Are you scared yet?
If you aren’t, then either you aren’t paying attention, or, more likely, you have at least 3 functioning brain cells.
No, I’m not referring to the latest “keep America safe” campaign out of Homeland Security designed to deprive you of your toiletries when flying.
Rather, I’m writing about the comically pathetic theater that passes for government representatives these days, specifically the recent US House hearings on NASA funding for NEO detection – as in, near Earth Objects, not looking for Mr. Anderson from the Matrix….
NASA penny-pinching risks exposing humankind to a planetary catastrophe if a big enough asteroid evades detection and slams into Earth, US lawmakers warned Thursday.
“We’re talking about minimal expense compared to the cost of having to absorb this type of damage,” Republican Congressman Dana Rohrabacher said.
“After all, it may be the entire planet that is destroyed!”
– source: Space Daily
Ahem. Ok, let’s cut Congressman Cheech Rohrabacher’s weekly ration of whatever surfer special he seems to be smokin, since the hyperbole machine appears to be run amok. (“Hey, man, I mean, like, that would be a total bummer, although I think I might catch a great wave if it hits in the Pacific…. maybe during the August recess when I’m able to get some time in on my board….”)
Seriously, though – one wonders how much the Congresscritters worry about the ACTUAL threats to our national infrastructure, the damage that DOES occur when parts of it fail for lack of basic maintenance funding, and how our dear Congressmen voted on those appropriations in the past? Such as a bridge in the northern Midwest that recently killed a whole lot of Americans, or a failed levee in K-Town? Or did funding those programs when they needed funding offend the “small government, limited spending” line that is usually trotted out when one doesn’t want to fund infrastructure?
Methinks the grandstanding on Capitol Hill was nothing more than a waste of NASA’s time and resources. Perhaps Congress might just consider either (a) giving NASA the additional funds they need if they’re so worked up about tracking tiny NEOs, (b) actually examine other parts of NASA’s budget (hint hint: kill manned space and you’ll have money coming out your ears for the NEO program!), or (c) just shutting the hell up.
Having just watched an afternoon of the “grilling” of Fed Chairman “Helicopter” Ben Bernake by our elected officials, which consisted of a whole lot of nothing, I suppose they just like to hear themselves talk, and maybe while they are doing that they* can’t actually f-up our country any more than they already have.
* note – when I say “they” I mean it in the bipartisan spirit – both Republicans AND Democrats.