Space & Politics Collide in GOP Convention

Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)
Donald Trump (Credit: Michael Vadon)

The Republican Convention starts on Monday, and the event is already stirring up some controversy. (Donald Trump? Controversy? Nooo….how could that be?)

Former NASA astronaut Eileen Collins, who became the first woman to command a space shuttle before the space agency retired the ones it had left to museums, is scheduled to speak during the convention at which delegates are schedule to nominate Trump for President.

There’s a move a foot to free the delegates to vote for another candidate, an effort that doesn’t seem likely to succeed, but is almost sure to cause violence if it did.

One person who has apparently not been invited to speak this time around is Clint Eastwood, whose conversation with an empty chair during the last Republican Convention four years ago left many to wonder whether the star of “Space Cowboys” had suffered from exposure to excessive gamma radiation. It’s a pity; I really wanted to see what he could do with a full dinette set.

Commissioner Gordon
Commissioner Gordon

Meanwhile, long-time space supporter and moon colony advocate Newt Gingrich has been in the running to serve as the vice presidential candidate. However, media reports say he has been edged out by Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Trump was supposed to make an announcement today, but he postponed it until Friday due to the attack in Nice, France.

Pence is not exactly a household name, except for perhaps in Indiana. Older Americans are likely to fondly remember his fine work as Commissioner Gordon in the original Batman television series. At least that’s what they’re going to think when they see Pence at the press conference.

In other campaign-related news, 145 tech leaders apparently couldn’t wait to see who Trump chose as a running mate before declaring The Donald’s candidacy as a threat to America’s future.  In an open letter published by Huffington Post, they wrote:

We believe in an inclusive country that fosters opportunity, creativity and a level playing field. Donald Trump does not. He campaigns on anger, bigotry, fear of new ideas and new people, and a fundamental belief that America is weak and in decline.  We have listened to Donald Trump over the past year and we have concluded: Trump would be a disaster for innovation.  His vision stands against the open exchange of ideas, free movement of people, and productive engagement with the outside world that is critical to our economy—and that provide the foundation for innovation and growth.

International Space University and Planetary Resources Co-founder Peter Diamandis joined the list of signers, who include many Silicon Valley heavyweights.  The letter notes that the individuals signed in a personal capacity and their actions don’t reflect the endorsement of the organizations with which they are affiliated.

One prominent Silicon Valley figure that is not on the list is billionaire venture capitalist Peter Thiel, who backed Facebook and other successful startups. Thiel is scheduled to speak on the final day of the convention on Thursday.

  • Charles Lurio

    Where do they come up with these people? Who’s ever heard of him outside of Indiana? OK, so call me a coastal chauvinist. At least self-described Pirate Newt has some name recognition (for good and ill).

    I guess Newt would have been a threat to Trump keeping the focus on “me, me and me.”

  • Douglas Messier

    Newt would double the number of marriages on the ticket to six. Instantly lock in the divorced men who hate their exe’s demographic. Would sink them with women. Or at least drive away any whom Trump hasn’t already alienated.

    Pence will win some initial points from the confused “oh, it’s that nice Commissioner Gordpn” demographic til people realize Commissioner Gordon wasn’t real and Neil Hamilton’s been dead for 30 odd years.

  • JamesG

    Sigh… you had to go there…

    Keep in mind that “Silicon Valley tech leaders” tend to be both politically liberal and derive much of their wealth from Globalization.

  • Kapitalist

    Sink them with women?
    No, the women obviously love them. They marry them again and again. They line up. They are picky men, that is the most attractive of all, to become one of the selected. Hillary is fundamentally weak among women voters because women don’t vote with their statistically demographed genitals, but with their own individual minds. A variable which does not exist in the formulas of the Hillary campaign brain trust.

    I bet real money, money, real money, my money (to talk like Trump) on Newt as VP. And he’s a space cadet so it would be great if he becomes VP. Certainly he’ll get some kind of prominent position in the Trump administration. Donald won’t really understand where space is or what it’s good for. But having Newt nagging about it will displace some serious space policy decisions, I think, more favorable than any other realistic outcome of the election by now.

  • Dave Huntsman

    By that you mean, they tend to be data- and evidence-based?

  • ThomasLMatula

    I expect the impact of the letter will have the same impact politically as all the experts who came out against Brexit, which is to build support for it. The public worldwide is angry now with the world’s leadership and America is no exception. The only thing they see is that Donald Trump shares that anger and is against that leadership. That is why both his background and statements just doesn’t matter. That is why the more the leadership and media attack him, the more folks will vote for him.

    FYI, an insightful article from last year.

