Campaign '12

Full-fledged lunacy

“This is my new euphemism for getting off track,” writes veteran journalist Gwen Ifill of the term “moon colonies”, in the wake of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s speech last month and the reaction to it. “Most candidates are pretty good at driving home the same points over and over again, but once in a while they veer drastically off course. This is what happened when Gingrich started telling voters along Florida’s Space Coast that he would invigorate NASA by planning for an American colony on the moon.”

Getting “off track” can subject a candidate to criticism and negative ads, as both Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum have done in recent days. It can also lead to ridicule and satire, perhaps best illustrated by this skit that opened last night’s episode of “Saturday Night Live”:

It would seem the idea of lunar settlements, if not striking a nerve, has at least tickled a funny bone…

54 comments to Full-fledged lunacy

  • Martijn Meijering

    This is what happened when Gingrich started telling voters along Florida’s Space Coast that he would invigorate NASA by planning for an American colony on the moon.

    That’s an inaccurate description of what happened. Gingrich has been remarkably consistent in his views on space policy for a very long time. This isn’t just something he came up with to pander to voters in Florida.

  • Robert G. Oler

    “This is my new euphemism for getting off track,” writes veteran journalist Gwen Ifill of the term “moon colonies”, in the wake of GOP presidential candidate Newt Gingrich’s speech last month and the reaction to it. “Most candidates are pretty good at driving home the same points over and over again, but once in a while they veer drastically off course. This is what happened when Gingrich started telling voters along Florida’s Space Coast that he would invigorate NASA by planning for an American colony on the moon.”::

    except Ifill succumbs to the spin of Willard the Mitt…Newt did not do what she is saying he did…

    But the reality is that what has been obvious to some of us for sometime should be obvious to all now…Space, human spaceflight as a campaign issue is a non starter.

    Nice Job Willard RGO

  • Mark

    Gingrich’s failure is that he has not explained why a moon colony would be a good idea. This has allowed everyone from Romney to SNL to make fun of it.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ February 4th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    Oler: “nothing I can imagine that would be worth the cost even with a very aggressive cost saving effort. I NEVER said doing a lunar base even at reduced cost would have value for the cost.”

    YOU REPLIED:

    Then I presume you don’t really want to defend Gingrich’s plan to do just this with our money (and money borrowed from China which our children will be forced to pay back).”

    I am mixed with Newts proposal, conflicted if you will. At one point in several layers of print I supported the notion of a US lunar base…but things have changed since those days. Today we stand on the other side of a space station program that essentially is a financial catastrophe.

    In what I thought was one of my better pieces in Space News “What if we actually build the thing?” there was some discussion of what happens if NASA actually takes the “next logical step” as they always call it and after its done what do they do with it that makes people think “wow that was a good build”.

    It is clear that other then some people (Justin is one of the bright lights) they dont have a fracken clue how to try and get some value out of the station…if you look at what they are doing up there it is like “wow what is the most ridiculous useless fracken thing we can do that looks well awesome”.

    So here we are with Newt’s lunar idea…what do you I think of it?

    I am “intrigued” no on its face the effort cannot be justified. We are not going to start manufactoring on the moon or the water isnt going to fuel space ships to the planets…or 2001 is not 20 years late.

    There are however reasons Great Nations do great things to set the platform for the future. I wish we had a Jack Kennedy or a Ronaldus the Great or a TR or an FDR which could call us to producing the America of this century, not one that mimics the past. Newt has that rhetoric…and a lunar effort if done right could be part of that. That is one reason I ridicule SLS and its supporters (the rocket to nowhere) and refuse to ridicule Newts proposal.

    I dont expect you to understand it. Right wing Republicans have long ago forgotten the foundation of The Republic. RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Martijn Meijering wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This isn’t just something he came up with to pander to voters in Florida.

    His rollout of it was horrible though, and other than just repeating himself he didn’t provide enough information so that voters could decide if it was something forward thinking or nutty. That is not uncommon for Newt, and one of the reasons he would not do well as President.

  • John

    It’s all public perception since the Shuttle program was cancelled in 2005. Even the LSM got in on the action saying that the Russians were doing us a favor to coincide with NASA’s long range plans to nowhere. Gingrich suggests and gets ridiculed instead.

