Lower Wages

From Obamacare. Hey, the money’s got to come from somewhere. The “rich” don’t have enough to pay for it all.

Also, speaking of health care, Mitt Romney has a decision to make. He can continue to defend his Massachusetts mistake, or he can win the Republican nomination. If I were him, I would acknowledge the problems, and describe what I’d learned from them.

Watch Out For The Snipers

…in the media:

Jon Henke of The Next Right heard the first shot — the newspaper changed its story, literally — and exposed the sniper. The Times (whose parent company once employed me at Congressional Quarterly) initially, and correctly, thought it fair to note that the Service Employees International Union organized a counter protest at Castor’s event.

The paper also included this explosive quote from an SEIU official hinting at plans to instigate trouble at the event: “We’re prepared [for disruption]. We have strategies to deal with it if it should come up.”

That language provided important context about a group whose leader once described his thug-like organizing philosophy like this: “[W]e prefer to use the power of persuasion, but if that doesn’t work we use the persuasion of power.”

The rewrite of the story a short time later dropped the quote and changed the tone of the story to what Henke rightly called “something far more SEIU/Democrat friendly.” The second version downplayed SEIU’s role even though it was billed as an organizer, and it spun the story from the critical perspective of pro-Obama protesters.

I don’t think that the Obama honeymoon with the media is over. It’s just the honeymoon with the public (and particularly those who voted for him because it was “cool” without paying any attention to his record or actual statements) that is. So now they’re getting desperate to defend their paramour. It is nice to see the orgy getting smaller, though.

[Update a couple minutes later]

The White House (and the Democrats in Congress) against community organizing:

Nancy Pelosi, who will get her own bound volume in the annals of asininity, has outdone herself. When asked by a reporter whether the protests at various town-hall meetings represented legitimate grassroots opposition or were manufactured “AstroTurf” stunts, she replied, “I think they’re AstroTurf. You be the judge. They’re carrying swastikas and symbols like that to a town meeting on health care.”

Now this is a pas de trois of dishonesty, slander, and idiocy. Not only is Pelosi lying when she says protesters are bringing swastikas to these town halls, not only is she suggesting that American citizens are Nazis for having the effrontery to get in the way of Obamacare, but she’s also saying that the alleged swastikas are obvious proof that these protests are manufactured by slick P.R. gurus.

How does that work? What public-relations genius says: “Okay, we need these protests to seem like an authentic backlash of real Americans. Make sure everyone has enough Nazi paraphernalia!”

The combination of stupidity and venality of this woman would be hilarious if she weren’t third in line for the presidency.

It’s difficult for mere mortals like us to fully grasp the enormousness of the Democrats’ hypocrisy. Put aside all that talk of dissent being the highest form of patriotism. Overlook that Democrats would have upended jerry cans of gasoline and immolated themselves in protest if the Bush administration had asked people to inform on their neighbors. You can even forget that the DNC’s claims are untrue.

But how can we ignore the fact that the world’s most famous community organizer is whining about community organizing?

Free speech, community organizing, executive jets for me, not for thee. These people are nothing if not hypocritical.

[Update a few minutes later]

Organizing the wrong community.

[Another update]

New rules for radicals:

In today’s world, the “radicals” are the ones who protest the takeover of a huge swath of the economy by government bureaucrats who have proven they can’t even run a program that gives free money away to car buyers properly. It is radicals who want to preserve the pillars of a system that over 80 percent of Americans still believe works — though certainly not perfectly.

In this new world, radicals are the ones who protest adding trillions to our debt and who have the temerity to ask if legislators have read the bills they sign. You’ve seen them. Those radicals who are ranting and raving about silly things like the Constitution.

So here is a plan. Instead of making the case for health care “reform,” let’s launch an offensive against citizens. Nazis. Fanatics. Mobs. Thugs. Whatever you call them.

And if you’re really patriotic, you can even report them.

The not-so-silent majority is waking up.

“Conservatives” In Space

Adam Keiper (who edited and published my recent piece in The New Atlantis, as well as previous ones) contrasts my approach with Bob Zubrin’s, though (as Glenn Reynolds points out) I’m not sure that “conservative” is a useful label for either. I’m basically a libertarian (though to be fair he does talk about “conservatives and libertarians”) who doesn’t think that the goal of space development has been, or ever will be, well served by a massive centralized government program. My policy advice is predicated on the assumption that it will continue to be funded, regardless, and as a space development (and ultimately space settlement) advocate, I’m just trying to funnel the funds in the most productive direction to those ends. I’m not sure how to characterize that position, politically, and I’m not sure that it really matters.

[Update late afternoon]

Sigh. Where to start with Mark Whittington’s latest uncomprehending blather?

