No one but US defence contractors and their accountants knows why America needs a Space Force. But moments after announcing the new US military branch, the Trump campaign gave us a hint at this arguably idiotic idea's true purpose: Lining the campaign's pockets.
At this point, it's a tired cliche to claim the US president is just trying to distract us from his scandals when he does something really stupid. As we speak, he's trying to make it easier to poison kids, his secretary of commerce appears to be a world class grifter, his former campaign manager is probably going to gaol for what can best be described as "crimes" and he can't stop building an obstruction of justice case against himself.
That's just stuff that happened this week. But no, I don't believe the Space Force initiative — which will only happen if Congress funds it — is a calculated distraction. It appears to be more of a fundraising con game.
In an email sent out to supporters following US vice president Mike Pence's speech announcing the formation of the agency dedicated to protecting space (?), the Trump campaign team asked people to vote for their favourite Space Force logo. Six options are displayed and one would be forgiven for thinking this is a great chance to be a part of history. After all, what if you had cast the deciding vote that made the NASA logo what it is today?
Alas, the details are in the fine print — or in this case, the non-bold print in an easy to read, four-sentence email. "As a way to celebrate President Trump's huge announcement, our campaign will be selling a new line of gear", the line reads.
It's followed by, "first we have to make a final decision on the design we will use to commemorate President Trump's new Space Force — and he wants YOU to have a say". Choosing a logo takes you to a confirmation page that gets a little data from you and it finally lands on a donation page asking for some money now before you have that sweet new line of gear.
The worst part of this is that not only is Trump, once again, personally profiting from the federal government, but he's cutting into NASA's merch game. In fact, the only logo that doesn't look like it was made by Dan Scavino's intern using MS Paint is one that is a direct ripoff of NASA's logo.
A final logo looks suspiciously like some art from the video game No Man's Sky and tells us "Mars Awaits". We don't know what Space Force has to do with Mars — it's a defence agency tasked with protecting US satellites, not travelling to other planets — but the planet is out there, just waiting to get its arse kicked.
We reached out to the Trump campaign to ask when this "line of gear" will be available to the public if the logo will become the agency's official seal and how the profits of sales will be used. We did not get an immediate response and we don't expect one.
To paraphrase John F. Kennedy, "We choose to grift! We choose to grift and do the other things, not because it is hard, but because it is easy".