On January 28, 1986, NASA Challenger mission ended in tragedy when the shuttle exploded 73 seconds after takeoff. That day was one we all recall where we were, and what we did. At the radio station where I was working, WDOR, it was a non-stop day of news and information that included what I think was the best speech ever given by President Ronald Reagan. There was not a dry eye at the station that evening as he delivered his text.
Onboard the shuttle was physicist Ronald E. McNair, who was the second African American to enter space. But first, he was a kid with big dreams in Lake City, South Carolina. I want my readers to watch this and take it to heart. I also want to thank Solly for alerting me to this video.
Every four years Caffeinated Politics has made an endorsement for president. Each of the past four elections my sentiments were sincere, and the policy highlighted met with the needs of the time. This year I again make my call for president, but the issue driving my reasoning is by far the most important of my lifetime. That is because presidential character is on the ballot. This is the one election in our lifetime we absolutely must get correct.
The continuous bombast, crudeness, and reckless behavior from Donald Trump over the past four years were far more than this nation should have had to endure. It was due to his rants and childish ways that I retreated during a portion of each day to read history. I simply sought refuge from his self-generated chaos. But the reading always underscored the stark differences about leadership, decency, and virtue from the past as opposed to the sad reality of Trump.
Earlier this year I read the 1912 nomination speech from Warren G, Harding, then an Ohio newspaper editor, for President William Taft at the Republican Convention. The following portion showcases one of those moments of the stark contrast between then and now.
The nomination speech declared that Taft was “as wise and patient as Abraham Lincoln, as modest and dauntless as Ulysses S. Grant, as temperate and peace-loving as Rutherford B. Hayes, as patriotic and intellectual as James A. Garfield, as courtly and generous as Chester A. Arthur, as learned in the law as Benjamin Harrison, as sympathetic and brave as William McKinley……”
No honest person in the Republican Party today could pen a similar type of statement about Trump. No one in the future will wish to have their political career attached to Trump. Character, after all, is not a word that anyone can employ in a favorable way towards Trump.
We have always had a president in our nation who was able to show empathy and use words from the office to bring a nation together during times of crisis. That quality of a president has never, perhaps, been understood more clearly than now when we view its glaring absence.
I was on-air at WDOR the night President Reagan spoke to the nation following the horrific explosion of Space Shuttle Challenger. In my lifetime there is perhaps no other speech that so clearly demonstrates the role of a president at times of national crisis, or the heights of rhetorical balm that can come with the office. I sat in the broadcast studio and was moved to tears. Contrast national moments such as that one to the current occupant in the White House who continually stokes words to further the anger and resentments of people for partisan advantage.
Two episodes ring out that clearly demonstrate Trump’s lack of a sound character being most obvious, and troubling. During the 2016 campaign, he made fun of a disabled journalist. It was a truly pathetic display. During his term in office, he made one of the most gut-wrenching displays when he showed poor behavior toward the widow of Army Sgt. La David Johnson, who was killed in Niger. Trump failed to offer comforting words and then petulantly defended himself on Twitter. It was almost unbearable to watch play out on the national stage. The lack of his empathy allowed for some of his lowbrow followers to bring down a withering barrage of abuse on the grieving widow during what we all know was the worst moment of her life.
Those two examples demonstrate that Trump is not able to either resist being mean or fails to grasp the requirement of the office to lift others up when they need the nation’s support.
The episodes where a lack of character was evident are all too numerous and well-known. Veterans will never forget when Trump showed smallness when at first he refused to keep the White House flag at half-mast to honor the late Senator John McCain.
Character matters. We say those words often but also take the concept for granted. When the lack of character is so obvious and smacks at us daily, it becomes a reminder of how much this nation lost when Trump secured the votes of the Electoral College last election.
This year we must do what is right for the nation when we cast a ballot for president. We must do so for our collective national soul.
I can state upfront and with pride of being a Joe Biden guy! I have long known Biden to be a smart and capable man. In 1987 I supported him financially when he sought the Democratic Party nomination for the White House. One can never forget his earnestness in fighting the atrocities that were taking place in the Balkans, or his great work on the Judiciary Committee in stopping Robert Bork from getting to the Supreme Court. His background and breadth of knowledge on international issues make him a seasoned and remarkable public servant.
I can rattle off issues that Biden supports concerning climate change or tax policy which lands at my philosophical foundation. But all that is secondary to the core need of the nation. That is to again have a leader in the White House who understands why decency and virtue are vital for the strength of our nation. That is far and above thy most important reason voters must cast a ballot for Biden.
Voters can talk about their values or religious faith, but this is the time to prove all that is more than just mere words. After all, the idea of virtue is one that requires our diligence.
The idea of virtuous people in government was not lost on the Founders. They wrote and spoke of its worthiness repeatedly. Good character matters, and as individuals, we have a role to make sure the person sitting in the Oval Office is as solid and good as the people. In our republic, we have a responsibility to promote honest leaders in office who will make wise, fact-based decisions. When they fail at that most fundamental requirement of the office the voters must hold them accountable.
There is no way to pretend there are shades of a difference this year in choice for president. And there is no way not to fully grasp the call of our civics lessons from those many years ago. There is only one choice for the nation.
Two NASA space shuttles, each on the road to retirement, posed nose-to-nose Thursday (Aug. 11) while switching places at the space agency’s Florida spaceport.
To stage the maneuver, NASA rolled Discovery out of the giant Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and moved it to a hangar-like building called the Orbiter Processing Facility-1, or OPF-1. Meanwhile, the shuttle Endeavour (which was already inside the hangar) was moved out and over to the massive VAB.
“Endeavour and Discovery switched locations — a shuttle shuffle,” Kennedy Space Center spokesman Allard Beutel told SPACE.com. “It’s just a storage thing, is what it comes down to — we have three shuttles and two locations.”
This unprecedented view of the space shuttle Atlantis, appearing like a bean sprout against clouds and city lights shows the shuttle on its way home as photographed by the Expedition 28 crew of the International Space Station through a window of the station in this July 21, 2011 NASA handout photo. Airglow over Earth can be seen in the background.
I witnessed the first launch of a space shuttle while in my bedroom in Hancock, Wisconsin on a black and white television.
This morning the final launch of a shuttle was viewed in color on a much larger screen in our home in Madison.
In the decades that have filled in those bookends I have never failed to been moved and energized by the wonder of space exploration, or the deep realization that the best and brightest this nation has to offer often go ‘nameless’.
Can you list the four names of those who blasted off this planet today as you read this post?
A grand period of space exploration is ending today, but a new one must begin. We must always be able to look up at the stars and wonder how soon before we touch them.
How was this picture taken? Usually, pictures of the shuttle, taken from space, are snapped from the space station. Commonly, pictures of the space station are snapped from the shuttle. How, then, can there be a picture of both the shuttle and the station together, taken from space? The answer is that during the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s last trip to the International Space Station two weeks ago, a supply ship departed the station with astronauts that captured a series of rare views. The supply ship was the Russian Soyuz TMA-20 which landed in Kazakhstan later that day. The above spectacular image well captures the relative sizes of the station and docked shuttle. Far below, clouds of Earth are seen above a blue sea. The next and last launch of a US space shuttle is scheduled for early July.
Last night while watching the news I came across the perfect example of what it means to have uncontrollable hair.
The members of the International Space Station along with the crew from Shuttle Endeavor were speaking to the Pope during a link-up. On the far left of the screen was Cady Coleman, who thanks to lack of gravity had no control over her hair. It was wonderful, and while watching I thought….”Oh, we have all been there!”