'Tea Party in Space' is boldly going out there - Baltimore Post-ExaminerBaltimore Post-Examiner

‘Tea Party in Space’ is boldly going out there

tea party in space

Monday I saw the funniest thing on Facebook. OK, we see a lot of funny things on Facebook, most of it intentionally funny, like this e-card. That’s funny.

Cute_GorgeousSometimes our friends say the funniest things. My old friend Pete can be counted on to make everyone laugh. After Pope Benedict XVI announced his retirement, Pete was the guy who wrote on Facebook, “He’s the first Pope to give up being Pope for Lent.” Now that’s funny.

Then there are those people who, with total sincerity, explain something about themselves that turns out to be so funny, you wonder if they are j/k — just kidding. Because it’s usually a friend you gingerly tiptoe around it until you know if it’s a joke or not.

Then there are the pages that make you go, “Huh?” Things that not only seem out of place, but make you chuckle as well.  One of those humorous moments on Facebook hit when I saw a fan page for a group called Tea Party in Space.

Seriously, Teabaggers who want manned space flights. At first I thought someone was being funny, that they had created this Facebook page as some sort of political satire or to just mock the Tea Party. There’s a lot of that going around on Facebook.

After reading the comments of the people who are a part of this organization and those who like or oppose TPiS, it was apparent this was no joke. So I did a little research. The organization has a website. Well that says something, but on the other hand any yokel with a few bucks to spend every month can have a website — I have one.

The TPiS site is organized with headers for each section. Although there is space provided for any members, advocates or detractors to leave comments on all of their website topics and sub-pages, there isn’t one single comment. So it begs the question: are there members beyond the three people listed on the website as “President,” “Vice President” and “National Coordinator and Director of Operations”?

Judging from the verbiage used in the organization’s “Core Values” and “Platform” topics, they’ve been around for a few years, at least since 2011. They talk about ending the Space Launch Systems program for instance, but as far as I know, the SLS program is still operational.

  • Brief note of clarification: the Space Launch Systems is the new post-shuttle plan to send Americans (and others) into space without having to hitch a ride with the Russians.
  • NASA, i.e. the federal government, is currently building a new rocket system with a multipurpose crew vehicle that will, if all goes as planned, take crews to the Moon, Mars and other destinations like the International Space Station (ISS).

TEA Party in Space wants is to stop the SLS program and put it all in the hands of private enterprise. Indeed, there are companies like SpaceX that are getting into the space race. On May 25, 2012 SpaceX became the first private company to send a vehicle to the ISS. It brought cargo. If you’re into space and exploring it, this was really exciting news.

I always thought they were way out there...so in a weird way this makes sense.

I always thought they were way out there…

That is the main concern of TPiS: promote space travel and exploration for private enterprise and reduce government involvement in it. Along with that is to let the private sector go into space with as little regulation as possible.

They refer to their platform as the “Oregon Trail space policy.” But this is where the TPiS platform gets murky. First they want to do away with the SLS program, but then they say NASA should only get involved in space projects that are entirely and completely for the U.S. government. That would mean the government would need a space delivery system of some sort, like the Space Launch System, unless TPiS thinks the government should contract one of the private companies to deliver their payloads to space.

Also implicit in all their information is that everything that goes into space, lands on the Moon and Mars and beyond, should have the U.S. imprint on it and we should be exporting “American values” across the universe. As their TEA Party in Space platform states, “Our goal is nothing less than the expansion of American civilization into the solar system.” Not human civilization, but American civilization. No foreigners allowed. Well, I would hope they would allow other countries to engage in their own space exploration and colonization.

That would be a nice place to put all of them.

If the Tea Party colonized the moon, would they have an open carry gun law? Where would they strap it?

And who wouldn’t want to have an American footprint in space? We already have them on the Moon and Mars. But many people interested in space exploration would like to see it become an international effort, that we explore space as one species, not 140 different countries competing with one another to claim real estate on other bodies in space.

