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Obama in space

I'm trying to figure out why the Washington Times hates the Obama space policy. Obama essentially wants to get the government to step aside and let the private sector take over the flights to low earth orbit. You can argue that it's premature; but why don't conservatives like this plan?

The Times writes:

"This is not a cost-cutting move. The agency is budgeted to receive $19 billion next year, and Mr. Obama wants to throw an additional $6 billion at it over five years. The hitch is he wants to shift its mission toward climate research and airplane design. Anxious to stay relevant, NASA agreed to research the cause of Toyota's sudden-acceleration problem."

Um, sorry, but NASA has been doing earth observations and aeronautics for a long, long time. No big change there. You can read NASA's budget plan right here. Obama wants to give NASA $100 billion over 5 years. Among the main objectives:

Transformative technology development and flagship technology demonstrations to pursue new approaches to space exploration;

◦ Robotic precursor missions to multiple destinations in the solar system;

◦ Research and development on heavy-lift and propulsion technologies;

◦ U.S. commercial spaceflight capabilities;

◦ Future launch capabilities, including work on modernizing Kennedy Space Center after the retirement of the Shuttle;

◦ Extension and increased utilization of the International Space Station;

◦ Cross-cutting technology development aimed at improving NASA, other government, and commercial space capabilities...

[Update: Here's the latest from the White House on what Obama will say in Florida.]

Again, you can argue that it's too much of a strategic change, too fast. And it's not clear that Obama really cares a lot about the space program. We read on NASA Watch that his visit to the Cape later this week is going to be a virtual fly-by. But its hard to make a plausible case that Obama is abandoning space. He is, however, abandoning ship when it comes to Constellation, which under any scenario would have cost many tens of billions of dollars, perhaps 100 billion ultimately, to land someone on the moon more than half a century after we did it the first time.


Check out Tom Shroder's account of the evolution of Gene Weingarten's Pulitzer-winning story.

By Joel Achenbach  |  April 13, 2010; 4:37 PM ET
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You mean the National Aeronautics and Space Administration already does aeronautical work? Wow, who knew?

Posted by: simpleton1 | April 13, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

My guess is that the Washington Times dislikes anything the President does because he isn't a Republican. Logic has nothing to do with it.

Posted by: slyness | April 13, 2010 5:49 PM | Report abuse

In addition to working with Toyota on the sudden acceleration issue, NASA has signed an agreement with Chrysler to share technology.

Chrysler was apparently involved in NASA's Mercury Project back in the 1960s.

Posted by: MsJS | April 13, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Also, a little bit of space work. In a national vein. Administering it, at least.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 13, 2010 5:58 PM | Report abuse

Perhaps the WaTi (pronounced: "warty") is unhappy because they were hoping that Constellation would get funded (thus ratifying a Republican decision to go that way), AND they were hoping it would have prodigious cost overruns that could be blamed on Democrats (because you know that Democrats don't know how to rein in costs), AND they were hoping that Obama would demand to be the first passenger (because you know that Democrats are all about the sense of entitlement), AND they were hoping it would be a one-way trip (because you know that Democrats are not as technocratically capable as, for example, the geniuses who "planned" and executed the Great War on Terra). It all seemed so plausible, to them. And now, they feel hurt. Pity them, the poor, foolish, stupid, ignorant, boobs. They might be you. They might be me.

Yeah, and winged monkeys may start flying out of my...

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 13, 2010 6:06 PM | Report abuse

I have no doubt that the Washington Times has a vested interest in the space program because, well, it is owned by Moonies.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2010 6:15 PM | Report abuse

"Also, a little bit of space work. In a national vein. Administering it, at least.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 13, 2010 5:58 PM"

It occurred to me recently -- perhaps I'm just slow -- that a big problem I have with leading conservative politicians and pundits is their habit of making arguments that leave me shaking my head and wondering just what in the heck they're talking about. The "huh?!?" factor. Like Bobby Jindal mocking volcano monitoring while smoke was actually pouring out of Alaska's Mt. Redoubt. Or Bill Frist diagnosing Terri Schiavo from the Senate floor. Or the Washington Times attacking Obama for encouraging a federal agency to do efficient work in its chartered field. Huh?!?

Posted by: simpleton1 | April 13, 2010 6:16 PM | Report abuse

What exactly am I supposed to think about the Washington Times that I don't already know?

