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Gov. John Kasich and Ohio’s Future

 

Gov. John Kasich at his first State of the State Address

Gov. John Kasich today presented his first State of the State speech, which will be confronted by some of the largest protests in Ohio’s recent history.

The speech was interrupted at least one by jeering from the few protesters in the crowd…which, of course, was predictable.  But, Kasich handled it well.

“Frankly, folks, the provisions of collective bargaining reform are examples of what we wanted to do to allow people to control their costs,” Kasich said as boos rained down from protesters watching in the chamber.  He then addressed the passion of protesters gathered in and outside the state house whose chants could be heard at other points during the speech.  “I appreciate passionate people who don’t agree with us… People who feel strongly, I respect them, but they also need to respect those who don’t always agree with them, Ok?” he said to extended applause from Republicans.

The protests are largely against several of Kasich’s proposals to reign in collective bargaining rights for public sector unions.  Under the bill, unionized public workers in Ohio could negotiate wages, hours and certain work conditions, but not health care or pension benefits. The measure would do away with automatic pay raises and base future wage increases on merit. It also would ban strikes by public workers and establish penalties for those who do participate in walkouts.

The reality is, the protests are somewhat meaningless.  Republicans hold significant majorities in the House and Senate, and thus can pass whatever they want, even over Democrat opposition.  There are no potential ‘fleebaggers’ in Ohio…the writing is on the wall, and Kasich will get his bill passed.

Most pundits nationwide accept that public sector unions have garnered too much power in recent decades.  Many of those unions now prohibit real reform necessary to improve the way government works.

Unlike in Wisconsin, however, Gov. Kasich is not eliminating collective bargaining…merely restricting it.  Although this does not mean much to the unions per se, politically it is a much easier see than what Scott Walker is trying to accomplish.  Additionally, no one questions the $8 billion hole left in Ohio’s budget that Kasich must somehow close.  This is the first step in reigning in those deficits.

Kasich’s argument is strong. The facts simply cannot be argued with.  Ohio has lost 600,000 jobs in the past decade, including at least 400,000 during this recession.  One third of all college graduates from Ohio ultimately leave the state.

Ohio, like many industrial midwestern states, has grown to be uncompetitive, and far from attractive to new business.  Although now wholly because of unions, union power in these states is detrimental.  If you look at states with the fastest job growth over the past two decades, they are largely states without entrenched public and private sector unions.

Kasich’s proposals would not eliminate collective bargaining on salary, but would allow local districts flexibility in handling issues such as pensions, which have grown out of control.  The average private sector employee pays 23% of his pension costs, while the average public sector employee pays only 9%.  That takes into account that public sector employees are paid approximately $2,300 more than their private sector colleagues for the same job…amounting to about 5% more salary overall.

Kasich and Republicans will easily win Round 1.  Unlike in Wisconsin, the legislature is their hands, and the Democrats can do little to fight this battle.  Kasich, additionally, has long term ties with blue collar and union workers in the state, which should lessen the political blow.  Ultimately, it will come down to whether these reforms help Ohio narrow their budget gap, and allow the state to once again lead the nation in job growth.

But politically, round 1 goes to Gov. John Kasich.

 

 

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Newsweek (?!?) Demolishes Obama Foreign Policy

In a piece from this week’s Newsweek, Niall Ferguson, the Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University and William Ziegler Professor at Harvard Business School, totally destroys the fallacy on going that the Obama Administration’s policy toward Egypt during this recent crisis was purely successful.  He writes:

This failure was not the result of bad luck. It was the predictable consequence of the Obama administration’s lack of any kind of coherent grand strategy, a deficit about which more than a few veterans of U.S. foreign policy making have long worried. The president himself is not wholly to blame. Although cosmopolitan by both birth and upbringing, Obama was an unusually parochial politician prior to his election, judging by his scant public pronouncements on foreign-policy issues.

Yet no president can be expected to be omniscient. That is what advisers are for. The real responsibility for the current strategic vacuum lies not with Obama himself, but with the National Security Council, and in particular with the man who ran it until last October: retired Gen. James L. Jones. I suspected at the time of his appointment that General Jones was a poor choice. A big, bluff Marine, he once astonished me by recommending that Turkish troops might lend the United States support in Iraq. He seemed mildly surprised when I suggested the Iraqis might resent such a reminder of centuries of Ottoman Turkish rule.

