A One-Two Punch?

It’s still too far out to be worried, but the long-range tracks on tropical storms Ana and Bill (which is expected to form late today or tomorrow) both have south Florida in the middle of the bullseye for late next week and weekend. It’s worth noting that this is the latest first named storm since 1992. The name of that one was Andrew, which hit exactly where the current five-day track for Ana is centered, in Homestead. But it came in from a more northern, unobstructed path than the models are currently showing for Ana, which may be weakened by crossing the mountains of the Greater Antilles. We’ll know more in a couple days.

[Update late afternoon]

Bill is born.

Ares I-X

isn’t getting much love in comments over at Space Transport News. At least not the kind that its supporters would like to see:

Perhaps NASA should keep the Ares I-X in storage until the 4th of July next year. I imagine the flaming propellant debris cloud would be pretty cool to watch.
Posted by Neil H. at 08/15/09 12:28:55

4th of July is too long to wait. I vote for New Years fireworks spectacular.
Posted by john hare at 08/15/09 13:02:52

How about Labor Day, send Summer out with a bang.
Posted by anonymous at 08/15/09 13:16:56

This “test,” which isn’t testing actual flight hardware, has cost (so far) a third of a billion dollars. That’s about the same as the estimate for the launch escape system for the Dragon. Sometimes it seems that people who advocate more money for NASA seem to have no concept of cost and value.

The President’s Space Policy Dilemma

A good wrap up over at the Orlando Sentinel:

For NASA allies on Capitol Hill, news that the agency does not have enough money to do what it wants is not so shocking. For years, members of congressional science committees have complained about underfunding.

But in a time of enormous budget deficits, a major boost is seen as unlikely.

“NASA is getting $18 billion a year. That’s more than all the other [space] agencies in the world combined. It’s very difficult to make the argument for more money,” said Vincent Sabathier, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington think tank.

Sabathier said NASA’s best hope lies in giving a greater role to its international partners to develop key components of an exploration system, such as using a French rocket to launch a U.S. capsule.

One point that people don’t understand, though, is that it isn’t a budget problem per se. It is a budget problem in the context of the politics. As I said over at Space Politics:

It is disheartening — but not surprising — to read that the Augustine Commission doesn’t see any way the current NASA budget can get us back to the Moon or to any of the spectacular alternatives that have been contemplated in anything like a reasonable time frame.

Actually, it’s not that the NASA budget can’t do it — it’s that NASA can’t do it with that budget, given its political constraints. Certainly it could be done for that amount of money, or even a lot less.

A long as we have a political requirement to maintain thousands of jobs at KSC and Marshall and Houston, it’s going to be hard to reduce costs. That’s a point that needs to be made strongly in the panel’s report. If the politicians want to shut down human spaceflight, or dramatically increase the budget, we should at least be clear on why those are the two options — it’s not because it is as intrinsically expensive as NASA always makes it. By the time Dragon is flying with crew, Elon will have spent far less than a billion dollars, a tiny percentage of what NASA plans to spend on Orion and Ares I. And the difference in size doesn’t explain the difference in cost. What does explain it is that he’s spending his own money, and his primary focus is on developing space hardware that closes a business case, not “creating or saving” (to use the administration’s wonderfully nebulous criterion) “jobs.”

A Roundup Of Good Political News

The pace of “stimulus” spending has plummeted. Good time to shut off the spigot entirely, but it probably won’t happen until we at least restore some sanity to the Hill next year.

Meanwhile, cap and trade appears to be dead in the Senate for this year (and let’s hope forever). This is bad news, of course, for the Blue Dogs in the House who Pelosi strong armed into voting for it. They made a politically painful vote against their constituents’ wishes with nothing to show for it. Let’s hope that it turns her from Speaker Pelosi to Minority Leader Pelosi next year (if not dumping her from the leadership altogether).

And another sign that the people are waking from their trance — a clear majority of likely voters now say that no health-care bill is better than anything resembling this bill:

This does not mean that most voters are opposed to health care reform. But it does highlight the level of concern about the specific proposals that Congressional Democrats have approved in a series of Committees. To this point, there has been no Republican support for the legislative effort although the Senate Finance Committee is still attempting to seek a bi-partisan solution.

Not surprisingly, there is a huge partisan divide on this issue. Sixty percent (60%) of Democrats say passing the legislation in Congress would be the best course of action. However, 80% of Republicans take the opposite view. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 23% would like the Congressional reform to pass while 66% would rather the legislators take no action.

