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Posts tagged ‘patriotic’

Houston, We Have A Problem …

(C’mon … you knew I had to use that one …)


Greetings from Deep in the Heart of Texas – specifically, Webster, a little town alongside I-45 about halfway between Houston and Galveston. Webster is one of several towns that surround the region’s most famous resident, the Johnson Space Center – home of America’s manned space flight program.

These are dog days for the astronaut corps. The shuttle program has ended, and the remaining orbiters are being decommissioned as we speak in preparation for their new lives as museum pieces. The International Space Station still orbiting overhead, a huge and impressive piece of machinery that’s controlled from the Chris Kraft Mission Control Center over at JSC.

Unfortunately, it’s also a station that America currently has no way to visit or resupply. There are European and Russian and Japanese cargo ships, but none from the US (although the good folks at SpaceX are hoping to change that soon). And of course, the Russians are more than happy to sell our crewmembers a seat on one of their Soyuz workhorses – a set that doubled in price the moment the wheels stopped on the last shuttle mission.

Barring some unforeseen challenge from the stars (cue Bruce Willis’ asteroid here), we may have seen the end of America’s dominance in space. Born out of the chill of the Cold War and fueled by a desire to fulfill the dream of a dead president, NASA saw a similar doldrums in the mid-70s after budget concerns and dwindling interest led to cancellation of the last Apollo missions. Skylab and the Apollo Soyuz Test Program were done on the cheap by using excess moon flight hardware, but we didn’t really move forward again until the shuttle arrived.

While the results were spectscular, and we couldn’t have assembled the ISS without it, the cost of the shuttle in blood and treasure ultimately proved its downfall. Now we find ourselves once again becalmed, adrift in space awaiting the return of solar winds and political will. It’s a sad state for the proud men and women of NASA, but sitting as I am only a few blocks from the entrance of JSC, I can tell you this – I’m proud just to breath the same air they do.

Onward and upward …

Via iPad …

I’ll Tell You What’s Un-American, Pal …

Have you noticed lately how lazy politicians have gotten?

There was a time when politics was a proud service, aspired to by the best and the brightest we have to offer as a way of giving back to society. Today, however, it seems like every wannabe with a stack of money or a microphone jumps into politics as a short-cut to national recognition and the fame that can come with it. Along the way, many of the skills and talents that used to be required have slipped by the wayside.

Take the fine art of debate. Once upon a time, two groups of people, civil towards each other but on opposite sides of an issue, would debate the merit of their positions using thought-out arguments and intelligent statements. But those skills seem to have been lost by today’s politicians, who are desperate to make their political points in a world with the attention span of a 3-yr-old child. So rather than sway people with the value of their argument, they fall back on an old tool that’s new again – they brand it “un-American”.

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, a Democrat, has taken issue with the new immigration bill passed recently in Arizona. Now, the mayor seems like a pretty smart guy, and there are certainly valid arguments to be made against the law. But rather than explain what he feels is wrong with the structure of the law, he slapped it with the “U” word:

“I add my voice in strongly opposing this unpatriotic and un-American law and I call upon our federal leaders to pass comprehensive immigration reform in its place.”

Meanwhile, on the opposite side of the political fence, Republican and Tea Party poster boy Rand Paul has been taking heat over some of the statements he’s made regarding various issues since he won the party’s Senate primary in Kentucky.  One of the things he’s irritated about is the President’s handling of the Gulf oil spill and of BP, the company who’s crude is currently puking up beaches from Louisiana to Florida.  Paul’s position is a little different than most; he thinks Obama is being too hard on the oil company, but he had to resort to the “U” word to back up his argument:

“What I don’t like from the president’s administration is this sort of, ‘I’ll put my boot heel on the throat of BP,'” Paul said in an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I think that sounds really un-American in his criticism of business.”

Here’s my question – what exactly does “un-American” mean, and who are they to determine what qualifies? Are they constitutional scholars who have studied the works of the founding fathers and understand the intent of the Constitution? Or are they hoping that Billy-Bob will hear that word in a sound clip, slam down his beer and yell, “frakkin’ A!”

Look, these guys aren’t stupid – they obviously understand that we live in a world where news is made in 15-second clips and 140-character tweets. They’re unwilling – or unable – to take the time needed to make a valid argument, so they just right to a word they know is a button-pusher, just like the “n” word or the “f” word before it. And, considering the visibility it gets them, it’s hard to argue with their reasoning. But it is a dangerous game to replace the logic of your argument with simplistic jingoism.

It’s worth remembering that there was once another man who chose to hide his arguments behind the word “un-American” – Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin senator of a half-century ago who witch-hunts were sanction under a banner of the “U” word. My advice to those in office today: take the time to make the argument – don’t try to hide behind a declaration of “un-American” …

Thank You

Today is Veteran’s Day in America (Remembrance Day in Canada), and no matter your political leanings, you should take time today to thank those who have taken up arms on behalf.  It doesn’t really matter if you believe in war, warfare, warfighters or the current conflicts we find ourselves in – the plain facts are that without those who have given up domestic lives to fight all those battles over there, you wouldn’t enjoy the privileges and freedoms you have over here. 

Conflict is an unfortunate thing.  I think we’d all like to live in a Utopian world where we all just got along, but so long as there are limited resources and unlimited egos that’s not likely to happen.  People will disagree and sometimes, those disagreements will lead to wars.  Hell, this country wouldn’t exist as it does today without war and the territories acquired as a result.  Even today, as people look back and try to rewrite our history in a manner that is more politically palatable, no one is suggesting that we should return California to the Spanish or Louisana to the French.  War is what formed this country and sometimes, war will be necessary to preserve it.

Today, we are involved in two wars in faraway lands, wars that are not popular or even seen by many as justified.  Debating the need for war is a necessary and patriotic duty, and should always be respected.  But even as we disagree on the battle, we should be united in our support for those who fight.  They are not there by choice – they are meeting an obligation and doing a job that I guarantee you don’t want to do.  We must always remain steadfast in our unanimous respect for those who wear the uniform of our country, no matter where they may be.

Here’s a thought:  Let’s take some of the billions being funneled to car companies and financial institutions and homeowners who overspent their means and redirect it to supporting our military and their families.  If my tax dollars are going to go somewhere, at least then it’ll be for something I’ll be proud to support …

Loooong Holiday Weekend Eye Candy

We’re headed into the long Independence Day holiday, and for some of us it’s going to be a longer weekend than for others.  In my case, it’s the best kind of weekend, because not only do we get Friday off, I’m headed offshore for my first marlin trip of the season – always a reason to celebrate.  There’s a birthday happening in there as well, but we’ll have more to say about that when we get back on the beach.

But I know my MarlinBlog readers, and while I’m sure you’re thrilled for me to be going fishing, there’s only one thing on your collective minds:

But Stan … what about the weekend eye candy?

C’mon, didn’t I just say I knew my readers?  Do you really think I’d leave you hanging for four days with nothing more than a picture of a couple of mating Porsches?  Hardly.

So, keeping in the spirit of the holiday, a little selection of what makes America great – hot chicks in flag bikinis.  Have a safe, reasonably sane weekend, everyone!