You want to see Ferguson destroy Obama’s world vision, in Egypt as well as elsewhere?  Watch his piece on Morning Joe on Monday morning [Video now embedded below].  He systematically annihilates the media argument that Obama handled this well on any level.  Ferguson, who was no fan of George W. Bush either, made the almost criminal accusation that Obama’s foreign policy could end up worse than his predecessor.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Maybe the most insightful part of the piece is the view of foreign leaders regarding Obama’s handling of the matter.  If you read here and elsewhere, what you see is that among both allies and enemies, the universal thought around the globe is that the Obama Administration’s handling of the situation was more luck than skill, and their overall strategy was amateurish at best, and incompetent at worst.

Ferguson leaves us with a couple thoughts, that echo some of my earlier comments.  First, we are left with a military junta in Egypt, which one hopes will keep their promises of democratic reform.

Second, Ferguson shows us that Obama’s stance of today is simply not realistic.  He pulls a quote from Obama’s Cairo speech of 2009:  “America and Islam are not exclusive and need not be in competition. Instead, they overlap, and share common principles—principles of justice and progress; tolerance and the dignity of all human beings.” Ferguson points out that if Obama is going to depend on the principles of slamic justice and progress, we may be in serious trouble, in Egypt and elsewhere.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, the history of such revolutions is that violence does erupt, in one manner or another; so although last week was a net positive, this will be a multi-year process, and only at the end of it will we know if this was truly a success.  Obama’s ability to focus on a ‘Grand Strategy’, as Ferguson puts it, may ultimately help decide which fate is in store for us.

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Mubarak Steps Down; Now, The Hard Part…

After the chaotic events of last evening, when it was clear that no one, especially the Obama Administration, knew what was happening, on Friday Evening Vice President Suleiman announced that Hosni Mubarak would in fact step down as President.  Apparently, the Egyptian military had enough, and forced Mubarak out of power, and forced his family out of Cairo all together.  The Military Council will apparently assume power.

First, the history.  Mubarak symbolizes the autocratic leadership that is maintained in most of the Middle East. Taking power immediately after Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 (Mubarak in actuality sat next to Sadat as he was gunned down), Mubarak immediately instituted martial law in Egypt.  That martial law lasted until today.

I will state, once again, the transformation that has occurred in the Middle East in the  last decade.  Since September 11, 2001, there has been more transformative change in that region than had occurred in the past half century.  Afghanistan formed a government, shaky as it may be, for the first time since the 1970s.  Iraq is on the path to a democratic government.  Lebanon and Jordan both have had slow transformations toward more representative governments.  Bush’s Freedom Agenda, laughed at by Democrat leaders, now appears to be prescient.

But history also gives us warnings.  There have been public uprisings in the Middle East, most recently in Lebanon.  And Lebanon recently has retreated in its freedoms, as Hizbullah and outside powers like Syria trying to regain footing. Democratic initiatives in the West Bank and Gaza have created various levels of disastrous outcomes.

So for Egypt, this is now the hard part.  Remember:  as of today, Egypt is NOT a democracy, but a military dictatorship.   Middle East channel Al Arabiya reports that the Higher Military Council, which has taken control from Hosni Mubarak, will fire Mubarak’s Cabinet, suspend both houses of Parliament and rule with the head of the supreme constitutional court.  Reuters is quoting a military source as saying Defense Minister Mohamed Hussein Tantawi will be the head of the ruling military council.    The Egyptian military has promised democratic rule, but we know how many times military leaders have promised such things.

And even if the military carries out its promise, what then?  How does a country, who has not had any significant political climate for three decades, establish the structures necessary for a vibrant representative government?  Who will be the frontrunners to run such a government?  El Baradei is often talked about, but he has no significant following within Egypt.  And although the Muslim Brotherhood is not popular generally among Egyptians, it also has to be remembered that it is the only real political party that exists in Egypt today.

For the U.S., the question largely centers around stability.  If you poll Egyptians, for example, most actually do not support the 1979 peace treaty with Israel.  Israel will have a scary time, until something more stable is produced.  And will their be a domino effect?  There are already significant protests in Yemen, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia.  Will any of these countries face a similar result?  And many countries, such as Yemen, have much scarier possible outcomes.