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 13, 2010 6:19 PM | Report abuse

I agree that this position is not especially well argued. If I were of a suspicious nature I would assert that one motivation for badmouthing the Obama space position is Florida. Florida, obviously, is both a swing state and is home to much of the space industry. Therefore, by perpetuating the notion that Obama has abandoned space one perpetuates the notion that Obama has abandoned Florida.

Of course, the operative word here is assert. Perhaps there are rational policy reasons behind this position that have simply been left unexplained. Or, perhaps, conservatives are simply indulging in a knee-jerk opposition to all things Obama.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2010 6:39 PM | Report abuse

1) The Constellation was a _conservative_ design.

2) The Constellation was named after a famous old warship.

3) GWB decided to pursue the project, and by definition any decision of his is better than anything to which Obama could even aspire.

4) They spent the morning down in the basement huffing airplane glue.

Posted by: j2hess | April 13, 2010 6:43 PM | Report abuse

Hi Y'all... May I mention something from the last kit? Where were those Okies when GWBush was sending our National Guard overseas instead of leaving them here to serve as our militia?

And... a BIG SHOUT-OUT to HEADFOOL for pointing me toward the Guide to the Crooked Road Book and CD collection. Wow. It arrived today (yay for Amazon prime!) and it's not only chock full of info and music, but a driving tour as well. Perfect for our trip in May.

I'd also like to nominate RD's 6:15 PM for Comment of the Week.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 13, 2010 6:54 PM | Report abuse

I second the nomination, Madam Chairperson.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2010 7:26 PM | Report abuse

Thank you ladies.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2010 7:39 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, Joel, for linking to that excellent piece by Tom.

Eminence indeed.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 13, 2010 7:40 PM | Report abuse

Gosh, RD, it's a good thing you aren't of a suspicious nature. Such suspicious assertions might make alarming sense, in a certain kind of alternate universe.

Speaking of alternate universes, TBG, sadly, those Okies were joining the Guard, being sent overseas multiple times, and dying when W made them an essential part of the war effort. Several people here eventually did bemoan the lack of local Guard troops when the ice storm season was followed by wildfires and then tornadoes.

Posted by: Ivansmom | April 13, 2010 7:43 PM | Report abuse

TBG and Yoki, I'm truly frenvious of your upcoming sojourn along the back roads. I do love winding roads and real country driving, to the extent there is really any "country" left.

Gonna go stand in line tomorrow at the Post Office, to avoid standing in long lines on Thursday. And, no, I do not file electronically, as I do not wish to pad my credit card with what I owe, and I do have to pay quarterly, as well. Just in case you were wondering.

And in case you weren't wondering, today I ordered from Amazon two books by David Remnick: (1) "The Bridge: The life and Rise of Barack Obama" and (2) "Lenin's Tomb: The Last Days of the Soviet Empire". Yep, I think I'm into the nonfiction stuff now. Although, I might just dip into "Petals of Blood" by my favorite African writer Ngugi wa Thiong'o first before I plunge into Remnick's works.

I tell ya -- there just isn't enough time to read all the books I want to read. And I *know* just how elitist that is. But all the same ....

*a snort for the road*

Posted by: -ftb- | April 13, 2010 7:50 PM | Report abuse

Attention Gleeks! Less than 90 minutes to the new season.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 8:08 PM | Report abuse

I read Lenin's Tomb some time ago; most excellent (as you would expect from Remnick). I'm sorry I missed his live chat on the Obama book today.

I *am* looking forward to traveling with TBG; too fun (though we need to work on the show tunes, I may have to switch out a little symphonic metal from time to time)!

And, ftb, that is why I toss books that don't measure up to my high standards; there are too many good books I need to get through in the second half of my life, no time to waste!

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2010 8:15 PM | Report abuse

RD said it much better than my simultaneous remark.

Posted by: Jumper1 | April 13, 2010 8:20 PM | Report abuse

ftb... I think e-filing federal taxes is free now. At least it was for me--and my kids.

Posted by: -TBG- | April 13, 2010 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Ftb, there's plenty of country up north.

Bears, too.

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 13, 2010 8:58 PM | Report abuse

The Washington Times still has reporters? I thought they fired them all a few weeks ago.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 9:10 PM | Report abuse

Please do not use logic to analyze the action of partisans. By definition they do not use it.

