Category Archives: American Leadership

New Horizons Meets Pluto: Voyage of Discovery

As a child of the Apollo era, I grew up in the shadow of the greatest achievement in the history of man; everything was possible if we only had the will. The legacy of those years has largely been one of unfulfilled promise but every once in a while you just have a wow moment. Today as we see the first images from NASA’s New Horizons probe’s closest approach to our smallest planet Pluto one needs to take time to just sit back and say WOW. Yes, I know Pluto was downgraded from planet status to exoplanet, but I am proudly old school and feel Pluto got a bum deal! What we have seen is another example of the amazing ability of the NASA team to pull out as almost magical look at our solar system. The JPL team has been doing this on such a regular basis for more than 40 years that some can become jaded by the flow of dazzling images. In the age of photo-shop we see art like this all the time but folks, this is real.

Pluto and Charon in False Color Showing Compositional Diversity

Pluto and Charon in False Color Showing Compositional Diversity (NASA photo)

What makes New Horizon so special is the the distances involved; launched in January 19, 2006 and having passed earths moon and Jupiter on its way will have traveled more than 3 BILLION miles. We also need to remember that this spacecraft is one of the smallest ever launched into deep space and it hit its destination with pin point accuracy with limited course correction ability. This is just amazing.

New Horizon's Path of Discovery

New Horizon’s Path of Discovery (NASA photo)

This is also a reminder that despite all the political redirection and new administration melding (by both parties) and failure of vision with respect to NASA and national space policy, great things can come from great minds. When the American people set their collective minds to achieving big things, they can make them happen. So congrats to the NASA/JPL/JHUAPL team that made the last unseen planet (or exoplanet if you prefer) viable for all of the arm chair space geeks to enjoy. You have shown us THE DREAM IS ALIVE.

New Horizons Team Members Countdown to the Spacecraft's Closest Approach to Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 (NASA photo)

New Horizons Team Members Countdown to the Spacecraft’s Closest Approach to Pluto, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 (NASA photo)

For More Information, Check These Out:

http://pluto.jhuapl.edu/Mission/

https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/newhorizons/main/index.html

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Filed under American Leadership, NASA, Space Flight

Happy Birthday America

While Hurricane Arthur may have pushed back much of our celebrations to the 5th (including my first July 4 expedition),  today we celebrate our liberty and the wisdom of our founding fathers for creating our republic. Our freedom was not and is not free and we remember those who gave so much over the past 238 years as well as those who today stand in harms way defending America. Hotdogs and burgers with friends and family are great, but never forget how much has been given by so many to ensure those broad stripes and bright stars fly so high today. The founders understood that a people can never take their liberty for granted and to this day we must remain vigilant to all that which would erode the rights we Americans value so much.  How would the founding fathers feel about America today? I think they would marvel at a nation that remains a work in progress and say, tis good.

May god continue to bless the United States of America and all those who stand in her defense.

Betsy Ross and the Creation of Our Flag

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Filed under American Leadership, Constitution, Holidays, Politics

Uncomfortably Undecided: The Search for a Presidential Candidate I Can Believe In

This year I find myself in a unique situation. With less than two months until the first votes are cast in the primary season, I am undecided who to support. As long as I can remember there was a candidate early in the process who inspired me, or at least attracted my loyal till political death support. To my surprise, shock and bewilderment, that has not happened this year. First off, those who would have drawn my support decided one by one not to run: Senator John Thume, Former Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Bobby Jindal, Former Mayor Rudy Giuliani and the list goes on. Those that remain, talented as they may be, have each failed to attract my committed vote, let alone passionate enthusiasm.

The 2012 GOP Presidential Contenders: An Uncertian Decision

In some way I think we have the inverse of the 1992 Democratic race where early on many of the presumed favorites like future Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden took a pass thinking George H.W. Bush was unbeatable. In Washington circles a narrative began to form that 2012 was going to be a good year for President Obama. With the Republican takeover of the house in 2010 the stage was set for a repeat of Bill Clinton’s come back and victory in 1996. Yet over the last year we have seen the Obama administration to be politically inept and selling a radical left wing agenda which has not resonated with the American body politic. The Obama attempts at class warfare and leftist populist rhetoric have fallen flat on all but his hard core base. American voters seem to have concluded he is out of his league and not up to the job of president. The net result is the GOP nomination is increasingly valuable as the 2012 election is ours to lose.

So regrets be damned, the slate of candidates we have are the options to be chosen from. I am not going to invite the wrath of my fellow republicans who have already formed passionate allegiances by going down the list of candidates one by one pointing out why each has not captured my imagination and support. Rather I want to look at what I would love to see in an ideal presidential nominee.