So, today America will and should celebrate the potential democratic revolution in Egypt.  We are the beacon of freedom, as we always should be, and thus this is the result we all wished for.  But there is much planning and work to do to maintain peace and the stability in the region.  The hard work is only beginning.

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White House Losing Egypt

Mubarak...still in power

I have been about as supportive as any conservative out there when it comes to the decisions made by the Obama Administration during the Egyptian crisis.  I have, time and again, explained how the reserved response by Obama in this crisis, unlike Iran, was the right path. And even when the White House appeared confused during last weeks up and down roller coaster ride, I was willing to give them leeway.

Today’s events puts all of that into serious doubt.

News reports, which appeared to be confirmed by sources in the White House and the State Department, had implied that Hosni Mubarak would step down as President of Egypt this evening.  The media reveled in the momentous event.

Except for one thing:  the whole thing was a fraud.

Mubarak cermoniously did give up his powers to his Vice President, Omar Suleiman. But he did not step down.  This is analagous to what Vladmir Putin did in Russia…give his lackey power, in name only.  Suleiman is a long time confidant of Mubarak’s.  Now, he may honestly be working to reach significant reform by the September deadline proposed; who am I to tell.  But without Mubarak stepping down, this is quite a useless gesture.

The crowds agree with my sentiment.  All day, they had received news reports, largely from foreign sources, that Mubarak was going to step down.  Now, they are infuriated, obviously.  The entire situation has destabilized.

None of these actions from the Egyptian hierarchy is surprising in the least.  What is worrisome is that it appears that the Obama Administration seems to be completely out of the loop.  If true, that is on the edge of gross incompetence.  It is one thing not to be able to push Mubarak from office.  It is a wholly another matter not to  have a clue about what is going on, especially in a country where we supposedly have vasts political and military ties.

The worry here is twofold.  One, that the situation is destabilizing quicker than anyone in power can do to stop it.  Ideally, we would have liked to see this play out until September, allowing all Democratic forces time to establish parties, candidates, etc.   That seems to now be a nonstarter, and one wonders  how long the standoff in the streets of Cairo can last.   Additionally, how long will the Egyptian military stand by, as the Egyptian economy is driven into shambles?

The second worry is our own government.  It does not appear that they have a clue at the moment.  I had generally praised their efforts to now, but I now wonder if that was all more by chance than by skill.  Obama, Hillary Clinton, and their underlings better get their act together, and fast.  They seem to have no goal in mind, or no game plan whatsoever.  And it doesn’t help when it appears that they aren’t even on the same page.  Some State Department officials have said Mubarak must go now; others say he must stay until September.  And you ludicrous statements by some in the Administration that show they don’t have a clue.  As one example, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated that the Muslim Brotherhood was ‘largely secular’; this, a group that wants a worldwide caliphate.  That does not build confidence in this Administration’s abilities.

It is by no means assured that this will end well for the U.S..  Without the correct intelligence, the appropriate diplomatic response is impossible, and right now it appears the Administration has no more clue what is going on than anyone else.

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Detroit Love

As a native Detroiter, you gotta love this…unabashed devotion to a city that is sometimes very hard to love…

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President Ronald Reagan’s Centennial

Ronald Reagan was born in a small apartment in the little town of Tampico, Illinois on February 6, 1911.  His early beginning would belie what his future held for him.

Many, on this day, will review Reagan’s great life…his upbringing; his stateside deployment in World War II; his rise as a radio and Hollywood star (the king of B actors).  His first foray into ‘politics’, as the President of the Screen Actors Guild.  And of course, his transitions from an extreme liberal to a Democrat, and ultimately to a stalwart conservative Republican who would redefine the meaning of Conservatism.  His initial introduction to national politics, supporting both Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon in the early years on GE radio, and ultimately to rise to prominence by becoming one of Barry Goldwater’s most vocal advocates in 1964.  Reagan would become Governor of California in 1967, would run and fail to obtain the Republican nomination in 1976, and succeed finally in 1980.  And of course, two terms as President of the United States.

All this is known history.

But Reagan’s real influence on America was much grander than this simple historical review can portray.

