Fun and Games! Until Somebody Can’t Get Up to their Space Station

Written by Chuck Gruenwald on May 17, 2014

Do coaches of any sports teams brag about their weaknesses before a game? Right about now, the words of NASA Administrator Charles Bolden need revisiting. About the same time that he talked about that agency’s new mission of helping Muslims “feel good about themselves”, he bragged that the end of the space shuttle program meant that the United States could not leave low-Earth orbit without international help.

One of the side-effects of expressing weakness as a goodwill gesture is that your enemies pay attention; our enemies not only perceive compassion as weakness, but they also perceive weakness as weakness. While the Obama Administration has been handing out sanctions against individual Russian politicians and bureaucrats that have been greeted with – well, it’s safe to assume that some of those targeted have yet to stop laughing – the Russians have responded with sanctions that American newsreaders should deliver with a straight face.

On the chopping block are rides to the International Space Station as well as the use of rocket motors used to deliver US defense satellites into orbit.

If anyone is surprised that a foreign government with a brutal recent past and questionable long-range goals would actually take advantage of a well-publicized American vulnerability, then it would have to be the type of naïve soul who would breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the words “peace in our time,” so that he or she could convince themselves that war is now a thing of the past – until the “next time” proves them wrong.

When the United States via NASA worked toward manned moon missions, there was not only the goal of beating the Soviets “up there”, there was – and still is the need to ask and then answer questions, to try and do what seems impossible at face value.

One of the many quotes from President Barack Obama to leave more questions than answers is: “Why go to the moon? We’ve already been there.” In the forty-plus years since the last moon landing, two generations have not seen what Obama appears to take for granted: an astronaut on the moon. If perception is reality, then according to anyone who was either born after or too young to remember the Apollo missions, nobody has walked on the moon; no man, no woman, no cross-dresser, no trans-gender, no Muslim, no homosexual, and (gasp!) no heterosexual, no Christian and no Jewish astronaut has walked on the lunar surface in those forty years.

Despite the uneasiness of a leader possessing little, if any, curiosity of the scientific unknown, especially someone who claims to hold science in such high regard when it comes to the perceived “dangers” of global warming, such lack of interest in our space program is a warning about the dangers of oppressing curiosity, and avoiding long-term planning – not to mention the perversion of scientific discovery.

In the not-too-distant past, the head of a Japanese car manufacturer had been asked why the Japanese have had more success in the automotive industry than Americans. His answer was “Americans plan a financial quarter ahead, while the Japanese plan a lifetime ahead.”

It is this short-term mentality that has left the Air Force without a replacement for the fifty-plus year-old KC-135 fleet, a downsized military in terms of personnel, assets and bases, no follow-up for the space shuttle program, and a seventeen trillion-dollar debt for future generations to settle.

Being void of a curious nature is a tragedy onto one’s self. Add a naïve personality and a position of leadership, whether as a scout leader, radio station program director, business executive, or politician, and the end result is an individual who never fails to disappoint – with the level of disappointment and damage rising with the level of responsibility.

Sadly, it is the subordinates or citizens that must pay the price for the flaws of their leaders. How many Krispy Kreme employees paid for bad leadership with their jobs? How many jobs were lost in telecommunications businesses in the name of consolidation and mediocrity? How many generations will have the task of paying the debts created by today’s politicians, or rebuilding a seemingly-depleted military?

The lack of curiosity and backbone in modern political leaders is also evident in their giving the International Space Station a name that is befitting only the most generic grocery store products from the nineteen seventies and eighties. Such an accomplishment as building and occupying an orbiting outpost deserves an “offensive” name, such as that of an individual who had made a sizable contribution to making our early stages of space travel possible.

The government that had made the space station possible is also the government that had chosen to make reaching it impossible. The irony has not been lost on anyone, including our enemies.

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Born in Chicago and raised in northwest suburban Cook County, Chuck Gruenwald developed an unfavorable opinion of machine politics quite early in life. In addition to cars, electronics, law enforcement, and politics, Chuck enjoys writing, and is also a horse racing fan. He has recently written op-eds for