Category Archives: John F. Kennedy

JFK’s Challenge to NASA

By 1961 the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union was well under way but even then few would have dreamed of what ended up happening by the end of the decade. On this date in 1961 John F. Kennedy put forward a goal for NASA and the country to chase. You can find an 8 minute clip of the speech on the JFK Library website.

I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth.

It is one of the iconic quotes in American history and is meaningful even today as America ponders its future in space. Former Apollo commanders Neil Armstrong, Jim Lovell and Eugence Cernan have penned an open letter voicing their disappointment about the future of NASA.

While the future of manned space flights from NASA is far from set in stone they did announce a plan earlier today to explore Asteroids starting in 2016.

Earlier today the JFK Library also released audio of JFK discussing the space program with NASA officials.
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50th anniversary of JFK Inauguration

At this hour 50 years ago JFK delivered his Inaugural Address.

And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you–ask what you can do for your country. 

That is the line we have all heard over and over again that gets quoted from this speech but there are other quotable lines as well.

Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans–born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage–and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.

JFK was the first President born in the 20th century. His youthful persona helped him reach out to the younger generation and deliver a call to action.

Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms–and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.

The START Treaty was in the news not too long ago so I though this passage was relevant even today.

So let us begin anew–remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate. 

His words to the Soviet Union would fit well today if they were targeted to both parties in congress.


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Senator Ted Kennedy dies at 77

What an eventful morning already…..and it is just 5:22 AM as I start to type this. With Ramadan going on right now us Muslims wake up long before sunrise (the time for this morning was around 4:50 AM) and eat in the morning before fasting until sunset. Then I find out Senator Ted Kennedy has passed away.

Somehow today we all slept in. Somehow I missed all the text alerts that are piled up on my cell phone right now. Somehow I turned to the internet this early morning and just happened to catch a Tweet from Steve Brusk of CNN:

President Obama says “an important chapter in our history has come to an end” with the passing of Sen. Kennedy

It is an end of an era today. Since 1952 there has only been a short stretch for 2 years (1960 election until the special election in 1962) that did not have a Kennedy in the United States Senate.

The man was simply a legend. If the United States Senate had a 100 Ted Kennedy’s this country would be a better place. His was a voice that held some major clout in the Senate. His was a voice that mattered. When he was giving a speech…you stopped and listened. When he endorsed Barack Obama about a year ago….it mattered. When he showed up at the Democratic Convention last year….it mattered. The man just knew how to hold the crowd in the palm of his hands. He showed it over and over again. He spoke with passion….and his record in the United States Senate shows it.

His 3 older brothers all died at a really young age but the images we have of JFK and RFK are those of those 2 young charismatic men. We forget that if JFK was alive today he’d be 92 and if RFK was alive he’d be 84. Although not as famous as the his 3 younger brothers Joseph P. Kennedy Jr. was only 29 when he was killed. Ted was the only one of the 4 brothers to die of natural causes. Associated Press points out that there is only one living Kennedy sibling left.

“For me, a few hours ago, this campaign came to an end. For all those whose cares have been our concern, the work goes on, the cause endures, the hope still lives, and the dream shall never die.”

Who can ever forget his infamous speech from the 1980 Democratic Convention?

What happens to Health Care reform now? Did it die with him this morning or do the Democrats finally wake up and unite on this. His was a voice that really could have made a big difference in the months to come. He spoke about it at the DNC Convention last year:

But we have never lost our belief that we are all called to a better country and a newer world. And I pledge to you — I pledge to you that I will be there next January on the floor of the United States Senate when we begin the great test.

Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you.

For me this is a season of hope — new hope for a justice and fair prosperity for the many, and not just for the few — new hope.

And this is the cause of my life — new hope that we will break the old gridlock and guarantee that every American — north, south, east, west, young, old — will have decent, quality health care as a fundamental right and not a privilege.

We can meet these challenges with Barack Obama. Yes, we can, and finally, yes, we will.

It should never be forgotten that Ted Kennedy was one of the voices who opposed the Iraq War in 2002.

Who picks up the torch on the Left?

Barack Obama released a statement early this morning. Reports had it that he was scheduled to meet with Ted Kennedy this week.

His impact was recognized around the world. Just this year it was announced that he would receive Honorary Knighthood from Queen Elizabeth.

A Statement from President Obama:

Michelle and I were heartbroken to learn this morning of the death of our dear friend, Senator Ted Kennedy.