Don’t just do something — stand there!

It’s partly because of this:

One reason is skepticism about Congress itself. By a two-to-one margin, voters believe that no matter how bad things are Congress could always make it worse.

Yup. Michael Barone expands on where the Democrats went wrong:

…the Democrats have a problem here. The party’s leadership currently tilts heavily to the liberal side. Barack Obama is from the university community of Hyde Park in Chicago. Speaker Nancy Pelosi is from San Francisco, and important House committee chairmen are from similar “gentry urban” locales — Henry Waxman from the West Side of Los Angeles, Charles Rangel from a district that includes not only Harlem but much of the Upper West Side of Manhattan, Barney Frank from Newton, Mass., next door to Boston.

Of the 21 top leadership members and chairmen, five come from districts carried by John McCain, but the average vote in the other 16 districts was 71 percent to 27 percent for Obama.

All these Democratic leaders understand that their home turf tilts far left of the rest of the nation. But a politician’s political base is ultimately his or her reality principle. Moreover, most of these leaders — though Obama obfuscated this in his campaign — have strong, long-held convictions that are well on the left of the American political spectrum.

These are the people — the House leaders more than Obama, surprisingly — who have shaped the Democrats’ stimulus package, cap-and-trade legislation and health-care bills. The rules of the House allow a skillful leader like Pelosi to jam legislation through on the floor, although she’s had more trouble than expected on health care. But their policies have been meeting resistance from the three-quarters of Americans who don’t describe themselves as liberals.

The leftists were deluding themselves when they saw the November election as a mandate for socialism. Most of the independents who voted for Democrats were voting against Republicans, and many of the people who voted for Barack Obama were just voting for generic “change” without paying much attention to what kind of change was being promised. Now that they see what it actually means, they’re in revolt. And coming up with better commercials isn’t going to get the dog to eat the dog food when it tastes like crap.

Finally, a bonus: If Sarah Palin is so stupid, and Barack Obama so brilliant, how did she win the argument?

One can hardly deny that Palin’s reference to “death panels” was inflammatory. But another way of putting that is that it was vivid and attention-getting. Level-headed liberal commentators who favor more government in health care, including Slate’s Mickey Kaus and the Washington Post’s Charles Lane, have argued that the end-of-life provision in the bill is problematic–acknowledging in effect (and, in Kaus’s case, in so many words) that Palin had a point.

If you believe the media, Sarah Palin is a mediocre intellect, if even that, while President Obama is brilliant. So how did she manage to best him in this debate? Part of the explanation is that disdain for Palin reflects intellectual snobbery more than actual intellect. Still, Obama’s critics, in contrast with Palin’s, do not deny the president’s intellectual aptitude. Intelligence, however, does not make one immune from hubris.

It’s also because he doesn’t have good arguments. All that he has is charisma, and people are starting to see through the lies and the fraud. No wonder the markets are cheering.

[All collected via Instapundit]

[Early afternoon update]

The telecoms apparently don’t want to be stimulated:

With today the deadline to apply for $4.7 billion in broadband grants, AT&T, Verizon and Comcast won’t be going for the stimulus money, sources close to the companies said.

Their reasons are varied. All three say they have enough cash to upgrade and expand their broadband networks on their own. Some say the grant money could draw unwanted scrutiny of their business practices and compensation programs, as seen with automakers and banks that got government bailouts.

And privately, some complain about the conditions attached to the money, including a net-neutrality rule they say would prevent them from managing traffic on their networks in the way they want.

“We are concerned that some new mandates seem to go well beyond current laws and FCC rules, and may lead to the kind of continuing uncertainty and delay that is antithetical to the president’s primary goals of economic stimulus and job creation,” said Walter McCormick, president of USTelecom, a trade group that represents companies including AT&T and Verizon.

Emphasis mine. And of course, it’s not at all antithetical to his true goal of giving the government ever more power over the private economy.

[Mid-afternoon update]

Andy McCarthy has related thoughts:

Obama has never been as popular as advertised — not even as personally popular (his policies have always been far less popular than his person). It is worth remembering, as I’ve noted before, that even with a Republican candidate who inspired little enthusiasm among conservatives, almost 60 million Americans voted against Obama. That’s more than voted for every winning presidential candidate in our history except Bush ’04. The president has gotten by to this point on the bipartisan goodwill almost every new president gets and a media that has projected him as wildly popular — appearances being crucial in politics. Given that the president is a fierce partisan extremist and that picture of plenary enthusiasm for him was an illusion, that bubble wasn’t likely to last very long, and now it’s been punctured by an issue about which people care deeply. In those straits, a clever communication strategy is not going to solve the problem. It can’t change the substance of what he’s trying to sell.