Posted by: steveboyington | April 13, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

No yello, just the objective reporters who worked for the sports section

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 9:22 PM | Report abuse

Evenin', Boodle . . .

posting after a long day finishing a commission that would have been finished two days ago had I not been here with all you good folks.

to _bc_ from the last kit:
read and re-read your post at 11:02.
Will have my ambiguity-knob set at "11" henceforth whenever possible. Words on the board are so often misconstrued, ain't it the truth?

Enjoyed Joel's backup piece about how G.W.'s 2nd Pulitzer was constructed. Ink-stained editing is greatly undervalued.

Nice to read all your thoughts from today.....truly blessed to have found you all. Also looking forward to the next post from Chile.

Posted by: talitha1 | April 13, 2010 9:23 PM | Report abuse

Meant the link to Tom the B's piece about G.W.'s winning piece.
Mercy . . . windows can be so confusing in my old age!

Posted by: talitha1 | April 13, 2010 9:33 PM | Report abuse

Off topic: There is a big snit in California where Palin is going to the commencement speaker at one of the UC campus'. The university won't reveal her speaking fee. Some dumpster diving students found a copy of her standard contract when the university association was attempting to get rid of the correspondence on the event. Palin likes to drink water when speaking through a bendy straw. A pdf of the standard contract accompanies the article.

Posted by: bh72 | April 13, 2010 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Meanwhile down in Mississippi, the more things change...

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 9:42 PM | Report abuse

A Palin joke on Glee:

Sue Sylvester (Jane Lynch) to two cheerleaders: "You two may be the dumbest teenagers I've ever met. And that's saying something: I once gave a cheerleading seminar to a young Sarah Palin."

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 13, 2010 10:11 PM | Report abuse

And OMG! Did you guys just see that tampon commercial? I'm stunned.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 13, 2010 10:12 PM | Report abuse

Details, if possible, Mudge. These 'mercials are all horrid in various ways. I wonder what could be worse tonight.

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 13, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

I read that earlier today, yello, and felt sick.

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2010 10:17 PM | Report abuse

I can't begin to describe it. But here it is:

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 13, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

Let me guess they logged online and bought them over the internet using their iPad, and one woman says to another "For some reason, this just doesn't feel right."

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

Can you truly only get mudge by a new kit, cause I think this qualifies

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 10:34 PM | Report abuse

Mudge, wow. Ambiguous race is a selling factor?

Posted by: CollegeQuaParkian1 | April 13, 2010 10:40 PM | Report abuse

Jaw-dropping, isn't it? I wasn't even paying attention to it when it was running and suddenly I was plunged into a kind of cognitive dissonance.

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 13, 2010 10:47 PM | Report abuse

It is a meta-advertisement. Which may be a good thing...

Posted by: Yoki | April 13, 2010 10:54 PM | Report abuse

I'm Glee-static. Johnathan Groff was Lea Michelle's costar in Spring Awakening, so the inside Broadway in-jokes keep coming.

Now if they ever get Idina Menzel and Kristin Chenoweth on the same episode, that would be wicked.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 10:56 PM | Report abuse

I watched it twice

I'm 18-24
I'm racially ambiguous
market research girls love me
and I've got the hair (??did she say that

I'm at CVS and I'm looking for what???

I think the only reason I know it's a tampon commercial is cause Mudge said it was, for all I would know otherwise, I could think she was adverting some brand of white jeans, or a white couch, or a white latex wall paint

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 10:57 PM | Report abuse

Dear Yellojkt,

In its first season, I caught only 3, maybe 4 episodes of Glee. I am now 20 minutes into season 2 and I am struggling not to rush out and purchase the CD. (Is there a CD? Don't tell me, please.) This show makes me want to sing.

This is, quite clearly, ALL your fault. Thank you.

Mrdr, who is going to end up listening to me sing, is somewhat less pleased.

Posted by: --dr-- | April 13, 2010 10:58 PM | Report abuse

Here is another commercial by the same advertising agency:

Put on your irony detectors. These commercials are parodying feminine hygiene advertising cliches.

As for ethnically ambiguous being attractive:

Angelina Jolie
Mariah Carey
Tiger Woods
Vin Diesel

Need I go on?

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

dr-you can get your Glee fix on cd or itunes.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 13, 2010 11:03 PM | Report abuse

I hate to tell ya, dr:

Posted by: Curmudgeon5 | April 13, 2010 11:05 PM | Report abuse


You're welcome. There are a couple of albums, but I don't have any because I tend to prefer the originals. My wife snagged us some tickets to the Radios City Music Hall stop of the live Glee tour. Can there be a purer sign of true love?