By treaty the United States shares Antarctica with the other countries that explore the continent. That’s the type of philosophy most people have with space exploration. Call it the “Star Trek Effect.” Right from the beginning the series featured crewmembers from many different cultures and nationalities and in the case of Mr. Spock, a different planet. There was a Scotsman, a Russian, Chinese and the communications officer who was African.

In our Earth’s orbit we do have the International Space Station, a space vehicle that is a home to people of varying nationalities. Most people would like to see that kind of cooperation extend beyond the ISS.

This is the Tea Party spaceman - Andrew Gasser.

This is the Tea Party space man – Andrew Gasser, a retired Air Force veteran.

If you’re thinking, “I’ve never heard of TEA Party in Space before,” you’re not alone. Tea Party member Andrew Gasser, a retired Air Force veteran, founded the organization. He saw that none of the Tea Party groups he encountered (he says he’s a member of three) had any space policy so he decided to start one.

I have some friends who are in the defense and aerospace industries and some who are techno geeks that work in the computer field and I asked them if they had heard of this organization. None of them had heard of TPiS.

One friend I spoke with over the phone asked, “Did you say Tea Party in Space?” Yes I did! “Space? In like Outer Space, or …” Yes, outer space, manned space flight, etc. “I know where this is going,” my friend said, having known me for so many years.

Another friend who builds things for the government he can’t talk about, said, “TEA Party in space? Sounds like a group that wants to cut NASA completely out of space exploration!” Not completely Mr. Smith, but it’s something like that.

The organization did get a mention on the TPM (Talking Points Memo) Muckraker page and of course on NewsMax, but other than that, no one really pays any attention to this organization. No one of any great consequence anyway, not even FoxNews. So it’s no surprise TEA Party in Space is unknown to the general public.

There is a video interview of TPiS founder Andrew Gasser on the Moon and Back website, but like TEA Party in Space, “moonandback.com” is an obscure organization primarily devoted to space tourism. They have a very interesting web site and I would encourage everyone to look it over.

This is America and anyone is free to start his or her own organizations. In fact our national zeitgeist encourages entrepreneurship so I have no ill will towards TPiS or moonandback.com and wish them well. TPiS is probably trying to do something for the common good. Our philosophies are different and therefore our ideas on how to explore space differ, but like many people TPiS sees a place for space exploration in our nation’s future. That isn’t a bad thing by any stretch, but it is silly to align yourself with a political party that has a specific political agenda and then call yourself “non-partisan.”

So I pointed out on the TPiS Facebook fan page, that their claim, “We are a non-partisan political organization,” is factually incorrect because by aligning themselves with an existing political entity, the Tea Party (such as it is), they are subscribing and aligning themselves with a particular political, and therefore partisan, philosophy. Their thinking is that since they praise both the Democrats and Republicans alike for legislation TPiS considers favorable to their cause, they are “non-partisan.”  Well no, it doesn’t, but it does indicate they are open-minded.

What do kids know anyway?

What do kids know anyway?

Tea Party in Space claims to reach out to all parties, Democrat, Republican and Independent alike, but as we have seen over the past four years the Tea Party is inextricably aligned with (and part of) the Republican Party. It is the Tea Party that has dragged the GOP even further to the right than it was when the NeoCons were in control.

There was a terse reply to my, I admit, sarcastic and accusatory comment. The founder, Andrew Gasser, asked some questions, pulling out all the acronyms he could think of in relation to space exploration, but I couldn’t reply! They had blocked me from posting comments on their page. So I sent him a private message and learned something new: we can charge people money to send these private messages on Facebook. Gasser wanted me to pay one dollar to send the message to the inbox he looks at, or I could take my chances on the free message. I decided to take my chances.

One of the traits of people who want you to think they know what they are talking about is to use acronyms as if these are terms that are common knowledge in the general public. They expect you to know, or figure out for yourself, what the terms mean. Acronyms like “ITAR,” CCDev 2,” “SLS” and “JWST.” It’s a cheap form of intimidation.

