Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Obama Buries The Legacy Of John Kennedy

John Kennedy cut taxes across the boards with the statement "a rising tide raises all boats." Obama is still lying through his teeth about raising taxes, so we'll let that one slide for a later post. But another major landmark in the JFK administration was the space program and the creation of NASA. Obama is essentially killing the space program for the foreseeable future. He's leaving the field for the Russians and the Chinese. JFK must be rolling over in his grave.

JFK proposed the New Frontier. Republican critics at the time made a joke about it. They said that the Democratic party had a left ear, a right ear, and now a new front ear. That new front ear was the space program, and Obama is planning to have it surgically removed. Years after JFK, George Bush II was able to turn the tables on the Democrats by parodying his opponent Al Gore as being stuck on earth thinking that the space program was "a risky rocket scheme." Obama actually got elected, so he's going to get rid of that risky rocket scheme, and leave the field entirely to the Russians and Chinese. John Kennedy must be rolling over in his grave.

The picture shown is the Mercury capsule that put John Glenn into orbit, and which occurred a little over two years after Kennedy's inaugural address in which he said "We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard. Because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win . . . ."

When was the last time you heard something like that from a Democrat? Do something important because it's hard. "Challenge" that will be accepted. And that bane of modern Democrats, "one which we intend to win." Kennedy also said "Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world." And: " Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty." Compare that to Obama's hopey-change and greeting our enemies with an open hand if only they will unclench their fists.

The earliest Mercury flights occurred before Kennedy became president, but they were either unmanned or the occupant was a monkey. The earlier launch vehicles were not yet powerful enough to put a man into orbit. But in May of 1961, the improved Redstone-3 launch rocket put Alan Shepard into sub-orbit. I remember it clearly, because our high school played the radio broadcast over the loud-speakers in each of the classrooms. Sadly, JFK did not live to see his goal achieved, but I can't help believing that somewhere he heard the message "that's one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind."

Now the profligate Obama is going to save money by ending all manned space programs conducted by Americans. Most of us agree that we've done what needed to be done with the space shuttle, and it was time for newer, better ways of getting to our satellites, space operations, and eventually the moon again. But what Obama is proposing is the complete abandonment of any method of reaching the space labs and manned satellites without having to ask nicely of the Russians (and soon, the Chinese) if we can hop aboard one of their vehicles, please. He covers it all up with the grandiose plans of sending a man to Mars. Those plans are decades in the future, and without constant development of intermediate vehicles the trip to Mars will be too impractical, too expensive, and technically unfeasible. So like much of what Obama has accomplished so far, this will put the far greater burden on our children and grandchildren, if they survive the loss of American power and know-how.

The NASA programs have been expensive, and occasionally catastrophic, but well worth it in the end. If you think that all that money was spent with no gain, think of just one product of the "space age." That computer you're sitting in front of came largely out of developments needed for better and better and ever-shrinking computers to control space vehicles. Color television was already underway, but advanced rapidly largely in response to demands for improved pictures from the space vehicles and from the moon. Compare the fluttering and sputtering "ghost images" of Neil Armstrong with those of later moon landings.

Obama has the nerve that only a facile liar could have in saying that we should love the new idea because the programs of the future will be almost exclusively private enterprise. Oh, horse manure. First of all, NASA is one of those rare blendings of government and private enterprise that worked extremely well. But since it had a military aspect to it, the horrendous products liability, environmental "protections," and personal liability rules of civilian law don't generally apply. Military men and women are willing to take risks that they would not be allowed to take in the purely private sector. And because government is part of the formula, it is one of those rare instances in which private enterprise would probably find the whole thing to be just too expensive, but government could afford it (at least before Obamacrats began to finish the race to insolvency that has been going on for years). With government funding and private capital along with non-governmental civilian control of the purse, the Mars trip would be affordable and doable if the space program were continued in the interim.

If Obama's proposed cuts to the space program go into effect as planned, the next time an astronaut wants to make a correction to the Hubble Space Telescope, he'll have to ask Comrade Boris or Comrade Ming if he can hitch a ride on one of their vehicles. Their first question will be "can you afford it?"

