Great incentives, guys.

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