Space: The Visionaries Take Over

Charles Krauthammerkrauthammer-sm writes: Fractured and divided as we are, on one thing we can agree: 2015 was a miserable year. The only cheer was provided by Lincoln Chafee and the Pluto flyby (two separate phenomena), as well as one seminal aeronautical breakthrough.

On Dec. 21, Elon Musk’s SpaceX, after launching 11 satellites into orbit, returned its 15-story booster rocketupright and intact, to a landing pad at Cape Canaveral. That’s a $60 million mountain of machinery — recovered. (The traditional booster rocket either burns up or disappears into some ocean.)

The reusable rocket has arrived. Arguably, it arrived a month earlier when Blue Origin, a privately owned outfit created by Jeffrey P. Bezos (Amazon chief executive and owner of this newspaper) launched and landed its own booster rocket, albeit for a suborbital flight. But whether you attribute priority to Musk or Bezos, the two events together mark the inauguration of a new era in spaceflight.

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Musk predicts that the reusable rocket will reduce the cost of accessing space a hundredfold. This depends, of course, on whether the wear and tear and stresses of the launch make the refurbishing prohibitively expensive. Assuming it’s not, and assuming Musk is even 10 percent right, reusability revolutionizes the economics of spaceflight.

[Read the full story here, at The Washington Post]

Which both democratizes and commercializes it. Which means space travel has now slipped the surly bonds of government — presidents, Congress, NASA bureaucracies. Its future will now be driven far more by a competitive marketplace with its multiplicity of independent actors, including deeply motivated, financially savvy and visionary entrepreneurs. Read the rest of this entry »


Percentage of ‘Extremely Proud’ to Be American Declines; Dems Pick Up Edge in Party Affiliation in Unrelated Gallup Polls

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WASHINGTON, D.C. — As Independence Day approaches, most in the U.S. say they are proud to be an American, including a slight majority, 54%, who are “extremely proud.” The percentage saying they are “extremely proud” is slightly lower than in recent years and down from peaks at and around 70% between 2002 and 2004, after 9/11….

Meanwhile, by coincidence, there’s this:

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PRINCETON, N.J. — In the second quarter of 2015, Democrats regained an advantage over Republicans in terms of Americans’ party affiliation. A total of 46% of Americans identified as Democrats (30%) or said they are independents who lean toward the Democratic Party (16%), while 41% identified as Republicans (25%) or leaned Republican (16%). The two parties were generally even during the previous three quarters, including the fourth quarter of 2014, when the midterm elections took place.(read more)

Completely unrelated, we’re sure.

…In addition to the 54% who are extremely proud to be an American, 27% say they are “very proud,” 14% say they are “moderately proud,” 4% are “only a little proud” and 1% state that they are “not at all proud.”

These data are from a June 2-7 poll. Gallup has asked this question regularly since 2001. The highest percentage saying they were “extremely proud” to be an American came in 2003, in the months after the Iraq war began and not long after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, when Americans’ patriotism surged. It is likely that the aftermath of 9/11 may have produced an anomaly in the levels of “extreme pride” in patriotism.

While most Americans are proud to be an American, certain groups are especially likely to say they are extremely proud. “Extreme pride” rises for each succeeding age group, from a low of 43% among those under 30 to a high of 64% among senior citizens.

Extreme pride also varies regionally, from a high of 61% in the South to a low of 46% in the West.

Sixty-eight percent of Republicans say they are extremely proud to be an American, much higher than the 47% of Democrats who say the same. As usual, independents are in the middle, at 53%.

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Americans’ likelihood of saying that they are “extremely proud” to be an American has returned to where it was in early 2001, before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Read the rest of this entry »


[VIDEO] THE PANTSUIT REPORT: Hillary Surprised ‘Turns Out We Are Not Producing As Many Small Businesses As We Used To’

At The CornerJoel Gehrke writes:

Hillary Clinton admitted today that she was “surprised” to learn that the people who told her small businesses have struggled in recent years were actually correct.

“I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it. Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”

— Hillary Clinton, in New Hampshire

Clinton noted that small business creation has “stalled out,” to her chagrin. “I was very surprised to see that when I began to dig into it,” she said while campaigning in New Hampshire. “Because people were telling me this as I traveled around the country the last two years, but I didn’t know what they were saying and it turns out that we are not producing as many small businesses as we use to.”PANTSUIT-REPORT

“Small businesses lack the confidence they need to expand and hire new workers, and the President’s looming tax hikes are threatening to destroy another 700,000 jobs.”

— Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul

The struggles of small businesses during President Obama’s administration are hardly a new subject on the campaign trail. Mitt Romney raised the issue throughout the 2012 presidential election.

”At every turn, Hillary Clinton has supported top-down Washington-driven policies that have stacked the deck against small businesses. Hillary Clinton can’t possibly be a champion for everyday Americans when she doesn’t understand their most basic economic concerns and was ‘surprised’ to learn that small businesses are struggling.”

— Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus

“Small businesses lack the confidence they need to expand and hire new workers, and the President’s looming tax hikes are threatening to destroy another 700,000 jobs,” Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in September of 2012, for instance. Read the rest of this entry »