NASA alone wastes money and is buffeted by political shifts as its budget is cut or shifted around according to whim. The private sector is simply not capable of mounting expeditions to the Moon or beyond or constructing settlements in the foreseeable future. Together, though, NASA and what people are taking to calling “new space” can do anything.

How to mesh the two so that the strengths are brought to bear is a fundamental problem of our time. I don’t think Rand, for all he praise he has gotten for his New Atlantis article, has answered that question.

Mark (as usual) confuses his inability to comprehend my answer to the question with a failure to answer it.

Part of the reason is a flawed understanding of the history of the space age; Rand has a simplistic notion of why things happened and why they did not.

Hilarious. Perhaps Mark can provide us with his oh-so-much-more sophisticated notion of “why things happened and why they did not,” and thus enlighten us (not to mention actually make a case for this kind of nonsense — something he never does). Perhaps he could even do it so well that he would be invited to write for a publication such as, well, perhaps Mad Magazine, if not The New Atlantis.

Rand also demonstrates a bias against government and an excessive impatience toward its fundamental inefficiencies that seems to foreclose any notion that NASA has any role but servicing the commercial sector.

A complete mischaracterization of my position, (again, as usual) providing zero evidence for it.

A government space effort, while it should be commercial friendly, is much more than just a conduit toward space faring corporate welfare.

So he ends with (what else?) an idiotic straw man.

[Friday morning update]

Per some thoughts in comments, I went to check Technorati, and Mark has a grand total of seven links in the last couple months. All but one are from either me or Jon Goff (the other blogger whose arguments he fantasizes about)l, and most from me, always in response to some outrageous misinterpretation of what we wrote. So maybe I should stop feeding the troll. His hittage might improve if he’s forced to write intelligent things to get hits, and we stop rewarding him for this behavior. Assuming, of course, that he’s capable of it.

The Heavy-Lift Empire Strikes Back?

Thoughts over at Space Transport news. It was a little dismaying to see Augustine’s comment.

I have no predictions as to the outcome, but I’m not particularly hopeful, given the nature of bureaucracy and entropy. But we are continuing to get useful ideas out there, for the private sector to pick up on even if we continue to waste billions on NASA’s HSF program.

[Update in the evening]

This article would indicate that the panel overall remains stuck in the conventional wisdom that heavy lifters are on the critical path to space exploration. One of the hopes for my piece in The New Atlantis was to break that consensus, but it doesn’t seem to have succeeded, so far.

[Late evening update]

Here’s an interesting chart (that appears to have been captured by a camera at the actual presentation) that summarizes the seven options currently being considered. I assume that “IP” is international participation (aka the Russians). I’m not sure what “SH” means, but perhaps one of my readers will be smarter at deciphering than me. I’m guessing something like “Super Heavy.”

Note that the panel (as a whole — there could be dissent among individuals) assumes that refueling is not an option within the current budget, as the chart is currently configured. Note also that it assumes that Ares V is required. I assume that these two assumptions are not coincidental. Take away the heavy lifter, and there’s abundant budget for depots, and other things.

The real question to me is: what is the driver for the perceived heavy-lift requirement? Is it a credibility factor with the flight rate necessary for smaller vehicles to deliver all the propellant for (say) a Mars mission? Or a “smallest biggest piece” (again for, say, a Mars mission) that begs credibility in terms of ability to assemble it on orbit? Or a “let’s keep the options open for some kind of need that we can’t anticipate”? Or all of the above? I expect that we will know the answers to these questions in a very few weeks. I don’t think that the panel will hide the ball the way that NASA did with ESAS.

But one hint might be in noting that the Mars mission (presumably to the surface) is the biggest driver — it assumes both “many” Ares V launches while also noting that refueling is “enabling” (i.e., cannot be done without it). This is a simple recognition of the reality that at some point, even the heavy-lift fetishists have to recognize that there is a limit to the degree to which they can afford to avoid orbital operations — there are some missions simply a bridge too far to do with a single launch.

Anyway, I’m slightly more encouraged by this chart, if for no other reason that it recognizes refueling as a viable option, and that minds are clearly starting to change. I may have more thoughts anon, though, and it’s a long way to August 31st, I suspect, with a lot of perturbations to come.

[Update a few minutes later]

One other point. The chart isn’t good news for Ares I.

[One more update before crashing to catch with with loss of last night’s sleep]

“Brad” has some more comments on the table:

1) The porklauncher, Ares I, looks dead. Only two of the seven options use Ares I, and one of those two options uses commercial crew services as well.

2) Commercial crew services is going to happen. Five out of the seven options exploit commercial crew services.

3) The Shuttle orbiter looks like it will still retire close to schedule. Only one of the seven options extends orbiter operations through 2015.

4) Ares V may not survive. Even though HLV is endorsed with every option, Ares V is only included in four out of the seven, and those four (IMHO) consist of the less probable choices.

