Fly Thee To The Moon
George W. Bush is loony. Really. And it's all Karl Rove's idea.
In an effort to show the Georgw W. Bush is a visionary, the White House is pushing a "new" idea - putting a man on the moon! Despite what fans of Capricorn One might believe, we've already been there and done that. But with the Bush track record for honesty, maybe director Peter Hyams will be proven prescient?
So why push what amounts to a thirty year plan out into view?
Aides to President Bush are looking for unifying national goals for the final year of his term. The White House advisors think that George W. Bush needs a "Kennedy moment" - a sort of "big idea" that will take away all the attention from the other initiatives of the Bush (mis)Administration - limiting lawsuits, making the tax cuts permanent and adding private investment accounts to the Social Security system. In other words, find something to distract the rubes while we continue to pick their pockets.
It seems the idea for all of this was inspired by the big response GWB got for his AIDS relief initiative announcement earlier this year. Despite the fact that his $15 billion proposal has yet to see even a Continental, the press response was so favorable that the White House staff sees an opportunity to reverse the decline in Bush's polling numbers.
There would be a certain benefit to going back to the moon. Let's say, for example, that the lunar missions are designed to establish a permanent base on the moon. Once one is worked out, how long would it take to establish, say, a missile base on the moon? A base whose targets are the cities of the Earth? In a place no one else can get to?
There is also the possibility that China is one of the motivations. Their space program is reaching the stage ours was at in the early 1960s, and China has demonstrated an ability to advance the state of their technology quickly. It may not take them eight years to reach the moon like it did us. After all, most of our mission data is public knowledge. There would be no need for China to reinvent the space capsule.
But China can't be allowed to accomplish this if the Bush (mis)Administration is to be the dominant country of the world. Any nation that has the technology to get to the moon has the technology to threaten the US with attack. So this might be one of the reasons BushCo seeks to return to the moon.
Another would be to "revitalize" American industry. Certainly, from about 1940 into the 1970s, American industry did some amazing things. Rising from the rubble of the Great Depression to defeat the Axis powers, then laboring mightily to restrain further expansion of the influence of the USSR, American industry produced prodigious quantities of goods and material for both the Vietnam War and domestic consumption. But once the Vietnam War started winding down, so did American industry. It has yet to rebound.
The space program of the 1960s had the advantage of an infrastructure that was put in place by the war effort of the 1940s, and which was still in somewhat good condition. A space program of the 21st century would also rely upon much of this same infrastructure, whose condition is seriously deteriorated from its heyday. As the Challenger and Columbia accidents demonstrate, the degree of precision necessary to ensure a successful mission, and the technological staff to maintain it, is no longer in place. Schools no longer turn out highly educated and motivated graduates, and there is little left of the once-vast numbers of craftsmen who could make a space capsule that would go into space and return with its crew alive. All of this would have to be recreated from scratch, and there has been no interest demonstrated by the actions of either business or government to reverse the decline of American education and industry.
There is another factor - how does one pay for all of this?
In an address on the 20th anniversary of the first moon landing (July 20, 1989), President George H.W. (Poppy) Bush issued a call for a return to the moon as a steppingstone to the main destination — Mars. NASA responded with a $400 billion plan to fulfill that goal, which was quietly allowed to fade into oblivion. There was no way the country could afford that kind of expense without a huge tax increase, and Poppy knew it.
The country can afford it now even less, not that Dumbya cares. His focus right now is on being elected in 2004, and until that is achieved, everything he puts up on the table is all for show. As the Iraqi Oil Grab isn't going well, he can't use it for the "Oh! Wow!" item in his State of the Union speech coming up next month. So what can he use in its place?
In his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia in 2000, Bush promised to use “good times for great goals.” So far, he has delivered neither good times nor great goals, and time is running out. So when you find yourself in this position, why not shoot for the moon?
But like any good Tex-ass Stranger, one loads one's six-shooter full up before one goes into a fight. Some of the other "Oh! Wow!" ideas being floated include:
A proposal that would funnel billions of dollars over at least a decade into relatively noncontroversial research into cures for cancer and other diseases. One unnamed GOP official calls this “the Republican equivalent of the War on Poverty” - and we all know what happened with the last one of these we had.
Universal health insurance for children - have to take care of the occupation soldiers of the future!
A program to "end child hunger"
among other ideas that would not rely solely on the government, but would instead rally business, volunteers and other parts of society to take action. Bush has said he wants to pursue “great goals worthy of a great nation.”
Great Goals? Volunteers? Is this Mao's Cultural Revolution Westernized? Are we going to send cadres of college students into New Mexico and Mississippi to perform acts intended to bring about the Great American Leap Forward?
Right. With a budget deficit which will approach $500 billion in the current fiscal year by some accounts. In an economy which can't seem to generate much enthusiasm even for Christmas.
How much more in tax cuts will it take to get business interested? And what "other parts of society" are there to draft into the effort? Prisoners?
Cures for disease, health insurance for kids, an end to child hunger - all worthy goals, but there's no shiny new hardware to have your picture taken with. Anyone recall anything American-made and mobile bigger than a Saturn 5? No? I guess we'll have to build one!
With the top one percent sitting on the bulk of the wealth, none of these things are going to happen. So what we ought to do is this:
We'll take up a collection and go out and buy Georgie the biggest Lego Moon Base(tm) set they have. Maybe he will quiet down and play with it instead of taking steps to hasten the economic collapse of our nation, with all the negative ramifications, faster than he already has.