22 comments:

AndrewPrice said...

This truly annoys me. There is no greater frontier than space, and cutting funding for space is short-sighted in the extreme, especially when we have money to blow on some of the garbage he's blown money on. What an outrage!

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: And if he were really serious about the space program, he could preserve it and cover his arse by saying they are jobs that have been "created or saved." He's only creating or saving green jobs, like solar-powered cars and wind-powered electrical generating stations. Aw, baloney.

BevfromNYC said...

My understanding was that Obama was just cancelling the return to the Moon. The shuttle fleet was due for retirement anyway and has long outlived its expiraton date. Unfortunately we have never developed the next generation of vehicles though I guess Richard Branson has been working on it. The more I hear about Obama's plans, the more it makes me nervous. Take the The Space Station. It has been one of those rare instances of global cooperation. It's hard to believe that he could scrap it.

I grew up in Texas during the '60s Space Race and have always been an Astronaut groupie. Teachers brought televisions into the classroom so we could watch any of the televised NASA relayed events. It was golden. First orbit! One of our neighbors was an Air Force pilot who was in the first group to be considered for the Gemini projects! He didn't make it through to the end, but he COULD have been an astronaut! That was good enough for me!

And it's not just televisions and computers that were developed through the Space program, but velcro, lasar technology for medical purposes, mylar, satellite technology and TANG for god sake! TANG! We have gained so much.

HamiltonsGhost said...

Lawhawk--As Lloyd Bentsen said to Dan Quayle, "Mr. Obama, I knew John Kennedy, and you're no John Kennedy." This latest ploy is appalling and dangerous. If a nuclear war should ever occur (God forbid), it will be launched into space and back to earth or originate in space. We had damned well better be ahead of the enemy's game.

USArtguy said...

A few days ago a very good friend of mine asked me my opinion of Obama's space policy. This was my reply:

In 1998, when the Evansville and Louisville Astronomical Societies hosted the annual Astronomical League Convention, I attended several seminars, some put on by NASA researchers. I learned to my dismay that despite having a budget in the billions, researchers for one NASA project ("the Mars darts") had to rent a Russian wind tunnel because we didn't have one large enough in the US. 

I'm OK with commercial space exploration for the most part. I hesitate to support it fully though for a couple reasons (sorry El Rushbo). The first is national pride. While its true that's been put on the back burner the last couple decades, this president doesn't want us to have any. Space exploration has always been a great symbol for the US and its people. It gives nearly everybody, left or right, young or old, a reason to unite in the idea of being an American: rugged, pioneering spirit, the drive to be the best, the show of our economic and technological might. But also our great generosity as the technology has always filtered out into the US economy first and then to the rest of the world. Nationalistic pride is not the purpose of a corporation. There's some, but not much usually. It is/should be embarrassing that NASA (supposedly the world's best and brightest) had to go hat in hand to Russia of all places to rent a wind tunnel.

Secondly, space exploration is risky business and, while I don't want bigger government, I don't see why NASA, which already exists, can't be the clearing house for private enterprise design. Even though you can hire any contractor you want, you still have to get your plumbing inspected on new home construction. Why then wouldn't you want something that your life depends on a million miles away from earth inspected? They could be like Apple. Nothing goes into the hardware or software of an Apple product without meeting stringent requirements.

What NASA needs is not an end to space exploration but to focus ONLY on space exploration. Just having NASA stop dicking around with climate change alone will save hundreds of millions of dollars.

LawHawkSF said...

Bev: Your basic understanding is correct. But since a replacement program for the moon and the space shuttle haven't yet come to fruition, he has essentially announced that those won't happen either. He has put the whole thing off to the undoable Mars mission, and left it for future generations to figure out how they're going to make that work. Without the intermediate development, it won't work, at least not for the United States.

Branson's all well and good, but unless he's willing to gift the whole thing to America (highly unlikely), I'm no more happy about that than I am having to hitch-hike with the Russians and Chinese.

