The Next Generation Of Republicans

Are they already here?

What’s behind all these surprising numbers? I can’t say, but it’s hard not to notice that a decline in destructive behavior associated with peer pressure has happened at the same moment that the US became a fully wired nation.

Now that broadband access is nearly universal — 78% of homes, and that’s not counting all the schools and library and Wi-Fi hotspot connections available to most kids with minimal effort — restless youth don’t have to go along with whatever the local knuckleheads are up to.

They can find their community of likeminded souls online, and an unintended consequence of their tinkering with YouTube videos or playing “Call of Duty” with a buddy in Mexico City, they’re staying in. As a frustrated barman in England, where pubs have been closing in huge numbers, put it to The Economist, “Kids these days just want to live in their f- – – ing own little worlds in their bedrooms watching Netflix and becoming obese.” That sounds right, but at least no one ever got pregnant from eating Cheetos.

How are young people turning out politically? They’re liberal Democrats . . . who sometimes sound an awful lot like conservative Republicans.

I don’t really care whether or not they’re Republicans, as long as they’re vehemently not Democrats.

[Update a while later]

This seems related, somehow: How the Left got boring.

[Late-morning update]

Sorry, first link was broken. Should be fixed now.

Why NASA Is Stagnant

Thoughts from Bob Zubrin. I haven’t read yet, but I’ll have some of my own over there tomorrow, I think.

[Update a few minutes later]

OK, I read it. I disagree with his diagnosis of the problem, but I absolutely agree that we need to have a serious national discussion of why we have a government-funded human spaceflight program. That hasn’t happened in half a century. Until we do, we’ll continue to flounder, and be hostage to the whims of the rent seekers in Congress.

Complexity

Frustration with the leftist fools who don’t understand the knowledge problem:

Mr. Bouie insists that he is not simply trying to make an excuse for the president’s revealed incompetence in sundry matters, but of course that is precisely what he and other apologists for the administration are doing. If they were really interested in complexity as such, then they would bring it up on the front end of the policy debate, rather than on the back end.

I’ve seen this happen so many times that every other policy debate looks to me like an ancient rerun of Three’s Company: Do you think there’ll be a comic misunderstanding in this episode, too? It unfolds like this: Politicians on the Barack Obama model promise that they will muster their native intelligence and empirical evidence to bring order to, e.g., the health-care industry, through the judicious application of regulation. People like me tell them that the effects of such regulation are almost certainly going to be other than what was intended, because such markets are too complex to be understandable, predictable, or steerable, even in principle. Even if every bureaucrat who touches health care or the labor market has the brain of an Einstein and the soul of a St. Thomas Becket, it will not turn out the way it is intended. And then, when it doesn’t turn out as intended, Jamelle Bouie et al. protest that the toldya-so chorus “betrays an ignorance of the size and complexity of the federal bureaucracy.”

And they never even consider the question: If the federal bureaucracy is so vast and complex that its behavior cannot be adequately managed, how is it that the phenomena that the bureaucracies are tasked with managing—orders of magnitude more complex than the bureaucracies themselves—are supposed to be manageable? To consider the question with any intellectual rigor is to accept real, meaningful, epistemic limits on what government can do.

Can’t have that. It doesn’t allow them to run other peoples’ lives.

Our Detached President

Even his fellow Democrats are giving up on him:

“The Democratic party is like a wedding party with the common goal of getting to the ceremony on time,” a former Democratic congressman told me. “There is a caravan of cars, but the lead car is driven by a guy who is weaving in and out of traffic and is dangerous to the other cars behind him. Do you follow the guy you agreed to follow, or do you make your own way to the wedding? More and more people are leaving the caravan.”

Ouch.

Bill Gaubatz’s Service

I just got back. Saw a lot of old (in both senses of the word, unfortunately) friends. It was quite religious, at his Presbyterian church out on the peninsula. I hadn’t realized how devout he was. He seems to have a wonderful family. His younger son’s eulogy was part sermon. Also, it turns out that he is one of the attorneys who won the Hobby Lobby case.

