Space Force to the rescue!


Though Neil Steinberg was partial to “Space Patrol,” another 1950s space-based show was “Tom Corbett, Space Cadet.” It featured Frankie Thomas (left) as Tom Corbett, and Jan Merlin as Cadet Roger Manning. and was set in the year 2351 A.D. | Sun-Times files

We live in the Golden Age of Irony.

Either that, or irony is dead.

I’m not sure which.

Unless irony is both alive and dead,.

Which wouldn’t make sense. Then again, there’s a lot of not-making-sense going around lately.

We’ve almost gotten used to it.

Time was, the president of the United States said some blatant, self-serving lie, it was a big deal. Now the media just sighs and shuffles over to an enormous slate wall covered floor-to-ceiling with hash marks, picks up a stub of chalk, climbs a ladder and draws another vertical line. Scrrreeee.

At least we’re keeping track. Maybe that’s how we’ll think of this historical era, someday, if we can bear to think of it at all. “Back when we kept track….”

The Era of Keeping Track, reality on this side, the near-hallucinogenic state of Donald Trump’s inflamed ego on the other. The verifiable, fact-based world, to the left, and to the right, a steamy chaotic whirlwind chaos of fabrication and paranoia, starting with the president and funneling into his entire support infrastructure of sycophants and enablers and apologists and quislings.

And voters. Yeah, you. Have you picked up on the fact that I’m criticizing the president? Just now? Really? About time. Where have you been? No, don’t answer that. Don’t answer at all. Because a) yes, I’m paid to write this b) yes, I really believe it; c) no, I don’t consider either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton to be the true cause of our nation’s woes; d)…

Where was I?

Irony, both alive and dead.

Dead, along with shame, when you have a president who routinely — almost reflexively, spasmodically — accuses his enemies of doing exactly what he is in fact himself doing. As the special counsel investigates the depth of his campaigns collusion with the Russians he demands that Hillary Clinton be investigated for colluding with the Russians. The result isn’t irony so much as a kind of madness.

And yet alive. How could irony not be a living force, when we have grave threats to the sovereignty of our country. Like Russians influencing and corrupting our past election and giving every sign of influencing and corrupting the next one. Meanwhile, our own dear leader, fresh from his triumphant success at shaking Kim Jong-un’s hand and believing everything the North Korean dictator told him, detects a menace from without, and rouses himself to ramp up the military to meet a new threat.

From outer space.

“It is not enough to have an American presence in space,” Trump said Monday, directing the Pentagon to create a “Space Force.” “We must have American dominance in space.”

What could a Space Force be? Beyond a cool shoulder patch to sew onto the president’s pajamas. And of course a distraction from the administration’s scandalous new policy of warehousing children in cages.

And what would American dominance in space look like?

Assuming Trump is serious — he’s a fan of shrugging and claiming to be just kidding.

Yes, there are practical defense aspects to space: satellites and missiles and keeping track of space junk. All of which is done quite well already without creating platoons of space cadets. When you blow the smoke away from Trump’s “Space Force” what you get is a new layer of military bureaucracy, a sixth side to the Pentagon.

Just what our armed forces are crying for, more bureaucracy.

Credit where due. “Space Force” is a good name. Though I prefer “Space Patrol,” since I’m a fan of Wheat Chex.

Sorry, an obscure reference. In 1950, Ralston Purina, frustrated that children avoided their breakfast cereal, cooked up “Space Patrol,” a TV show whose cut-rate special effects were considered cheesy, even in its day. A show that distinguished itself by introducing its sponsoring product into the plot — energy sapped from the effort of fighting intergalactic evil, members of Space Patrol would pause mid-show to wolf down bowls of nutritious, not-at-all-cardboard-like Chex.

You can watch it on YouTube. “High adventure in the wild vast reaches of space!” the show begins. “Missions of daring in the name of interplanetary justice!”

Which reminds me. Trump also wants to go back to the Moon. And to Mars. Looking to expand our frontiers of knowledge, to gather more scientific data that can be ignored by the most science-averse administration ever. Talk about irony.

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