URLs du Jour


  • I'll be watching NASA TV this afternoon… to see if they get that expensive turkey off the pad. I honestly wish them well. But, speaking of honesty, Robert Poole, is pretty blunt about the Artemis project: it's The Last Gasp of 20th-Century NASA.

    The National Aeronautics and Space Administration is stuck in the past. NASA halted its planned first launch of its Space Launch System moon rocket Monday, owing to a failure of one of its four first-stage rocket engines. Those RS-25 engines, which NASA decided to refurbish and use as a cost-saving measure, are left over from the space-shuttle program. Building a new launch vehicle with obsolete technology is emblematic of NASA’s approach to this late, overbudget program.

    SLS was developed to replace Constellation, the George W. Bush-era plan to repeat the Apollo moon-landing program. The giant booster NASA proposed was faulted as far too costly by an expert committee chaired by former aerospace executive Norman Augustine, and the Obama administration planned to terminate it. Senate heavyweights, contractors already working on the Constellation and longtime NASA employees came up with SLS as a supposedly lower-cost replacement by using the same aerospace technology already under contract for Constellation.

    I'd be more enthusiastic, but NASA seems to have designed a program simply to irritate my libertarian-except-for-NASA sensibilities. The first thing on their main Artemis page:

    With Artemis missions, NASA will land the first woman and first person of color on the Moon, […]

    First person of color? And what color would that be? Green?

    And the purpose would be … what? To find out if they change color on the Moon? Hey, it could happen. Won't know until we try.

    No, sorry. That's crazy 1960s content-of-their-character talk.

    Another warning flag is found on the "Artemis Partners" page, which screams "The program is a boondoggle, and we're proud of it."

    Since its inception, every state in America has made a contribution to the success of NASA’s Artemis program […]

    Yes, I'd wager every congressional district has "made a contribution to" to Artemis. And the translation of NASA-speak "made a contribution to" into English is: "grabbed some taxpayer dollars from".

  • So nothing new then. Charles C. W. Cooke keeps his eye on the latest news out of Mar-a-Lago, and he assures us, never fear, that Donald Trump Is Still a Lunatic.

    On Truth Social this week, Donald Trump, in response to the news that the FBI had disgracefully put pressure on Facebook to suppress the true story of Hunter Biden’s laptop, insisted that he must be immediately reinstalled as president of the United States. “REMEDY: Declare the rightful winner,” Trump wrote. “Or, and this would be the minimal solution, declare the 2020 Election irreparably compromised and have a new Election, immediately!”

    Well, then.

    It is increasingly tempting to ignore these outbursts of constitutionally illiterate election-trutherism as a distraction. Certainly, if one wishes to, one can write them off as a mere sideshow — as the detached and irrelevant ravings of an unemployed septuagenarian has-been. At this point, one might say, Trump is just another Crazy Uncle with a social-media account. And, besides, instead of parsing what he says on the Internet, shouldn’t we be focused on the FBI’s continuing self-abasement, which occasioned the flare-up in the first instance?

    Will the 2024 election really boil down to "Narcissistic Lunatic" vs. "Doddering Old Fool"? Gee, there's a choice.

  • Hey, kids, what time is it? Megan McArdle has her answer: It’s time for Republicans to save themselves.

    By mid-February 2016, it was clear that some kind of collective Republican action would be needed to keep Donald Trump from winning the nomination. Instead, everyone stood around hoping that someone else would do the job for them. This was an error they repeated many times in the ensuing years, keeping quiet about outrage after outrage, passing up two separate chances to remove him from power and ensure he could never run again.

    It is long past time for the GOP to have a Dr. Phil moment: How’s that working for you?

    For six years, Trump has been systematically — okay, unsystematically — wrecking the party. At every juncture, Republicans made the same excuses for keeping quiet about it: The media was biased, so no need to actually deal with the outrageous substance of what was going on in the Oval Office. Besides, Trump’s voters would primary any Republican who stood up to him. Better to quietly work against him where possible, and otherwise bide their time until Trump passed from the scene.

    Trump has had a lot of help in wrecking the party, with his sycophants deriding those who don't show adequate fealty as RINOs who should go be Democrats. There's a recipe for long-term irrelevance.