Bill Clinton recovered from this problem (after he lost the Congress) by “triangulating” and moving to the center. I don’t think that Barack Obama is capable of doing that, despite his pretense of being a moderate — he’s too much of a knee-jerk statist. And the people are wising up to the fraud (nine months too late).

A US President

…raised on KGB propaganda:

From his communist mentor Frank Marshall Davis to the unrepentant domestic terrorist Bill Ayers, Barack Obama has always gravitated towards people holding radical leftist views akin to those of Zelaya. He eagerly promoted leftist ideology as an ACORN activist and later when he taught and developed theories that opposed the American system of individual liberties in favor of unsustainable group entitlements at the expense of producers — theories that advocated placing the people under the controlling “care” of the state.

And since such views are part of the ideological template that vilifies America and lionizes its enemies, Obama’s instinctive reaction was to back Zelaya and throw a lifeline to Ahmadinejad.

Like John Kerry at the Senate hearings, President Obama may be acting in good faith, but his processing of reality is just as impaired by the same “metaphorical deformation.” As a result, the leader of the free world strays across the frontlines and joins the Marxist leaders Hugo Chavez, Raul Castro, Evo Morales, and Daniel Ortega, at least two of whom — Castro and Ortega — were committed Soviet clients.

It explains much.

You Want Astroturfing?

This is astroturfing.

And hilarious. And more signs of their desperation.

But they won’t be well dressed, so I guess they have that going for them.

[Evening update]

More thoughts on astroturfing, and hypocrisy, from Jesse Walker. This part seems a little unfair, though:

It’s entertaining to watch the same people who spent the Bush years smearing the antiwar movement as “on the other side” suddenly rediscovering the virtues of noisy protest.

I can’t speak for others, but I never called antiwar people, per se, on the other side. I reserved that term for people who wore kaffiyehs, marched with Palestinian flags, said that they supported the troops when they shot their officers, and called people in Iraq killing US troops their version of the Minutemen.

Just sayin’.

[Update a few minutes later]

Megan McArdle has some thoughts, from experience:

Have I mentioned recently that I hate PIRG? Well, I hate PIRG with the kind of blackhearted distilled rage that normally characterizes the breakup of a thirty year marriage. They, and their whole canvassing operation, are a vile beast that subsists on dishonor, greed, and the rapidly disintegrating idealism of impressionable young people.

But the LA Times piece makes it sound like the Obama administration, or some other wing of the Democratic party, is hiring these volunteers. It is, I suppose, possible, but it’s not the most likely supposition. PIRGs love national health care. So do most of the other groups they work with. Given that their canvassing operation is the fundraising arm of half the left-wing groups in this country, they’re the obvious people to hire if you want to take your message to the streets. I’m sure there are loads of perfectly legitimate groups out there with money to spare and a heartfelt desire to push national health care reform for its own sake.

Whether or not the administration is involved, it’s true, unadulterated astroturf. And really, it’s all part of the collectivist hive. The administration doesn’t have to orchestrate it, because it can count on its fellow travelers.

And yes, I know exactly the connotations with which the phrase “fellow travelers” is fraught. They are intended.

Meghan McCain

Slapped down:

Ms. McCain’s ideas are neither new nor exciting. In fact, if you took Nelson Rockefeller’s speech to the GOP in 1964 when Barry Goldwater was nominated, toned down the language so a whiny teenager would understand it, inserted a few pointless digs at other peoples’ appearance/online fan base, one or two lines of bizarre biker fetishization, and peppered it with logical fallacies and non sequiturs, you’d have the makings of a pretty standard Meghan McCain column. In fact, if you took the former self-described “conservative” and two-time Adlai Stevenson supporter Peter Viereck’s thoughts on Joseph McCarthy and replaced the name “McCarthy” with the name of any socially conservative Republican politician/commentator, and replaced the terms “communists” and “reds” with the word “gays” or “bikers,” you’d also have the makings of a pretty standard Meghan McCain column. Both of these people ended up lost on the ash heap of failed Republican political figures, a destiny which Ms. McCain herself is destined for if she keeps on offering unsolicited advice.

What a ditz. But it’s sort of like shooting a whale in a barrel.

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