Monday, July 30, 2012

We Need More Heroes

We Need More Heroes  

By: Lurita Doan  / Townhall Daily

Dr. Sally Ride, an extraordinary woman, a legendary astronaut and a leadership pioneer died last week to little or no fanfare. I kept waiting for the front-page newspaper encomium that would outline her many accomplishments and the breadth of her influence. But that didn’t happen. And then it struck me: perhaps mainstream newspapers are hesitant to highlight the accomplishments of true, known heroes, for fear that the current corral of candidates, congressmen and political operatives who seem to hog the headlines these days look downright puny in comparison.

Sally Ride was a scholar, an astronaut and an entrepreneur. Her degrees from Stanford, B.S., M.A. and a Ph.D. in Physics were clear proof of her brilliance and dedication to science. And, in the 70s, a time when many women were just beginning to enter male-dominated fields, Sally was a standout. What many people may not know is that Sally was also an English major at Stanford, and it was perhaps her superb ability to communicate, both verbally and in writing, that translated the complexity of science into everyday language to inspire new generations of kids who wanted to be astronauts and captivated the public.

As the first American woman to enter earth orbit in space, Sally became a thing of legend. And she used her fame and her knowledge for good.

In 1987, Sally Ride wrote a report for NASA, expressing her concerns that NASA had begun deviating from its core mission. She urged a stronger focus on space travel, outposts on the moon and, eventually, travel to Mars. The report was not well received by the NASA bureaucracy and Sally Ride retired and became a professor at Stanford.

But Sally was right to call her report NASA Leadership & America’s Future in Space. NASA had, and continues, to stray from its core mission. The U.S. space program has, essentially, been canceled. Instead of pushing the agency to focus on its core mission and core competencies, Obama has allowed NASA to take itself out of the space business, and thus take the country out of space for the next 30 years.

Worse, to put a man in space, America will now be required to pay Russia for shuttle space. Not too surprisingly, Russia has already stepped forward and declared that the next decade will be "the era of the Soyuz" as Russian space exploration continues.

When I met Sally Ride (we share a 2003 entrepreneurial visionary award), she had become an entrepreneur. Her company, which she had started in 2001, focused on grabbing the attention of the next generation through books for kids about science and space, and seminars and teaching materials for elementary and high school teachers.

Ride understood the power of business and the positive good that can come from capitalism well deployed. She understood that waiting for the government to take action was not necessarily the best way to get something done. And she understood that, often, the private sector can do better than the government, and at substantially less cost.

Sally Ride also understood that many of our problems, in this country with attracting a new generation into careers in math and science, lay with the teacher corps--oftentimes so unionized and so narrowly focused in what a teacher can and cannot teach in a curriculum, that all enthusiasm, from both student and teacher, is lost.

She was no stranger to the political machine, but unlike many other celebrities trotting up to Capitol Hill, who seem to be motivated by a combination of media stunt and activism, Sally only came when called. She worked on several Blue Ribbon commissions, including the prestigious and contentious Presidential Commission on the Space Shuttle Challenger. Ride was familiar with congressional grandstanding, political witch-hunts and Washington’s CYA-at-all-costs mentality. But she didn’t let that stop her from taking a tough stand.

So many women, moving up the professional ladder try too hard to “be one of the boys” or to break into “the old boys’ club”. Sally Ride proved she could be more than just one of the boys, and that sometimes, being in a club of one is just fine.

Sally Ride was also an inspiration to anyone who ever considered a career change. At least three times, she changed her course professionally. Sally Ride, in academia, in space and in business empowered women to enter fields previously restricted to them because of gender, and she did it with a quiet heroism and without a lot of fanfare.

Sadly, many of the news articles written on Ride focused predominantly on the fact that she was gay. So what? Big deal. In what appears to be an effort to pander to the LGBT community, press coverage highlighted Ride’s sexual preference over her other accomplishments.

It is natural in Washington these days for special interest groups to grab at any straw to advance their issues, but one wonders: if the 2012 International AIDS conference had not been in Washington, DC the week that Sally Ride died, would the main stream media have deigned to give her death any coverage at all?

Each week, dozens of books and articles on leaders and leadership make it to print. Many of them, as a subtext, bemoan the current scarcity of “true” leaders. The truth is that we do have leaders, though they are not always the ones who make the leads in front page stories. Our nation has extraordinary Americans, doing extraordinary things, everyday, all around us. We just don’t value them the way we should.

Dr. Sally Ride showed the world what America was all about—that we truly are the land of opportunity. She showed the world that it’s up to each of us to do our best with every opportunity that comes our way, without entitlements, without handouts. She was an exemplary role model in self-sufficiency and common sense and the power of free market enterprise to change the world.