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 11:08 PM | Report abuse

Yello-I prefer the Halo/Walking on Sunshine mashup from last season better than either original. If an ipod had grooves I would have worn them out on Don't Rain on My Parade, better than Streisand! Truly you are loved, and making my Twins/White Sox tickets seem pretty feeble.

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 13, 2010 11:13 PM | Report abuse

I have a sort of ambiguous nationality

I've been to four foreign countries

Brazil, Canada, Germany, and Mexico

in Brazil I was once mistaken for a Canadian

in Canada I was once mistaken for a Canadian (someone I met in Ottawa thought I was from BC

in Germany I was mistaken for a Canadian once and an Italian once (my friend had something to do with the Italian thing

in Mexico I was mistaken for a Gringo with money (OK that one wasn't a mistake

Being mistaken for Canadian in Canada, wow. that really made my day when I realized it (I still smile when I recall

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:22 PM | Report abuse

You're mighty welcome, TBG.

Posted by: HeadFool | April 13, 2010 11:26 PM | Report abuse

Oops, mean to say being a gringo with money in Mexico meant they were trying to sell me something, not mug me

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:31 PM | Report abuse

Someone in Canada mistook you for bc? I would mistake him for Italian. He has that Roman nose. Roamin' all over his face.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 13, 2010 11:32 PM | Report abuse

I got presents for my Mom Brother and Sister

(almost typed Bother

and one for myself. my first time to haggle, I brought the price down from five to one, probably still paid too much

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:40 PM | Report abuse

Yeah, I think my nose is Greek

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:42 PM | Report abuse

Retsina is the only white wine I Love

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:44 PM | Report abuse

Is it tomorrow in South East Asia already?

I know there's a web sight that shows this somewhere

A Dashboard widget would be cool

Posted by: omni3 | April 13, 2010 11:51 PM | Report abuse

found it

shows Sol and Luna

looks like noon over Vietnam

but does that mean tomorrow

Posted by: omni3 | April 14, 2010 12:33 AM | Report abuse

I'm all the time getting mistaken for an employee of places where the employees often wear vests. Sometimes it can take me a while before I realize that the person I'm helping doesn't realize that I don't work there.

Posted by: ScienceTim | April 14, 2010 12:35 AM | Report abuse

As of 12:01am, no. You and I are on the same day at this hour.

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 14, 2010 12:36 AM | Report abuse

I didn't connect the dots until I visited the website for Science magazine to check the use of the term "nonavian dinosaur" in a recent report.

The bicyclist killed by a truck in central Washington was Science magazine's Constance Holden, who was with their news department as long as I've read it. Here's a quote from the magazine:

"Science mourns the tragic death of friend and colleague Constance Holden, who was struck and killed by a truck near AAAS's Washington, D.C., headquarters on 12 April 2010."

"A lively presence in Science's offices, with fiery red hair and a gregarious, straight-shooting personality, Tancy served Science's News Department for 40 years as a reporter and news writer, earning the admiration and affection of her colleagues and friends. In addition to her role as a top science journalist, she was also an accomplished painter, specializing in oil portraits, and an avid enthusiast of piano playing, cats, and a good argument."

Posted by: DaveoftheCoonties | April 14, 2010 12:39 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: Bob-S | April 14, 2010 2:40 AM | Report abuse

Aaahh... I'm not sure why WashPost just ran me through a registration & rinse cycle, but I'm back to some variation of Bob S. Same ole me.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 14, 2010 2:42 AM | Report abuse

BobS, you were warned repeatedly about posting rational and civilized comments. Let this be a lesson to you.

Posted by: rashomon | April 14, 2010 2:50 AM | Report abuse

Hmm. That may not have come across quite the way I meant it, so let's try again.

BobS, you were warned repeatedly that your habit of posting rational and civilized comments could be a problem. Let this be a lesson to you.

That's better.

Posted by: rashomon | April 14, 2010 2:52 AM | Report abuse

Since I'm here anyway, I'll opine that the Kotex commercial was very funny, space policy "is"" as space policy "does", southwestern Mississippi schools probably aren't effectively much more segregated than southwest Boston schools, and even though I only work there during the day and have no idea who the victim might be I'm feeling frustrated (I use that word because it's technically accurate and less offensive than more-properly-descriptive words or phrases might well be) that a woman was raped last night less than a block from my office in Alexandria [].