My personal political path is a perfect example.  My father immigrated to this country in 1970.  And as a foreign immigrant, he was, by default, a Democrat.  All immigrants are Democrats, no?  In the 1980 election, he supported Jimmy Carter, because…that was what he was expected to do.

Reagan changed all that.  Reagan converted many people like my father into conservatives.  Conservatives were a slim minority in the seventies.  Some polls put their numbers in the range of 20%, while liberals and independents were both in the range of 40%.  By the end of Reagan’s second term, conservatives were still third, but were almost on parity to moderates and liberals.

Reagan also converted blue collar Democrats (the famous Reagan Democrats).  This bloc of socially conservative labor union personnel migrated away from Democrats for the first time.  Even today, approximately 1/3 of labor union members are, in fact, Republicans.

The political dynamic changed dramatically as well.  People talk about Bill Clinton…but Clinton was a son of Reaganism, not of progressivism.  “The Era of Big Government is over”, Clinton famously stated in a State of the Union speech.  No progressive would have ever stated that before Reagan.  Clinton along with Congressional Republicans reformed welfare, slowed the growth of the government, and made the tax code more business friendly.  Who does that sound like more:  Reagan or Carter?

Obama now talks about following the Reagan political path.  He simply does not have the tools to do that.  For that, you have to have a moral center that you refuse to waver from.  Obama may be a moral man…but there is little that he is willing to negotiate on.  Is there anything that you would bet your life on that Obama would not be willing to negotiate away, in the right circumstance?

The transformative Presidents in American History (Jefferson, Jackson, Lincoln, FDR) had this quality.  John F. Kennedy may have as well, but tragically his Presidency was cut short.  But Obama doesn’t have that center.  He also doesn’t have the steel will the others did.  He could learn from Reagan…but he simply does not have the tools to do so.

So on this 100th anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birth, what we really should appreciate is Reagan’s greatness.  Reagan had a simple and clear cut ideology that he lived by.  He followed that belief in all of his political dealings.  He compromised when necessary, and famously stated that he would rather get 80% of what he wanted than carrying his flag over a cliff.  His steadfastness and idealism, measured with practical common sense, was why he was a great American President.  His standard should be one that this President, and future Presidents, should live by.

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Jobs Picture? Blurry, But Not Good

A little humor in a NOT so funny situation...

January jobs report declares the unemployment is now at 9%, although we only created 36k jobs, much less than the expected 140k jobs.

What gives?

The reality is ugly.   The jobs created was much less than expected, by a far margin.   It wasn’t even close.  Remember, we need to create approximately 150k jobs a month just to stay EVEN, with population growth and immigration.

So why a drop in the absolute unemployment rate?  Simple.  People are dropping out of the work force…thus artificially making the jobs number better.  In fact, you will see true improvement in the employment outlook when the unemployment rate rises…because that will mean more unemployed people will enter the job force, looking for jobs, instead of not even trying.

Things are worsening my friends.  Obama will spin it his way, but the truth cannot be denied.

P.S. – In related news, Canada, with a population 1/10th the size of the United States…created 69k jobs in January.  Canada has now restored all of the jobs it lost since the beginning of the recession.  The job rate increased to 7.8% versus 7.6% in December.   This fits my above argument, that as more people move into the workforce, the unemployment rate will increase.

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Missed Moment? Obama, Bush and the Freedom Agenda

George W. Bush saw this, years ago.

President Bush, the visionary?

Well, certain facts are unassailable.  Bush, most avidly in his second inaugural address, clearly outlined the ‘Freedom Agenda’, where he stated that democratic rule worldwide was unavoidable and a future certainly, and essential to worldwide freedom.

Since then, we have seen varied success and failure of democratic movements around the globe.  This is most apparent in the Middle East, where countries such as Iran, Lebanon, Tunisia, and others have made some democratic reforms while failing to complete their democratic transition.  And even the much criticized Iraq and Afghanistan experiments continue their slow crawl to some type of democratic rule.

Liberals point to the failures, and criticize.  I point to the change, and see hope (sound familiar, Mr. Obama?).  These cries for freedom would have been unheard of 20 or even 10 years ago.  We are seeing unrest for a simple reason:  these countries, because of increased access to media, information, as well as seeing examples of potential freedom in Afghanistan and Iraq, are seeing a better way forward.  The modern democratic reality has begun to fall on the archaic Middle East.

