Democratic Underground

2001: A Space Cadet
March 12, 2001
by Mark J. Mitchell

We all know the famous image from Stanley Kubrick's Classic film, written by Arthur C. Clarke, 2001 A Space Odyssey: A human embryo floating in space, the birth of the "Star Child." This was supposed to be, among other things, a symbol of humanity's connection with the Universe, the future, and our ultimate progression toward our next evolutionary level.

Now replace that image with an aging oil tycoon in a cowboy hat. This is the symbol for the regression of the Human Race. Unfortunately this symbol is not brought to us through celluloid as a possible fantastic future, it is reality.

It was only a couple of years ago that our then Vice President Al Gore unveiled NASA's plans to build the X-33 Space Craft. This would be the welcomed successor to the aging Space Shuttle's 1970s technology. It was to be far less expensive and far more practical once built.

The Space Program was one of Gore's many enthusiasms. Another was saving our planet from it's current downward spiral into the irreversible tragedy of environmental disaster. Note: President Bush's enthusiasms include fishing, video games, and giving the wealthiest of Americans more money to play with at the cost of the Public Good.

Last week the Bush administration has canceled NASA's X-33 project after over a billion dollars have been spent in its development. Besides being too costly, the new White House cited design difficulty. Apparently the fuel tanks have to be built from a different type of metal than they originally thought. This sounds like much less of a design difficulty than having over 50 Nobel Laureates collectively state that your project is doomed from its conception, as is the case with the Star Wars Missile Defense System - a high priority for the current administration.

But we still have the International Space Station. After years of setbacks, cutbacks, and delays, the Space Station is actually active now - A proud symbol for International cooperation in space. However, Bush has decided it would now be better to totally sandbag this most difficult endeavor. He has ordered cuts that will result in a more scaled down version of the ALREADY scaled down version of the International Space Station.

Bush cuts this week are also threatening other NASA projects, such as missions to Pluto and the Sun. So my fellow Americans, instead of Arthur C. Clarke's vision of a "Star Child" born in the year 2001, we have the Republican Party's birth of the "Oil-Man." He will lead us to our destiny. Who needs the Stars when we still have 45 years of oil left to burn?


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