Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Space Farce: Days of Rumsfeld Past

It shocks me not at all that President Stupid's stupid idea du jour --
Trump introduces idea of 'Space Force' Trump introduces idea of 'Space Force'  

President Donald Trump on Tuesday said his new national security strategy recognizes that space is a theater of war, and he floated the idea of creating a Space Force, a branch of the military that would operate outside of earth's atmosphere.

"Space is a war-fighting domain, just like the land, air, and sea," Trump told a an audience of service members at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. "We may even have a Space Force, develop another one, Space Force. We have the Air Force, we'll have the Space Force."

The president described how he'd originally coined the term as a joke, while discussing U.S. government spending and private investment in space. "I said, 'maybe we need a new force, we'll call it the Space Force,' and I was not really serious. Then I said, 'what a great idea,' maybe we'll have to do that," Trump told the crowd of Marines.

"So think of that, Space Force," Trump continued, "because we are spending a lot and we have a lot of private money coming in, tremendous. You saw what happened the other day, and tremendous success. From the very beginning, many of our astronauts have been soldiers and air men, coast guard men and marines. And our service members will be vital to ensuring America continues to lead the way into the stars."
-- is virtually identical to one of Donald Rumsfeld's stupidest ideas from the darkest days of the Age of Bush.

Did I write about it way back then?

Don Rumsfeld has seen The Future -- and "Smoking Rockets, Commander!" and it looks just like this.

The citations from the NYT in this post run long. I’ve excerpted it, but I use this blog a lot for my own notes and virtual-memory-dump as well as nattering on about stuff, and there are a lot of salient details that I did not want to get lost. So as with the rest of the online universe, scroll past whatever you’d like, but for me, stories like this really trip my trigger, and the specific details are what make it come alive.

Air Force Seeks Bush's Approval for Space Weapons Programs

Published: May 18, 2005 
The Air Force, saying it must secure space to protect the nation from attack, is seeking President Bush's approval of a national-security directive that could move the United States closer to fielding offensive and defensive space weapons, according to White House and Air Force officials.
The proposed change would be a substantial shift in American policy. It would almost certainly be opposed by many American allies and potential enemies, who have said it may create an arms race in space.
Any deployment of space weapons would face financial, technological, political and diplomatic hurdles, although no treaty or law bans Washington from putting weapons in space, barring weapons of mass destruction.
A presidential directive is expected within weeks, said the senior administration official, who is involved with space policy and insisted that he not be identified because the directive is still under final review and the White House has not disclosed its details.
With little public debate, the Pentagon has already spent billions of dollars developing space weapons and preparing plans to deploy them. 
"We haven't reached the point of strafing and bombing from space," Pete Teets, who stepped down last month as the acting secretary of the Air Force, told a space warfare symposium last year. "Nonetheless, we are thinking about those possibilities." 
In January 2001, a commission led by Donald H. Rumsfeld, then the newly nominated defense secretary, recommended that the military should "ensure that the president will have the option to deploy weapons in space." 
It said that "explicit national security guidance and defense policy is needed to direct development of doctrine, concepts of operations and capabilities for space, including weapons systems that operate in space."
In 2002, after weighing the report of the Rumsfeld space commission, President Bush withdrew from the 30-year-old Antiballistic Missile Treaty, which banned space-based weapons.
The Air Force believes "we must establish and maintain space superiority," Gen. Lance Lord, who leads the Air Force Space Command, told Congress recently. "Simply put, it's the American way of fighting." Air Force doctrine defines space superiority as "freedom to attack as well as freedom from attack" in space. 
The mission will require new weapons, new space satellites, new ways of doing battle and, by some estimates, hundreds of billions of dollars. It faces enormous technological obstacles. And many of the nation's allies object to the idea that space is an American frontier.
A new Air Force strategy, Global Strike, calls for a military space plane carrying precision-guided weapons armed with a half-ton of munitions. General Lord told Congress last month that Global Strike would be "an incredible capability" to destroy command centers or missile bases "anywhere in the world."
The Air Force's drive into space has been accelerated by the Pentagon's failure to build a missile defense on earth. After spending 22 years and nearly $100 billion, Pentagon officials say they cannot reliably detect and destroy a threat today.
Another Air Force space program, nicknamed Rods From God, aims to hurl cylinders of tungsten, titanium or uranium from the edge of space to destroy targets on the ground, striking at speeds of about 7,200 miles an hour with the force of a small nuclear weapon.
Despite objections from members of Congress who thought "space should be sanctified and no weapons ever put in space," Mr. Teets, then the Air Force under secretary, told the space-warfare symposium last June that "that policy needs to be pushed forward."
They think that "the United States doesn't own space - nobody owns space," said Teresa Hitchens, vice president of the Center for Defense Information, a policy analysis group in Washington that tends to be critical of the Pentagon. "Space is a global commons under international treaty and international law."
No nation will "accept the U.S. developing something they see as the death star," Ms. Hitchens told a Council on Foreign Relations meeting last month.
International objections aside, Randy Correll, an Air Force veteran and military consultant, told the council, "the big problem now is it's too expensive." 
The Air Force does not put a price tag on space superiority. Published studies by leading weapons scientists, physicists and engineers say the cost of a space-based system that could defend the nation against an attack by a handful of missiles could be anywhere from $220 billion to $1 trillion.
Richard Garwin, widely regarded as a dean of American weapons science, and three colleagues wrote in the March issue of IEEE Spectrum, the professional journal of electric engineering, that "a space-based laser would cost $100 million per target, compared with $600,000 for a Tomahawk missile." 
"Space superiority is not our birthright, but it is our destiny," he told an Air Force conference in September. "Space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future."
In the long history of fucking de-range-edly bad ideas, Weaponizing Space comes near the top of my list; Just after “starting a land war in Asia” (check) and “giving an electoral mandate to an anti-Science, pro-Rapture Evangelical Wingnut Party” (check) and just before canceling “Homicide”.