  • Googaw

    RGO, when TR proposed the Panama Canal, canals had already been built for thousands of years (including most recently the Suez Canal).

    When Hoover and FDR signed on to build dams for electric power, the private sector had already been building such dams for fifty years.

    They were very far away from Newt reading old sci-fi and spouting the resulting “visions”.

    Now then when Jack Kennedy…but of course while Apollo was fun it didn’t lead anywhere.

  • vulture4

    Although SNL also set up Romney, the Gingrich sketch is getting orders of magnitude more notice. Gingrich could have easily put together a forward-thinking but credible space policy for his speech in Florida. He made no attempt to do so.

  • Robert G. Oler

    Mark wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Gingrich’s failure is that he has not explained why a moon colony would be a good idea. This has allowed everyone from Romney to SNL to make fun o>>

    NO SAbado Noche Vivar is making fun of it, Willard (and you) are lying about it.

    The basis of Newts statement was a lunar base, a space station on the Moon he then unwisely in my view; but typical “Mr. Newt”, the stuff you use to love, he went on in an extraploation…and The Willard campaign has been lying about what he said ever since.

    this is typical GOP rhetoric. You are lying on your web site about Iranian missiles being a threat to the US…they are no more a threat to our country then Saddams Al Samouds were but then you lied about that as well.

    Robert

  • Fred Cink

    “Right wing Republicans have long ago forgotten the foundation of The Republic” “That government is best, which governs least” was a favorite, and one of the most famous quotes of the father of the Democrat Party, Thomas Jefferson. He was so concerned about a too-powerfull federal government, that he refused to support ratification of the Constitution, the basis for our Reublic, until it was even more strictly limited by the Bill of Rights. Right wing Republicans especially those of the Tea Party are the ones calling for LESS government, while modern Democrats NEVER cease in their constant demands for ever MORE government. Are you really that ignorant of facts or just convinced of your own arrogance?

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ February 4th, 2012 at 11:36 pm

    One more thing

    no matter what one thinks of Newts plan, we should debate the reality of it, not the lies told about it…and we should openly attack the lies about it no matter our stand on his plan.

    Both political parties do this, but its gotten worse under the GOP the last 20 years starting with the impeachment process of Clinton. There Newt told mostly lies or exaggerations masquerading as facts. Yeah Clinton “lied” about his relationship with Lewinsky but who cares…Newt probably told a thousand lies in the break points in his previous marriages. I know Rand will chime in “but it was under oath”…goofy no one prosecutes lies told in divorce cases all under oath. I think Clinton should have just come out and said it but he had a hard time doing that as has Newt with his marriage issues.

    The post 9/11 efforts really taught the GOP about lying and they do it routinely now.

    As I told you I am torn on Newt’s idea…I can see how it would be used to do a lot of good things including rebalancing the government space infrastructure in this country. It could be used to drive a stake through the NASA which has killed both 14 people and the vision of a space America

    And we ought to debate it on its merits not on the lies that Willard is saying about it

    RGO

  • amightywind

    Are you still obsessed about Newt Gingrich? He’s yesterday’s news. He’d done. Of more interest is Russia’s slouch back to the cold war era, and the administration’s denial that we reside on the space station with an enemy. Or perhaps the continuing problems of SpaceX.

  • Egad

    > That is not uncommon for Newt, and one of the reasons he would not do well as President.

    Oh, very much so. But we keep hearing comments to the effect, “there’s actually a part of Newt that other politicians are lacking with respect to space.” I share, or at least would like to share, that sentiment.

    So, assuming Newt can be kept away from the Oval Office except for short visits every now and then, what position should President Obama/Romney offer him in 2013? I kinda like the idea of a revived National Space Council that would be taken seriously (yeah, right) that he could head. Any others?

  • DCSCA

    And so SNL makes it official: talk of moon colonies is lunacy. A punchline. Thank you Newt, President of the Moon… ‘may di-vorce be with you.’ This is why President Obama’s obtuse reference to a ‘Sputnik moment’ awhile back fell flat and befuddled the bulk of the comic-book minds of the American electorate. Shades of Bill Dana aka Jose Jimenez, Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks lampooning space travellers back in the day when ‘our missiles always blew up.’

