For All Nails, pt. 60: The Spaced Service
4 February 1973
Carter Monaghan looked up expectantly from his desk at the two senior
aides standing before him in his office. The office was neither
pretentious nor royal. In fact, it was quite small. In the hands of
other men, it would probably be cluttered, but Carter Monaghan had
neither a cluttered mind nor a cluttered office.
"What was it you wanted to speak to me about?"
Micky Ziegler, the Governor-General's senior political aide, cocked
his head to the side and scratched his bald paté. "The Space Service,
sir. It's a dog."
Monaghan cocked an eyebrow back at Ziegler. "Excuse me? Weren't you
the one who told me that sending people into orbit would be a
guaranteed vote winner?"
Ziegler was never afraid to speak his mind directly in front of his
boss, but he was always reluctant to look him in the eye. Monaghan
would have distrusted that in another Vandalian farm boy, but Micky
was a Hebrew from Brooklyn City. That made it okay in Monaghan's
book. Different folks and all that.
Micky stroked his beard. "I didn't say the space _program_ was a dog,
sir. Just the Space _Service_."
"I'm afraid you're losing me, Micky," replied the Governor-General of
the Confederation of North America.
"It's like this, boss. When you decided to start the manned program,
we naturally took over from the Army boys intercontinental missile
plans." It wasn't really the Army, but neither Monaghan nor Ziegler
had ever served in the military. They knew the distinctions, but
didn't really care. "So, naturally, they gave it a military bent.
Ranks, generals, all that. And that, sir, is a political dog."
Ziegler had talked about this with Tobias Garrity, Monaghan's Chief of
Staff, who also happened to be the second man standing in front of
Monaghan's desk holding a file folder stuffed with papers in front of
his crotch. "I concur with Micky's analysis, Governor. We've got a
big population of anti-militarists in this country, not all of whom
vote for the PJP, and they _hate_ the idea of a quasi-military space
Micky broke in. "'The crazed Monaghan militarizes the heavens,' or
something like that."
Garrity, who was more phlegmatic than Ziegler --- and looked his boss
in the eye --- nodded his concurrence. "Not to mention that the PJP
itself will be less than thrilled about supporting another branch of
the armed services. The 'Sweet Six' idea is brilliant, sir, but half
its political impact is going to dissipate if we let this 'Space
Service' keep going. The PJP will try to crucify us on the
Ziegler chimed in, "Even among the under-25's, the most pro-military
won't care, but on the margin we'll lose votes. Or at least not gain
Monaghan looked thoughtful. Of course, like most Vandalians, he
_always_ looked thoughtful. "Did you fellows not say that the Space
Service might be just what we needed to improve the image of the
Ziegler shrugged. "We were wrong. Looks like the Muckazoo will stick
to the Space Service, rather than the Service blotting out the muck."
Monaghan stared at his advisers. "It is a little bit late to be
telling me this, fellows, since the speech has already been made."
Garrity shrugged. "We just got the polling data today."
Monaghan leaned forward slightly. "Well, what then do you suggest?"
Now Micky could look him in the eyes. "Junk the whole Space Service
idea, boss. Make it the Space _Agency_. Completely civilian
operation, no ranks, no uniforms, no silly salutes, none of that
tomfoolery. Put the Sweet Six on detached service as government
Garrity nodded. "It's a good idea, sir. Anyway, do we really want an
image of incompetence attached to the space program before it even
gets started?" 
Monaghan leaned back and steepled his fingers. "Gentlemen, you do
realize that I cannot do this the day after I've just given a speech
about the heroic venture our Space Service has undertaken."
Ziegler and Garrity glanced at each other. "Yeah, of course," said
Ziegler, "But don't make an issue of it --- and then once you're
re-elected make the change. You'll look less militaristic, _and_ have
something silly and inconsequential to 'give' away to the PJP in Grand
Monaghan considered this. "Hmmm. Yes. A civilian Space Agency will
also gain us propaganda points overseas, I'd imagine."
Micky added, "I hadn't considered that, boss, but it's true. I can
say that at home the polls show that a Space Service with ranks and
saluting comes across as way too, well, way too _Mexican_." Garrity
nodded his concurrence.
"All right then, gentlemen, it's decided," said Monaghan. "Should the
PJP get stroppy, we'll change the name of the Space Service to the
North American Space Agency, remove it from the military chain of
command and eliminate all military trappings. We will, however, wait
to see if it should be necessary. As my pappy said, don't draw on the
well water unless you need to, but always keep the pump oiled."
Garrity spoke up. "One more thing, sir. The Ministry of Science is
the logical place to put the Space Agency, but, well, if the election
doesn't go as well as we'd hope, we might have to give the PJP a
ministry. In that case, we would be behooved to put the Space Agency
there, regardless of the bureaucratic logic, in order to maximize our
political gain --- and give us a head to chop off if things go wrong."
Monaghan nodded again. "Oh my. That is a simply wicked idea, Toby.
I assume you already have an executive order all ready."
"Of course, sir." Garrity reached into the file folder and removed a
grapped bunch of dactyled papers.  "Other than that we used 'Royal
North American' instead of 'North American,' we seem to think alike,
governor. The dates and ministry names are blank, of course." 
The Governor-General looked up at his chief of staff and head
political advisor. "That's why I hired you two."
 "The Mocazo" is the Mexican term for the botched Puerto Rican
Intervention, which occurred near the town of Moca. In the USM,
popular glee over the North American disaster at Moca has introduced
the verb "mocar" into the country's lingua franca, meaning to screw-up
royally, and small-m "mocazo" is beginning to give "chingazo" a run
for its money as the Mexican word for "cluster-f--k." Parts of the
North American media critical of Monaghan's administration picked up
on the word and began to use it in reference to the disaster. It then
entered popular speech. Ziegler, in his own indomitable way, calls it
the "Muckazoo," but nobody else does.
 Since the Mocazo, the public image of the military is a bunch of
bumbling aristocrats who couldn't tie their own shoelaces in an
unexpected breeze. The image is not fair, but it is widespread. On
the other hand, with the German and Mexican threat more palpable every
day, traditional pacifism is waning in North America, particularly
among the young.
 The CNA has no history of coalition politics, but it is also in a
strange period with three major national parties instead of two. In
addition, the Mocazo has made the election far less predictable: will
the voters rally around the flag, or punish the government for its
failure? Strange times require strange strategies, and Monaghan is
prepared for anything.
 "Grapped" means "stapled," since the stapler was invented by a
Mexican who called it the engrapadora. ("Grapper" in the CNA.
Staples are "grapas" in both countries, but spelled "grappa" east of
the border.) "Dactyled" means "typed," since a dactylograph is a
 "The folks over the Royal NASA ... he works for the Royal NASA
... the second Royal NASA probe to the Moon failed ..." etcetera.