Just for the record: “ITAR” is the International Traffic in Arms Regulations, CCDev 2 is for Commercial Crew Development and the “2” is for the second phase, “SLS” is of course for Space launch System and “JWST” is for the James Webb Space Telescope, an exciting project that will pick up where the Hubble Telescope leaves off.

Gasser also mentioned ICAP, which stands for the International Carbon Action Partnership, the basis for Cap and Trade. Can’t imagine TPiS is pro-ICAP.

Anyway, Gasser’s spurt of acronyms was supposed to be evidence of their non-partisan efforts. OK, they reach out beyond the Tea Party. But TPiS is a Tea Party group and therefore partisan. As they say on their “Core Values” page, “Espousing TEA Party ideals and American exceptionalism only reinforces to us that we are on the correct path.” As we’ve witnessed over the past four years, the Tea Party has very partisan views. And I’m OK with that, just be honest with yourself about it.

I do have to admit to one error on my part: in my initial message to the TEA Party in Space Facebook page I said their use of the Star Wars font was entertaining. That was incorrect. TPiS informed me the top font is the old NASA font and the bottom is from Star Trek. My apologies. All those space fonts look alike to me.

On a conciliatory note: any efforts by TPiS to encourage space exploration by our government should be welcomed. There’s no doubt that government and the private sector will be partners in space exploration as time goes on, but that’s where our agreements end. Maybe one day we will have colonies on the Moon and Mars, but my hope is that they will be international settlements, like the International Space Station.

Good luck in the future, TPiS. Live long and prosper.


About the author

Tim Forkes

Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality. Contact the author.
COMMENT POLICY
  • http://www.facebook.com/daniel.c.kopf Daniel C Kopf

    I had to LOL a little while reading this article. I’m a pretty new member of TPiS, so I’m the last person who should tell people what the “official” stance on every issue is. But roughly half of what was stated in this article seems to be the author’s opinion regarding an organization he knows very little about. Note that there was no interview with Andrew Gasser or any other TPiS spokesman, so everything was just, basically, the author making things up. So he quotes a couple things from the web page, then goes off on a tangent with his own ideas about what that might mean. Why not ask a spokesman for TPiS? Too much work, I guess.

    First, the assumption that TPiS is not non-partisan. I am an active member, and as a voter, I am registered neither as a Republican nor a Democrat. I’m farther right than a Republican and farther left than a Democrat, so I don’t fit with either party. I just believe in freedom. Simple.

    Secondly, the author makes an assumption that TPiS doesn’t support NASA. The TEA Party in Space supports THE USA LEADING THE WAY TO THE NEXT FRONTIER. NASA is part of that. We support NASA, but we don’t support wasteful spending. Remember, “TEA” is an acronym for “Taxed Enough Already.” If we are going to lighten the tax burden on Americans, we need to stop spending money on things that don’t work. As for NASA, it’s important to find the wasteful mis-management of taxpayers’ money and make appropriate changes. Part of that process is finding ways to involve private enterprise. If non-government corporations can profit from, say, space tourism, and use their own investment money to get there, that will mean a massive relief to US taxpayers.

    And then there’s the assumption that we only want Americans in space, and we want to shut the rest of the world out. The author just made that up. You won’t find any such statement anywhere on the TPiS web site or elsewhere. Go ahead and look for it. Not there.

  • Robert P. Moore

    Here is a recent Quote; Neil Armstrong: “We will have wasted our current $10 billion plus investment (in Obama’s cancelling Constellation program) investment in Constellation, and equally importantly, we will have lost the many years required to recreate the equivalent of what we have discarded….to be without carriage to low earth orbit and with no human exploration capability to go beyond earth orbit….destines our nation to become one of second or even third rate stature.” Recent Dutch company effort will have Mars colony by 2035 LONG before US of A gets it’s act together. Only competition in a free market will solve our lack of action as a “do nothing government’ lacks the foresight to do anything that does not pay off supporters or get them re-elected.