Obama often ridiculed the Freedom Agenda.  In fact, his administration actively retracted from it.  Most clearly, Obama showed disdain for pushing democracy in the Middle East in his now infamous Cairo speech of 2009:

I know there has been controversy about the promotion of democracy in recent years, and much of this controversy is connected to the war in Iraq. So let me be clear: No system of government can or should be imposed by one nation by any other.

That does not lessen my commitment, however, to governments that reflect the will of the people. Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.

What does this mean?  Well, I personally think liberal extremist George Soros said it best:

[The above] language about “each nation gives life to this principle in its own way” was the administration’s way of saying, “We’ll be cool with how ever you decide to run your countries so long as the people in charge make some rhetorical concessions to democratization.” Since then, the administration has largely backed the status quo through strongman leaders like Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. (Or did, until it became clear that Mubarak wasn’t so strong anymore.)

George W. Bush saw that this was not an essential component of American diplomacy, but an obvious evolution of humanities quest to be free.  Bush saw, apparently more than many of us, that this protest for freedom was coming, and America should be on the right side of history.  Bush, additionally, did not try to ‘impose’ American democracy on anyone; just look at Iraq, Afghanistan and Lebanon, which are nothing like a Jeffersonian democracy.  What he did argue for, though is for individuals everywhere to be able to fight for their individual quest for life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness…something that Obama did not so much believe.

Bush pushed many of these countries to make democratic reforms as far back as 2001.  Egypt is a prime case, where Bush, a close ally of Mubarak, used his influence to try to make Mubarak see the light…and he did, for a short time, until he reverted back to his totalitarian baseline.

So, as Egypt burns, the obvious question arises:  could we have avoided this?

I personally doubt it.  Totalitarian regimes must go through this painful period to mature.  It is a sad but true reality of life.  Those in power do not often give up the power willingly, and the rest of the people must fight for their rights.  Neither Bush nor Obama likely could have avoided these protest movements.

Mr. Obama generally has handled the Egyptian case much better than the Iranian riots two years ago.  Then, Obama looked impotent and confused, never really settling on a fixed position.  In the Egyptian crisis, he avoided supporting Mubarak from day one (the right decision), and then has slowly moved closer to the protest movement.

Obama’s clear mistake in this, however, was that Obama once again was really taken unawares.  It took the Obama Administration a week to get solid footing, and enough sense to send a representative to Cairo to gently nudge Mr. Mubarak from office.  They partially succeeded with Mubarak announcement that he and his son will not run for the Presidency this year.

But where they failed was in giving Mubarak a way to save face.   Pride is an essential component of the Arab psyche.  Mubarak stepping down in the face of the masses?  That would be the ultimate insult in the Arab world, and an impossible reality for a man like Mubarak to face.  And with the recent uptick in violence, it appears that Mubarak is simply not willing to accept Obama’s vision on this, for one simple reason:  he doesn’t trust Obama to protect him.

At the same time that Obama has lost trust in Mubarak, he continues to lose the Arab street as well.  For all the American political left’s bashing of Bush, the United States had a 30% favorability rating in Egypt…today, it is at 17%.   And after hearing the protesters speak, I doubt Obama’s popularity is even in the double digits anymore.  They, too, do not trust Obama to protect them.

So Obama is in a tough position.  Like every President in history, it is not wholly his fault.  But ultimately, we all know where the buck stops.  Obama now must nuance his position with Mubarak while, at the same time, building coalitions with the potential leaders of a new democratic government, as well as keeping ties with the Egyptian military intact.   The Administration should have been doing that from day 1, and the delay has cost them.  Only time will tell if they can now close the diplomatic gap that was created from their unpreparedness, lack of diplomacy, and ironically, their lack of vision.

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Egypt: America’s Time Is Now

The Egyptian revolution of 2011 has been fascinating on many levels.  First, the ability of the Egyptian populace to rise up relatively peaceful and enforce change.  Second, the reserved action of the Egyptian military, and frankly, the Mubarak Government, who long ago could have changed this into a violent confrontation.  And thirdly, the reserved response of the United States, while making slow progress behind the scenes.