    ‘Fool’ moon, ‘fool circle’ and just plain foolish. The damage done by Gingrich to broach discussing space operations will linger and remain a go-to punchline for years. Attention, PRC, Luna is yours for the taking. Show the 40 and under crows what a real ‘Sputnik moment’ truly is.

  • well

    He didnt say colony, he said base. His colony comments were meant to be a humerous aside describing something he discussed long ago, where he was admitting to be “grandiose”.

    I would never vote for Gingrich but this is just a lazy meme for the press and his opponents to run with. It says far more negative things about politics and the media than it does Gingrich.

  • Pretty funny … Kinda there with the sketch years ago that had William Shatner appearing at a Star Trek convention. He infamously told them, “Get a life!”

    Those overly obsessed with Trek were offended, but most of we Trekkers got the joke.

    This is just SNL saying “Get a life!” at Newt and his followers. Nothing more.

    Shatner’s SNL skit is at:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FeS4tVFbNNk

  • William Mellberg

    Funny. Nobody laughed at John Kennedy when he proposed going to the Moon. And in May of 1961, that was a rather “grandiose” idea, too.

    Of course, Newt Gingrich did overstate his case. There will be no “lunar colony” by 2020. Not even a Chinese lunar colony. And Gingrich failed to mention that a permanent lunar outpost by 2020 had been national policy up until Barack Obama became President (even if George W. Bush and Congress failed to adequately fund it). So the derision Gingrich is receiving for talking about a bold vision for space exploration is unfortunate and not totally deserved — even if he set himself up for it.

    Sadly, Gingrich’s misstep has (for the moment, at least) hurt the cause of returning to the Moon to explore and exploit its resources. Sadder still is the fact that a new generation of Americans is laughing at what an older generation of Americans once embraced as a great challenge for a Great Nation. It was that vision which Mr. Gingrich was trying to reignite, and I give him credit for at least being interested in space policy (and for being far more informed about the space industry than his rivals).

    While most viewers were probably laughing at the SNL skit, I suspect some space planners in China will have the last laugh some day. As the old adage says, “He who laughs last …”

  • Doug Lassiter

    Gingrich has finally answered to his comments about human space flight and lunar colonies. He had some words about those things on Meet the Press today. He said that his words were not a slip, but a deliberate effort to “start some conversation”. It would seem that his words didn’t quite do that, in that what we’re hearing is mostly ridicule.

    Now, I strongly believe that a national conversation about the purpose of human spaceflight, and the importance (or unimportance) to our nation is essential, and I’m delighted to hear Gingrich refer to the need in that way. But what he kicked off wasn’t quite a conversation, and all he accomplished was looking bold-ish. Had he wanted to kick off a conversation, he might have asked the nation some questions, and perhaps raised some options. He didn’t do that. There was a kick involved, but it was aimed at him. Asking the nation some questions would have established him as a thoughtful candidate, but perhaps not a bold one.

    Now, Gingrich didn’t bring the topic up himself on the program. David Gregory challenged him about it. But it appeared that Gingrich was ready for the challenge. This was evidently not the first time he was asked about it. I seems that Greta van Susteren did that for Fox in a fawningly supportive interview soon after his statement. Not sure what he said then.

  • DCSCA

    William Mellberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    “Funny. Nobody laughed at John Kennedy when he proposed going to the Moon. And in May of 1961, that was a rather “grandiose” idea, too.”

    1. This is 2012, not 1961.

    2. Newton Leroy Gingrich is not John F. Kennedy.

    3. In fact, it was not a grandiose declaration in the face of then current events but a calculated assertion with a reasonalbe chance of success. . Big difference.

    @Stephen C. Smith wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:02 pm

    Yeah, a very early ‘Trek’ sketch came to mind here, as well– the one where they’re bering chased by network execs to cancel the show…”Promise.”.

    @Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    “Gingrich has finally answered to his comments about human space flight and lunar colonies. He had some words about those things on Meet the Press today. He said that his words were not a slip, but a deliberate effort to “start some conversation.””.