    “The parallels between the Luthor and Trump campaigns are geometrically
    perfect. Both men leverage the public perception of business acumen to
    sell themselves as strong executives then cite questionably looming
    crises — a Kryptonite asteroid for Luthor, an unsustainable immigration
    wave (we’re at net zero BTW) for Trump — to excite a nervous base. They
    run for office by running against stuff.”

    Sadly this doesn’t look so funny now. Where are Batman and Clarke Kent when you need them? 🙂

  • Douglas Messier

    Mostly true, although there is a strong libertarian streak in Silicon Valley.

    The significance of the letter lies in its existence. Whatever the politics of the signers, it’s extraordinary that such a large group of prominent people would come together to criticize a candidate in such harsh terms. The smart thing to protect their interests would be not to do something like this so as to not antagonize whoever is elected.

    They see their interests at stake under a Trump presidency. But, I think they are also sincere in being deeply offended by what they see as the angry, bigoted and sexist nature of his campaign.

  • ThomasLMatula

    Except that the vast majority of folks vote based on emotions and perceived images. Bringing data and evidence-based into a political campaign is about as useless as bringing a switchblade to a gunfight.

    Data and evidence based didn’t defeat Senator Barry Goldwater, he was beaten by a little girl picking daisies.

  • JamesG

    No. Not at all. I’m sure they benefit greatly from the data and evidence.

  • JamesG

    So this Presidential race boils down to a contest between which people are more angry/afraid vs. those who are want free stuff…

  • windbourne

    Hopefully, Newt will have an impact on the GOP’s view of NASA.
    It would be nice to get these 2 parties fighting each other to help new space make it quickly.

  • windbourne

    Far from it.
    SV is far more Libertarian, but the majority of them despise the GOP.
    And as to their wealth, it is from creating new ideas, it has very little to do with Globalization. The problem is that the GOP has done a lot of Damage to America and forced Silicon Valley to go all over.

  • windbourne

    Overall, those that signed that letter do not care one wit about the GOP’s racism, bigotry and its support of NAZI and KKK (well, some do, but most do not).

    Where the real issues lie, is that trump wants to kill off FTAs while ignoring the good that has come from NAFTA and a few others.
    In addition, killing off B. Clinton’s FTA with China right now, would be disastrous since CHina owns electronics. At least at this moment.
    Thankfully, Musk is working hard on bringing back electronics to the west, esp. America. BUT, to out and out kill that off, as well as Trump’s hard core attitude towards immigration, would be to destroy where SV really excels. That is, bringing together the best and the brightest from all over the world.

    No, that letter is all about immigration, manufacturing, and less about political correctness.

  • windbourne

    You obviously have not spent time in America and do not follow our news.

    Normally, party ppl are extremely loyal to their party. Trump has far more in common with Hitler, rather than Lincoln and yet, many GOP men will vote for him.
    The most that a party will lose will normally be less than 1/8 of their members. In fact, 1/8 is quite a lot for Dems/GOP to switch.
    In this case, I will be SHOCKED if Trumps gets 3/4 of the GOP women vote. I am expecting it to be around 2/3.
    And do not bet. You obviously do not understand our politics. Newt had ZERO chance. He is not far right enough for Trump.

    In so many ways, I believe that Trump is doing this to cause Hillary to win. Pence is to be VP. However, Pence is a true neo-con who makes reagan look liberal (who was the ORIGINAL neo-con). IOW, Pence is very far right, and worse, he has done his best to upset women for all of his decades in politics. He even killed off funding for planned parenthood while ignoring the fact that a massive HIV infection is happening in his state (I wonder how he plans to deal with zika when that comes; start feeding the mosquitos?).

    With Trump and Pence on the ticket, again, losing 1/3 of the female GOP registered voter will NOT be hard.
    And the majority of the indis women will skip him as well.

  • windbourne

    What is interesting is that at that time, we were far more rational in our politcs EXCEPT for the cold war. Oddly, the voters allow USSR to dominate thoughts in an irrational fashion.

  • JamesG

    “well, some do, but most do not”

    But that didn’t stop you from bringing it up…

    Mostly its about bringing in the cheapest. Always look past the BS and follow the money.

  • Douglas Messier

    That bringing the best and brightest from all over the world has a pretty dark side to it. The companies are forever complaining that Americans lack the skills they need. This leads them to import a lot of foreign workers — heavily from India — whom they can pay less. They become addicted to this, so they are forever asking Congress to raise the quotas. This can be done relatively cheaply by putting money in the right campaigns for Congress.