  1. First, above all else is character. Often discussed, this is a complicated characteristic in people. My nominee has to have core values and the commitment to them to stick by them even when the political winds blow in the opposite direction. If you think of the presidential elections of the past, the issues that defined their presidency are almost never the ones which drove the election which put them in the White House. We need a president who when they get that 3am phone call, will not need to consult a pollster.
  2. My candidate must have a commitment to conservative values and principles which were not adopted after extensive focus group testing but rater from their long term personal considerations. I have no problems with people who evolve over time, even Ronald Reagan was a democrat once upon a time (he even voted for FDR, more than once!). Yet some candidates who get the words right, just give you the feeling they were written by committee.
  3.  I can’t support stupid any more. Call me whatever, but I want a President who can stand up to the tests of the office and deal with the complexities of the issues we face. Make no doubt we are at a crossroads in the history of our republic, and we cannot afford another president who needs training wheels for the first 4 years, or is simply a puppet for advisors.
  4. I totally agree with Anne Coulter’s recent column in which she said, in essence, electability is not a bad word! To the contrary I believe in all my heart that if President Obama is reelected with a Democratic congress, America will be taken in a left ward direction from which there will be no turning back. We need a nominee who can take Obama on head to head and emerge from the ideological battle that the 2012 election is shaping up to be victorious.
  5. No longer will I support any candidate who simply attacks the other contenders. My belief in Reagan’s 11th Commandment that thou shall not speak ill of a fellow Republican is absolute and those who break it will drive me to the primary with absolute certainty I will cast my one vote against them. It is essential our eventual nominee emerge from the primaries stronger for the process and not damaged. Republican unity has always been a strength and any division will simply guarantee a second term for Obama.

For years, I like many conservatives have been looking for another Ronald Reagan, always with disappointing results. However I think the Gripper would have said stop looking to the past for direction, look to the future. So I look for that candidate who reflects my values and also has the ability to capture the imagination and spirit of the American people. This election is just too important to settle of less, or allow victory to slip from our figures.

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Filed under 2010 Election, 2012 Election, American Leadership, Barak Obama, Bill Clinton, Jeb Bush, Leadership, Mitt Romney, Politics, Republican Party, Rick Perry, Rudy Giuliani, The Grand Old Party, The White House

Happy Independence Day!

Astronaut John Young Saluting the Flag on the Surface of the Moon, April 1972

On this Independence Day we celebrate the freedoms we at times take for granted but always cherish and enjoy. We give thanks to all those who have stood up to defend America from the Revolutionary generation to those who stand in harm’s way today. America is the shining city on a hill which attracts all those within whom the fire of freedom burns bright. To one and all, have a totally red white and blue July 4th!

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Filed under American Leadership, Constitution, Democracy

The Ridiculous Act of the National Debt Limit: A Call for Change

As we approach the August 3 deadline set by the Obama Administration, the ridiculous nature of the entire debt limit would be a source of considerable amusement if not so serious. On or about the deadline, Congress will pass some sort of extension and the President will sign it into law at a level neither of them have any intention to honor. That will result in another performance of the debt Limit Two Step in 18 to 24 months. In truth, the national debt limit is utterly meaningless given congress has the ability to simply raise it to facilitate the annual budget shortfall whatever that may be. It would be as if you had the ability to raise the spending limit on your credit card whenever you bumped into that limit. It is simply ridiculous.

The 112th Congress

To be of any effect, the national debt limit must have real meaning which would force the congress to manage its annual budget within a fixed limit of unfunded expenditures. Some have suggested a maximum level of debt to GDP as a way of limiting the total level of debt. While this has some merits, it provides an administration incredible incentive to modify or tamper with the calculation of GDP, or to fuel inflation to increase the nominal amount of debt available to fuel their spending. The reality is there needs to be an ability to increase the debt limit; it must however be much more inflexible than the budget process the debt limit should be driving.

While in general I do not support legislating by way of the constitution, the primary purpose of that document is to define how the government should function and thus it is only right that the process by which the debt limit is raised should be defined by way of an amendment to the constitution. My proposed amendment would provide two ways by which the debt limit could be increased, both reinforcing the federal nature of our government and imposing upon the Congress and the President a limit they simply could not change at their own whim.

Part 1 would require the Congress to pass a change in the debt limit my way of a two thirds majority vote of both the Senate and the House of Representatives. Upon passing any debt limit modification, the resolution would then be forwarded to the states and would require the approval of the legislatures of 50 percent plus one of the states representing at least 50 percent of the population of the United States as at the most recent census. At neither the national of state levels would executive (President or Governor) approval be required.

Part 2 would allow any state’s legislative branch to propose a change in the national debt limit, and if adopted by two thirds of the states representing at least 50 percent of the population, that modification of the limit of the national debt would come into force. As with part 1, no approval would be required by any national or state executive. In this case the federal government would have to function within the debt limitations imposed upon it by the states, the people’s democratically elected representatives at a much closer level.

Such an amendment would make the limit on total debt financing available to the federal government a real constraint on spending. Part 1 would allow the congress to initiate changes they viewed as essential and an opportunity to convince a majority of the people’s state represent ivies of the validity of the change. Part 2 would allow the peoples elected representatives at the state level the ability to restrain the federal government’s ability to mortgage the nation’s future. In no way would this control federal spending so long as such programs are funded. It would however made the national debt a truly limited funding option controlled by elected officials representing the people other than those spending the money.

Is this radical? Absolutely. Would it allow the federal government to function? Absolutely, so long as they spend within their ability to pay for the expenditures with current revenue or to convince the states of the rational to increase the nation’s total indebtedness. The current system of unlimited deficit spending threatens the very existence of the republic; radical change is required to preserve our nation’s future.

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Filed under 2012 Election, American Leadership, Barak Obama, Budget, Congress, Conservative, Constitution, National Debt, Politics, Spending, Taxes