I know that I can't solve all of the world's problems, but I'm willing to at least attempt to take a shot at a fair number of the problems that occur within a block of my home or within a block of my workplace.

Posted by: Bob-S | April 14, 2010 3:02 AM | Report abuse

rasho - Yep, I'm sure that's why I had to pick a new alias. Too rational & civil, that's me!

[Chuckling madly]

Posted by: Bob-S | April 14, 2010 3:04 AM | Report abuse

Oh my, another earthquake :

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 14, 2010 4:29 AM | Report abuse

Not only babies can be left in a locked cars, elderly mothers can suffer the same fate. Fortunately all is well :

Posted by: rainforest1 | April 14, 2010 4:45 AM | Report abuse

The WaPo RegiBot tried to get me to use a new identity, but I refused to knuckle under, so you are stuck with the same old me.

I read about that bicycle accident and was depressed enough without knowing anything about the victim. Now I find it doubly tragic.

Posted by: yellojkt | April 14, 2010 6:34 AM | Report abuse

Morning, all, hi Cassandra!

I'm up in time to have ham biscuits with a mixed fruit bowl and appropriate beverages on the ready room table. Eat them up while they're still warm...they'll do till MsJS brings in the muffins.

Always a terrible thing when a bicyclist dies. The cousin of a guy I know at church died last week. He was going to work on his motorcycle, hit a deer, and died instantly. Wow.

This is the busy day, so I'd better get moving. I *think* I'm ready for Bible study - Mark 13, the Little Apocalypse. I can spell that word!

Posted by: slyness | April 14, 2010 7:03 AM | Report abuse

Good morning everyone, another great morning here, a little cooler but sunny and the temps will rise during the day.

Enjoyed Glee last night the Sarah Palin joke had me spitting coffee on my laptop.

MsJS, hope you are enjoying the Guergis story - what a couple, I truly hope her constituents toss her to the curb next election.

Posted by: dmd3 | April 14, 2010 7:18 AM | Report abuse

Although, clearly, not in the target audience I thought the commercial Mudge linked to was clever. Of course, ads for, you know, girl stuff, still make me uncomfortable. They remind me too much of traumatic moments of my youth when advertisements for feminine products would come on television and, you know, my *mom* would be in the room.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 14, 2010 7:55 AM | Report abuse

Okay, this earthquake business is starting to alarm me. Now, I know that "random" doesn't mean "evenly distributed," but still.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 14, 2010 8:02 AM | Report abuse

Well, this is of some consolation. (Not to the victims of these tragic disasters of course, but in a while "2012" sort of way.)

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 14, 2010 8:05 AM | Report abuse

To those of us who have done hard time with "The Fairly Odd Parents" the revelation that Ms. Palin insists on bendy-straws is especially foreboding.

"Alien Commander: Puny humans we shall now suck out your brains... with bendy-straws!"

For the truly motivated, here is the link. Don't worry, you just have to watch the very beginning.

Posted by: RD_Padouk | April 14, 2010 8:39 AM | Report abuse

That is sad about Constance Holden.

But am I sick for inadvertantly chuckling at "and an avid enthusiast of piano playing, cats, and a good argument."

I didn't see the , after piano-playing and misread it as "piano-playing cats," and I thought, who wouldn't be?

Posted by: Wilbrod_Gnome | April 14, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

Piano-playing cats would be pretty amusing, if these videos of iPad-playing cats are anything to go by.

Posted by: byoolin1 | April 14, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

New kit!

(And this time I didn't mudge myself!!)

Posted by: curmudgeon6 | April 14, 2010 9:23 AM | Report abuse

Good morning, y'all.

Lots of warm muffins, hot coffee and cold OJ on the table.

dmd, I agree. All of Canada is probably better off with Ms. Guergis out of Parliament.

I will go on record as being a great fan of bendy straws. If I were to be so fortunate as to get a speaking gig, a bendy straw in the water glass would be a must-have.

SciTim, when I was in my 20s and early 30s I never wore a navy blue suit on a commercial airliner lest I be mistaken for a flight attendant. These days, folks frequently assume I'm deaf and/or cognitively challenged because of the chair.

Posted by: MsJS | April 14, 2010 9:26 AM | Report abuse

Wilbrod-that makes two of us.
I like to think Hoden enjoyed this:

Posted by: frostbitten1 | April 14, 2010 9:27 AM | Report abuse

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