29 years ago today, as millions of schoolchildren and other Americans watched live coverage, the space shuttle Challenger exploded during its ascent into space. For those of us who were watching it live, it will be forever seared into our memories.
As we watched, right after the command was given to “throttle up” the TV view went to a tight shot of the shuttle – and then there was an explosion. There were immediate gasps around us as the adults realized what had happened and we kids had yet to understand the tragedy unfolding before our eyes.
The realization of what happened began to sink in and I felt a profound sadness. It was especially profound because there had been significant media coverage and discussion at school about Sharon McAuliffe, the first teacher in space. I didn’t know her, but knowing she was a teacher somehow made it more poignant.
That night was supposed to be the State of the Union address by President Ronald Reagan. Instead, he spoke from the Oval Office comforting a shocked and grieving nation.
The entire speech, written by the unequaled Peggy Noonan, was the perfect balance of sorrow, respect, encouragement, and hope.
Here is the closing paragraph (entire speech below):
The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger honored 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 their journey and waved goodbye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”
It was the perfect imagery to help heal the nation and instill the courage to continue to move forward with the space program.
We still remember the Challenger Seven and the sacrifice they made for our nation.
Address To The Nation On The Explosion Of The Space Shuttle Challenger
January 28, 1986
Ladies and gentlemen, I’d planned to speak to you tonight to report on the state of the Union, but the events of earlier today have led me to change those plans. Today is a day for mourning and remembering. Nancy and I are pained to the core by the tragedy of the shuttle Challenger. We know we share this pain with all of the people of our country. This is truly a national loss.
Nineteen years ago, almost to the day, we lost three astronauts in a terrible accident on the ground. But we’ve never lost an astronaut in flight; we’ve never had a tragedy like this. And perhaps we’ve forgotten the courage it took for the crew of the shuttle. But they, the Challenger Seven, were aware of the dangers, but overcame them and did their jobs brilliantly. We mourn seven heroes: Michael Smith, Dick Scobee, Judith Resnik, Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Gregory Jarvis, and Christa McAuliffe. We mourn their loss as a nation together.
For the families of the seven, we cannot bear, as you do, the full impact of this tragedy. But we feel the loss, and we’re thinking about you so very much. Your loved ones were daring and brave, and they had that special grace, that special spirit that says, “Give me a challenge, and I’ll meet it with joy.” They had a hunger to explore the universe and discover its truths. They wished to serve, and they did. They served all of us. We’ve grown used to wonders in this century. It’s hard to dazzle us. But for 25 years the United States space program has been doing just that. We’ve grown used to the idea of space, and perhaps we forget that we’ve only just begun. We’re still pioneers. They, the members of the Challenger crew, were pioneers.
And I want to say something to the schoolchildren of America who were watching the live coverage of the shuttle’s takeoff. I know it is hard to understand, but sometimes painful things like this happen. It’s all part of the process of exploration and discovery. It’s all part of taking a chance and expanding man’s horizons. The future doesn’t belong to the fainthearted; it belongs to the brave. The Challenger crew was pulling us into the future, and we’ll continue to follow them.
I’ve always had great faith in and respect for our space program, and what happened today does nothing to diminish it. We don’t hide our space program. We don’t keep secrets and cover things up. We do it all up front and in public. That’s the way freedom is, and we wouldn’t change it for a minute. We’ll continue our quest in space. There will be more shuttle flights and more shuttle crews and, yes, more volunteers, more civilians, more teachers in space. Nothing ends here; our hopes and our journeys continue. I want to add that I wish I could talk to every man and woman who works for NASA or who worked on this mission and tell them: “Your dedication and professionalism have moved and impressed us for decades. And we know of your anguish. We share it.”
There’s a coincidence today. On this day 390 years ago, the great explorer Sir Francis Drake died aboard ship off the coast of Panama. In his lifetime the great frontiers were the oceans, and an historian later said, “He lived by the sea, died on it, and was buried in it.” Well, today we can say of the Challenger crew: Their dedication was, like Drake’s, complete.