    What wlse was he supposed to say- yes, I’m looney over Luna? Of course it generated ‘conversation- — exactly the wrong kind. He’s a bad messenger for a good message.

    @well wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    “He didnt say colony, he said base.” Does it matter who ate the strawberries?? What he said keeps echoing and only hurts any serious broachment of space operations. Gingrich is a disaster.

  • DCSCA

    William Mellberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Sadder still is the fact that a new generation of Americans is laughing at what an older generation of Americans once embraced as a great challenge for a Great Nation.

    Precisely. It’s a comic book generation. As Bill Holden says in ‘Network’– “They grew up on Bugs Bunny.”

  • DCSCA

    Doug Lassiter wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    “This was evidently not the first time he was asked about it. I seems that Greta van Susteren did that for Fox in a fawningly supportive interview soon after his statement. Not sure what he said then.”

    Saw it. GvS did everything save biting her lip to keep from laughing as Newt tried to ratonalize what he said it and most noticably, avoided any mention of costs. Every time he brings it up he damages the topic more and more.

  • Of course, Newt Gingrich did overstate his case. There will be no “lunar colony” by 2020.

    He never said there would be. He said lunar “base.” This is the kind of mischaracterization of his speech that is so frustrating.

  • Googaw

    I love how the human spaceflight activists (a.k.a. the astronaut cult) blame the confusion between “base” and “colony” on the media when it is the result of their own blatherings and those of politicians like Gingrich to whom they give their astronomically poor advice. These activists are hopelessly confused by their belief that through some magic voodoo of vague similarity, all you have to do is park a couple RVs in a couple hobbit holes on the moon, have a handful of astronauts huddle uselessly inside them, and — cosmico presto! — the brilliance of this maneuver will inspire previously short-sighted private enterprise to set up mines and factories and all sorts of stuff oh my, and before you know it we’ll have a thriving colony. Quite like the “reasoning” that led to ISS. Where is all the industry in LEO that was supposed to be inspired by that version of the HSF scam?

  • These activists are hopelessly confused by their belief that through some magic voodoo of vague similarity, all you have to do is park a couple RVs in a couple hobbit holes on the moon, have a handful of astronauts huddle uselessly inside them, and — cosmico presto! — the brilliance of this maneuver will inspire previously short-sighted private enterprise to set up mines and factories and all sorts of stuff oh my, and before you know it we’ll have a thriving colony.

    What a stupid and ignorant mischaracterization of what many space activists believe. You should join the mainstream media, and help them build straw men.

  • Robert G. Oler

    William Mellberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:20 pm
    “Of course, Newt Gingrich did overstate his case. There will be no “lunar colony” by 2020″

    I must agree with Rand…it is frustrating when people who claim to be informed continually spout idiocy. Newt said no such thing…did you hear the speech, read the transcripts or are you just making it up as you go RGO

  • Robert G. Oler

    Googaw wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    RGO, when TR proposed the Panama Canal, canals had already been built for thousands of years (including most recently the Suez Canal).

    When Hoover and FDR signed on to build dams for electric power, the private sector had already been building such dams for fifty years.

    They were very far away from Newt reading old sci-fi and spouting the resulting “visions”.”"

    all that group of words bunched to gether proves is that you know as much about vision as oh Bush 41 or 43, McCain, apparently Obama and certainly Willard.

    When TR proposed the Panama canal he did not do it just “to do it”, he didnt even propose it to make money for The Republic…what he did it for was to give the US, which his Presidency was about forming the country into a world power, to give the US capabilities in industry and military power that it did not have…and to make this part of the world our world.

    FDR was not building dams to pour concrete or build them…he was doing it to change the course of The Republic by giving the country national power grids that could enable every part of the country to grow. Without TVA the south is just a bunch of hicks who lose the light once the sun goes down.

    Vision, “the vision thing” is about doing things that have value in themeselves…but which enable the pursuit of things which cannot be comprehended as the “thing” is done. Who could have imagined Las Vegas when the dam was built or who could imagine the need for lots of power on the west coast to win WW2…when the dam was built?

