Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The Lunatic Fringe Goes Mainstream

Did you hear about that new Congressional bill creating a national park on the surface of the moon? Are you automatically assuming that its sponsors hail from the GOP lunatic fringe?

Think again. In the growing movement that I'll call the "If You Can't Beat 'Em, Join 'Em" Caucus, two Democrats have introduced the legislation:
The bill from Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.) and Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Texas) would create the Apollo Lunar Landing Sites National Historical Park. The park would be comprised of all artifacts left on the surface of the moon from the Apollo 11 through 17 missions.
The bill says these sites need to be protected because of the anticipated increase in commercial moon landings in the future.
Under the legislation, the park would be established no later than one year after the bill passes and would be run jointly by the Department of the Interior and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). 
The measure would allow the government to accept donations from companies and foreign governments to help manage the landing sites and "provide visitor services and administrative facilities within reasonable proximity to the Historical Park."
 After one year, Interior and NASA would have to reach an agreement on how to manage the site, including how to monitor it, managing access to the sites and cataloguing the items in the park. 
Where does one even begin? Since humor and satire don't rank among the talents of our 10 percent approval-rating Congress, I simply couldn't believe at first that passive-aggressive pranksterism is at the core of this bill. At first glance, it does appear to be just one more symptom of the decline of Democracy and death of governance for the common good. We apparently have no money for the social safety net, but the sky's the limit for a Lunar Visitors' Center for the mega-rich!  

I think it was pretty much a given that the so-called Progressive Caucus had already capitulated to the right wing forces of Neoliberalism and corporate interests. But to go the whole Bachmanesque crazoid route? What gives? Well, for starters, the bill is assuredly of the camera-ready variety. It's outlandish enough to have been awarded a 21 percent chance of getting out of Committee for a formal floor vote. (Unlike the CPC's People's Budget, whose launch failed about two inches above the blast-off point) Is this the only way the Democrats can get some free attention from the corporate media?

The bill is, on its face, a huge pander to the ruling elites, the only people who can even dream of going to the Moon in their private rocket-ships. Cost for a ticket is expected to be in the $1.5 billion range. Out of the Orbitz of the casual traveler, for sure. Can you envision William Shatner doing the Price Line pitch?

Instead of fighting for the repeal of the Sequester, which has taken a big chunk out of earth-bound National Parks accessible to their constituents, Democrats seem not only to have given up -- they are fully embracing corporatism, unbelievably suggesting we just develop a Space Park for the richest of the obscenely rich, funded with public-private money. And it seems like only yesterday (it was actually two months ago) that Progressive Caucus member Keith Ellison was railing against the cuts to the parks service:
 A new report released by Rep. (now Senator) Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), details the sequester impacts to 23 national parks around the country. According to the report, U.S. national parks supply the economic lifeblood for countless communities across the United States. They contribute more than $30 billion in economic activity, support more than 250,000 jobs and generate $9.34 billion in labor income. The National Park Service faces $110 million in budget cuts, which means reduced hours and services for the nation's 398 national parks, 561 refuges, and more than 258 other public land units.
So the moon national park bill has got to be a huge practical joke. Right? There is simply no other explanation. Maybe Johnson and Edwards -- also members of the Congressional Black Caucus --  are trying to embarrass President Obama, who finally deigned to meet with them yesterday, after having avoided them like the plague for more than two years. Maybe he gave them a reprise of the spiel at his last meeting, when he ordered them to get off their duffs and put on their marching shoes for his Greater Glory. Maybe this time he told them to put on their marching shoes to forcibly march all their suffering constituents to the predations of private insurance, for the greater glory of ObamaCare.

Adding insult to injury, Obama apparently kept the CBC waiting for more than an hour as he attended to more pressing business than that of the crisis of a black unemployment rate almost double that of whites. Of course, the delegates later reported that the closed meeting had been positive. Really. Out of this world, as a matter of fact. 

Why else would two of them put on their marching shoes and introduce a bill for the construction of an outer space park for the top One Percent of the One Percent? If that isn't making a Statement, I don't know what is.