And just to get it out of the way, IMHO any program with a component called “Rods From God” being pimped by a Mr. Teets and General named Lance Lord, who is practically quoting Darth Vader about our “destiny” has got barely-sublimated-sexual-orientation AND obsessive-penis-compensation-issues spray-painted all over it in 40-mile-high flaming (yes, that kind of “flaming”) letters.

Don’t get me wrong: I am completely in favor of space exploration and the eventual establishment of colonies and commerce. I am unabashedly pro-NASA (well, Old School NASA, not the LEO-focused, It-can’t-cost-more-than-nine-bucks, And-lets’-skimp-on-the-safety-budget asshats who set policy these days) and will bore almost anyone into faking a seizure to get out listening to my 1,001 pragmatic reasons why space exploration should always be one of our top three priorities.

But Weaponizing Space has nothing to do with exploration: when all of your Low Earth Orbit scopes and gun-sights are pointed DOWN are whomever we’re hating and fearing this week, you cannot responsibly argue that you goal is to look UP. And anyway, Weaponizing Space has absolutely nothing to do with responsible and reasonably debate to begin with. I f you follow the bouncing ball of the Weaponizing Space arguments they play out in exactly the same ludicrous way as the Bush tax cuts.

You all remember the original rationale for those massive tax cuts for Plutocrats from back in the olden days, right?

Back when we needed a tax cut for billionaires to spend down the surplus.

And then when we had no surplus, we needed it to “stimulate the economy”…as if the wealthy, who had already made out like fat rats during the Clinton Years, aren’t positively swimming in so much lucre that they could “stimulate” the economy as briskly and effectively as a million Horse Fluffers-in-Chief jerking off a million Clydesdale’s…if they wanted to.

And then when we ended up in a protracted war and are running debts and deficits as far as the eye can see…the solution is to make tax cuts permanent because, well, uhhhh, ummm…

Because the naked truth is Tax Cuts are Holy Writ, everything else is negotiable, and so Tax Cuts becomes another shitty pile of Republican dogma eternally in search of a shiny, bogus rationale so it can be packaged and marketed to the toe-counters and the Politically A.D.D.

To those who scab up their chubby knees worshipping Mammon, NOTHING is more sacred that tax cuts. Not the security of the nation. Not freedom. Not the commonweal. Not the future. Not the education of our children or respect and care of the elderly. Any talk of simply rolling back the tax cuts to Clinton Era levels for the wealthiest human in history is apparently worse than, say, using the Constitution as kindling to set fire to Jesus.

Like energy policy, like environmental policy, like Social Security and most especially like Iraq, the Administration makes up it’s mind and plots it’s course not based on facts or history or reason but based on that now-familiar fucktard witchbag of an infantile, dry-drunk comprehension of the world, the most dangerous kind of Fundy paranoid superstitions, the whims of the GOP’s Corporate Masters and the Neocon opium dreams of American Hegemony.

And then they just make up whatever shit they feel they need to market their New and Improved Lunacy.