NASA Adrift

Eric Berger has Part 3 of his series up now:

Working with engineers at Johnson Space Center, as well as five other field centers, and using same tools NASA uses to estimate costs, Miller says, “We found we could put astronauts on the moon within a decade, inside the existing budget.”

The plan used the commercially available Delta IV Heavy rocket to conduct a steady stream of missions to the lunar surface, allowing humans to begin tapping into the moon’s resources.

“We briefed it to all the key NASA human spaceflight centers, giving them a chance to challenge the conclusion,” Miller said. “I thought it was a tremendous result for human spaceflight. We could have a plan that flies early and flies often.”

NASA never published the study and Miller’s contract wasn’t renewed.

Not enough opportunities for graft.

Santorini

Lileks takes a vacation in Greece:

A few switchbacks up we found a nice niche that would have been an excellent spot for a small bar; seems it had served that function once, as it had benches and something like a table. We chatted with some Brits who were also dying but cheerful about it. They’d met some donkeys coming down, and the lass astride one of them leaned over and said “Worst Day of my Life.”

We continued on, up the shite-strewn path. By “567 steps” they mean a step, then a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone, followed by another step, followed by a yard of irregular, ankle-snapping stone smeared with ordure, and so on. Another herd of donkeys, this one thicker than the last, and not particularly concerned with our presence. Suddenly you realized you had two options: you would be crushed against the wall by donkeys, or pushed over the side by donkeys. Neither seemed appealing, just like the growing belief you would either suffer failure of the heart or the kidneys.

With pictures and video, of course.

The Apollo Cargo Cult

Over at USA Today, I say that after four lost decades, it’s time to end it:

After over four decades, it is time to stop awaiting a repeat of a glorious but limited and improbable past. We must, finally, return to and embrace the true future, in which the solar system and ultimately the universe is opened up to all, with affordable, competing commercial transportation systems, in the way that only Americans can do it.

I’ll have some other stuff up later, in other venues.

An Open Letter To Eric Holder

No, it’s not about race:

What you don’t understand, Mr. Holder, is that there are many of us who are trying to take our country back—back from a group of politicians who seem intent on our destruction as a pillar of strength and liberty in the world. Many of your fellow citizens are dismayed by your conduct, and our anger has nothing to do with the color of your skin.

You are the first attorney general in the history of the United States to be held in contempt of Congress. This had nothing to do with your skin color, and everything to do with your failure to explain how the United States government provided guns to Mexican drug cartels that were eventually used to kill Border Patrol agent Brian Terry in 2010. This story may have disappeared from the headlines, but many of your fellow citizens are still upset our federal government would ever give guns to foreign criminals. Compounding this tragic error, neither you nor anyone else in the administration has explained what happened the night Terry lost his life. All we really know is that he was at the wrong end of a gun you approved handing over to drug dealers.

And our outrage here has nothing to do with “racial animus.” This is about personal accountability, and your failure to provide us with answers.

The black guy who wrote that is obviously a racist. Or something.

Content, Not Quantity

I get really tired of arguments from quantity, from demagogues and excuse makers. For instance, when they say “we’ve turned over thousands of documents,” ignoring the fact that they’ve been redacted beyond recognition, and ignoring the key ones that haven’t been turned over. Similar idiocy occurs when the media rate a legislator by the number of bills they’ve passed, without regard to whether the resulting laws were smart or stupid, or when diplomats are praised for the number of treaties negotiated, regardless of their benefits or potential pain. Perhaps the most amusingly idiotic example is defenders of Hillary Clinton’s record as Secretary of State who, when pressed on her accomplishments, tell us how many millions of miles she flew.

Anyway, the latest such sophistry comes from defenders of Barack Obama’s lawlessness, when they say that George Bush “signed more executive orders.” But as with the examples above, the content matters:

A president who vows to unilaterally increase the minimum wage, reform the immigration system, make sweeping regulations on climate change — in addition to effectively rewriting his own health care law — isn’t leading from behind (as he has on foreign policy). He’s leading from behind an extra-constitutional arrogance.

Yes.