    The problem with the GOP right wing these days is that they have no clue about national projects which enable a future different from today. Yeah the interstate highways system is great now (most GOP right wingers then opposed it) but well lets not build a national power grid even though such a grid would change life in the US enormously and for the better.

    you and Whittington and Wind and all the other keepers of teh uber right flame cannot understand that…so locked into maintaining the status quo or reverting to some other time that you think you understand.

    A space station that is used by the entire US not just NASA would change the world I think…RGO

  • Coastal Ron

    Egad wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 3:30 pm

    I kinda like the idea of a revived National Space Council that would be taken seriously (yeah, right) that he [Gingrich] could head. Any others?

    I’d be OK with him on a revived National Space Council. I’m not sure he would be right for NASA Administrator, but he certainly wouldn’t be a wallflower – who knows, maybe he would be better than Griffin was for the future of NASA…

  • vulture4

    Hey, why not a space station that is used by the entire world?

    I don’t fault Gingrich for being laughed at, that could have happened even with a more reasonable statement. But he was needlessly bombastic.and invited ridicule. We need to get away from the idea that there are simple solutions, minimize NASA politics, and focus on the hard work that has to be done. As for the SNL sketch, now that I think about it, it was pretty funny. We might as well laugh at it instead of feeling hurt.

  • Coastal Ron

    William Mellberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Funny. Nobody laughed at John Kennedy when he proposed going to the Moon. And in May of 1961, that was a rather “grandiose” idea, too.

    Just goes to show you that it isn’t the idea of going to the Moon, but whether doing “X” is worthwhile (whatever “X” is).

    Gingrich muffed the explanation part, and then his fellow Republican’s reframed the issue and used it against him. Notice they weren’t against the idea, just the idea of using public funds without a clear business case.

    So the derision Gingrich is receiving for talking about a bold vision for space exploration is unfortunate and not totally deserved — even if he set himself up for it.

    Going to the Moon is not “bold” – we’ve been there before. Not unless you’re talking about the “bold” amount of money it will take to do it.

    Kennedy’s Moon challenge was a first, and the average American could understand and defend it. However, after going there six times, no one has discovered a big reason to go back. Or at least, no good reason to spend lots and lots of taxpayer money to go back. Gingrich, a supposed fiscal conservative, allowed his opponents to accuse him of proposing a big government program, regardless if it was true or not.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Re Gingrich and lunar “colonies” …

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 6:36 pm
    “He never said there would be. He said lunar “base.” This is the kind of mischaracterization of his speech that is so frustrating.”

    He said more than that. He said a “permanent base”. The definition of “colony” is not necessarily inconsistent with that. History rarely refers to “permanent bases”, because historically it wasn’t straightforward for people to go back and forth to distant lands. So a permanent base was, by historical default, a place to which individuals pretty much permanently transferred their lives. But the word “colony” can also mean a group of individuals who represent, and by their presence essentially emplace, the power, values, and codes of a nation. It need not be the same individuals who maintain them there. While the emplacement has to be intended to be permanent, the individuals don’t. “Colony” is a slippery word, and while it took some elasticity in it for the press to use it to describe Gingrich’s concept, they aren’t really really wrong, though the word does carry historical connotations of individuals living, dying, and bringing up families there.

    If all of the thousand or so people on Tokelau decided to move to New Zealand, and they were replaced by other New Zealanders (who perhaps didn’t decide to stay permanently either), would Tokelau stop being a colony of New Zealand? I don’t think so.

    In fact, has Gingrich vociferously denied using that c-word? I don’t think so. As a “historian”, I’ll bet he doesn’t have a big problem with it.

  • E.P. Grondine

    Hi googaw –

    “Now then when Jack Kennedy…but of course while Apollo was fun it didn’t lead anywhere.”

    That’s because Mars in not at all like the Earth, which was only discovered by Mariner 4. The “space race” took an entirely different course after that discovery.

    As far as US ISS utilization goes, that was blown by NASA. The industries who would use those facilities are not located in Alabama, and its not worth it for them to set up research branches there now. The outreach needed to be directed from Ames, with secondary offices in other US advanced tech industrial areas.

    Most people working in the impact field have thought and think that the right things will only be done after the next small one hits. I did not think that people were that stupid, but obviously it is still an open question.