For five decades, virtually every major piece of legislation to advance the civil rights, health and economic well being of the American people bore his name and resulted from his efforts.

I valued his wise counsel in the Senate, where, regardless of the swirl of events, he always had time for a new colleague. I cherished his confidence and momentous support in my race for the Presidency. And even as he waged a valiant struggle with a mortal illness, I’ve profited as President from his encouragement and wisdom.

An important chapter in our history has come to an end. Our country has lost a great leader, who picked up the torch of his fallen brothers and became the greatest United States Senator of our time.

And the Kennedy family has lost their patriarch, a tower of strength and support through good times and bad.

Our hearts and prayers go out to them today–to his wonderful wife, Vicki, his children Ted Jr., Patrick and Kara, his grandchildren and his extended family.

His death leaves the question….who will pick up the Kennedy family torch of public service? Some would say he himself passed the torch off to Barack Obama last year.

Yes I am aware of Chappaquiddick. But like millions of others I long ago decided that the 40 years in Senate after that paint a better a picture of what the man has done for this country.

Someone has to do him justice and give him a eulogy we’ll remember years from. Whether it is Barack Obama or Caroline Kennedy…someone has to fill the shoe that unfortunately we’ve come to know “Uncle Teddy”. He buried his brothers at a young age. He eulogized his mother. He’s even eulogized nephews. Always with class, always with a speech worthy of the moment.

Ted Kennedy eulogies:
Jackie Kennady Onassis.
Robert F. Kennedy

The Dream Shall Never Die.

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Obama’s Birthday

Happy 48th Birthday to President Barack Obama and Happy 89th(!) to Helen Thomas. She has covered every American President since Kennedy. Pretty impressive.

Barack Obama dropped by the Press briefing room to wish her a Happy Birthday today.

Barack Obama’s cake isn’t too bad either. Picture courtesy of NBC’s Savannah Guthrie

It is Obama’s Birthday so be on the lookout for crazy birthers around you who should be out in full force

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A Giant leap for Mankind

Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” Its been 40 years since those words and the more famous “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.” were spoken allegedly from the surface the moon. Granted I am a conspiracy theorist from time to time as far as this subject is concerned but I am a big time NASA “fan” as far as manned missions are concerned and have become more of a believer the last few years.

I took a drive out to to the Kennedy Space Center in an attempt to see the launch of the Space Shuttle Endeavor a week ago yesterday only to have it be postponed due to weather. I did get a chance to see the launch from Orlando Airport when it eventually happened and even from about 50 miles away it was an amazing site to see.

It is easy for people to dismiss the Apollo program and the Space program as a waste of money but it is far from that. The technological and medical advances that came as a result of the space race are still felt today. Who knows what advances a trip back to the Moon or even Mars bring?

Will we ever go back? Everyone knows how much I disagree with George W. Bush on pretty much everything but I applauded his call for a return to the moon as far as manned flights are concerned. I hope to see it happen during my lifetime.

I don’t know if you are aware but a speech was prepared for Richard Nixon just in case the mission failed and the astronauts were stranded in space. Take a look at the speech here.

Tune in to the History Channel today. Some really good programming on the way. They are airing the original live broadcast of the Apollo 11 Moon landing. How cool is that? That is followed by a 2 hour show that follows the Apollo 11 crew from training to the end of their mission.

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Journey to the Moon: The 40th Anniversary of Apollo 11Apollo 11: The First Moon Landing

Obama vs McCain?

The McCain/Obama debates are going to be a repeat of the Nixon/Kennedy ones or even Reagan/Mondale. I mean McCain is pretty witty as his numerous appearances with Jon Stewart and Don Imus have shown but he is no match for Obama. Someone on his staff screwed up big time tonight. Why on earth did he come out to interrupt the Obama speech? First of all MSNBC didn’t even pick up his speech until Obama was done with this. Secondly, why didn’t he go before Obama? I understand why he couldn’t go a little bit later as it is getting late on the east coast and you want that TV audience….but to basically cut into Obama’s speech really highlights how bland of a speaker he really is. McCain and Obama pretty much started to campaign against each other today. McCain even stole a bit from Obama’s stump speech with the whole “fired up and ready to go bit.”

I loved the whole contrast with the two speeches. Obama speaking at a packed Kohl’s Center with a really energetic vibe….McCain’s speech looked and sounded like it was in someone’s basement.

Obama’s “fired up” Speech