The crew of the Space Shuttle Challenger honored 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 their journey and waved goodbye and “slipped the surly bonds of earth” to “touch the face of God.”
If you follow Arizona politics, you probably know that Senator John McCain made an appearance at the State Meeting of the Arizona Republican Party last Saturday. It was newsworthy because this is the same state party that censured McCain last year.
It was not without its drama – there were a few folks who booed very loudly and a handful who really showed “who is boss” by keeping their backs turned to McCain throughout his speech. Unfortunately for them, they couldn’t be seen from the stage because they were way, way in the back corner.
McCain gave a passionate speech about the dangers we face in the world (Russia, ISIS, Al Qaeda, etc.) and why the current Obama policy is failing to keep us safe.
At one point, someone yelled, “You’re a war mongrel!” Now, I’m guessing he meant “warmonger,” but, alas, either the adrenaline got to him, or he actually didn’t know what he was yelling.
Think about it: in a Republican meeting of State Committeemen (the very definition of “base Republicans”) someone is so out of touch with Republican principles and policy that they accuse a U.S. Senator, who was tortured for five years as a prisoner of war, of being a warmonger. For a second, I thought I was at an Occupy Wall Street rally.
Thankfully, the vast majority of attendees were cheering and applauding Sen. McCain and his speech – thus demonstrating that the critics of McCain were a distinct minority.
To his credit, State Party Chairman, Robert Graham, got up after McCain’s speech and admonished those who had shown complete disrespect. It was a moment of leadership that has defined the kind of Chairman Graham has been: fair-minded, following the rules, and urging unity. It’s no wonder Graham won a landslide re-election as Chairman, garnering nearly 80% of the vote.
Graham’s landslide victory is also a testament to an Arizona Republican Party that is excelling. Graham raised significant money for the 2014 cycle and made the party relevant again. No one can say that Republicans didn’t elect a strong conservative slate of statewide officers and a conservative legislature.
But let’s get back to McCain.
Despite some national groups calling him their number one target, I don’t believe Senator McCain will face a serious challenge – either in the primary or the general election in 2016. Here’s why:
- Obama’s foreign policy will continue to be a complete failure. There will be more terrorist attacks (like what happened in France) and some American lives might even be lost. From his post as the Senate Armed Services Chairman, Senator McCain will have ample opportunity to try to hold the Obama administration accountable for their failed foreign policy.
- Anyone who is thinking about mounting a challenge to McCain remembers what happened to JD Hayworth. It wasn’t pretty.
- 2016 is likely to be framed in the context of a national security election. If there is one thing that unifies the base of the Republican Party it is that we believe the first (and almost only) function of government is to “provide for the common defense.” If McCain is leading that charge, it will be hard for someone to get traction against him.
There are probably other reasons, but for now, a real challenge doesn’t seem to be shaping up.
The Arizona Republic published a piece I wrote about the Arizona Governor’s race. Here it is in it’s entirety:
Doug Ducey is a blueprint for the GOP
Sean Noble, AZ I See It
Sean Noble: Doug Ducey stood FOR something, and voters responded to his agenda.
Plenty of those taking office in January got there simply by not being a Democrat in a Republican year. If the GOP is to prevail in 2016, they’ll need more.
Doug Ducey’s successful gubernatorial campaign in Arizona provides the blueprint for Republicans going forward.
When conservatives pine for “the next Ronald Reagan,” they are really talking about leadership. They want someone who articulates a vision, who can build a broad, diverse coalition, and who fights for conservative principles rather than conservative politics.
Arizona has found such a leader in former Cold Stone Creamery CEO Doug Ducey, an energetic, optimistic businessman who was fond of saying, “I built a business, now I want to shrink a government and grow an economy.” Ducey is a man of action; he’ll do what he says he’ll do.
And what is that? He’ll make changes to education funding so that more dollars make it to the classroom, rather than bloated administrations.
He’ll reduce the waiting lists for high-performing schools so that low-income kids can have access to the best education possible.
He’ll end the practice of government picking winners and losers and lower individual and corporate income taxes so that Arizona attracts new business.
