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DNC Thoughts, the Speech, and the Space Program

Like many of us, I wanted to catch as much of the Democratic National Convention on television as I could. Unfortunately, it's been a busy week; gnomi's left ankle has been in pain, making it hard for her to get around; and we've had a few visitors pop in during the evenings. (Not to mention that a friend of ours gave birth yesterday afternoon to an eleven pound three ounce baby boy, and Nomi's helping coordinate meals for their family.) So although the TiVo has been dutifully recording C-SPAN's coverage, I haven't really paid much attention. (Besides which, Monday night there was a new episode of The Middleman on. How can I possibly watch the convention if it's going up against The Middleman? But I digress.)

I also sometimes wonder how much I really need to watch the conventions on television. Although I do consider myself politically aware and engaged, and I understand the civic importance of the conventions, the simple fact is that my own vote is not going to change unless my candidate does something terribly egregious between now and election day. I'm not a swing voter, and even though in the past I've split my votes across various party lines, in this particular election I feel very strongly about how I need to vote.

(If you don't know by now my political leanings, it's probably not that hard to guess.)

Despite those thoughts above, I still wanted to watch the speeches. But for the most part, I missed them. I did get to see Bill Clinton and Joe Biden speak on Wednesday night, but our watching of those speeches was interrupted by various things. (I'm very glad for the TiVo pause button.) However, there was one speech that I did not want to miss, and that one, of course, was last night's speech from Barack Obama.

I'm a very big student of history, and I like to keep track of anniversary dates in my personal calendar. For quite a few years now, I've had a note in my calendar that August 28 was the anniversary of Martin Luther King's "I Have a Dream" speech. So the fact that Obama's speech was happening on the 45th anniversary of King's speech was something I've kept in mind ever since they announced the dates of the convention.

Others have spoken about Obama's exact words, and what it means for the Democratic party. For me, the important aspect of Obama's acceptance of his nomination is the sheer historic value. We've come so far. Last night, as I watched his speech, it was a moment to bask in history. The fact that an African-American man is running as a major party candidate for president of these United States, and that for the most part his race is a non-issue...it's amazing. I'm told that it felt like a major step to Catholics when John F. Kennedy won in 1960, and I know how proud much of the Jewish community felt when Joe Lieberman won the majority vote in this country as the vice-presidential candidate eight years ago. (Let's ignore for the moment what Lieberman has done since then.) Barack Obama's candidacy is another huge step forward, something that should make all Americans proud.

Okay, now onto the space program.

Folks may recall that back in January, after my candidate had left the race (and let's not say more about him either), I found it very difficult to choose between Obama and Clinton. I decided to base my vote on their plans for the space program, and at the end of the month, I asked people for information on their respective space exploration platforms. Sadly, at the time there wasn't much either of them was saying on this issue.

But now that we're heading toward the general election, we have more comprehensive statements from both of the major party candidates. A friend of mine (hi, M.!) pointed me to Presidential Candidates Outline Space Policy at the Planetary Society website. Both candidates provided text on their space policy, and the Planetary Society is offering them sans comment. I encourage people to go read them, and as for myself, I will add only two notes displaying my personal bias. First of all, Barack Obama's statement includes a section titled "Embracing Human Space Exploration," in which he endorses the idea of a return to the moon by 2020, whereas McCain's seems less specific.

Secondly, Obama's statement on space policy is longer.

Go read them if you have time, and feel free to come back here and tell me what you think.

And if you haven't been watching it yet, check out The Middleman on the ABC Family Channel. They need all the viewers they can get.


Of course, both Martin Luther King III and John Lewis spoke at the convention yesterday. Lewis also spoke during the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom forty-five years ago.
I'd like to think that Obama's race is a non-issue but I fear that it's a major reason that he's not in a double digit lead at present. People just may not be as overt about their racism as in the past.

What is more exciting to me is what seems to be a generational shift in attitudes about race and that it's very positive. THAT is really encouraging to me. Tip o' the hat to the kids. They may yet save us from the geezer class.

Speaking of identity politics, I wonder if the Hillary vote, who want a woman to vote for, will be seriously tempted to stray if Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gets the nod by McCain. Rush Limbaugh is all for her too it seems. Strange bedfellows.
I wonder if the Hillary vote, who want a woman to vote for, will be seriously tempted to stray if Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska gets the nod by McCain

So it looks like she did get the nod, but I don't think it will sway Clinton voters. Isn't she more conservative than McCain?

Evidently she's got a big boost from Rush Limbaugh so I'd guess she was plenty conservative. Frankly, I don't know very much about her or her politics. I recall seeing her mentioned on one of the television documentary shows that highlighted her reform efforts in the midst of Alaska's various recent political scandals.

Her pick is controversial enough that it should be effective in stomping on any follow on media coverage that the Obama crew would get from their convention. Their current bus ride may not get what the Clinton-Gore one got.

One thing about this race, it ain't boring. :)
One good thing I can say about her is that she has been a straight arrow and plowed into the corruption of her own party in Alaska.

That said, yes, she is more conservative than McCain. Anti-abortion. Anti-gay rights. Pro creationism in school curriculum. Anti-tax. She's supposed to have a reputation of being on the side of the angels concerning environmental conservation, but fought the Polar Bears on the extiction protection list.

Less experienced than Obama. Probably her weakest part, and her pick decimates, if not obliterates, McCain's charges against Obama on inexperience.

Re space program: Here's another example of why Hillary didn't let go of those delgates from 18 million votes: Obama's space program was minimal, and definitely did NOT include manned spaceflight. Like the health care mandates, Obama is moving towards Hillary on some of these issues. I think she's been using her delegate power to influence plank building on the Dem platform for the general election.
As president, I will establish a robust and balanced civilian space program. Under my administration, NASA not only will inspire the world with both human and robotic space exploration, but also will again lead in confronting the challenges we face here on Earth, including global climate change, energy independence, and aeronautics research. In achieving this vision, I will reach out to include international partners and to engage the private sector to amplify NASA’s reach. I believe that a revitalized NASA can help America maintain its innovation edge and contribute to American economic growth.

There is currently no organizational authority in the federal government with a sufficiently broad mandate to oversee a comprehensive and integrated strategy and policy dealing with all aspects of the government’s space-related programs, including those being managed by NASA, the Department of Defense, the National Reconnaissance Office, the Department of Commerce, the Department of Transportation, and other federal agencies. This wasn’t always the case. Between 1958 and 1973, the National Aeronautics and Space Council oversaw the entire space arena for four presidents; the Council was briefly revived from 1989 to 1992. I will re-establish this Council reporting to the president. It will oversee and coordinate civilian, military, commercial, and national security space activities. It will solicit public participation, engage the international community, and work toward a 21st century vision of space that constantly pushes the envelope on new technologies as it pursues a balanced national portfolio that expands our reach into the heavens and improves life here on Earth.

From Obama's answers to ScienceDebate2008.
Personally, I put more blame for NASA underfunding on Congress than on Bush. I have always had the sense that if Bush could have found the political will, he would have put more money into NASA. I don't think I've ever seen Bush more rousing than when he spoke about putting men on Mars.

There is no question Obama's policy is more comprehensive and there is a lot in it that I strongly support. Unfortunately, I doubt that these issues will be a priority of an Obama administration or a McCain administration.

December 2016

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