There are lots of folks talking about making the world a better place, but then they wait for the government to do it. Not Sally. She just did it. She made the world a better place, and we are all just a bit better off because an exceptional young woman once looked to the stars and made her dream a reality.

Education: No Longer a Panacea for Blacks

Education: No Longer a Panacea for Black

A recent article in the Washington Post highlighted a particular segment of the nation’s struggling unemployed. That is in itself is not surprising. After all, black unemployment exceeds the unemployment level for handicapped people and many other challenged groups within our nation. The group that the Post profiled was people with Ph.D.s in the sciences. An increasing number of chemists, biologists and other scientists who have invested heavily in their education are finding themselves jobless. Of those who are employed, thousands are doing lower-wage “post-doc” work in laboratories, as opposed to heading up research projects or teaching in universities.

I have always believed that education is one of the vital keys to upward mobility and overcoming poverty. Ph.D. unemployment however, is a startling fact for African Americans who have been taught that education is the great racial equalizer. They have been encouraged to sell or sacrifice almost anything to achieve the highest levels of education. The Washington Post, however, shows us that the most sought-after Ph.D.s may not be the great career makers. Those who are advising today’s students often imply that a college or graduate degree is some sort of financial guarantee. The Post article noted the loud clamoring by groups like the National Science Foundation and the current administration for more American students to pursue advanced degrees in the sciences.

These groups fail to mention that highly-trained students may not find jobs in their field when they finish their degrees.

I’ll never forget a discussion I had with my father at the ripe old age of 12 years. He told me that he was not going to give me a traditional inheritance. He informed me that there would be no money left. Instead, he would give me my inheritance now. My inheritance would be in the form of him financing my entire education as far as I chose to go. The only thing that he asked in return was that I would commit myself to being the best I could be at whatever career path I chose. I thank God for his wisdom and because of his guidance I excelled in a private high school, a private college and in Ivy League graduate school. I will never forget that somebody had to pay for my schooling and I will never forgot that Dad had to work very hard to pay it off.

Students from wealthy or upper-middle class families may find themselves out of work for a while, but they likely have a support system to help them change course and find something else to do. Poorer students, however, particularly those who may be the first in their families to go to college, often borrow huge amounts of money just to obtain a bachelor’s degree. And it is not just the students themselves who are affected: parents or grandparents have often co-signed for the loans, only to find themselves deeply in debt during their retirement years.

Education is an investment, and like any investment it requires thorough research beforehand. There is nothing wrong with majoring in social work, for example. But you should not borrow tens of thousands of dollars to obtain a degree that leads to a career with an average annual salary of $30,000. Students must research the job market, as well as the salaries they can reasonably expect to earn upon graduating before taking out loans that can cripple them financially for decades to come.

Nationwide, we are now facing almost $1 trillion dollars in student loan debt. A 2010 report from the College Board Advocacy and Policy Center revealed that black college graduates have more student loan debt than any other racial group. Twenty-seven percent of African Americans with bachelor’s degrees are carrying at least $30,500 in student loan debt, compared to just 16% of their white counterparts and 9% of Asian American college graduates. The top 1% of all borrowers is facing over $150,000 of debt!

What is the consequence of all this debt? It hinders the very progress we want all students, and racial minorities in particular, to make. Debt ridden graduates are hindered from buying houses and delay getting married and having children. Common sense would indicate this has not helped our nation’s slowing economy.

Many experts have offered policy proposals in response to the mounting student debt crisis. Some have proposed complete student loan forgiveness. Besides being impractical, this is markedly unfair to the adults who declined opportunities to attend high-priced prestigious institutions in order to avoid such debt. Others, including the Chronicle of Higher Education, have called for making four-year college free, just as K-12 education is. But that will still cost money.

Personally, I want to call on all education advocates to start being honest about what a college education is and is not. It is a vital part of improving one’s prospects in life. It is not a magic bullet that guarantees financial security regardless of major or debt burden. Every family should research the most affordable option for college, as well as the job market for various majors. All students should make plans for how they will realistically use their degrees upon graduation.
Obama's CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency's Near East Division

More Obama betrayal of a loyal ally. "U.S. sees Israel as spy threat," 