But for the United States, the moment to step into the limelight is now.

After Hosni Mubarak’s failed attempt at resolving the crisis by promising to step down in September when his term ends, the entire protest movement comes to a head.  The protesters, now largely voiced by Mohamed El Baradei, state clearly that they will accept nothing less than Mubarak’s immediate departure.  Mubarak seems reluctant to take that route.

And in an ominous sign, the military has voiced its opinion for the first time, telling protesters to end the demonstrations immediately.  The protesters so far have not heeded the call.  And on Wednesday, pro-government supporters have now joined the fray, and we are on the precipice of violence.  How long before the police and military step to, in the name of ‘peace and order’?

I have defended Obama’s actions so far.  There was little he could do, other than voice his weak opinion on the subject.  And for the moment, it was better he remained silent than voice his usual non-committal teleprompter speech.

However, we may soon reach an impasse, which only America can solve.  With the apparent deadlock between the protesters and Mubarak, time is running out.  The Egyptian government and their military cannot maintain the status quo forever.

I said in a piece late last week that Obama’s moment in this crisis would arise.  The moment is now.  Only America has the power and prestige to make an effect on the key players on both sides.

First and foremost, we must convince Mubarak that his time has come.  He must leave, and leave immediately.  Not September, not even weeks, but now.  The protesters will not accept anything less.

To the protest movement, we must state that their must be a transitional period before elections.  Egypt is not a country with democratic institutions.  Political parties must be organized, and allowed to mature, before a true election can be performed.  Otherwise, the election will result with a few power players, and most worrisome, the Muslim Brotherhood, will take an inordinate amount of power in a relatively unfair election.  That would be a poor result for Egyptians, and even a worse result for us as a nation.

Our role is twofold.  First, we use our political power and prowess to convince Mubarak and his supporters that there will be an orderly transition.  Like, the new Vice President, Omar Suleiman, will have to lead a caretaker government.  Suleiman is respected by the military, Mubarak supporters, and both America and Israel.  Suleiman also has no additional political support, and thus is not a longterm threat.  The military, the most powerful institution in Egypt, is likely to accept such a proposal.

America than must give its assurance to the rebel leaders that it is ultimately on its side.  We have so far not taken sides.  But there is no more time to waste.  Obama so far was smart not to get involved, but if stability is our goal, we must support the revolution.  It is clear the current government cannot sustain itself in its current form, and that a new government is necessary.  The time is now.

There are clear risks.  First, of course, is that Mubarak will somehow convince the military to support him, and crush the revolution instead of trusting the Americans.  The second is that the protesters will not trust the American solution, and will not allow for a transitional period, leading to even more chaos.

But there are similar risks with inaction as well.  And inaction in this case could lead to disastrous results.  Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton must use their diplomatic talents to convince both sides that there is a path to peace and democracy without violence from either side.  Compromise will be necessary, but Obama supposedly won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize for his talents in this area specifically.   It is now time for him to earn that reputation.

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UPDATE:  CNN’s Anderson Cooper apparently was assaulted and punched numerous times during Wednesday’s riots. Mubarak supporters are being blamed.

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Challenger: 25 Years Later

There are few events of my childhood that I remember as starkly as the day that the Challenger exploded soon after takeoff in January 28, 1986.  Much like people remember the Kennedy Assasination 23 years before that, the incident was so shocking for so many young, especially because many were watching it live on TV because of the launch of the first civilian, a teacher, into space.

I felt a personal link to the tragedy.  Only a short few weeks earlier, I got to take my first visit to Florida, which included Cape Canaveral.  I saw Challenger, sitting on the launch pad, eagerly waiting its launch.

A quarter of a century later, space travel is still a frightening experience.  This past decades saw the loss of the Columbia Shuttle during re-entry.  We take for granted the space program, but the dangers lurk to this day.

As the shuttle program winds down this  year, it behooves us to remember the sacrifice and risk that our astronauts face as a daily routine.

President Ronald Reagan, in one of the the most memorable Presidential speeches in response to a tragedy, said it best:

The crew of the space shuttle Challenger honoured us by the manner in which they lived their lives. We will never forget them, nor the last time we saw them, this morning, as they prepared for the journey and waved goodbye and ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ to ‘touch the face of God.’

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