Only A Person Gripped By Fear

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


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.


Two Weeks To Go

An email from the executive director of the Space Studies Institute:

Space Manufacturing 14 begins two weeks from today, with pre-registration and the Friday night round table at the Sheraton Sunnyvale Hotel. The full agenda is posted on the website.

Today is the last day to book hotel rooms online.

After today, please call the Sheraton Sunnyvale sales manager direct at 408-542-8284 and ask for the Space Studies Institute group rate.

A reminder: Tickets for the Saturday night dinner event are extra. We hope you will join us for a talk by Prof. John Lewis about Asia’s Road to the Moon.

Register here.

Warning: I’m planning to attend.

Back To The Moon

People are making a big deal of the latest story that Buzz Aldrin has seemingly changed his mind since April about the need to go back to the moon:

Aldrin believes NASA should move in stages toward a manned mission to Mars, by building outer space fuel stations and developing the moon. He said NASA has already spent hundreds of millions researching the projects, and their investment should be utilized — as recommended by Norm Augustine, former chairman of the Pentagon’s Defense Science Board and chairman of the Review of the U.S. Space Flight Plans Committee.

What’s more, Aldrin said, the American government should not simply shrug off the considerable experience we have with lunar travel. “The U.S. has the most experience in the world, of any nation, in dealing with the moon,” he told “It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that flexibility is needed here.”

Back in April, this was what was reported:

Aldrin prefers that NASA forgo our moon in favor of a trip to the Martian moon Phobos and then a permanent settlement on the Red Planet itself. President Obama’s proposed $3.8 trillion federal budget request cuts NASA’s moonshot Constellation program, which has cost $9 billion over six years, instead proposing to hire private contractors to fly resupply missions to the International Space Station. It also focuses research money on new rockets that could one day be used to send astronauts into Mars, its moons or an asteroid.

So what happened? Let’s leave aside the common confusion between Constellation and returning to the moon (there are many ways to get back to the moon, almost all of them better than Constellation). Let us also stipulate that Buzz can be…mercurial (no pun intended). It could be that what he meant at the time was that he was opposed to redoing Apollo, which was essentially what Constellation did, by Mike Griffin’s own admission, and that this was misinterpreted as an opposition to going to the moon at all. But even if he has changed his mind, aren’t people entitled to do that?

This is the first time that I’ve heard him talk about “fuel stations,” but once one starts thinking about fuel stations in cis-lunar space, it’s inevitable that one will think about the moon as a source for the fuel (and oxidizer).

A couple months ago, I had (non-alcoholic) drinks with Buzz for an hour and a half after Bill Haynes’ funeral, where we bemoaned the current state of space policy. Afterward, I emailed him the link to my piece from last year at The New Atlantis. Perhaps he read it. It would account for his new-found enthusiasm for fuel stations.

Maybe I’ll give him a call and ask.

So Why Aren’t There “Shovel-Ready” Jobs?

To read the comments here, it sounds like we’ve reached second-world levels of bureaucracy. It’s like the whole system is just grinding to a halt. And of course, California has become worse than most places, with little prospect for change, given that the electorate continues to go downhill as the productive leave.

[Update a few minutes later]

The Texas model:

What does Austin know that Washington doesn’t? At its simplest: Don’t overtax and -spend, keep regulations to a minimum, avoid letting unions and trial lawyers run riot, and display an enormous neon sign saying, “Open for Business.”

It’s amazing what can happen when you have political leaders who understand, and don’t hate business.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!