I also have an experience with a town built originally because of the space race. Simi Valley experienced its quantum growth largely because of Rocketdyne, built on one of the hills overlooking the sleepy villages of Simi and Santa Susana (later incorporated together as Simi Valley). To this day, I still vividly remember the rumble followed by our rattling windows as they tested those gigantic engines. It took us two or three of those tests to realize we weren't having an earthquake.

Your list of space age achievements is right on the money. Obama doesn't care about money, or the security of the United States, so he would merely pooh-pooh the likelihood of that happening again. He has the foresight of a mole rat.

LawHawkSF said...

USArtGuy: Excellent comment, particularly the part about climate change. LOL

Respect for America alone is worth the effort. If they don't respect your might, it invites aggression. That's why Mao perpetually called America "a pitiful helpless giant" and "a toothless tiger."

Your understanding of the nature of NASA is exactly right--as I mentioned, it's the best combination of government/public effort and private enterprise I've observed over my entire lifetime. The American government got all the prestige it needed, and the public got all those goodies that Bev and I mentioned in our post/comments.

LawHawkSF said...

HamiltonsGhost: Well, look at the bright side. Since we're now all big buddies, I'm sure the Russians and Chinese will gladly let us ride their vehicles to our outmoded space stations and labs, and will demand nothing in return. Obama will simply flash that crocodile smile, wave his hand, and all will be well. That was sarcasm, I haven't been drinking.

CalFederalist said...

Lawhawk. If John Glenn wants to make another trip into outer space before he goes to astronaut heaven, he'll need to learn to speak Russian or Chinese first. There will simply be no American launch vehicle available to him, and no way to navigate once he's out there unless our new-found friends assist him.

LawHawkSF said...

CalFed: Absolutely true. But maybe in his case it's a good thing. Considering that he was cited for "failure to yield the right of way" in his 2006 automobile accident, he's probably not the hand we'd want at the wheel dodging the space junk and satellites. LOL

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Many of the new alloys we use on a daily basis, as well as the plastics, were developed for use by NASA. Also some of the surgical technology wouldn't be in existence with out NASA. Robert A. Heinlein gave a speech to Congress extolling the virtues of NASA on that subject.

The Space Shuttle, while aging, is not the problem. We can build newer shuttles that can replace the ones we are using.

It comes down to the Sixty's argument: Why are we spending so much money on a trip to the Moon, when there are people going hungry in these United States?

The world is a better place for the monumental effort towards the Space Program. The only ones who don't know it, are people blinded by the Sixty's hippy ideologies.

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: Very good addition to the list of space age achievements and NASA supporters.

How would you like living in a city where one of the major rabble-rousers is a group that shows up at every Board of Supervisors to spout their trash? It's called "Food, Not Bombs." On national issues, they're damned fools, but at Supervisors' meetings, they're just idiots with a lot of local support. The last time I looked, the City of San Francisco manufactures neither bombs nor food. But The City is a huge supporter of "homeless programs," so you get the idea.

"Where have all the hippies gone, long time passing?" Gone to the Board of Supervisors, every one.

We just discussed Michelle's plans for government intervention in our eating habits. The City has proven how well that works. We don't just have legions of "homeless," but they're a substantial presence that is largely drunk or drugged, ever-so-slightly crazed and occasionally dangerous, filthy and disease-ridden, but they are also very well-fed. The government is indeed there to help them.

Joel Farnham said...

LawHawk,

Part of the reason, this country has so much food IS because of the Space program. It takes deliberate stupidity of politicians to destroy our agriculture industry. I am referring to the Delta Smelt BS. I wonder if we should include in our wish list of conservatives some space nuts?

LawHawkSF said...

Joel: Amen! Here in California, our motto should be "to hell with the Delta Smelt, the government environmental program smells."

I think including the "space nuts" in our wish list is a good idea, but it probably doesn't belong in our formal platform. There are just too many good, intelligent wishes to make a coherent platform. It would fit nicely under the rubrics of "strong military, strong freedom of enterprise, strong economy."

Individualist said...

