Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Sudden Pontification Upon A Theory

So, what does the single, intellectual Republican do on a Saturday night in San Francisco, somewhat broke?

He reads blogs and webcomics and starts trying to figure out things. Usually on bottle of two of good beer. During this running, I came across one of the latest articles by PJ O'Rourke on how America is seeing the end of the love affair with cars. Worse yet, you have the simple fact that now that GM is going to be Government Motors, they will be producing cars for a market that does not exist, for people that cannot afford them. And, there is the love affair that Obama is trying to sell to us, one of the most loved ones of Socalists since Mussolini, the high-speed rail line.

After all, the logic is, we don't need cars. Why, the Europeans get along without cars, very often-usually, if they need one, they rent it. Why own a car that will be a threat to the enviroment and Al Gore's peace of mind? We can all take the bus! And public transit! And the train! Why live out in the suburbs when the cities are the place to be!

And, in that instant, the idea hits me like a lemon wrapped in a gold brick. Between sips of a good oatmeal stout, the realization reaches me.

What is the ulitmate form of protest against the policies of a government, short of explosions? Voting with your feet. And, with the automobile, it's so very easy to vote with your feet.

Why live in San Francisco or New York, where it's crowded, full of people that annoy you, high crime rates (when the police department is being run for sensativity and not arresting people), high costs (you can pretty much tack on about $1-2 for anything that isn't already pre-priced in SF like coffee, worse for New York or Chicago), living in apartments that are so small you have to go outside to change your mind, long commutes on crowed buses and subways, the public school system sucks multicultural donkey dicks, etc, etc...

...when, you can live in Berkeley. Or Petaluma. Or outside of Washginton DC in Virginia, where you can own a gun. And, you can drive to the supermarket to pick up a gallon of milk and not pay twice as much at the corner store. And, you can send your kids to a school where they have a chance to learn. And, live somehwere that there's enough space for a hobby.

And, live somewhere that you can have a chance of effecting the political process. Let's be honest-politics in the big cities tends to be restricted to the very young (who have energy to burn and brains full of bat guano), career politicians (whom being employed in politics is a job), and the various courtiers of the big city political process (union leaders, newspaper editors, law firms, etc, etc).

The automobile gives a large amount of polticial autonomy that makes it much harder to enforce larger, massive top-down solutions on people. When it's possible for people to live in a city that has minimal taxes, then come to work in a larger city that has more taxes that can be avoided by not being there and make more money, you see a phenomina similar to what's going on in Mexico-people crossing the border from cheaper places to live, to find work in places that pay more because they have to pay more for talent to even come close to those cities.

And, oddly enough, this kind of border reform is something the Obama administration and it's followers like. They want people to move into the cities, where it's possible to regulate and control them. To poke into their lives and meddle, and be meddlesome.

When people are living in a crackerbox apartment, they can't afford to buy stuff to fill it, unless they get help with the rent and rent control (which benefits the upper middle class and beyond-Berkeley is a diaster in the making when the old hippies and such have to go into nursing homes and managed care). Mom can't buy huge amouts of food at Costco, but smaller amounts at the local corner store that charges a premium. So, if they want to eat more, they have to qualify for food stamps. The cost of paying for union jobs on public transit systems means that the cost of taking public transit goes up, and there goes your pocket money for Starbucks for that month-but, after all, you don't need to drink all that coffee, do you? Bad for your heart, have some tea, instead.

And, how can you fight City Hall, when it takes you two hours to ride the bus to and from work, add nine hours for work and you have maybe three hours to eat, shop, and maybe have some fun? Of course, your political donations go to people that will cheerfully help your cause...even if you don't know that you need that kind of help yet.

I remain uncertian as if this were planned for (in the sense of an overarching scheme), or it is a part of the circumstances (like flying shrapnel from a chemical plant explosion). I don't like thinking the first, it speaks of paranoia, consipriacy, and the French. The second, on the other hand...where is the explosion and what is it coming from?

The American car industry, in a lot of ways, did bring this on itself. They need to dig themselves out...and soon. Because, Americans may be driving cars made in Japan, China, and Europe.

If they can drive, at all.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Obama, And Democrat Nobility

I've been reading another superb column by Victor David Hanson (been reading a lot of his books lately, and I like his logic) this weekend.

One point that he's been making about Obama is that he's been making use of one of the greatest tools of demagogy politician, the "evil other". He's been drumming up a lot of hatred of the usual socialist class warfare targets-evil banks, "fat cat" capitalists, "greedy" people that aren't paying their "fair share"...

Worse, nobody can make fun of Obama. How soon in the Bush administration-either of them-did the jokes start? How early in the Clinton era did the really bad jokes begin? But...I haven't heard any good Obama jokes. Are the court jesters of our era all suddenly struck down with laryngitis?

Or, are they scared that any jokes of Obama would be called racists? That criticizing Obama in a way that a white politician would get screams of "racism", "going after our first-ever Black President"?

Worse...I can see a new kind of political nobility showing up in DC. Look at how Nancy Pelosi is denying that she was briefed on "enhanced interrogation techniques". When other people there aren't saying "oh, she didn't know what she was saying" but "she's lying out of her very blouse." That eight major banks were told that they had to sign and accept agreements to accept TARP money and government controls, "or else". When did the Treasury Department turn into Vito Corleone?

Or, the various departments in Washington DC turn into courtiers for the "elected" politicians?

It's going to be a crazy, crazy four years-because, short of several miracles (man-made or otherwise), I can't see Obama being President for more than four years.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Me For NASA Administrator

They're still looking for an administrator to run NASA. (Special thanks to Instapundit.) The Obama administration has a lot of things on their mind, namely they can't find people without tax trouble. However, I think that if there is somebody with a good shot at the job out there, they should apply for it.

Like, for example, me.

Admittedly, I don't have enough of a management/space industry background to really be in serious competition. But, I do have some things going for me-
  • I'm a huge space nut. Whatever else happens, there will be Buck Rogers at some point, men will be back in space, and on the Moon, ASAP.
  • The day I get in, I'll demand a 60 day, non-partisan review of the Aries/Shuttle Derived Launch Vehicle and the Jupiter/DIRECT launcher system. Whichever one passes the review, will be the one built. I personally am a fan of the DIRECT, but I want the best launcher deployed, and soonest.
  • We'll be funding a 10,000 lbs NERVA engine system, to maximize the options for missions going to the Moon and Mars.
  • I hate Washington DC with a passion, with the exception of the museums. I promise that I'll spend the absolute minimum of time in DC, the maximum possible time on my work desk.
  • I promise, my CSPAN experiences will be memorable. I promise lots of props, lots of visual greebles, all sorts of fun things.
  • Quite a bit of NASA budget will be in getting Science In The Classroom. Easy to handle and read packets that give kids from K-12 the ability to understand science as a real thing. Even easy-to-do experiments of all sorts.
  • There will be men on the Moon in by 2014, 2012 if I have to get out an push. Permanant base at least two years later.
  • Mars mission ASAP, based upon Mars Direct. With the development of the NERVA engine, that gives us a lot more mission options.
I'm pretty much ready to go to work, day one, for the job. My only issues is that I think dueling may still be legal in Washington DC, so I might have to challenge a few people for the job...