And he’ll provide leadership that all Arizonans — and conservatives — can be proud of.
Doug Ducey stood for something; voters cast their ballots in support of his agenda rather than against the Democratic agenda. Ducey ran an effective campaign by building a broad coalition, staying on message and clearly articulating a platform of opportunity, which resonated with Arizonans.
American Encore commissioned Kellyanne Conway of the Polling Company, Inc. and Women Trend to conduct a post-election poll. Conway’s findings show Ducey won big on substance.
Education was a clear priority for voters (35 percent), with the economy next (32 percent) followed by border security (13 percent) and health care/”Obamacare” (12 percent).
When it came to education, 65 percent of women and 62 percent of men said it was important to their vote that Ducey supported scholarship programs to give low-income children access to high-performing schools.
By making it clear that education mattered to him and delivering a strong message of support for school choice, Ducey neutralized Fred DuVal’s negative messaging that Ducey didn’t care about education. This among other factors led to a remarkable result: Ducey beat DuVal among women.
The Democratic “war on women” playbook just fell flat with voters. When asked about the most important issues in casting their vote for governor, 1 percent cited women’s issues and another 1 percent cited abortion.
In fact, Fred DuVal is the first Democratic candidate to fumble the abortion issue. He took the extreme position that parents should not have to consent in order for their 14 year-old daughter to get an abortion. Fifty-nine percent of voters cited that position as important to their vote.
Other typical liberal rhetoric like class warfare and climate change failed to move Arizona voters. Only 1 percent of voters cited income inequality as important, and less than 1 percent cited climate change.
Oh, and for all the media squawking about “dark money”? Exactly one respondent out of 500 thought it important.
Doug Ducey attracted a broad range of support. In addition to winning among women, he won 24 percent of the Hispanic vote and only slightly trailed DuVal among young voters, while enjoying a 25-point advantage with 45- to 54-year-olds and leading big among those 55 and older.
Of course, the national environment had some impact on the race: Only 37 percent of voters had a favorable opinion of President Barack Obama, and 57 percent had an unfavorable opinion.
But the environment doesn’t explain the 12-point margin of victory for Ducey. On Election Day, Ducey enjoyed a 50 vs. 31 percent favorable/unfavorable rating, compared with DuVal at 38 vs. 35 percent favorable/unfavorable rating. That had a huge impact on late deciding voters — of which there were more than usual. A whopping 23 percent made up their mind in the last two weeks of the election.
The late Steve Shadegg, one of the premiere election experts in modern history, said that, ultimately, elections come down to whom you can trust. If you explain your positions eloquently and honestly, as Doug Ducey did, people will trust you — even if they don’t agree with you on every issue. Ducey provided Republicans with the perfect campaign blueprint; next, he’ll show them how to govern.
Sean Noble is the president of American Encore.
A week and a half ago, the Chicago Bears’ Lamarr Houston suffered a season-ending injury as a result of a post-play celebration. Mr. Houston sacked the Patriots’ backup quarterback…while the Bears were losing by 25 points…in the fourth quarter. Aside from looking like an idiot, Houston now cannot do the job for which he is paid millions. In the coming weeks and months, Republicans risk committing the same error: rendering themselves incapable due to unnecessary and unwarranted celebrations.
Yes, Republicans won big this midterm – once all the dust settles they will have picked up at least nine seats in the Senate, adding at least 15 seats to their majority in the House, and will occupy 32 Governor’s seats. It was a blowout – primarily because the nation’s problems are big and our president incompetent. So while we cheer for the wave of wins, the reasons for the wins are not necessarily cause for celebration.
Abroad America’s influence diminishes. We’re weak, we lack resolve; we waffle on issues where we once stood firm. Our foes move in to fill the power vacuum and instability reigns.
At home, “mistakes” in Washington turn to scandals, which result in crises of confidence, giving way to partisan squabbling; rinse and repeat. Solyndra, Fast and Furious, Benghazi, the IRS, the VA, the cycle seems endless. Meanwhile, too many Americans remain out of work, the economy remains feeble, the Affordable Care Act remains unaffordable and uncaring, and the American Dream slips farther out of reach.