Sometimes half-truths, sometimes just bald-faced lies, but they act in the knowledge that the Ultras will obediently and unquestioningly bellow whatever slogans they are ordered to bellow – even if the message is changed 180-degrees mid-scream -- and the so-called-Moderates like Lincoln Chafees and Olympia Snows and John McCains of the world have long since had their political tubes tied and are now far too gelded and gutless to stand up to the thugs that stole their Party.

And so we come to Weaponizing Space: yet another Neocon “Wouldn’t it be cool if we were, y’know, like, Gods!” fantasy in search of a rationale. Shithouse Rat Crazy Don Rumsfeld has dusted off the same plan that was so roundly rejected and laughed off the stage in 2000/2001 and is making another run at it.

Jeez. Knock me over with a feather. I’m shocked.

So why is Weaponizing Space a terrible idea? Oh, let me count just a few of the ways:

1. No enemy. The whole bad idea was to build a shield capable of knocking out as massive, Soviet missile attack. Which, of course, would (and did) simply up the ante on cranking out more missiles, both live and decoy, land-based and sub-based, short and long-range. Fire enough hardware at any defense/deflection system and some will always get though. Always. But be that as it may, the Soviet Union's dead Jim! Dead and gone.

2. It was a bluff! Does anyone even remember that the whole SDI hoo-ha was more-or-less laughed off by the likes of James Bakker after the Evil Empire imploded as being the biggest single see-and-raise bluff in the history of Cold War Poker? That whether or not it would have actually worked (which it most emphatically wouldn’t have) was secondary to head-faking the Russians into spending themselves broke on countermeasures.

3. We’re broke. Hello! No money for infrastructure. No money for education. Fuck Social Security. Deficits forever. Iraq war burning through how many billions of my tax dollars every week? How much money has been pissed away through phony reconstruction schemes and out-and-out war profiteering...and bonuses for those very profiteers? How much money will it actually cost when we really will have to rebuild that country…or buy them off as we bolt for the exit. Prescription Drug benefit. More!more!more!more! tax cuts for the plutocrats who hold the Preznit’s leash. But I think we might have finally paid off that little Bush 41 Savings and Loan And Keep My Sons out of Federal Prison Bailout, so we’ve got that going for us.

4. Further alienating the rest of the planet, if that’s even possible. I know the President Fredo and the rest of the Gang that Couldn’t Talk Straight have nothing but contempt for the rest of the human race, but at some point we’re actually going to have to cooperate and work other countries, like, say, Russia, who already went ballistic (pun intended) when Bush decided to unilaterally feed the AMB treaty through the shredder.

If you think that was exciting, imagine how much more irredeemably furious the rest of the planet is going to be when we announce that we’re going to start mounting laser and gamma-ray cannon in orbit, pointing right down the throats of any nation that, say, doesn’t want to sell us their oil at our price…or let our Evangelicals come on in and and preach the Revealed Word of George Walker Boosh?

5. Force protection. First you dream up a completely fictional enemy to justify putting weapons in space. Then, since you’re clearly smoking some CIA-grade weed, you start imagining that you’ll need to defend your cool, new “He-Man, Woman Hater’s” Clubhouse in Space from the imaginary enemy who might want to knock it down. Which means “Space Marines” or somesuch. And remember, we’re a country that has already given up our Apollo infrastructure after we tagged the Moon first at told the rest of the world “We Win!” and haven’t been able to mount a shuttle launch in over two years.

And if you think I’m exaggerating, just go look up the rhetoric from this argument from a mere five short years ago. You remember, back when most of the country sorta though having a Shithouse Rat Crazy Secretary of Defense was a bad thing.

6. Hit this. The most devastating attacks against us in modern history came from commercial airliners being flow into buildings. Around the world, war is waged with car-bombs, IEDs, and back-packs left on passenger trains. The guidance system of the average “smart bomb” used to target Americans is a teenage Muslim boy. This is the world we live in, and these are means by which death will be delivered to our doors…and none of them will ever be able to be hit from orbit by the USS Deathstar, I don’t care how many trillions we pour down the SDI rat hole.

It’s a bright, shiny distraction that the GOP can dazzle you with in the hopes that you’ll forget that they have failed so utterly on the meat-an-potatoes issues that warfighting is really all about.