LawhawkSF

I was watching a program on the science channel regarding nuclear fusion experiments. The show stated that currently the only viable fuel for fusion energy was Helium 3. Fusion requires very hot plasma to be compressed. The energy to compress the plasma is such that it is geater than the energy put out. The sun gets around this issue by the power of gravity. It takes much more compression to fuse two protons together (hydrogen atoms) than it does to fuse a proton to a Helium 3 atom. Thus it is potentially the most viable fusion fuel at this point in our scientific understanding. Fusion is also the ultimate Green Energy. It's radioactive output is in huetrons which can beeasily abosrbed in lithium and thus will create no radioactive waste. You only need to insure no one is in the immediate area as the radiation is released.

Problem is there is thought to be only 25 lbs. of helium 3 on plnet earth. Evidently our atmosphere blocks the sun's energy necessary to irradiate the isotope. Guess where the next largest source of He3 was said to exist. In the rocks of the Moon where the sunlight is not stopped by atmosphere.

If this is true then he who controls the moon will control the world. Yet we will not even be going there to find out.

I guess the Dems already know so much about science they don't need to watch the science channel. Just us poor dumb Republican Palin Beck Limbaugh rubes. Poor us!

Writer X said...

This to me seems like such a short-sighted, knee-jerk decision on the part of the Obama administration. I wonder if anyone in the administration has done any reporting on long-term (even short-term) effects in terms of jobs lost, experiments/inventions that will be halted, etc, decrease in revenue generation--not to mention national pride. So much of the space program is not just about getting to space. In terms of impacts to Arizona, I would think that the U of Arizona (Tucson) will feel its effects as they have been directly involved in the Mars landings.

Certainly there are other wasteful departments/programs that could be cut/streamlined before this one that have nothing to show for themselves. Department of Education, anyone? I could go on...

LawHawkSF said...

Individualist: Very true. And beside the moon, we could probably figure out ways to convert simple helium to H3 temporarily. They said at one time that uranium could not be made into usable fissionable material, and we know how that turned out. Even Iran can do it now.

And guess who has the world's largest supply of helium. The same country that was very tight in its control, resulting in Nazi Germany using hydrogen cells in famous dirigibles like the Hindenburg.

Thanks for pointing out the Science Channel information. I missed it, you caught it. Good stuff.

LawHawkSF said...

WriterX: I'm sure some conservatives and Republicans are working on that right now. But don't expect the Obamists to do it--it doesn't fit their preconceived notions or their political plans.

As for the beleaguered U of Arizona students, I'm sure the pie-in-the-sky Mars agenda will support some of them in the short-term, but if Obama succeeds, expect that department to be closed in the not-too-distant future.

USArtguy said...

Years ago I was loaned a "book" (more like a pamphlet on steroids) about 96 pages of single spaced typewritten lines listing NASA spinoffs. It was copy righted in the early seventies. Unfortunately I don't recall the name as it was some long, boring science geek nomenclature.

However, these links tell pretty much the same story:

http://www.thespaceplace.com/nasa/spinoffs.html#Top

http://www.spacecoalition.com/products.cfm

http://space-exploration.suite101.com/article.cfm/nasa-space-technology-inventions-and-products

http://spaceplace.nasa.gov/en/kids/spinoffs2.shtml

http://space.balettie.com/Lovell.html

The last one is a reproduction of a short editorial by astronaut James Lovell.

LawHawkSF said...

USArtGuy: Thanks again for all the valuable references. Even a fan of NASA like me missed many of those space-age inspired advances. Watching Neil Armstrong step off that ladder on the moon was worth more than anything the Democrats have said or done since, and that's only the tip of the iceberg. The real body of the iceberg is all those spinoffs of the space program.

StanH said...

“Space…the final Frontier,” a truer phrase has never been uttered even if it’s Gene Roddenberry’s.

NASA is one place that I don’t mind my tax dollars being spent. As was said up-thread get the global warming hoax out of the program.

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: Hell, if we could jut get rid of the Department of Education (a promise in the 1994 Contract With America), we could save enough money and actually educate enough students to pay for the NASA programs for decades to come.

Tax the poor, and use them as the test animals for the pilot flights (oh, wait a minute, Kornbluth already came up with that one in The Marching Morons.)

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