Polling in the lead up to Election Day showed that a large majority of Americans think we’re headed in the wrong direction, an ABC/Washington Post poll showed 70% think our country is on the wrong track. And, more than half of Americans, 54% according to Gallup, disapprove of Obama. These voters hope, skeptically perhaps, that the GOP can fix it or at least stem the tide of failure.
In 2012, had voters known what they know today, they would have elected Mitt Romney and I firmly believe our nation would now be on the upswing. Thanks however to a media that seeks to create “a narrative” of the world it wants rather than reporting the facts, Americans went to the polls woefully under-informed about Obama’s true job performance.
In a free society, the truth eventually gets out. No matter what damage control sound bites liberal pundits spin our way— “the opposing party historically tends to win big in midterm elections, especially during a president’s second term,” seems to be the go-to line—Obama’s lies, cover-ups, mismanagement, and failures are the reason the GOP now controls both the House and Senate. Jovial or smug celebrations on our part would demonstrate to voters that Republicans aren’t up to the task of governing either.
So, before we start that victory dance, Republicans must recognize that Americans didn’t vote for us because they think we’re good, but because they think we cannot be worse. Let’s not prove them wrong. Skip the celebration. It’s time to govern.
Election Night 2014 ongoing updates.
(11:00 pm EST) – Networks have reversed their call for New Hampshire as Brown gains ground as votes continue to be counted.
Tillis is growing his lead over Sen. Hagan in North Carolina.
In Arizona – Ducey declared winner for Governor in Arizona. Republican Mark Brnovich, the cinderella story of Arizona politics this year, is leading Democrat Felicia Rotellini 53-47 in Attorney General race. Michelle Reagan leads Terry Goddard 52-48 for Secretary of State.
(10:00 pm EST) – Gardner has won the Senate race in Colorado. That is a HUGE win.
(9:30 pm EST) – South Dakota has been called for Mike Rounds – another pick up for the GOP march towards a Senate Majority. While the networks have called New Hampshire for Sen. Shaheen, it’s only a four point spread with 33% of precincts reporting. A little early.
Colorado has about 50% reporting and Gardner leads Sen. Udall by five.
Virginia continues to look very close – could be the story of the night.
Gov. Rick Scott appears to have overcome the challenge from Charlie Crist in Florida.
(8:30 pm EST) – Polls just closed in Arkansas and the race is already called for Tom Cotton – who defeated Sen. Mark Pryor. The wave continues.
(7:45 pm EST) – Polls have closed in Kentucky, Georgia, West Virginia, and North Carolina. McConnell has been declared the winner in Kentucky, Capito wins West Virginia, Perdue led in the exit polls in Georgia, and exit polls in North Carolina showed the race tied.
Exits showed leads for the GOP in IA, CO, AR, AK, and KS.
If all that holds, GOP Senate majority is a certainty.
November 4, 2014 will be remembered as the day that the GOP swept all statewide offices.
Here are the final predictions for the Arizona races:
Governor – Ducey 54.5%
SOS – Reagan 52.4%
AG – Brnovich 56.3%
CD 1 – Tobin 53.5%
CD 2 – McSally 54%
Corp Comm – Little and Forese 52%
The wild card is CD 9, where Krysten Sinema is in a dogfight with Wendy Rogers. If the tide turns, look for Rogers to squeak out a narrow win over Sinema.
Post Script: In the race for Superintendent of public instruction, Diane Douglas will win.
Political folks like me rely on a lot of different information when they try to prognosticate about elections. Money raised and spent, voter registration, historical turnout, polling, anecdotal stories from the campaign trail, data from voter ID calls, and door knocks – you get the picture.
And sometimes, it’s just a feeling. An instinct. A sense that there is something palpable happening.
I felt that way in 2010 with the House races. It seemed like every day there was new evidence that there was going to be a big, big wave.
Turns out, there was a huge wave.