7. Barges, bitches. A thousand nuclear warheads is an arsenal. Anyone who has developed such an arsenal has done so as part of an overall strategic plan to win a war by destroying his or her opponent’s ability to wage war and retaliate. To take out air forces and missile silos. To kill cities. But a single nuke is a terror weapon. The goal with a single nuke or a dirty bomb or a chemical weapon in a subway has nothing to do with taking out your enemy’s capacity to retaliate. It has everything to do with scaring the hell out of them to accomplish a political end. A nuke floated in on a barge or flown in on a Cessna is every bit as effective as a terror weapon as a missile…and one helluva lot cheaper.

8. How to fuck up an orbital defense platform. Take one ballistic missile rented from Russia or China or the European Space Agency. Pack it with a few bags of aluminum nails, gravel, potsherds and broken glass. Shrapnel: a few hundred pounds would probably do. Once in space, dump your load of scrap into an orbit that runs counter to the American platform(s). Then wait and watch the fun as, day by day, orbit by orbit, your six-hundred-dollars worth of shop-floor debris gradually shreds United State’s new trillion-dollar-toy.

There is every good reason in the world for taking a sane, rational, globally-cooperative approach to the scourge of terrorists, but there is no rationale whatsoever for Weaponizing Space. It would, in fact, have the opposite effect: make creating a true global coalition just that much harder, and make the United States appear to be just that much more of a mad, Empire-drunk pariah.

Weaponizing Space is nothing more than little dick-ed men trying to win a global Giant Cock Contest. It comes down to pasty little creeps like, oh, say, Paul Wolfowitz wanting to feel like Zeus. Wanting to tell their wives that won’t fuck them anymore, or their mistresses who mock them, or their pet Eight Inch Cut Manwhores, “I can summon lightening from the Heavens to smite mine enemies. I can level cities and set the waters of the Earth ablaze. I am a GOD…so quit laughing at my tiny penis!!”

Two things.

First, the only things Republicans recycle are shitty, shitty ideas.

Second, when I dig through my archives from Long Ago I am always a little braced when I see how accurately we on the Left were naming and shaming the treachery and madness at the heart of the GOP in explicit detail long before Donald Trump glided down the Escalator of Doom and into their hearts.

Behold, a Tip Jar!


tony in san diego said...

Come on, dude. We are never going to build a Death Star if we don't start now.

Mark Dobrowolski said...

Will it be see thru like the wall?!

dinthebeast said...

Remember "Brilliant Pebbles"?

-Doug in Oakland

Robt said...

To send Space force out into a black shit Hole Without even nominating a Space Force Viceroy. Not very presidential.

Decoder rings now on sale in the White House lobby and all authorized trademarked Trump exclusive golf clubs

Osama Number5 said...

Brilliant writing, thanks! Oh, and Trump has renamed them the Marine Core...

Keep up the great work while there is still breathable air!

Lawrence said...

When imagining, if you must, Trump and Ms. Daniels and an issue of Forbes, don't leave out the part where they had to drag the couch over to the TV so he could watch Shark Week. The ever brilliant Tom Scocca has a good take on that:
So, Space Force. I'm guessing he didn't get the idea from Starship Troopers because it's a book. And in 1997 he was probably too busy losing money to catch the dreadful film. I'm betting this comes from the late 1970's where Trump and all of his people still live. From the 1979 Bond film Moonraker. In the final act of said film Dr. Villain is going to attack Earth with an evil space station. But a space shuttle orbiter intercepts the station and the payload doors pop open and a bunch of astronauts with rocket packs and laser guns, well, I've already explained more than you need. This was an ambitious feat for NASA in 1979 seeing as the first orbital flight of Columbia would be April 12,1981. It's also the only one where the large hydrogen tank was painted white.

Kevin Holsinger said...

Good morning, Mr. Glass.

From Wikipedia (

"Currently, one country has previously had an independent space force. Russia's space force was an independent organisation that existed from 1992 to 1997 and from 2001 to 2011; it was reestablished on 2015 as a branch of the Russian Aerospace Forces."

Russia. What a coinkidink.

Be seeing you.

RUKidding said...

Following the appointment of Larry Kudlow to be Dolt 45's "Economic" Advisor, viscious rumor has it that the Orange Foolious has tapped William Shatner to be the Supreme Commander of the new Space Farce.

45 was heard to utter in the West Wing: "Shatner's already got the uniform - right?" Several sycophants hastened to say "Yes, sir! Brilliant!"

tony in san diego said...

I want to see Shatner play Trump in the movie!

Leo Knight said...

Why stop there? Shatner for president! Sadly, he's originaly from Canada, but James T. Kirk is from Iowa, so that must countvfor something.