  • E.P. Grondine

    “Are you really that ignorant of facts or just convinced of your own arrogance?”

    uhh, Fred, the discussions then concerned roads versus canals versus this new invention – railroads with steam engines.

    There were several other discussions of fundamental matters, and afterwards actions were taken on the better ideas that emerged from those discussions.

    Its strange, but now days the only thing most people remember is Sally…

  • William Mellberg

    Rand Simberg wrote:

    “He never said there would be. He said lunar ‘base.’ This is the kind of mischaracterization of his speech that is so frustrating.”

    I thought Newt Gingrich used the term “lunar colony” during one of the debates. Perhaps it was Mitt Romney who characterized it that way. In any case, if he (Gingrich) said “base” … I stand corrected (and relieved). I, too, am frustrated by the mockery and lampooning of Mr. Gingrich for showing some sense of vision.

    Robert G. Oler wrote:

    “… are you just making it up as you go?”

    I suggest you listen to my two-hour interview with Dr. David Livingston on The Space Show last Tuesday night (January 31).

    http://www.thespaceshow.com/detail.asp?q=1702

  • Fred Cink

    Mr Oler, “Without TVA the south is just a bunch of hicks who loose the light once the sun goes down.” Am I the only person on this sight who questions the ASTOUNDING ARROGANCE of your thinking/comments?

  • Googaw

    “What a stupid and ignorant mischaracterization of what many space activists believe.’

    You’re right. I forgot about the spacesuits. All we have to do is design the perfect spacesuit, suitable for cosplay at SpaceCon XXVVII. _Then_ all the lunar industry will follow. Please forgive my mistake, o holy seer of the future.

  • William Mellberg

    As per my previous comment, it seems Mitt Romney was, indeed, the one using the term lunar “colony” during the second debate in Florida:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ePcJhoF4ATM

    And I’m happy to admit that Newt Gingrich did, in fact, use the term lunar “base” is his speech:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hWZl8CgV9aE&feature=related

    I regret to say that Governor Romney had me fooled with his repeated use of the term lunar “colony” to mischaracterize what Newt Gingrich actually said.

    It’s sort of like Jimmy Carter’s “malaise” speech. He never used the word. But that’s the way it’s remembered (thanks to the media).

    I wonder if Romney intentionally used the term “colony” to mock Gingrich … or if he simply doesn’t know the difference between a lunar base and a lunar colony? His own “space speech” didn’t demonstrate a great deal of familiarity with the space program (past, present or future). And few people in the media seem to be aware of the distinction between a base and a colony. The SNL skit is a case in point.

  • spacermase

    DCSCA,

    Out of pure curiosity, what do you mean by “Comic Book Generation”? I mean, I’m assuming you mean the Millienials, or something similar, but, on the other hand, comics books have been popular since the ’30s, so it’s kind of a broad descriptor.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 5th, 2012 at 6:36 pm

    Why don’t you let Lorne Michaels know that. LOL

  • He said more than that. He said a “permanent base”. The definition of “colony” is not necessarily inconsistent with that.

    We have had permanent bases in Antarctica for decades. I don’t think anyone thinks of them as colonies, or settlements. The primary distinction is that the latter has people living there permanently, and raising families.

    You’re right. I forgot about the spacesuits. All we have to do is design the perfect spacesuit, suitable for cosplay at SpaceCon XXVVII. _Then_ all the lunar industry will follow.

    Aaaaaand, he doubles down on the idiotic straw men. And yet expects to be taken seriously (as would be indicated by the screen name).

  • Daddy

    Bottom line, whatever Newt literally said, no one in the mainstream is taking him or the space vision seriously. SNL pegged the public’s indifference. It is very sad that a lunar base is laughed at 40 years after we achieved the first giant leap to make it happen.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 6th, 2012 at 10:47 am
    “We have had permanent bases in Antarctica for decades. I don’t think anyone thinks of them as colonies, or settlements. The primary distinction is that the latter has people living there permanently, and raising families.”

    Fair point, but Antarctica is a poor example. The Antarctic Treaty specifically disallows claim of territorial sovereignity, which colonization certainly entails. That’s why we don’t think of our permanent bases in Antarctica as colonies. We agreed not to.

