The Lunar Contretemps

I’ve been reluctant to weigh in on the latest back and forth between Paul Spudis and Clark Lindsey.

I have a couple quick points. First, in his lead sentence:

The space community has fractured since the disastrous roll out of NASA’s “new direction.”

The community has been fractured since 2005, when Mike Griffin and Scott Horowitz ignored all of the recommendations of the CE&I contractors, and foisted the Scotty rocket on it. It’s not something that happened in February. What happened in February was that people who wanted a more sane approach became ascendant, and there has been understandable resistance to it from those whose rice bowls are being broken.

Second, I was slightly astonished to read this in one of his follow-up comments:

As for propellant depots, I think that they make sense if we can supply them with propellant made from space resources, in this case, propellant derived from lunar water. If we end up launching all the propellant from Earth, then nothing is fundamentally changed, except to eliminate the need for a heavy lift launch vehicle.

Oh, really? Is that all it does? It merely eliminates the waste of tens of billions of dollars on an unnecessary vehicle that could instead be invested in a few dozen lander programs from the likes of Masten and Armadillo? Yeah, I guess that’s no big deal.

Look, I feel Paul’s pain, and as I’ve said, my biggest disagreement with the new policy direction is that it is so dismissive of the moon as a goal. But as I’ve also said, specific destinations, other than BEO, are irrelevant right now, and as the Augustine panel pointed out, descending into gravity wells wasn’t affordable any time soon with any of the plans on the table. Paul is concerned about the lack of an explicit goal (indeed, a seeming contempt of such a goal on the part of both the president and the administrator) of establishing any sort of lunar surface capability, but the reality is that it was never a realistic or affordable goal with the trajectory the agency was on. This president (at least given the trajectory he’s on) will no longer be president three years from now, and we’ll almost certainly have a new NASA administrator as well. There was no plan for serious money being put into a lander prior to 2013, so realistically, I don’t understand what Paul thinks that he has lost, at least in any irretrievable way. From the standpoint of getting back to the moon, we won’t even have slipped the schedule. And that point remains even if the nation is unfortunate enough to have to put up with this administration until 2017. He has plenty of time to persuade people in a new administration that the moon remains a worthy goal, and to identify more practical ways to make it happen. And at least with the new direction, we’ll be a lot closer to doing it affordably, having stopped wasting so many billions on vehicles that weren’t going to get us there, and started spending money on a more robust ETO infrastructure that will get us much closer to everywhere.

The Racialist Corruption

…of the Justice Department:

The assistant attorney general for civil rights, Tom Perez, has testified repeatedly that the “facts and law” did not support this case. That claim is false. If the actions in Philadelphia do not constitute voter intimidation, it is hard to imagine what would, short of an actual outbreak of violence at the polls. Let’s all hope this administration has not invited that outcome through the corrupt dismissal.

Most corrupt of all, the lawyers who ordered the dismissal – Loretta King, the Obama-appointed acting head of the Civil Rights Division, and Steve Rosenbaum – did not even read the internal Justice Department memorandums supporting the case and investigation. Just as Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. admitted that he did not read the Arizona immigration law before he condemned it, Mr. Rosenbaum admitted that he had not bothered to read the most important department documents detailing the investigative facts and applicable law in the New Black Panther case. Christopher Coates, the former Voting Section chief, was so outraged at this dereliction of responsibility that he actually threw the memos at Mr. Rosenbaum in the meeting where they were discussing the dismissal of the case. The department subsequently removed all of Mr. Coates’ responsibilities and sent him to South Carolina.

I can’t wait until November. I’m looking forward to Congressional hearings into this. At some point, Eric Holder had to be forced to account for his ideological corruption.

I Have Just Two Questions

…about Dave Weigel.

First, how in the world did someone so enthusiastic about (e.g.) the Democrats’ health care legislation ever work for Reason magazine? Was he always a statist, and just passing, or did his views change (or as the lamestream media would put it, he “grew”)? Matt? Nick?

Second, when he calls “right wingers” ratcopulators, and their political activities ratcopulating, is he implying that Democrats are rats? (“Rats” is a popular shorthand for them at Free Republic, FWIW).

[Update a while later, after an Instalanche]

Matt doesn’t exactly answer my question, but he does have a link roundup. A lot of the commenters are scratching their heads, as I am.

Esoteric|6.25.10 @ 4:05PM|#

He was rooting for health-care reform to pass. That’s sort of a QED moment right there.

Mike G|6.25.10 @ 4:18PM|#

But it was libertarian-leaning total state control of your body, health and nutrition

As a commenter here said, a lot of Reason readers have always been kind of suspicious.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!