And knowing the Republicans, they'll probably add an amendment slashing Medicare coverage of oxygen supplies in order that the rich can breathe freely as they carouse in their lunar theme park. And the Democrats will give in, doing their clumsy political version of the Michael Jackson moon walk. They'll appear to be moving forward and going backward at the same time. It's called Maintaining the Status Quo.

What can you do against the lunatic who is more intelligent than yourself, who gives your arguments a fair hearing and then simply persists in his lunacy? -- George Orwell, 1984.


annenigma said...

It's not for US as much as it's for US' owners, the private corporations of all kinds. There's cash (if not gold) in them thar rocks. The moon is made of green chee$e.

(Border Patrol and INS will get surely in on the act. Show us your papers!)

I believe this is also related to China's plans to go the moon soon, sometime during 2013 which is half over. They'd better hurry up and get that surveillance facility, I mean Park Visitor Center, up there to capture any Chinese and other space secrets. I would like to nominate some Space Cadets from Congress to christen the new facility.

On planet Earth, the US routinely uses Drug War and Terror War funds to buy M2M deals for surveillance facilities, so this is a new twist, using NASA (hider of secret Pentagon funding) and the National Park Service. Any port in a storm I guess. I mean, what American would be against another National Park, whatever it is really used for? The Moon belongs to US.

We'll know it's true purpose by how much funding it gets.

Denis Neville said...

This country is going crazy.

Stupid is as stupid does…the stupidity of our leaders, the stupidity of our culture, the stupidity of our citizens.

The real action is in our state legislatures. Laws that affect us most directly are made at the state level. State legislatures are, as Jon Stewart referred to them, the “meth labs of democracy,” wherein crazy people are able to run amok on issues that actually matter. Nobody’s paying much attention. Public ignorance, its attention span fragmented into zillions of bits and bytes, is especially dangerous because of the capacity of the states to inflict great damage on the weak.

“One of the biggest changes in politics in my life time is that the delusional is no longer marginal. It has come in from the fringe, to sit in the seats of power…For the first time in our history, ideology and theology hold a monopoly of power in Washington. Theology asserts propositions that cannot be proven true; ideologues hold stoutly to a worldview despite being contradicted by what is generally accepted as reality. The offspring of ideology and theology are not always bad but they are always blind. And that is the danger: voters and politicians alike, oblivious to the facts.” – Bill Moyers, The Delusional Is No Longer Marginal, New York Review of Books, March 24, 2005

Facts and ideas worth remembering have been the greatest casualties.

The problem isn’t just that we have been lied to. The real problem is that we have become too damn lazy to learn what we need to know in order to elect representatives who will make sound public decisions. Our own ignorance is our worst enemy.

“Dostoevski, the Russian novelist, said one time that, ‘One sacred memory from childhood is perhaps the best education.’ I can think of another quickie education for a child, which, in its way, is almost as salutary: Meeting a human being who is tremendously respected by the adult world, and realizing that that person is actually a malicious lunatic.” - Kurt Vonnegut, Slapstick or Lonesome No More!

pete v said...

Great line about the moonwalk, an extra dash of cleverness. Re: "Bachmannesque crazoid" - wasn't it Gingrich whose stump speech in the last R-primary included the promise of establishing a permanent base on the moon by the end of his second term?

Fred Drumlevitch said...

As I said long ago (I think in 2004, when George W Bush was proposing a moon base), I actually want an outpost on the moon. But not as a base for a Mars mission, nor as a national (nor even international) park. Rather, I want a "Moon Base Elba", to which we could exile crazy and/or dangerous politicians.

Pearl said...

Exclusive: US bankrolled anti-Morsi activists via
> @AJEnglish

Outsida said...


Thanks for the link. Big surprise - not. It's nice to see more investigative journalism though, and proof of what we suspected.

Since when does our government NOT fund coups? If a leader doesn't turn out to be a compliant puppet we simply arrange to replace him with another one. Lucky for Morsi that his assassination wasn't ordered. I guess they feared it might get leaked. Obama is in deep enough doodoo as it is.

annenigma said...

Off topic, but I have a question about the Zimmerman trial.

Why did the defense put all those witnesses on the stand to testify that it was Zimmerman's voice on the tape when he is sitting right there with his own voice that could demonstrate that 'fact' for certain?