    We’ve got permanent bases in other countries that we don’t call colonies either. Those countries wouldn’t let us. They wouldn’t let us even if we were raising children there. In fact, maybe we are raising children at those bases! That is, our power, values, and codes apply there, but by permission of the controlling authority.

    So for Gingrich to call a lunar permanent base a colony just means that he feels we’d have controlling authority over it. Not that we’re necessarily raising families there.

    We can argue about to what extent historical connotations are binding to the definition of “colony”, but my point is just that it isn’t a wholesale mischaracterization of Gingrich’s speech to interpret what he was advocating as colonization.

  • Googaw

    So talking about the actual budget line items from the actual budget estimates of a lunar base that have been posted on this forum — space habitats, space suits — and neglecting the ones Rand imagines are there but are not — is to raise “idiotic straw men.” That’s quite a sci-fi reality warp field you’ve got going there bud. Oops, I mean you’ve got going there, o Great Prophet of All of Our Futures.

  • Googaw

    “We have had permanent bases in Antarctica for decades. I don’t think anyone thinks of them as colonies, or settlements. The primary distinction is that the latter has people living there permanently, and raising families.”

    It’s so sad that the American people are so ignorant of the theological terminology of the One True Religion. People are living there, but they’re not settlements. “Settlement” and even “outpost” are listed as synonyms of “colony” (http://thesaurus.com/browse/colony), but don’t you dare use the one when we mean the other!

  • We can argue about to what extent historical connotations are binding to the definition of “colony”, but my point is just that it isn’t a wholesale mischaracterization of Gingrich’s speech to interpret what he was advocating as colonization.

    The issue isn’t whether or not he was advocating colonization in his speech — he was. The issue is whether or not he was declaring his intention to have a colony by 2020. He was not. He proposed only a base.

  • Dennis

    No doubt it wont happen, but I think a permanent lunar colony is a damn good idea. We would FINALLY be settling on another world!

  • Dennis

    Another thing, why make so much from the use of a word such as colony, vrs base? The whole point is that we would be making an historical move as a species, and living elsewhere on a permanent settlement. Of course children would be born there eventually, and after a time, it could be very self sufficient. This type of move would certainly further our technological advances. Sadly it wont happen, as today everyone has seemed to grow complacent about space. If the day arrives that China lands people on the Moon and claims it as theirs, well I will certainly laugh at America…………… Ive noticed SpaceX has moved its launch date to sometime in April now! I dont believe Mr. Musk will retire on Mars………………………………………..

  • William Mellberg

    Doug Lassiter wrote:

    “… my point is just that it isn’t a wholesale mischaracterization of Gingrich’s speech to interpret what he was advocating as colonization.”

    I have to agree with Rand Simberg. The word ‘colony’ implies something far different from the word ‘base.’ I often use the term ‘outpost’ when talking about a permanent ‘facility’ on the Moon. Base, outpost, facility — call it what you will — the idea is that a limited number of professional people would be engaged in scientific research and resource development. While the outpost would be permanent, the occupants would not. Which, of course, is the same situation we have with the International Space Station.

    A colony, on the other hand, clearly implies, as Mr. Simberg suggests, permanent residents (i.e., families making the colony their permanent home).

    It is the notion of a lunar colony that has people laughing at Newt Gingrich. Perhaps that is why Mitt Romney chose the term ‘colony’ when he criticized the idea. It was certainly the focus of the SNL skit. But had Mr. Gingrich driven home the point that he was talking about a ‘base’ … perhaps he wouldn’t have been subjected to so much ridicule.

    Just this past weekend, the Russians started talking again about landing humans on the Moon (by 2020, no less):

    http://rt.com/news/moon-flights-russia-cosmonauts-361/

    What is being laughed at in this country is not such a joke elsewhere. It is a vision … the sort of vision Mr. Gingrich seems to have been trying to convey. Unfortunately, Mr. Gingrich failed to make himself clear the night of the debate. Which is why his ideas have been mischaracterized ever since. Such is the nature of politics.

  • Doug Lassiter

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 6th, 2012 at 3:52 pm
    “The issue isn’t whether or not he was advocating colonization in his speech — he was. The issue is whether or not he was declaring his intention to have a colony by 2020. He was not. He proposed only a base.”

