Saturday, February 25, 2012

Gov Moonbeam treatment of Newt Gingrich

I have to take exception to something that I heard on the Space Show, when Jeff Bell was guest on the program on Feb 20th.

Jeff Bell accused Gingrich of something he didn't say-- he didn't say lunar statehood as a proposal, to my understanding, it is just a process that may lead to a 51st state, not a proposal for a state when there's nobody up there-- Gingrich didn't say anything like admitting the moon as the 51st state.

The proposal was to create a Northwest Ordinance for space so that when enough colonists are up there, they can petition for statehood.  This does not commit the nation to building a colony, it just sets up a political framework so that if enough people did decide to do this, they can organize themselves into a state and join the Union.  What the heck is wrong with that?

Here's the speech in question on CSPAN

Northwest Ordinance for space, if enough colonists on moon, can apply for statehood

If you don't like Gingrich, fine. But this ridicule of a politician who champions space also harms the space program in subtle ways. Remember Governor Moonbeam? That would be Jerry Brown, the current governor of California. This moniker was attached to him for proposing an aggressive space policy. Now consider this: what if he had been elected President of the United States, and he made good on his proposals to lead the nation forward on space policy as opposed to the present course of going sideways or even backward? Wouldn't the space program and the country be better for it now? Or would it be worse?

I don't necessarily like Brown, but how could our space policy be much worse than it is now?

The person responsible for the moniker, Royko, felt regret for this later as this New York Times piece indicates:
But as any New Age Californian can tell you, such hate is probably cover for a deeper love. And so it was with Mr. Royko, who after many vicious gibes at Mr. Brown’s expense offered an outright apology to the governor, and spent years trying to erase the moniker.

In a 1991 column in The Chicago Tribune, he called the label, an “idiotic, damn-fool, meaningless, throw-away line,” and pleaded with people to stop using it.

“Enough of this ‘Moonbeam’ stuff,” Mr. Royko concluded. “I declare it null, void and deceased.”

Stop dumping on politicians who dare to propose bold ideas for space unless your intention is to destroy the space program. Those who do should be challenge to explain why they favor the end of the space program. Let them defend that position.

Be careful not to trash the space program while you are engage in a competitive political struggle.


More on Bell's appearance on the Space Show:
  1. He tends to take a Devil's Advocate role on Human Space Flight
  2. He doesn't get it.  He criticizes Elon Musk's new initiatives, but those new initiatives are consistent with Musk wants to achieve.  Therefore, he doesn't understand what Musk is actually doing.  Just as he didn't understand what Newt was saying in his speech.
  3. Doubts that space launch costs will be solved.  Says Musk's achievements aren't that significant.  He insists upon tearing down the champions, like Newt and Musk.
  4. How do you get the costs down unless you try?  If you say you can't do it because you can't do it, you are begging the question.
  5. Debate between Zubrin and Bell?
  6. He mentions the Agnew report in the late sixties.  Here's a writeup that mentions this.
  7. He says something like it takes a Saturn V to go to the moon.  Is this true?  If not a Saturn, then a lot of launches to assemble what it takes to go to the moon.

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