5) Propellant depots are enabling to one option, and mentioned as enhancing three options, so depots are not ignored and have a fair chance for future development. Particularly when you take into account that commercial services are included in every option.

6) The ISS is not going to de-orbit in 2016. Five of the seven options extend ISS operations through 2020. The committee’s hope to expand international cooperation will only emphasize the importance of the ISS. Perhaps this might not be a drain on NASA, if international cooperation offsets the cost of flying ISS beyond 2016.

[Thursday morning update]

Todd Halvorson reports on the subject. Does anyone else see something missing in the reporting? You know, the thing that’s “enabling” for Mars First?

The Obama Joker Poster

Jim Garaghty has a critique, with which I agree:

I actually don’t like the Obama-Joker poster, for several reasons. For starters, this image is too “hot” — i.e., the Joker was a sadist and a psychopath, and Obama is neither. Obama’s the opposite of Heath Ledger’s portrayal; the Joker was a nihilist and Obama is a utopian idealist.

There’s something particularly wrongheaded about using a character who says his purpose is to “show the schemers how pathetic their attempts to control things really are” to symbolize a politician in love with centralized planning.

As we watch the President’s poll numbers drop, I feel like a lot of damaging memes are starting to stick to Obama — used car salesman, not stupid but doesn’t know issues in depth (tonsil profiteering!), bad first instincts, a wimp on foreign affairs, melting before our eyes without Bush or McCain to run against… The “Joker” image doesn’t fit any of those, and I think is too easily used as fodder for distractions.

I think that the metaphor of Bush as Dark Knight and Islamism as the nihilist joker is interesting, but this poster is probably counterproductive, because while it may make some feel good, it isn’t grounded in a valid analogy. On the other hand:

William Ayers seemed, at one point in his life, intrigued at the thought of “watching the world burn.”

But he was “just a guy in Obama’s neighborhood” (with whom he helped propagandize schoolchildren with the Annenberg funds), so that’s all right.

[Update on Thursday morning]

Frank J. has his own take:

First off, it’s worth looking at whether the poster is racist. Liberals seem pretty certain it is. An LA Weekly blogger commented that “the only thing missing is a noose.” Now, you might be scratching your head and saying that the only people who would call this racist are brain-dead liberals who shriek “racism!” at every criticism about Obama as an alternative to thinking and only cause more problems by confusing the issue of racism and should thus be chased out of society and forced to live in the sewers, only emerging at night to feed on garbage and bugs.

And while that’s quite fair and probably true, we should still give the possibility of racism a fair hearing. Don’t you remember the long, racist history of black people being compared to the Joker? Of course not, because I just made that up — but it could be true in some alternate universe. Also, the image involves white makeup on a black person. White on black — that has to be racist somehow. I’ll bet makeup places won’t even sell white pancake makeup to black people. They’d be like “No! Get out of here, black person! We won’t sell that to you! That’s racist!”

Beyond the racism in the image that’s quite obvious to crazy people, the other question is whether there are any real substantive comparisons between Obama and the Joker. On the surface, they don’t seem at all alike. The Joker is psychotic, and I’ve heard Obama called a lot of things — arrogant, incompetent, deceitful, a Communist — but not psychotic. Obama doesn’t seem like he’s out to kill anyone — not even terrorists — and only leaves the option of killing people on the table to help make ends meet in his health care plan.

Especially terrorists.

Though he doesn’t seem averse to persuading Granny that it’s time to go.

And then there’s comment number two:

The similarities also include the circumstances that brought each to power. As Alfred said “and in their desperation, they turned to a man they fully didn’t understand.”

And the election of Obama is a joke, a bad one on us.

It’s sure not seeming all that funny to me.

Back To California

I’m heading back to LA tonight, for the next week and a half. Not sure how much blogging will be happening.

[Evening update, about 9:40 CDT]

Well, I’m stuck at DFW, with my LA flight delayed until 11 PM local, which gets me into LA about midnight, and probably to my room over an hour later. Should have taken the non-stop from Miami.

[Bleary Wednesday morning update from the left coast]

OK, I was wrong. It wasn’t delayed until 11 pm — it didn’t rise the wheels until 12:30 AM (1:30 AM my body time on a day after I’d gotten up at 5 AM). We got into LAX about 2 AM Pacific (24 hours after I had first arisen). National had only two cars, both vans. The first one (a Kia Sedona) started beeping at me, and lighted an indicator saying that both front doors were ajar (no, it’s not a jar, it’s a door…) and the interior light came on and wouldn’t go off. This behavior continued, so I returned the car, to little rejoicing, and got the other one, a Dodge of some variety. I didn’t get to bed until after 3 AM. It’s now almost 10 AM, and I’m at work.

Hopefully, I’ll get caught up a little tonight.

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