    There are questions as to whether the lack of domestic talent is that much of a problem. Assuming that they’re right, increasingly the supply of skilled workers in the United States still leaves them at a disadvantage to workers that can imported and jobs that can be outsourced.

    Producing more domestic workers also costs money. And this is where the companies really don’t care. The attitude of them toward paying the taxes that would fund such programs is a giant middle finger. They stash billions in profits overseas and complain about how taxes are too high. This makes the founders richer and the stock price higher.

    So you have a cycle. A shortage of domestic talent — serious or exaggerated — leads them to import workers who can be paid less and outsource jobs overseas. Domestic workers are at a disadvantage. Companies would rather pay Congress tiny amounts to expand the system rather than to invest in domestic education or pay taxes that would help the government do so.

  • JamesG

    California libertarian anyway. ie; “I’ve got mine, I wanna do what I want. Screw anyone else.”

  • Vladislaw

    I do not see the word “free” in Thomas’s statement. The public that is willing to support various funding with their tax dollars has nothing to do with free.
    Have you seen the engineer’s report card? Infrastructure spending, especially during down turns. has been a no brainer for the Nation. Now right believes compromise is a dirty word and everything is all or nothing.There is a lot more productive spending that can be taking place.

  • JamesG

    The public isn’t willing to support it though. They howl and scream if their taxes are raised, and corporations buy loopholes. So the government deficit spends to keep being able to provide all those promised benefits and public goods. Deferred cost is “free” if you only look at the here and now.

    Bernie Sanders was popular in large part because he promised to give people literal “free” stuff. Free college, expand the welfare state, etc.

    Obama (actually Bush) spent TRILLIONS of dollars in his first term and all he really
    did was inflate the costs of civil engineering projects.

    What’s the national debt again?

  • duheagle

    Actually, the closest America has come to Hitler in this year’s campaign has been Bernie Sanders. Like Hitler, he is a nationalist populist socialist. Also like Hitler, his supporters formed mobs to attack members of an opposing party as a regular campaign tactic.

    Agree with Dr. Tom on the “impact” of the “tech leaders” letter. All these people really want is more H1-B visas for the indentured servants they import en masse in preference to hiring U.S. citizens at market wages. They fear, probably correctly, that a President Trump would have no further truck with this human trafficking and end it as part of his immigration control program. From Hillary they have nothing to fear.

  • duheagle

    Some of the early SV people were libertarians. The Progs took over during the dot-com bubble. They despise the GOP because they’re mostly Democrats. As for the source of their wealth, it has a lot to do with “globalization.”

    The line about “free movement of people” was particularly rich. What these people really want is unlimited H1-B visas so they never have to hire another American citizen ever again. But the indentured servants who come here on H1-B visas sure have no “freedom of movement.” They can only work for their sponsoring company. Since they can’t seek other employment, they have to take what they’re offered – and it isn’t much – in the hope that they can get permanent resident status at the end of their “hitch.” Most don’t. The SV grandees don’t care; there’s always more where the last batch came from.

    It used to be that in order to exploit the cheap labor of the duskier races the white overseers had to actually go where the brown people were and risk heatstroke and tropical disease. Now, with the help of the Democratic Party, all they need to do is import all the brown coolies they want on H1-B visas while they stay, nice and safe, right here in America the whole time.

    The GOP has barely done anything for the past eight years. All the damage to America – and it has been considerable – has been due to Obama’s fecklessness and stupidity in the conduct of foreign affairs and his war on fossil fuels and small business domestically.

  • duheagle

    What they want is no interruption in their endless supply of imported serfs. Trump can be as “angry, bigoted and sexist” as he wants for all these people care. What they’re afraid of is that he’ll cut off their source of cheap labor and they’ll – Horrors! – actually have to hire Americans at market wages. Can’t have that!

  • duheagle

    Trump isn’t looking to “kill off” free trade agreements, he just has issues with America getting too little reciprocity. There’s no real reason that a trade agreement should be thousands of pages long. Only a few pages should be required to define categories of goods and services and state the lower or zero tariffs that are to apply. When the agreement is a bloated monstrosity that’s usually because it contains mostly special arrangements to benefit the well-connected, not because it’s establishing a genuinely low-tariff level playing field.

  • duheagle

    Congratulations on still having some healthy skepticism about the self-serving high-minded crapola peddled in Silicon Valley about what is basically a return of early Colonial-era indentured servitude under a different name.

  • duheagle

    Were you actually around during the Cold War? Or did you just read about it in some book by a leftist professor?

