Archive for the ‘domestic’ category

Million Buckley March

September 13, 2009

We Were All There

Well, not really. But the title of Ed Driscoll’s blog entry was so enticing, that I just couldn’t resist highlighting it.

I didn’t even realize that there were so many of us. Our name, I reckon, is legion.

Now if you’re wondering what it is I’m talking about here, then let me explain. A few people got together to stage a little protest yesterday, the kind that DC sees every so often.

In The Dictionary Under “Complete Waste”

July 14, 2009

The International Space Station

Although it may happen that they keep it up until 2020, NASA wants to decommission the ISS earlier, in 2016.  Oddly, this is not news.  The ISS has been pretty much a useless endeavour ever since it was downsized to approximate a large tin can in the late ’80s, and has cost the U.S. taxpayers something like $100 billon (yes, billion with a b).

Perhaps I should not hold back so much and say how I really feel.  From PopSci.com:

Despite nearing completion after more than a decade of construction, and recently announcing some upcoming improvements to accompany its full crew of six astronauts, NASA plans to de-orbit the International Space Station in 2016. Meaning the station will have spent more time under construction than completed.

With the space shuttle being decommissioned and the Ares is doubt, it was inevitable.  This is what happens when the goal is politics, instead of exploration and science.

Waxman-Markey

June 25, 2009

Cap and Trade

Al Gore

Al Gore

If you Google Waxman-Markey, the ‘Climate Change Bill’ coming up in Congress this week, you’ll see that opinions on it are all over the map. Waxman-Markey Will Mandate Greener Building, Drive Green Renovation, Waxman’s Economy Killer, Waxman-Markey bill to address indirect land use change, Global warming bill still contains some smoke and mirrors, – no two giving the same opinion.

It’s a difficult topic, because it touches on economics, science and yes, politics. From an economic point of view, Megan McCardle notes that the bill seems to be low-cost.

But the real question, I think, is whether the low cost is a feature or a bug. The only way a bill is going to have an impact is if it causes real financial pain to American households–enough to get them to change their behavior. Waxman-Markey obviously is not going to do that. And indeed, the projections of its effect on global warming are entirely negligible.

Why should that be? Does this economist have the science to back up that statement?  No, and she doesn’t need it.  She explains that the reason is political, not scientific.  The reason is  – China.

China is not going to let its citizens languish in subsistence farming because 30 years from now, some computer models say there will be some not-well-specified bad effects from high temperatures. Nor is India. Global warming isn’t even high on the list of environmental concerns they’ll want to attack as they get rich; local air pollution is far more pressing. Thinking that we’re somehow going to lead them by example is like thinking that poor rural teens are going to buy electric cars because Ed Begley jr. has one.

In other words, if you believe that climate change is anthropological in nature, you must believe that nothing is going to change until and unless China and India come on-board.

Well, what about the rest of the world? From RealClearPolitics, Robert Tracinski and Tom Minchin point out that it’s not happening in other countries either.

As the US Congress considers the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade bill, the Australian Senate is on the verge of rejecting its own version of cap-and-trade. The story of this legislation’s collapse offers advance notice for what might happen to similar legislation in the US—and to the whole global warming hysteria.

So what do the scientists say? Dr. James Hansen, the director of the Goddard Institute of Space Science (GISS) said this, as he was being arrested:

I am not a politician; I am a scientist and a citizen. Politicians may have to advocate for halfway measures if they choose. But it is our responsibility to make sure our representatives feel the full force of citizens who speak for what is right, not what is politically expedient. Mountaintop removal, providing only a small fraction of our energy, should be abolished.

I don’t want to put words in his mouth, but I think he’s saying that the science doesn’t matter; it’s what people feel is right that matters. That sort of works, because the science is apparently being ignored. But contra Hansen, it’s being ignored for the politics. The scientists are playing politics.

A source inside the Environmental Protection Agency confirmed many of the claims made by analyst Alan Carlin, the economist/physicist who yesterday went public with accusations that science was being ignored in evaluating the danger of CO2.

The source, who chooses not to be identified for fear of retaliation, said that Carlin was rebuffed in his attempt to introduce scientific evidence that does not accord with the EPA’s view of global warming, which largely relies on IPCC reports.

Kevin Mooney at the Washington Examiner publishes on the story:

Scientific findings at odds with the Obama Administration’s views on carbon dioxide and climate change are being suppressed as a result of political pressure, officials at the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) charge.
“This suppression of valid science for political reasons is beyond belief,” said CEI General Counsel Sam Kazman. “EPA’s conduct is even more outlandish because it flies in the face of the president’s widely-touted claim that ‘the days of science taking a back seat to ideology are over.’”

If this story was about anthrax, possible political manipulation in Congress and scientific intrigue, the story would not sell.  It is a mess, too convoluted, too unbelievable.  And there it is.  We buy it, we believe it’s plausible – why exactly?

The Only Place For News (on Iran)

June 21, 2009

Is On Twitter

Let Them Eat Ice Cream

Let Them Eat Ice Cream

Clearly. If you’re following only the MSM, that is, TV, the papers, even radio, then you’re not getting it.

Try here, instead.

Then learn all you can about Twitter.

Land Of The Free

June 21, 2009

Still?

Years, yea, decades ago, I had a “Social Studies” teacher (I put “Social Studies” in scare quotes intentionally) who left an impression.  J.T. is no longer with us, having died relatively young.  And that’s a pity.  Although a lifelong democrat, liberal and supporter of teachers unions, I suspect that despite our diametrically opposed viewpoints that we would have had great respect for each other and our positions.  Let’s say he was a liberal in a classic sense, which is indistinguishable from mainstream conservatism today.

