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February 4, 2010
The War on America's Greatness
Forty years ago Americans walked on the moon. Forty years from today, when Americans can objectively look back at the failures of the Obama Administration that crippled this country, perhaps the most glaring loss will be the missed opportunities inflicted on NASA and the manned exploration program. The Orlando Sentinel pulls no punches in its exclusive coverage:
The closing of the Ares and Constellation programs will make it impossible for NASA and its contractors to ever reconstitute the engineering teams that design and build these launch vehicles. With development lead times in space science and heavy lift vehicles often exceeding ten to fifteen years, America could easily be decades behind Russia, China, Brazil and Japan in the manned colonization of the moon and Mars and in the harvesting of metal ores from the asteroid belt.
Manned colonization opens vast new extraterrestrial resources, provides national challenges in technological innovations, and militarily assumes control of "the high ground" for next two centuries.
So why is manned exploration being shelved?
To my mind, the answer is simply this: Obama and his closest advisors loathe America's successes. NASA has had a disproportionate share of American successes. There were the technological successes of the space program and the moon landings, plus the on-going successes of Hubble and Cassini. Obama and his advisors understand that manned missions create a patriotic unity that comes from a shared national experience. These are positive emotions that link the country together, a huge political negative for a political Administration that happily feeds on racial discord and economic class warfare.
NASA manned and robotic programs create the spark for American industry and science. These missions proclaim the American character, illustrating what free men can dream and achieve. Reasons enough for this President to remove life support from American space colonization.
Lee DeCovnick continues to be inspired by NASA's successes.
Kathy Garriott adds:
One summer in college I landed what for local Houston kids was a dream job--driving with an on-site taxi service at the Johnson Space Center in Nassau Bay, Texas. This was the summer of 1975 and NASA was jumping and bustling with Soyuz-Apollo mission. My dad was a contract engineer, so were many of the dads of the kids at Clear Lake/Clear Creek high schools, where the teen children of technicians, NASA executives and astronauts were steeped in a local can-do culture inspired by the competitive challenge of the USSR's advances in space.
Engineers and technicians from the Lockheed building needed rides to the Westinghouse building, and back again. I was twenty, and saying "10-4" into the radio with the dispatchers felt very important and clued-in to the rhythms of the bustling Space Center. I even got to drive a few Soviets around, Soviets who asked me probing questions about Ellington AFB. I smiled at their ham-handed spying, told them what they wanted to know, and offered to drive them out to the base. Americans had nothing to lose by being generous. It was a disappointment that summer that I wasn't allowed to take these Russians shopping at the local Houston malls. Only the older male drivers got to do that.
The whole idea of a shopping mall was new, too, and Texas had the first, the best and most ostentacious. I was proud of American production of the most beautiful consumer goods, freedom's awesome plenty that even those of modest means in America could afford. The Soviets always wanted to buy Levi jeans for their daughters back in the USSR. Remember when Levi jeans meant America?
NASA was a triumphalist field of dreams in that moment, despite the WIN buttons some Republicans were sporting. (Whip Inflation Now) American children were growing up with the belief that they would be flying to Mars when they grew up, because the moon-landings were already old news.
The term "Welfare for PhDs" is used in reference to NASA and the Space Program is not entirely unfair. Like the public school system is an employment warehouse for liberal arts majors, NASA was fast becoming a warehouse of PhDs. The International Space Station has been a disappointing merry-go-round. Nothing is more mundane than a clogged toilet in low earth orbit. After the moon landings, the sense of purpose and mission for manned spaceflight seeped out of NASA like the slow leak of a balloon.
During the Bush years, an effort at NASA to inspire a bold and very expensive undertaking to Mars attracted some hope for those diehards who dream of space travel, but they never should have said, "back to the moon" when they were pitching it. Last week, Obama's new head of NASA came out brimming with enthusiasm over the brave new cancellation of the mission. His statement was a laughable spin, trying to make the Obama administration's abandonment of manned space exploration a kind of an aspirational step forward for mankind. 7000 are looking at layoffs in Florida.
Seeing the stars and stripes on a rocket bursting from its launch pad can bring a catch to your throat and a gleam to your eye, a uniquely American-Levi pride. Those were moments to treasure. Where do they make Levis these days?
Obama is singlular among presidents, in that he doesn't seem to mind projecting disdain for the idea of American exceptionalism. Perhaps he'll be about the world stage bowing and apologizing to China for our "arrogance," as he calls it. China might like to pick up a little used space technology, cheap. Being proud of the manned space program is a little too much like being proud of the US armed forces, our Founding Fathers, pioneers, or entrepreneurs, or our posterity--our children.
It's not cool.
In the same Houston of the Johnson Space Center is a construction of a facility that is the first and biggest of its kind. Houston was always brash in wanting the first and the biggest, but they won't be sending our children to Mars. Obama's close political ally and supporter, Planned Parenthood, aspires to represent a different vision of what America is and what it can achieve.
It's a six-story building, even closer to the heavens than the abortion palace Planned Parenthood built in Austin. Dubbed the "abortion super-center," the towering new facility will be located in a mostly minority, black and hispanic area of Houston on the Gulf Freeway.
The time since Obama's campaign has passed by in the bewildering months of Nancy Pelosi's grinning-head threats and the terrifying, 2000-page stacks of tyranny. It's easy to forget the chilling positions that the candidate Obama embraced on abortion, more radical and extreme than any other liberal in Congress. Famously voting in Chicago, more than once, to deny protection to the newly born and living; making the scoffing reference "not wanting his daughter punished with a baby," and his promises to Planned Parenthood that "the very first thing he'd do" would be to implement policies to promote as many abortions in America as possible, provide greatly increased taxpayer funding, and shut down all the legislative limitations that the individual states have passed--embodied in the Freedom of Choice Act. This new abortion facility is the fulfillment of what he promised in his speeches. He boldly goes where no pro-choicer has gone before.
Perhaps it should be "The Barack Obama Choice Clinic"-- but does any politician really want an abortion clinic named after them? And, why not?
NASA gets kicked to the curb like last year's shabby blue jeans (manufactured in Viet Nam), but Planned Parenthood gets a ride to the skies in Houston, Texas.