  • Vladislaw

    The public isn’t willing to support it? So you are saying NO member of the public currently pays ANY taxes? America runs ENTIRELY on borrowed money? No taxes at all?


  • JamesG

    You’d have to be pretty ignorant, or just trolling, to read that from my post. Perhaps you just couldn’t think of an intelligent response?

  • windbourne

    born in ’59. Worked in the 80s for darpa on chemical/biological weapons and defense.
    What exactly did YOU do?

  • Spacetech

    Hitler? Really?

  • windbourne

    Actually, he has SAID that he is looking to kill them off.
    Secondly, he has a valid point about CHina, but not about Mexico.
    NAFTA is overall, pretty good. What is missing is that we need to amend it so that Mexico will bring up their minimum wage. Right now, they have a MINIMUM DAILY WAGE of $3.50. Yes, they make less in a DAY, than we make in an HOUR.

    So, we need them to bring that up.
    Likewise, we should require that Mexico, Canada, and America have similar levels of pollution regs.
    I would love to see us go up to the level that Canada has, but regardless, we need a minimum level.

    As to China, there are far better ways for dealing them. As it is, they are playing games with money manipulation, tariffs (which was supposed to drop, but went from 90 to over 500), and their dumping on our market as well as heavy pollution.
    But, there is a single easy solution for all of this mess.

    So, no. Trump is a joke.

  • windbourne

    I always have to laugh at the apparent lack of education on the extreme right wingers.

    Hitler was almost as far right wing as you, W, and even the John Birch Society, along with their founders, the kock family.

    National Socialism (German: Nationalsozialismus), more commonly known as Nazism (/ˈnɑːtsɪzəm, ˈnæ-/[1]), is the ideology and practice associated with the 20th-century German Nazi Party and Nazi state – and, by extension, other far-right groups. Usually characterized as a form of fascism that incorporates scientific racism and antisemitism, Nazism developed out of the influences of Pan-Germanism, the Völkisch German nationalist movement, and the anti-communist Freikorps paramilitary groups that emerged during the Weimar Republic after German defeat in World War I.
    The term “National Socialism” arose out of attempts to create a nationalist redefinition of “socialism”, as an alternative to both internationalist Marxist socialism and free market capitalism. Nazism rejected the Marxist concept of class struggle, opposed cosmopolitan internationalism, and sought to defend the private property and privately owned businesses of Aryans.

    Even now, Trump, Pence, Gingrich make calls that align with how Hitler operated, by saying that they want to inspect all muslims, their mosque, their homes, etc.
    Not doubt they will want a night of raiding the Muslims and other minorities.

    And no doubt you will still claim that the GOP is all about a balanced budget and freedom, even though it is the GOP that has done nothing but ran up massive deficits, as well as push for massive spying on all, except themselves.

  • windbourne

    Trump is backed by the NAZI and KKK parties, as more importantly, he backs them.
    But, to take it further, the fact that Trump, Pence, and Gingrich are all calling for grilling all muslims, spying on their homes and mosque screams that NAZIism and fascism is in full effect within your party.
    That is why George WIll left your party and said that Trump has more in common with Hitler. Likewise, so have the koch bros.

  • windbourne

    meh. THat would be Ron Paul Libertarian. 🙂

  • windbourne

    Immigrants are not the problem. The problem is CONgress and the businesses buying politicians.
    In particular, we all know that H1B is a joke. It is used by businesses to destroy America’s middle class, which is why I tell so many to quit working for others, but to develop your own company.
    H1B is being used to outsoruce, as well as businesses to hold down wages.

    One Oddity is that the GOPs are the ones that are talking about dropping H1B numbers way down, if not removing the classification.
    OTOH, the wonderful hillary who speaks of middle class, has talked about increasing it 10x. Only NOW is she talking about LOOKING at it.

    At first blush, I will say that Hillary is a joke on this. Hopefully, she becomes like O on NASA and Space.

    I will say that I have NO issue with increasing green cards for tech positions, while dropping H1B. That seems fair to me, and useful. In particular, most of our green cards go to family members which is foolish. In many cases, they do not have skills or jobs.

  • ReSpaceAge

    If we want to live and work in Space sooner than later we need this lady running NASA.

  • ReSpaceAge
  • Spacetech

    Okie Dokie!

  • windbourne

    This duheagle fool is a smug pretentious high horse troll who thinks he knows everything. He’s been arguing with me and he’s gone all schizo on me. He’s called me a socialist for God’s sake. I’m a conservative. This duheagle ticks me off.


    Calling other lefties too huh? You’re calling me a socialist and you’re accusing anyone you don’t agree with a lefty or socialist. Fk U!!!