He could have been asked by his own defense team to scream for the jury to prove it was him instead of calling everyone else but him. He could have even practiced to try to get it right. Of course that would have required him to take the stand. They must know it's not his voice and he can't reproduce that scream. Guilty.

Next case... Bradley Manning - Presidential Pardon and Nobel Peace Prize

Denis Neville said...

Ready for pioneering again…

Lunar National Historical Park and beyond…

“And the peanut butter-eaters on Earth were preparing to conquer the shazzbutter-eaters on the planet in the book by Kilgore Trout. By this time, the Earthlings hadn't just demolished West Virginia and Southeast Asia. They had demolished everything. So they were ready to go pioneering again.

They studied the shazzbutter-eaters by means of electronic snooping, and determined that they were too numerous and proud and resourceful ever to allow themselves to be pioneered.

So the Earthlings infiltrated the ad agency which had the shazzbutter account, and they buggered the statistics in the ads. They made the average for everything so high that everybody on the planet felt inferior to the majority in every respect.

Then the Earthling armored space ships came and discovered the planet. Only token resistance was offered here and there, because the natives felt so below average. And then the pioneering began.”
― Kurt Vonnegut, Breakfast of Champions

Zee said...


I think that requiring Zimmerman to "demonstrate" his own voice for comparison to a digital recording of questionable quality might be equivalent to forcing him to testify against himself , thereby opening him up to cross-examination.

But then, I'm just a shade-tree lawyer.

4Runner said...

One good thing about the moon: no bugs there. Thus, no lunar ticks.

Pearl said...

Annenigma: There are a lot of holes in the Zimmerman trial as evidenced by all the great comments to Blow's article. I think you wrote one and so did I. We can just hope he gets a hefty sentence for a lesser guilty without reasonable doubt decision. I pointed out that all the hullabaloo about how Trayvon attacked Zimmerman was justified if so, since it was a dangerous and frightening situation for a black teenager who was fighting for his life and that the behavior and decisions Zimmerman made were the reasons that a murder took place. Let's hope Trayvon's death was not in vain and that changes will be made to this stupid 'stand your ground' law.

Uranus said...

Yes, it is time to open a park on the moon, and lay claim to the moon's utility too. For one, the moon creates tides, the alternating rise and fall in sea level with respect to the land. (yes, produced by the gravitational attraction of the moon and the sun). Think of it as "green energy" that will never run out of moon beams.

Moon tides are a valuable commodity, as any good capitalist knows. A claim on the moon’s utility gives the holder in due course the right to charge money for the utility value of tides, a value too large to calculate. So to make it affordable as a retirement plan (under privatization of social security), shares in the moon’s utility value will be securitized, along the lines of sub-prime mortgages, a scheme which worked so well in the past on Earth.

As you know, a rising tide lifts all boats.

A falling tide leaves flip-flopping fish in its wake, to be gathered in re-purposed plastic shopping bags by senior citizens looking to supplement their income. Along with recent grads looking to pay down their student loans, and formerly middle-class folks trying to pay the cable bill.

Your moon tide investment works 24/7, earning money around the clock, like that condom vending machine franchise you got from your uncle’s cousin. But this opportunity is much easier. There is no need to visit seedy establishments to replenish the sold condoms, or get rid of those darn Canadian coins people put in.

To get started in your moon investment, send $10,000 in crisp federal reserve notes to the offering agent, B.H.Obama MoonTides LLC, address: An undisclosed location on Uranus. For directions, bend over and look, just keep bending over, until the lunar probe makes impact.

Of course we NEED a lunar national park. Let’s call it ‘Booby Hatch National Park’. And I nominate a theme song for the park: Frank Sinatra Fly Me To The Moon

In other news...The Electronic Privacy Information Center filed an emergency petition with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a halt to the National Security Agency’s collection of Americans’ phone records. Link to the petition.

Link to the story reported by the ABA Journal, and some related stories.

SCOTUS petition seeks halt to NSA surveillance, cites secret court order revealed by Snowden

Surveillance court redefined ‘relevant’ and special-needs doctrine to permit broad data collection

NSA oversight flawed by lack of legal adversaries, former FISA judge says

"Testifying Tuesday during a federal oversight hearing aimed at scrutinizing secret government surveillance, former federal judge James Robertson said that the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court is independent. But he said its oversight is flawed because of a lack of legal adversaries to confront the government's actions."