He recognized me as having a conservative bent even as far back as 1970, when I was busy figuring out how to radicalize my fellow high school students and resist the draft. I never succeeded, btw.

I bring this up because he first introduced me to a pearl of wisdom that I have never forgotten.  We’re always ready to trade our freedom for a feeling of safety.   Of course we are.  People don’t (or shouldn’t) mind that when they buckle a seat belt.  And people reflexively support curbs and outright bans on cigarette smoking in public (and sometimes in private) places.  But is there a point at which we stay “stop” to this?

Homeland Security has instituted a requirement that private aircraft operators seek government permission each time we propose to take off if we are planning to depart for Canada, Mexico or the Caribbean. We must provide advance detailed information about where, when, and who, including the names, social security numbers, addresses, etc., of all persons who will be in the aircraft. The justification for this, they say, is that we, our spouses, family or friends might be on their mysterious and top secret “No Fly List.” The most significant aspect of this is that Homeland Security has indicated that this is a preliminary step toward their ultimate objective of requiring this data submission prior to EVERY aircraft takeoff in America, regardless of destination. Keep this in mind as we continue.

It is important to understand that this requirement breaks entirely new ground. While ENTERING any country requires formalities, never, ever, has it been necessary to seek and receive government permission to LEAVE America, the “land of the free,” much less to travel within its borders. And never, ever, has it been proposed that such permission is somehow necessary to preserve “national security.” This is a requirement only previously seen in Iron Curtain dictatorships.

It’s only one data-point.  Add it to the complaints that gun owners have had for years, that smokers have had for decades, and that businesses have had forever.  The question is legitimate – Are we regulating ourselves out of our God-given rights?  Have we already?  I know the mechanism by which this is done – it’s done one baby step at a time.  What I don’t know, is why.

Green Rust

June 9, 2009

Do Green and Rust Mix At All?

Slates Mickey Kaus points us to an article in the National Journal by Ron Brownstein. It asks one question about my home town (and “rust belt” cities in general), and about the hopes that these town have to rebuild and revitalize on waves of “Green Manufacturing”.   The question is: What are they smoking?

For officials at every level, the great hope is that these fading car towns can move from rust to green, from building autos to manufacturing wind turbines and solar panels or buses and subway cars. These places offer many advantages for such production: factories, supply chains, transportation links, and a skilled workforce “that knows how to do metal,” as Democratic Sen. Sherrod Brown of Ohio says.

Well, those seem like pretty good reasons. Brownstein continues:

But there are few examples of such conversions succeeding in the auto plants already closed, notes Dan Luria, research director for the Michigan Manufacturing Technology Center, a government-business partnership. And although Obama’s policies ensure that the U.S. will buy more alternative energy and transit equipment in the years ahead, Luria says, there’s no guarantee that those products will be built in America, much less in these particular communities, unless Washington encourages it through an integrated set of carrots and sticks beyond anything under discussion. Brown, likewise, is urging a national manufacturing policy.

Well, given their advantages, why wouldn’t autos be built in Detroit, and subway cars in Wayne, and wind turbines and solar panels in Buffalo? Kaus throws a clue brick.

Hmm. Why might manufacturers of “alternative energy and transit equipment” want to avoid locating their factories in the heavily-unionized rustbelt? Do you think the ongoing example of Detroit’s Big Three might have a cautionary effect on their decision-making?

The research director, Laria, quoted by Brownstein above, encourages the Obama administration to use “an integrated set of carrots and sticks” to overcome this – um… hesitation.  In English, Kaus notes that it’s also called a “national manufacturing policy”.  Yeah, that’s the ticket.  Make them stay in Detroit if they want to build “alternative energy and transit equipment”.  They use policy like that all the time.  In communist China and Cuba.

NASA and the Budget

June 9, 2009

A Spending Increase It’s Not

From Space.com

In a move that reflects the uncertainty surrounding NASA’s current strategy for replacing the space shuttle and returning astronauts to the Moon by 2020, House appropriators slashed by 16 percent the space agency’s $4 billion request for manned space exploration in 2010.

The proposed legislation, marked up June 4 by the House Appropriations commerce, justice, science subcommittee, trims $483 million overall from U.S. President Barack Obama’s $18.7 billion budget request for NASA next year. The $670 million cut to the 2010 manned exploration request would leave $3.21 billion, which is less than is available for the effort this year.

Rep. Alan Mollohan (D-W.Va.), the subcommittee’s chairman, described the move as a “time-out” in the budget process as the White House awaits the findings of a 10-member panel tasked by the White House to reassess NASA’s post-shuttle exploration plans.

It’s funny how then candidate Obama’s proposals for NASA looked so much better last fall.

During the Democratic primaries, he planned to cut into the Constellation program to pay for increased educational spending. Yet by the general election he had reversed himself and promised increased funding to close the gap between shuttle retirement in 2010 and Constellation’s arrival in 2015. Does this change represent a true change of heart and the beginning of a commitment to our future in space, or an opportunistic campaign tactic to appeal to voters along Florida’s important space coast? That remains to be seen.

And it’s not exactly what the Obama administration told NASA just a month ago.

NASA officials said Thursday that the Obama administration will increase funding for the US space agency by five percent in 2010 and will conduct a review of its programme for manned space flight.

The $18.7-billion budget represents a $903.6-million increase over 2009 and includes money given to NASA under President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus plan.

That, was then. This however, is not.