The Obama Administration finally took some time away from less important matters and responded to the people’s call for the creation of a Death Star:
The official White House response to a petition to secure resources and funding, and begin construction of a Death Star by 2016:
By Paul Shawcross
The Administration shares your desire for job creation and a strong national defense, but a Death Star isn’t on the horizon. Here are a few reasons:
- The construction of the Death Star has been estimated to cost more than $850,000,000,000,000,000. We’re working hard to reduce the deficit, not expand it.
- The Administration does not support blowing up planets.
- Why would we spend countless taxpayer dollars on a Death Star with a fundamental flaw that can be exploited by a one-man starship?
However, look carefully (here’s how) and you’ll notice something already floating in the sky—that’s no Moon, it’s a Space Station! Yes, we already have a giant, football field-sized International Space Station in orbit around the Earth that’s helping us learn how humans can live and thrive in space for long durations. The Space Station has six astronauts—American, Russian, and Canadian—living in it right now, conducting research, learning how to live and work in space over long periods of time, routinely welcoming visiting spacecraft and repairing onboard garbage mashers, etc. We’ve also got two robot science labs—one wielding a laser—roving around Mars, looking at whether life ever existed on the Red Planet.
Keep in mind, space is no longer just government-only. Private American companies, through NASA’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Program Office (C3PO), are ferrying cargo—and soon, crew—to space for NASA, and are pursuing human missions to the Moon this decade.
Even though the United States doesn’t have anything that can do the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs, we’ve got two spacecraft leaving the Solar System and we’re building a probe that will fly to the exterior layers of the Sun. We are discovering hundreds of new planets in other star systems and building a much more powerful successor to the Hubble Space Telescope that will see back to the early days of the universe.
We don’t have a Death Star, but we do have floating robot assistants on the Space Station, a President who knows his way around a light saber and advanced (marshmallow) cannon, and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, which is supporting research on building Luke’s arm, floating droids, and quadruped walkers.
We are living in the future! Enjoy it. Or better yet, help build it by pursuing a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field. The President has held the first-ever White House science fairs and Astronomy Night on the South Lawn because he knows these domains are critical to our country’s future, and to ensuring the United States continues leading the world in doing big things.
If you do pursue a career in a science, technology, engineering or math-related field, the Force will be with us! Remember, the Death Star’s power to destroy a planet, or even a whole star system, is insignificant next to the power of the Force.
Paul Shawcross is Chief of the Science and Space Branch at the White House Office of Management and Budget
Since this is unquestionably the best response to any petition we can ever hope to receive, can we all agree to stop using that online petition website now?
Gun control is currently taking over the airwaves, news websites, and blogosphere. As it trends up, the backlash is already forming. Many blogs and news outlets have already condemned the spike in gun control conversations to shameless people using one of the worst shootings in American history to push a political viewpoint. Unforgivable, shameless, awful, they say.
That’s ridiculous. The massive surge in the gun control debate is notbecause people are trying to use a national tragedy to push their own political agenda. It is a natural, national reaction to an overwhelming tragedy.
The truth of the matter is that I, sitting at my desk 3000 miles away, am completely powerless to assuage the awful tragedy of this Connecticut shooting. I am angry, I am upset, and there is nothing I can do. Everyone feels this way right now. They feel the need to turn that anger and helplessness into some sort of action. “Something needs to be done,” someone thinks, “to make sure this never happens again”. And what does the blogosphere/hivemind/national consciousness turn to, in all its impotent anger and rage? Gun control, naturally.
For the record, I don’t think this is a bad thing.
Like these two commenters on my most recent blog post, I think fervent hope and bitter disappointment are both entirely appropriate ways to feel in the run-up to and in the aftermath of an election:To have so much invested in the world’s greatest contest; I think if it were me and even if Nate Silver had concluded I would lose, I too would be hoping against hope on election night, which would in turn lead to this kind of colossal letdown.Doris Keans Goodwin talked on Colbert Report about how this dissapointment after losing is pretty typical.