By Matt Apuzzo for the Associated Press (thanks to Pamela Geller):
WASHINGTON — WASHINGTON The CIA station chief opened the locked box containing the sensitive equipment he used from his home in Tel Aviv, Israel, to communicate with CIA headquarters in Virginia, only to find that someone had tampered with it. He sent word to his superiors about the break-in. 
The incident, described by three former senior U.S. intelligence officials, might have been dismissed as just another cloak-and-dagger incident in the world of international espionage, except that the same thing had happened to the previous station chief in Israel.
It was a not-so-subtle reminder that, even in a country friendly to the United States, the CIA was itself being watched.
In a separate episode, according to two other former U.S. officials, a CIA officer in Israel came home to find the food in the refrigerator had been rearranged. In all the cases, the U.S. government believes Israel's security services were responsible.
Such meddling underscores what is widely known but rarely discussed outside intelligence circles: Despite inarguable ties between the U.S. and its closest ally in the Middle East and despite statements from U.S. politicians trumpeting the friendship, U.S. national security officials consider Israel to be, at times, a frustrating ally and a genuine counterintelligence threat.
In addition to what the former U.S. officials described as intrusions in homes in the past decade, Israel has been implicated in U.S. criminal espionage cases and disciplinary proceedings against CIA officers and blamed in the presumed death of an important spy in Syria for the CIA during the administration of President George W. Bush.
The CIA considers Israel its No. 1 counterintelligence threat in the agency's Near East Division, the group that oversees spying across the Middle East, according to current and former officials. Counterintelligence is the art of protecting national secrets from spies. This means the CIA believes that U.S. national secrets are safer from other Middle Eastern governments than from Israel....
Romney said in a speech this past week that Israel was "one of our fondest friends," and he criticized Obama for what he called the administration's "shabby treatment" of the Jewish state....
Another black day in Olympic history
By: Diane Sori

I will not be watching the Summer Olympics, period.  I didn’t watch the Opening Ceremonies; I will not watch the competitions or the Closing Ceremonies.

While I support our American athletes 100%, I cannot watch games that do not have the decency to honor the eleven Israeli athletes and coaches who were brutally slaughtered at the Munich games forty years ago.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) has shown the worst kind of anti-Semitism possible as they're kowtowing down to muslim Arabs, the people who hate everything the West stands for, and especially to the Palestinians, the very ones who committed this atrocity.  The IOC can claim all they want that they didn’t want to make a political statement by honoring the Israelis, but in NOT doing so they are doing the very thing they didn’t want to do.

A minute of silence...that was all that was asked for.  No fancy tributes, no speeches, just a simple minute of silence to honor the blackest day in Olympic history and the IOC would NOT do it, saying they didn’t want to offend anyone (meaning muslims) by doing so.  So instead they deliberately and knowingly chose to offend Israel, the Jewish people, and civilized moral people worldwide. 

And worse, they chose to offend the widows and families who have been waiting for 40 years for some sort of recognition that their loved ones were murdered at games that are supposed to promote peace, cooperation, tolerance, and understanding amongst the peoples of the world.

A minute of silence out of a three-hour opening ceremony...equals just a tiny bit more than five seconds to honor each victim. Is that too much to ask...I think not. 

Thankfully, NBC broadcaster Bob Costas had the decency and courage to do what no others would do as he caught the TV audience by surprise when he said, "Still, for many, tonight with the world watching is the true time and place to remember those who were lost and how and why they died."

After a five-second pause, NBC cut to a commercial.  At least they let his words sink in for five seconds.

I applaud you, Mr. Bob Costas.

And remember the slaughter we will no matter how hard the IOC, who have shown themselves to be nothing but muslim sympathizers, try to stop that from happening.  Eleven Israeli husbands, fathers, sons, brothers, and uncles were murdered at the hands of Palestinian barbarians who are no different today than they were forty years ago.   

Bastards still and bastards they will always be.

And what makes this even worse and more heartbreaking is that the IOC had no problem observing that very same minute of silence for a Georgian luger killed in an accident a few hours before the Opening Ceremony at the 2010 Vancouver Games.  Him they honored but eleven Jews they would not.

Anti-Semitism...flat out in your face anti-Semitism of the worst kind done by hypocrites who have no heart, no soul, and no morals.  Instead of honoring those who came to the games in the spirit of friendly competition and who were murdered on Olympic soil, the IOC cared more about the threat of a boycott by Arab nations.

I am so sick and tired of all the catering and bowing down in submission to the Arabs, the muslims, the Palestinians, and all their vile brethren.  And I am beyond furious that the IOC stands by the very people out to kill us all instead of commemorating eleven brave souls whose lives were cut short by the very ones they are catering to.

Sadly, because of that, I will have to support our American athletes just in spirit for I will NOT watch the Winter Games either, or any future games for that matter, until this terrible wrong is righted.

And I doubt that I’m the only one who feels this way.