The Latest Book Review

Roger Launius has reviewed it over at Quest, but for subscribers only (I think it will become available when the next issue comes out). It was interesting, in that it was more of a good summary, with no value judgments, though in an email he did say it was “thought provoking.” And he had no criticism of facts or history, so that’s a good thing. It may be the first “peer reviewed” review I’ve gotten. FWIW

On The Beach

We needed to go to (south) Florida to take care of things and get the house ready to sell, because we don’t seem to be able to rely on anyone long distance. In my experience, if unsupervised people here don’t do things half ass, they do them quarter ass. As the old saying goes, a sunny place for shady people. I had to fix two toilets today that had needed it for months, among other things. And how many south Florida people does it take to change a light bulb? Apparently an infinite number, if they don’t actually own and live in the house.

Anyway, Patricia also was badly in need of a vacation, so I’m writing this after a relaxing home-made dinner of sockey salmon with pineapple salsa and chardonnay procured at (amazing that they finally exist here!) Trader Joe’s, overlooking the Atlantic and listening to a nice wind riffle through the palms. One of the disadvantages of the east shore, of course, is no sunset over the ocean, but it was still pleasant to watch day turn do dusk from our balcony. For those curious, here is where we are staying. Old Florida style, but modernized enough to be quite comfortable so far. We plan to sleep with windows open to the sound of the ocean, though in a couple months, that will be less advisable.

Presidential Politics And Space

This piece seems sort of clueless about how space policy works:

While 65,000 people have signed a petition asking NASA to send the Republican front-runner into space and leave him there, it looks far more likely that Trump will be in the position to decide how much money the agency will receive.

No, as they note earlier, it is Congress who decides how much money the agency receives. All the president can do is make a request.

It rather looks like Trump plans to continue Obama’s alleged gutting of the agency, and if that happens, the Mars mission would be in serious jeopardy.

Pro tip: With regard to this, and their later comment about Sanders, there is no “Mars mission,” and NASA’s inability to get to Mars has little to nothing to do with how much money it receives.

And they act as though Hillary maintaining the status quo would be a good thing.


[Update a few minutes later]

Here‘s a smarter (not hard! But it is worth a read) from Stephen Smith on Elon’s Mars threats to maintaining SLS pork, with bonus commentary on the schizophrenia of planetary protection.

The Iran “Deal”

Their foreign-policy guru is apparently proud of the number of lies they told to shove it through.

[Late-afternoon update]

[Friday-morning update]

More thoughts from Ace:

So where is the media on this? This is not an accusation; this is an admission by Ben Rhodes as well as some of the key players in his shop. Who named themselves — they’re not anonymous. They admitted these things.

So we have lies, schemes to deceive, willing stooges in the media eager to transmit those lies (as they have no expertise of their own to offer, except what the failed novelist Ben Rhodes puts in their heads), and all over an inarguably major subject — foreign policy, and specifically, the nukes Obama gave Iran.


The F**k.

Is the Media?

As usual — covering up for their dirty-dealing colleagues.

As noted, follow Tom Nichols on Twitter for a good analysis.

And note the bottom line from Lee Smith:

For the last seven years the American public has been living through a postmodern narrative crafted by an extremely gifted and unspeakably cynical political operative whose job is to wage digital information campaigns designed to dismantle a several-decade old security architecture while lying about the nature of the Iranian regime. No wonder Americans feel less safe–they are.



[Update a while later]

Well, over at Foreign Policy, Thomas Ricks certainly doesn’t pull any punches, beginning with the headline.

[Update a couple minutes later]

[Update a few minutes later]

Meet the flim-flam man behind Obama’s foreign-policy initiatives.

Collapse Proofing Our Society

Glenn describes the dangers of the complexity of the current sociopolitical structure.

It strikes me as a dangerous situation, what Perrow has described as a tightly-coupled complex system, that is vulnerable catastrophic collapse. He was describing physical systems, such as nuclear plants, but social systems can have similar failure modes.

The Trump Story

Jonah explains how he could beat Hillary.

“Watching [MSNBC’s] Chris Matthews interview Obama,” Ace wrote, “I was struck by just how uninterested in policy questions Matthews (and his panel) were, and how almost every question seemed to be, at heart, about Obama’s emotional response to difficulties — not about policy itself, but about Obama’s Hero’s Journey in navigating the plot of President Barack Obama: The Movie.”

I think something similar has been at the root of Trump’s success. I can’t bring myself to call him a hero, but many people see him that way. Even his critics concede that he’s entertaining. I see him as being a bit like Rodney Dangerfield, constantly complaining he doesn’t get enough respect.

Regardless, Trump bulldozed his way through the primaries in part because the nomination was his MacGuffin and people wanted to see the movie play out. Many voters, and nearly the entire press corps, got caught up in the story of Trump — much the same way the press became obsessed with the “mythic” story of Obama in 2008. People just wanted to see what happened next.

What I’d like to see happen next is the appearance of a candidate who favors limited government.

[Update a few minutes later]

The case for, and against Gary Johnson, at NRO.