Well, I’m feeling that way again. Granted, the wave seems smaller, or at least much later in breaking, and that might actually mean something. A late-breaking wave that hits closer to shore is more disruptive than one that breaks further out. So, this late breaking wave could be very disruptive.
Setting aside my gut instinct, here are some fundamental reasons Republicans are going to have a big win tomorrow night.
This is probably the most important indicator that Democrats are in trouble. The President is incredibly unpopular and voters will punish many Democrats on the ballot because of it.
Much better ground game on the right
There has been some serious investment by the RNC and GOP state parties as well as from conservative outside groups like Americans for Prosperity to staff field operations that are doing real outreach to low-propensity voters that will help off-set the built-in advantages of the Democrats.
Better use of technology
One of the things I harp on when people talk about using technology in politics is that all the technology in the world doesn’t do a bit of good unless you have the manpower to actually put it to use. Given that the conservative ground game is doing much better, there is some great use of technology that is helping the right close the gap with the left.
Early spending from outside groups
One of the things that most people have forgotten, since it feels like the campaign has gone on forever, is that there were some outside groups running issue ads against incumbent Democrat Senators in the spring… of last year!
This was meant to start to drive up the unfavorables of incumbents – and force the other side to spend money much earlier than they had planned. This strategy is paying off, because most of those incumbents are in grave danger of losing tomorrow.
So those are the fundamentals of what will happen tomorrow. Here is how I think it actually goes down in the Senate races.
Republicans will certainly win the following states:
Not as certain, but states I still think go Republican are:
We won’t know it tomorrow, because there will be a run-off, but the Republicans will win Louisiana in December.
Also, Republicans will hold their seats in Kentucky, Georgia and Kansas. We may have to wait until January for Republicans to win Georgia if it goes to a run-off. That means a net gain of 10 seats for the GOP.
And then there are the close, but not quite, seats – what I call the “what could have been” seats. The Republican candidates will finish much closer than expected in Virginia, Minnesota, Oregon, and New Mexico. My guess is that Virginia could be as close as 2-3 points, with a very slim possibility that the Republican wins. The losses in Minnesota, Oregon and New Mexico will likely be by less than 6 points.
And, for the U.S. House, I am predicting a NET gain of 15-18 seats. Yes, bullish – but I think it’s that kind of year. It only takes a net of 9 seats for the Republicans to have their largest majority since 1946.
Now, we wait and see.
President Obama and his policies are very bad for the United States. As conservatives, we know that. Heck, most Americans believe it.
So when conservatives overreact to something Obama says, it makes other criticisms of him and his policies less impactful.
Case in point is a comment that Obama said a couple days ago about stay at home moms. The headline in the Weekly Standard blared: Obama on Moms Who Stay Home to Raise Kids: ‘That’s Not a Choice We Want Americans to Make’
Now, that certainly sounds outrageous. But is that actually what happened? Here is Obama’s quote on that point:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
My interpretation is that what Obama was trying to say was that moms (or dads) who choose to stay home with their kids should be stuck earning a lower wage later when they re-enter the workforce.
I generally agree with that. What I don’t want is government dictating that parents who leave the workforce to raise kids come back into the workforce at a certain wage or salary. That should be left up to market forces. And, if business owners are smart, they will take into account the skills, experience, and talent of parents re-entering the workforce.
A good treatment on this comes from Mollie Hemingway at The Federalist. She points out that moms who choose to stay at home recognize that their earning potential will be impacted in the future – and they still make the choice to stay at home.
At the same time, I’m struck by how shallow our discussion of parenting is. Of all the things to note about how parenting changes you, the craziest is the idea that the only thing that really matters is income. Yes, I traded income for more time with my children. And I still do.
And I’m the winner in this exchange, as are my children. Maybe it’s because I grew up in a family with much happiness but not much in the banking account. I don’t know. But I learned from my parents that there are things far more valuable than cash money. Time with my children far exceeds any paycheck I’ve received (it may help that I’m a writer, admittedly). I treasure the moments I’ve had caring for them, watching them reach milestones, seeing them conquer obstacles, helping them learn musical instruments or how to read. I have never had a job — particularly some of the horrible office jobs I’ve had — that came close to the joy and fulfillment I’ve had with my daughters.