But that’s not quite what we’re talking about in this case. In this case, Romney and his team seemed quite certain that they would win.
Here’s a telling little morsel taken from an interview that Robert Gibbs did with Fox News on Tuesday that sheds some light both on the way that the right-wing media portrayed the run-up to the election — namely that Mittmentum would overwhelm Obama — and the way in which the most recent GOP contender went into the final day with a firm grasp of the way the campaign had played out:
Brian Kilmeade said that he had spoken with Sen. John McCain who confided that he knew on election day in 2008 that he was going to lose. Kilmeade asked Gibbs what he thought it meant that today’s election is truly a tossup and few are certain of the outcome. “Is the fact that it’s even this close disappointing to you and others,” Kilmeade asked.
“No,” Gibbs replied. “I think people forget that, four years ago, even though you said John McCain knew he was going to lose, Barack Obama got 53 percent of the vote. That means he didn’t get 47 percent of the vote that day. That’s a pretty closely divided election.”
He concluded saying that he felt good about Obama’s chances tonight and said that every battleground state could be won by the president.
David Freedlander did a piece for the Daily Beast the other day that grabbed some quotes on losing big elections from famous losers. They’re incredibly helpful in sorting out the difference between the hope that one might still win somehow and the certainty that one will win:
Here’s Walter Mondale:
Unlike maybe a lot of people it became pretty apparent pretty early that it was going to be very very hard. Reagan was sort of celestial I would say at that point. We had some momentum where we would hope a little bit. We had a very strong convention. We came out of the convention maybe even, but then it slipped substantially. And then the other point was when the first debate ended, it looked like we were getting a good bounce out of that debate but it disappeared in the second debate. And then the last oh, couple of weeks before the election I was just campaigning hard to do as well as I could. I wasn’t preparing my inaugural address. And I think most of us knew that. I didn’t want a collapse that would hurt Democrats who were running for other offices. So I would say there was a not a lot of dreaming going on there in those days. It wasn’t like now when you are fighting over one-tenth of one percent. We didn’t have any of that.
Here’s Bob Dole:
In our case we knew we were in trouble, but you still hope that lightning might strike, that something happens and you can pull it off. If you don’t keep a stiff upper lip, you will start losing all of your good supporters. If you don’t remain optimistic, what are the odds that people around you will?
We did a 96-hour all nighter—I see Obama did a 48-hour all nighter, well, we did 96 hours in ’96, where we could rev up the troops in places we visited. And also, I had in the back of my mind that I may lose but I didn’t want to take a bunch of senators, House members with me. But I wasn’t worried about keeping up appearances.
Here’s Michael Dukakis:
You never stopped even though I thought I blew the election by not responding to the Bush attack campaign. It turned out to be the biggest mistake I ever made. You knew going in that it was going to be you or the other guy. I knew I wasn’t ahead but thought I had a shot, and in fact we were closing fairly rapidly until the Boston Herald—no friend of mine—ran an edition the Thursday before the election, and the headline was “What a Mess.” By that time the recession was having an impact on the state, and that headline was about me. And Bush held it up at a press conference and the closing of the gap stopped. It didn’t mean we didn’t keep working.
If you go back and look at what Mondale, Dukakis, Dole, and McCain all say, it’s very clear these politicians knew they would lose but continued to hope otherwise. If you go back and look at what happened with Romney, it’s very clear he was convinced he would win. Indeed, the Fox News interview with Gibbs is telling once again because — if you look carefully at the wording — the interviewers are all suggesting that it’s Obama who should feel like John McCain felt on the last day of the 2008 campaign, not Romney.
Is this just a case of excessive optimism, of the mentality that determination and a gut feeling matter more than polling data? Or is this really about the way in which a fairly large segment of the American Right engages in a sort of disbelief whenever confronted by unpleasant truths?
More and more, I’m inclined to think it’s the latter.