Friday, January 27, 2012

Remember Governor Moonbeams? Now there's Newt Gingrich

Thinking outside the confines of the box, California Governor Jerry Brown was called Governor Moonbeams back at the time he was seeking nomination of the Democratic Party for US president around 1980.

Cynical pundits can now put the moonbeams label on Newt Gingrich for his recently revealed proposal to establish a colony on the moon by 2020.

If "liberal" Jerry Brown gets laughed at for thinking outside the confines of some journalist's cubicle, folks can now laugh at "conservative" Newt Gingrich.

Thinking beyond the mundane is something I applaud, but one does have to ask, where's the money going to come from for "fast tracking" a moon colony; especially while Republicans, like Newt, try and downsize the government. Of course government isn't the only source of money for space technology, but corporations don't seem to be clamoring for a moon base in the near future.

By the late 1970s, Governor Brown expressed a fascination with outer space and proposed that California launch its own space satellite. His 1980 campaign slogan was "protect the earth, serve the people and explore the universe."

In a nutshell, that's basically what society should be doing, but Brown got snickered at for presenting the "big picture."

So now it's Newt's turn. snicker, snicker. Who's going to pay for said moon colony?

Yes, even Republicans can be accused of idealistic dreams, thinking outside the mundane. Something I'd often applaud, being a space exploration advocate myself, but if Jerry Brown can get flack for this, so should Newt Gingrich.

Speaking of California, where far reaching ideas can percolate and Jerry Brown is now serving again, many years later, as governor, there's another way out proposal. This time it's not from the governor, but from another Republican; like Newt Gingrich.

Congressman Dan Lungren is toying with the idea of draining the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir to expose another Yosemite like valley in California. It's quite a dream to have a second valley like the majestic valley that graces Yosemite National Park. There's a cost, of course, which would be draining the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir. Hetch Hetchy now provides water to the city of San Francisco and much of its surrounding area.

Hetch Hetchy Valley was flooded by a dam built early in the last century. That dam was opposed by an early environmentalist, John Muir, but the water stored in that reservoir has served San Francisco for decades. Draining that reservoir means having to find a new way of suppling San Francisco with water. It could be expensive; especially, as employees of the San Francisco Water Department point out, if it involves burning energy for pumping water all the way to the city. That water can currently flow all the way through a gravity feed system. Loss of the high reservoir (Hetch Hetchy) would, most likely, make pumping more necessary.

Is the San Francisco water department just a bunch of government bureaucrats who say it can't be done, or are they the true one's watching out for the taxpayer's pocketbook?

Lungren has proposed at least doing a study to look into the feasibility of this dream for a second Yosemite, but critics remind him that money is tight.

Dream on, both Republicans and Democrats. I can't fault folks for striving to have achievements beyond the mundane. As we dream, we all deserve the term moonbeams and we should be careful when we poke fun at people. Those who dream of living in glass houses can't throw many stones.

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