The bottom line for me is that Obama gives us plenty of things to criticize fairly. We don’t need to overreach to make the point that he’s been a terrible president and that the country is in worse shape know that in should be.
If anything, the results on Tuesday are going to prove that point in spades.
Yes, my headline is poking fun at the stupid trend on the Internet of “blah blah blah, what happened next was (insert over-the-top adjective here).”
However, this video of young girls using the f word is not interesting, not amazing, not educational, not informative, and certainly not thought provoking. It is shameless marketing to sell t-shirts.
Caitlin Dewey from the Washington Post writes:
Most people would agree the gender wage-gap is bad. But is it more or less bad than profit-motivated adults instructing little girls to curse for a viral video?
That is, in a nutshell, the false equivalence at the heart of a new and wildly controversial video by the T-shirt brand FCKH8, which since Tuesday has racked up more than 100,000 views on YouTube alone. The video consists of girls, ages six to 13, dropping frequent F-bombs in a discussion of pay inequality, stereotypical gender roles and sexual violence — a concept far more dangerous to the six-year-old mind, some might argue, than any casual curse words could be.
Presumably, if you do find the girls’ language offensive, you’re not a very good feminist…
FCKH8 is, after all, a for-profit company, owned entirely by Synergy Media — a corporate branding studio that specializes in (whaddya know!) marketing. Each T-shirt FCKH8 sells retails for between $15 and $37, five dollars of which the company promises to donate to charity. After FCKH8’s last campaign — in which the company had children from Ferguson, Mo. read statistics on racism to “white people” — that cut went to the Mike Brown Memorial Fund and the NAACP. Critics, of whom there are many, were not impressed.
Another view is even more succinct. This one from Darlena Cunha:
So when a 7-year-old says, “I’m not some pretty [f-word] helpless princess in distress” in a mocking tone, my heart screams, “Oh, yes, honey, you are. Oh my God, you are. Not because you’re a girl, but because you are a child.”
Children can be helpless; sometimes they do need help, and it is of utmost importance that they know it. Because growing up in a world where people will take advantage of them in any way possible, they will need an arsenal of people they can trust to help them. We constantly tell our children to talk to a trusted adult if something questionable happens to them, be it bullying, abuse or any kind of sexual advance. By having them internalize the message that they are strong and unstoppable, we may inadvertently be pushing them along the path of blaming themselves should they somehow be unable to stop a rapist, mugger, or even the patriarchy in general.
Not to mention FCKH8 is setting up a false dichotomy by pretending that people would or should be equally offended at little girls dropping the f-bomb as they are the inequity women face on a daily basis. If there ever was a case of apples and oranges, this is it. Just because both feminism and little girls swearing about feminism contain both girls and feminism does not make them comparable on any deep level.
The best analysis comes from The Belle Jar:
First of all, let’s get one thing straight: this video is not some kind of PSA, it’s an advertisement. FCKH8 is a for-profit t-shirt company – emphasis on the profit – that has put together an exploitative and manipulative two minute and thirty five second commercial for t-shirts. And while FCKH8 asserts that all of this is “for a good cause” (they’ve promised to donate $5 from each t-shirt sale to as-yet-undisclosed organizations) the only cause that’s being promoted by this video is their bank account.
There is nothing feminist about using little girls as props in order to sell t-shirts – in fact, I would argue that this is the opposite of feminism. There is nothing feminist about exploiting a bunch of little girls by having them swear and talk about rape statistics just so that FCKH8 can make a quick buck. There is nothing feminist about creating an association between potty-mouthed little kids and social justice – and that’s not a slight against potty-mouths, because I fucking love swearing, but rather a statement on the fact that this video plays into a lot of the negative stereotypes that people already have about feminism.
I’m not against people making a profit. My problem is that FCKH8 is pretending that they are creating a useful dialogue about societal issues – when really all they are doing is selling t-shirts.