""Anyone who has been a judge will tell you a judge needs to hear both sides of a case," said James Robertson, who served on the FISA court for three years before abruptly resigning in 2005."

Denis Neville said...

Today, Paul Krugman, “Delusions of Populism,” writes, “The idea here is that there exists a pool of disaffected working-class white voters who failed to turn out last year but can be mobilized again with the right kind of conservative economic program.”

Will it work again?

Karen is spot on in her response to Krugman about libertarian populism drumming up poor white support for the Party of Destruction.

In “What’s The Matter With Kansas?” Thomas Frank wrote, “By all rights the people…should today be flocking to the party of Roosevelt, not deserting it. Culturally speaking, however, that option is simply not available to them anymore. Democrats no longer speak to the people on the losing end of a free-market system that is becoming more brutal and arrogant by the day…along the way the things that liberalism once stood for – equality and economic security – will have been abandoned completely. Abandoned, let us remember, at the historical moment when we need them most.”

As Frank pointed out, “Democratic political strategy simply assumes that people know where their economic interests lies and that they will act on it by instinct…The gigantic error in all this is that people don’t spontaneously understand their situation in the great sweep of things.”

A criminally stupid strategy – endless concessions on economic issues, Social Security, Medicare, the social safety net, and so forth; currying favor with the corporate elites; screwing blue collar workers and the middle class, who have nowhere else to go - has dominated the Democrats thinking since the early seventies.

For cruel heartbreaking stories of the decline in our living standards, watch the PBS Frontline documentary, "Two American Families."

Beware “the gospel of backlash.” Frank wrote, “This movement speaks to those at society’s bottom, addresses them on a daily basis. From the left they hear nothing, but from the Cons they get an explanation for it all. Even better, they get a plan of action, a scheme for world conquest with a wedge issue. And why shouldn’t they get to dream their lurid dreams of politics-as-manipulation: They’ve had it done to them enough in reality.”

Why did Kansas voters choose self-destruction? According to Frank, “Liberalism ceased to be relevant to huge portions of its traditional constituency, and we can say that liberalism lost places like Shawnee and Wichita with as much accuracy as we can point out that conservatism won them over.”

“While Republicans trick out their poisonous stereotypes of the liberal elite, Democrats seem determined to live up to the libel.”

Zee said...


You fail to mention why, according to Frank, liberalism—over the past four decades—ceased to be relevant to much of its “traditional constituency.”

Also from What's the Matter with Kansas?,

“ This is due partially, I think, to the Democratic Party's more-or-less official response to its waning fortunes. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC)...has long been pushing the party to forget blue-collar voters and concentrate instead on recruiting affluent, white-collar voters professionals who are liberal on social issues. The larger interests that the DLC wants desperately to court are corporations, capable of generating campaign contributions far outweighing anything raised by organized labor. The way to collect the votes and—more important—the money of these coveted constituencies, 'New Democrats' think is to stand rock-solid on say, the [liberal] pro-choice [or gun control, or gay-rights, or feminism, or etc.] position[s] while making endless concessions on economic issues, on welfare, NAFTA, Social Security, labor law, privatization, deregulation, and the rest of it.”

In short, the Democratic Party sold out to middle- and upper-middle class special interests, and completely forgot the blue-collar class, who are likely to be somewhat more conservative on social issues such as abortion, gun control, gay rights, etc., and who are, IMHO, often looked down upon by their more highly educated, self-proclaimed “betters,” anyway. Once that happened, blue-collar America was easily split off by appeals from the radical wing of the Republican Party.

Over the past 40 years, the Democratic Party has doubly cut its own throat across the United States, first by selling out to an aggregate of middle- and upper-middle class special interests (not that I disagree with many of the positions of these special interests), and then—more importantly—by completely selling out to corporate America and Wall Street, just like the Republicans.

I think that the extremist, uncompromising positions taken by the Right and the Left in the "culture wars" may well have contributed hugely to the death of democracy in America.

As Frank also put it, “...what politician in this success-worshipping country really wants to be the voice of poor people. Where's the soft money in that?”