    And, as I said, a permanent base by 2020 is arguably a colony by 2020. I don’t believe he’d achieve it by 2020, whatever you want to call it, but that’s another issue.

    William Mellberg wrote @ February 6th, 2012 at 4:29 pm
    “A colony, on the other hand, clearly implies, as Mr. Simberg suggests, permanent residents (i.e., families making the colony their permanent home).”

    So, you’re going to tell New Zealand that if the thousand inhabitants of Tokelau decide to up and leave, to be replaced by others from New Zealand, who have no intention to stay out their lives there, it’s no longer a colony? Yes, there is an implication (but I call it a connotation), that is historically, rather than practically founded.

    Again, Gingrich is being accused of saying that there will be families building homesteads on the Moon by 2020. He’s not dumb enough to believe that. So why isn’t he objecting to that accusation? Because that’s not what “colony” means to him, for some good reason.

    “Colony” is just a word that is poorly defined, and connotes what we might like it to connote, in admiration of historical colonists. The word “exploration” is very much like that. We like to see human space flight as the cutting edge of exploration because of our admiration for historical explorers. Not because humans in space are doing anything like what those historical explorers did. In fact, very, very little of our exploration of space has come from human space flight. But it’s a comforting myth that it has.

    I’ll let the matter rest.

  • Again, Gingrich is being accused of saying that there will be families building homesteads on the Moon by 2020. He’s not dumb enough to believe that. So why isn’t he objecting to that accusation? Because that’s not what “colony” means to him, for some good reason.

    He is not doing so because he has been generally incompetent at defending himself on this, not because he makes no distinction between “base” and “colony.” He said “base” by 2020, and he did so for a reason. “Colony” was a separate topic to him. Go listen to his speech in Florida.

  • DCSCA

    Rand Simberg wrote @ February 6th, 2012 at 7:18 pm

    ‘Go listen to his speech in Florida.’

    Why bother. SNL’s take is much better.

  • Vladislaw

    “Another thing, why make so much from the use of a word such as colony, vrs base?”

    For a lot of people, either through culturial heritage or politicial reasons do not like and are not comfortable with the word colony because of the history of european and american history as it relates to colonization. Rape and pillage, kill off the inhabitants and steal all the land.

    Granted there is no inhabitants on the moon unless there is some bacteria in some crack somewhere, but some people just do not like the idea of colonizing.

    Personally I am fine with it but the Planet still has to come to terms with property rights.

    I believe the United States should have a policy that they will recognize property rights of any commercial firm for 50,000 acres(?) and 10,000 acres(?) for each individual. If 100 businesses made a claim and 100 individuals it would still take a decade for that much and it wouldn’t make a dent in the 9 billion acres available. But at least it would get the conservsation started.

  • @Rand Simberg

    The scientist and engineers that Newt was speaking to in his speech was enthusiastic about what he had to say. But the Republican Party in general is suspicious of science and hostile to big government programs. And the Moon landings are now so long ago that the media treats them almost as if they were a fantasy. And there’s always been a wing of the Democratic Party that feels that manned space travel is an inherently wasteful thing for the government to do when there are so many poor people to feed. Right:-)

    I suspect that most of the people who are most critical of Newt probably didn’t even see the speech. And it was a darn good speech– even if he did contradict himself by first criticizing big government and then endorsed two big government programs, Kennedy’s Moon mission and his own lunar base program.

    But the extreme right can smell a big government program a mile away and they’re going to be against it no matter how good it is for the country and for private industry. A successful, non military, government program is inherently against everything that right wingers believe in!

    So Newt’s own philosophy came back to haunt him. And praising liberal icons like Kennedy and Lincoln didn’t help him with Republicans either. The Party of Lincoln disappeared a long time ago.

  • Ron

    Marcel F. Williams wrote @ February 7th, 2012 at 12:06 am

    “A successful, non military, government program is inherently against everything that right wingers believe in!”

    The Space Launch System: Non military? Yes. Government program? Yes. Successful? Probably not. Guess that’s how they got all those right-wing Republicans to support it.

  • Any Mouse

    I don’t recall, off hand, whether or not the Moon base was the proposal of the anti-science/anti-technology party or what.

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