  • Rober P. Moore

    Like “Acorn” these are not “the droids your are looking for”. Go back to sleep. The authors background explains it all. He is from Wisconsin and LOVED Proxmire as his icon of worship. Proxmire in the ’60′s single handedly killed support for Saturn V rockets because “it cost 20 million to fill the gas tank”. If the Saturn rockets had run on “milk and cheese” Proxmire would have been all for it. Remember that “brick” you had for a cell phone in the 90″s? Compare it to the cell phone in your pocket now. “Space development” stimulates dollars spent in OUR economy and gives hope to our youth that what they learn and have passion for can be used at home, instead of leaving for India or Japan to find a passionate space program. Join these folks. They have something the author does not. Common sense and passion to act on it.

  • http://www.facebook.com/LawrenceMC Lawrence McCarren

    Like you the name of the group scared me off a but but, after reading the planks of the website, including gov. acquisitions reform, that would free NASA to spend its money more wisely and not operate as a jobs program and instead operate as the gov space agency of the international leader in space. that bit about no foreigners allowed is blatant mischaracterization. Maybe the author should do a formal interview with a Tea Party in Space member.

  • http://www.facebook.com/raren2go Gary Anderson

    Early on there were those on the ‘right’ that knew of us, poking fun at us, calling us, “three men and a website.” Well we took that slogan and it became our own mantra. TEA Party in Space (TPiS) is growing. We now have thousands of supporters nationwide. We have currently in the field regional and state coordinators interacting directly with Congress and now our members are beginning to represent our group to the 1000′s of local tea party groups nationwide. Further, we have dedicated individuals that deal strictly with analyzing policy. We have individuals solely responsible for web development and content. We have many scientists and engineers who provide us detailed technical analysis, so the likes of me (a non engineer/scientist), and the Moms & Pops of America can understand. TPiS is an organization of leaders not followers. Many call space the ‘Final Frontier’. I call it the next and only “Infinite Economy”. U.S. Space policy must match technology advancement as America and humanity moves far faster than those who sit in Washington that continue to pull and control the strings of power to suit their own needs. Change is coming. Either learn about the future or get left behind.
    Gary Anderson
    National Coordinator and Director of Operations
    TEA Party in Space
    America’s premier single-issue tea party

  • Marisa Allard

    First and foremost I can assure that this is a non-partisan organization, as I myself am non-partisan and would not associate with any group that would take a definitive side. you are greatly mistaken about the goals of this organization, and as Andrew said, we will try to remedy these misconceptions. It is disappointing to say the least that anyone would want to put down an organization that promotes the expansion of space exploration exploration with limited government control. And we are doing it together, as Americans, not as divided parties.

  • http://www.facebook.com/frostbyte1982 David Riederer

    The author seems to have his own bias as with the overt overly negative view he wrote. As a member I can answer we are very active and growing rapidly. We maybe lacking a very active website but we have plenty going on. And as we grow and get even more busy that will follow.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Andrew-Gasser/1029416585 Andrew Gasser

    There is so much wrong with this article. To begin with, its iCap, not ICAP. iCap stands for Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) and was a tip of the hat to Apple, Steve Jobs, and the iDevices.

    Yes, we want to get rid of Space Launch System, don’t you? It is underfunded, falling behind schedule, and has technical challenges.

    We do have national pride, however, no where in any of our documents do we say everything should have the US Flag on everything. We hope we are first, but not last.

    We do not clamor for attention. We were instrumental in getting ITAR reform passed. People inside and outside the beltway know this. We worked with industry, the private sector, the house, the senate, Democrats, and Republicans. It was passed.

    There is so much that is only half true here and we will work to try to remedy these.

    Finally, you would be shocked to know some of our most active members are actually, you guessed it, Democrats.

    Respectfully,
    Andrew Gasser
    TEA Party in Space

  • Roger

    The Tea Party is not a political party, as such. It’s a grass roots movement that took its name from the Boston Tea Party; hence the use of the word “party.” The movement’s purpose is to reduce the size and scope of the federal government and return some authority and effectiveness to state and local government, where those being governed can more readily obtain the results they set out to achieve. Its membership is not restricted to any political party.

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