Related: Thoughts from Nick Gillespie.

If there was ever a year for a libertarian breakthrough, this would be it.

[Update a while later]

Wow. Mary Matalin switches political parties:

Pressed Thursday about why she switched political parties, Matalin told Bloomberg Politics that she was a Republican in the “Jeffersonian, Madisonian sense.”

“I’m not a Republican for a party or a person,” she continued. “The Libertarian Party represents those constitutional principles that I agree with.”


[Update a while later]

Megan McArdle analyzes the disaster. I largely agree with her, and it was obvious to me from the beginning that Trump’s primary appeal was his celebrity, bringing out a lot of people, Republican and otherwise, who normally don’t get involved in primary elections.

I also agree that history will record that this was the fault of Bush and his donors, and the narcissism of Christie and Kasich.

[Mid-afternoon update]

It’s not too late for the Republicans to stop Trump:

Republicans would also do well to remember that democracy is not the only important value. Principles such as life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, are far more fundamental. Trump’s platform of mass deportations (including of innocent children born in the US), massacring innocent civilians, large-scale discrimination on the basis of religion, and undermining freedom of speech is a grave threat to those values. So too is the possibility that a victory for Trump might turn the GOP into a US version of neo-Fascist European parties, such as France’s National Front. This horrendous agenda – combined with the dangerous prospect of giving such an unstable person control over the military and its nuclear arsenal – makes Trump a far greater menace than a merely ordinary flawed candidate would be.

Trump cannot be trusted with the other powers of the presidency either. As Larry Summers asks, “[w]hat will a demagogue with a platform like Trump’s… do with control over the NSA, FBI and IRS?” We should not take even a small risk of letting Trump win the presidency. Extraordinary evils sometimes demand extraordinary remedies. And Trump’s nomination easily qualifies as such. Given the nature of his agenda and temperament, the fact that Trump won some 40% of the GOP primary vote (a historically low number for a GOP nominee), is not sufficient reason to give in to him.

The Founding Fathers viewed unconstrained democracy with great suspicion, and sought to establish a constitutional system that would keep it in check. They understood that the fact that large numbers of people support a great evil does not make it right. They knew that voters are often influenced by ignorance and illogic, which are among the major causes of support for Trump. Even if blocking Trump really would be undemocratic, sometimes being undemocratic is the right thing to do. The Republican Party is a private organization, and does not have to follow a popular vote process in choosing its nominee. Indeed, such was not the process throughout most of of American history, up to the McGovern-Fraser reforms of the 1970s.


[Update a while later]

Our national dumpster fire:

If nothing changes, this will be the choice presented to Americans in November. An ignorant, unstable conspiracy theorist with no core principles versus an inveterate liar dedicated to ever-expanding government. Clinton and Trump are the least popular major-party candidates in the history of polling. Hillary Clinton is viewed “very unfavorably” by 37 percent of Americans; Trump is viewed “very unfavorably” by a staggering 53 percent.

I honestly don’t know which would be more likely to elect Hillary (assuming she’s the nominee): To let Trump have the nomination, or to replace him with a Republican.

[Update a few minutes later]

The election is not an A/B test:

Donald Trump is unfit for the office.

He is unfit for any office, morally and intellectually.

A man who could suggest, simply because it is convenient, that his opponent’s father had something to do with the assassination of President Kennedy is unfit for any position of public responsibility.

His long litany of lies — which include fabrications about everything from his wealth to self-funding his campaign — is disqualifying.

His low character is disqualifying.

His personal history is disqualifying.

His complete, utter, total, and lifelong lack of honor is disqualifying.

The fact that he is going to have to take time out of the convention to appear in court to hear a pretty convincing fraud case against him is disqualifying.

His time on Jeffrey Epstein’s Pedophile Island, after which he boasted about sharing a taste with Epstein for women “on the younger side,” is disqualifying.

The fact that he knows less about our constitutional order than does a not-especially-bright Rappahannock River oyster is disqualifying.

There isn’t anything one can say about Mrs. Clinton, monster though she is, that changes any of that.

Donald Trump is not fit to serve as president. He is not fit to serve on the Meade County board of commissioners. He is not fit to be the mayor of Muleshoe, Texas.

If he indeed is the Republican nominee, Donald Trump almost certainly will face Hillary Rodham Clinton in the general election. That fact, sobering though it is, does not suddenly make him fit to serve as president, because — to repeat — the problem with Trump isn’t that he is less fit to serve in comparison to Mrs. Clinton, but that he is unfit to serve, period.

But other than that, he’s great.

Because Failure Is An Option

SpaceX can do stuff like land a rocket on a boat.

I was surprised at the success last night, because Elon had been downplaying chances. I think he may have been a little surprised, too.

Worth noting the trend here: SpaceX is getting better at this. As noted, the rapid deceleration of the three-engine retroburn will be useful experience for Mars.

[Update a few minutes later]

“SpaceX is incrementally moving towards making landings such as these mundane.”

Meanwhile, NASA is spending billions so they can throw a giant rocket away in a couple years.

Biting Commentary about Infinity…and Beyond!