  • Also wanting to tie the GOP to the Trump Boat Anchor… is, guess who, Joe Biden. John Podhoretz teases out the subtext in his recent oration: Hypocrite Biden's speech was about one thing only.

    Joe Biden has become America’s leading troll — and he’s trolling Donald Trump. The president’s supposedly grand speech in “defense of democracy” under attack by “Trump and the MAGA Republicans” was hardly a visionary call to renew our commitment to the Republic.

    If it had been the highfalutin speech we were promised, Biden wouldn’t have spent ludicrous time praising himself for things like prescription-drug costs and burn-pit health coverage. No, this speech was nakedly, even comically, designed not to elevate but to offend — to poke and taunt and push his predecessor and his predecessor’s camp followers and acolytes into firing back about how evil Biden is.

    Biden wants Trump angry, and loud, and silencing every other voice but his own. It’s not an accident that Biden’s rise and the Democratic enthusiasm surge has come in tandem with Trump once again at the top of the American news agenda over the past six weeks. Biden knows he won in 2020 by successfully making the election a referendum on Trump. Nothing would make him happier than having the 2022 election continue in that vein.

    And he may get his wish.

  • More advice to the GOP that they won't take… is provided by James C. Capretta: Republicans Should Push Back on Economic Populism, Not Embrace It.

    Donald Trump’s shocking victory in 2016 prompted speculation that American politics might be undergoing a realignment. The Republican presidential candidate picked up working class voters from the Democrats while also alienating some moderate suburbanites. Even though Trump went on to lose in 2020, many in the GOP still believe this transformation is inevitable, and, from their perspective, desirable.

    While a lasting shift is certainly possible, the parties show no signs of trading places on most economic questions. Since January 2021, it has been the Democrats who have aggressively implemented populist tax and spending policies, leaving Republicans to stoke cultural battles to burnish their anti-establishment bona fides. The result has been a distorted debate, with little substantive pushback on what the Democrats have advanced, and a notable shift toward policies that set aside the market in favor of government management.

    For a time, it seemed as if the political terrain might actually shift substantively and not just rhetorically. After all, Trump blustered frequently about economic populism in 2016, and then also episodically while in office, with repeated attacks on the profits of drug companies and incomes of Wall Street executives. However, his term came and went with no discernible or lasting populist influence on actual economic policies beyond the regrettable bipartisan consensus on renewed protectionism. (As an aside, the tariffs he imposed on Chinese imports are not having their intended economic effects but should be evaluated from both a trade and national security perspective.)

    Capretta argues that you can't out-populist the Democrats. I'd disagree slightly, given the disproportionate impact of "Student Loan Forgiveness" edict and the barely-disguised corporate welfare in the recent "Inflation Reduction" and "CHIPS" acts. There's plenty there for a fire-breathing populist pol to fire up the masses about.

    But the larger point is that the GOP needs to be better at selling economic liberty. True. Again, Trump-fealty is a major obstacle to that happening.

  • A service to New Hampshire Republican voters. James Thomas guests at Granite Grok to announce: The 2022 Republican Primary Edition of Liberty Ballot is Published.

    On the night before the New Hampshire Primary, many voters in New Hampshire will be asking the same question: of the many candidates on the ballot, which viable candidates will vote to reduce the size of government?

    By then, it’s too late to research the candidates, so we’ve done the research for you since 2014.

    All a voter has to do is select their town from the drop-down menu, and a sample ballot with the pro-liberty candidates in contested primary elections per-marked will appear. This ballot may be downloaded, printed, or emailed. There is an extensive Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of LibertyBallot.com that answers the when, where, and how-to vote questions.

    I'm grateful for this. Someone else doing the research. Bottom line: they make no recommendation for Governor, any of three candidates for US Senator, Tim Baxter for NH01 CongressCritter.

    All other races are noncompetitive. ("Vote for not more than N", and there are exactly N candidates on the ballot.) Except for the "Delegates to the State [GOP] Convention" recommendation; there are five candidates on the ballot, and the directions say "Vote for not more than four". A decision is called for and there is, as near as I can tell, zero information about anyone.

    Until now. The Ballot recommends one guy: Nicholas Hubbard. Easy to remember, initials the same as the state's.