Monday, January 19, 2004

National Greatness Conservatism? It's Really National Nonsense Conservatism

My hopefully humorously scathing look at the Bush moon-Mars proposal was paired with our Secretary of State's gush to Bush (Look at his record--why, there are only a few million less jobs than when he took office, a real tribute to his leadership!) so some of the jokes seemed misplaced. But if the Republicans spent years calling Al Gore "Ozone Man," I figure Bush has earned his nicknames. The meme floating around is that if we could just dress Bush up in the spacesuit now, we might be able to save a couple hundred billion dollars. I really did like my talking robots line, though.

Dubya's space fantasy will beggar us

East Valley Tribune, Jan. 18, 2004

Explain to me again why we should take seriously anything George W. “Moonbeam” Bush says? The guy likes to give everybody else nicknames, but with his speech to NASA last week, he’s earned his own.

George “Mars Man” Bush -- fresh from his false claims about Iraq’s WMD and connections with Al Queda -- announced that he hasn’t done enough to screw up this country's future. Now he wants to mess up outer space, too.

Such a “bold” vision -- manned exploration of the moon and Mars, which previous U.S. presidents proposed in the 1960’s, 1970’s, and 1980’s. I guess that’s how Republicans try to seem bold and exciting, by recycling tired sci-fi fictions of baby boomers’ youth.

“Space Case” Bush can’t even come up with new pipe dreams; instead, he’s recycling his father’s. (Yes, W, that is your father’s Mars-mobile.)

What’s next? Federal initiatives to make those neat cars that Sean Connery drove in the James Bond movies? Talking robots to lead welfare mothers into (and discourage gays from) marriage?

Somehow we’re going to build a moon base by 2020, spending $1 billion a year. Can anybody seriously defend that price estimate? It costs $500 million for just one space shuttle flight that never leaves earth orbit. You just can’t go many times farther and escape earth’s gravity and transport enough materials and construct a base and staff it with astronauts and get them home, for anything within orders of magnitude of that price.

That’s just the absurd part. The truly ridiculous part is that a moon base makes a trip to Mars more difficult and expensive. It’s based on the thought -- no, the fantasy -- that something on the moon will turn out to be rocket fuel. (Maybe that’s where the Iraqi WMD went -- to the moon, Alice!) If that “bet” doesn’t pan out, then we’ll have to transport raw materials from Earth, then carry that same mass out of the moon’s gravity well anyway.

This is leadership -- fly to the moon and see if anything turns up? Maybe to “Moon Rocks for Brains” Bush, but not to anybody not scientifically ignorant.

But it’s not just George “Elliptical Orbit” Bush who has to answer for these absurdities. Two other groups either need to denounce this otherworldly absurdity, or stand exposed as not just world-class, but solar-system-class, hypocrites.

First are the “cut spending!” types, who still support this administration despite record deficits, open-ended nation building, new entitlements, and now this $1 trillion pointless space gambol. We’ll see some meek, mild complaints, but the merest fraction of the grief they gave Al Gore or will give Howard Dean or Wesley Clark. No Democrat could ever enact anything this colossally pointless and expensive, but that crowd lets Republicans get away with anything.

Why complain so vehemently about a light-rail system for metro Phoenix if you’re giving “Deficit Rocket” Bush a pass? Apparently they don’t take him seriously, either.

The other people who should start apologizing are space station supporters. The moon-and-Mars “plan” retires the space shuttles, which kills the space station. Without the shuttle to boost its altitude, the station crashes into to Earth in several years. The station still isn’t finished, but it’s already obsolete. And it’s accomplished essentially nothing worthwhile, other than funding well-connected aerospace contractors.

The space station, which I opposed in Congress as not worth the money, turns out to be not worth the money. But those same people who brought you the space station now want us to fly to the moon and Mars.

You shouldn’t buy a used car from these people, much less this lunacy -- in both senses of that word.

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