Mid-Day Digest

Jul. 19, 2019

THE FOUNDATION

“It should be your care, therefore, and mine, to elevate the minds of our children and exalt their courage; to accelerate and animate their industry and activity; to excite in them an habitual contempt of meanness, abhorrence of injustice and inhumanity, and an ambition to excel in every capacity, faculty, and virtue.” —John Adams (1756)

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IN TODAY’S EDITION

FEATURED ANALYSIS

Pride in America, Then and Now — Apollo 11

Mark Alexander

In a week like most, when the mainstream media is filled with what is wrong with America and praising leftist political neophytes who parrot such sentiments, that relentless collective perspective on our nation is both ungrateful and reprehensible. Bad news is click-bait churn that sells advertising, which is a disgraceful motive for constantly droning about the negatives.

The fact is, the vast majority of Americans — “The People,” regardless of race, gender, ethnic heritage, income, or any of the other categories the Democrat Party and its Leftmedia propagandists use to divide us — are good people. And most of what is going on across America, outside the Beltway, is framed in goodness, generosity, and respect.

This week, we are reminded of yet another reason to take great pride in our nation — the 50th anniversary of the first step on our moon and the decade of danger and failures it took to get there.

In 1961, the Cold War was heating up and we were gravely concerned that the USSR’s successful launch of Sputnik 1 four years earlier would result in Soviet domination of space — a major national security threat that the communist Chinese pose today. John F. Kennedy, determined to take the lead, declared in a speech to Congress, “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.”

Pursuing that goal, and all of the collateral technological and industrial advances it would provide our nation, was a major undertaking. It cost our national treasury $25 billion ($115 billion in current dollars), required the effort of more than 400,000 military and civilian personnel, and in 1967 cost the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White, and Roger B. Chaffee, who died in a pre-launch test for Apollo 1.

On July 16, 1969 (years before the age of super-computer modeling and design), NASA launched Apollo 11, manned by Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Michael Collins, from Kennedy Space Center to the moon — a 238,900-mile flight, one way. They flew the combined North American Rockwell command module Columbia and Grumman lunar module Eagle atop a huge Saturn V Rocket. Armstrong was a Naval aviator and Aldrin and Collins were both Air Force pilots. Aldrin, who at 89 years of age is the only living crew member today, had a PhD from M.I.T. and was integral in development concepts for the mission.

On July 20th, mission commander Armstrong and pilot Aldrin separated the Eagle from Columbia, where Collins remained in orbit 57 miles above the moon’s surface.

At 20:17 UTC, Armstrong and Aldrin landed the Eagle on the moon. After a perilous descent and nearing exhaustion of their fuel supply, the Eagle touched down. Armstrong announced to the world, “Houston, Tranquility Base here. The Eagle has landed.” I recall those words vividly as they were broadcast worldwide.

Charles Duke, CAPCOM during the landing operation, acknowledged their landing, saying, “Roger, Tranquility, we copy you on the ground. You got a bunch of guys about to turn blue. We’re breathing again. Thanks a lot!” (In 1972, Duke would command the Apollo 16 mission, becoming the tenth of 12 astronauts to walk on the moon before NASA discontinued the moon missions.)

Recounting what symbol they settled on, Buzz Aldrin wrote: “A little while after our scheduled meal period, Neil would give the signal to step down the ladder onto the powdery surface of the moon. Now was the moment for communion. So I unstowed the elements in their flight packets. I put them and the Scripture reading on the little table in front of the abort guidance system computer. … Then I called back to Houston. ‘Houston, this is Eagle. This is the LM Pilot speaking. I would like to request a few moments of silence. I would like to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever he may be, to contemplate for a moment the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his own individual way.’ … I poured the wine into the chalice our church had given me. In the one-sixth gravity of the moon the wine curled slowly and gracefully up the side of the cup. It was interesting to think that the very first liquid ever poured on the moon, and the first food eaten there, were communion elements.”

Aldrin continued: “Just before I partook of the elements, I read the words which I had chosen to indicate our trust that as man probes into space we are in fact acting in Christ. … I sensed especially strongly my unity with our church back home, and with the Church everywhere. I read: ‘I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me.’”

Six hours after landing, Armstrong became the first person to step onto the lunar surface, joined by Aldrin 20 minutes later.

As he stepped from the Eagle’s ladder to the moon, Armstrong said famously, “That’s one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind.”

The two men explored the moon for about two hours and 15 minutes, collecting 21.5 kgs of lunar material and deploying an American flag. Before departing the moon, Armstrong broadcast to the world, “To all the other people that are listening and watching tonight, God bless you. Good night from Apollo 11.”

After 21 hours and 37 minutes on the lunar surface, they launched the Eagle back into space and successfully reunited with Collins in the command module Columbia. Together they returned to earth, splashing down in the Pacific on July 24th. (Take a 3D tour of Columbia’s interior and exterior, compliments of the Smithsonian.)

In his memoirs, Charles Duke wrote of his mission: “In 1972 aboard Apollo 16, I saw with my own eyes what is written in the Scriptures. In Isaiah 40:22 it says ‘It is He that sitteth upon the circle of the earth.’ And in Job 26:7, it is written ‘He hangeth the earth upon nothing.’ Who told Isaiah that the earth was a circle? … And how did the writer of Job know that the earth hung upon nothing? … This is the Lord I love and serve. This is the Lord who transformed by life. This is the Lord who transformed my marriage. … I used to say I could live ten thousand years and never have an experience as thrilling as walking on the moon. But the excitement and satisfaction of that walk doesn’t begin to compare with my walk with Jesus, a walk that lasts forever. I thought Apollo 16 would be my crowning glory, but the crown that Jesus gives will not tarnish or fade away. His crown will last throughout all eternity. … Not everyone has the opportunity to walk on the moon, but everybody has the opportunity to walk with the Son. It costs billions of dollars to send someone to the moon, but walking with Jesus is free, the Gift of God. ‘For by Grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God, not of works, lest any man should boast.’”

Faith was an attribute that some of the Apollo astronauts wrote about boldly, most notably, Apollo 15 astronaut Jim Irwin. He wrote More Than Earthlings: An Astronaut’s Thoughts for Christ-Centered Living. It is a collection of his personal devotionals, and in 1984 he was gracious enough to inscribe a copy of that book that sits amid my small collection of Apollo memorabilia.

Now, 50 years after Armstrong stepped on the moon, private-sector space launches are dominating the skies, and after years of planning, the USAF’s Space Command is preparing to transition into a new military branch, U.S. Space Force.

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ON OUR WEBSITE TODAY

BEST OF RIGHT OPINION

For more of today’s columns, visit Right Opinion.

TOP NEWS EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

CHANT REPUDIATED: According to The Washington Times, “President Trump on Thursday disavowed the ‘send her back’ chant that some of his campaign supporters directed at Somalia-born Rep. Ilhan Omar, saying he tried to stop it. ‘I was not happy with it. I disagree with it,’ the president told reporters at the White House. ‘I didn’t like that they did it.’” As a side note, Omar in 2015 used the phrase “our nation back home” while speaking to the Revolution Somali Youth League.

LABOR NOMINEE: Trump to nominate Antonin Scalia’s son for labor secretary (Reuters)

SOLID FIRST STEP: “Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday that the administration has reached a deal with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) on top-line spending numbers for a two-year budget deal. … Mnuchin’s comment means they’ve worked out a deal on what the overall spending levels will be for defense and nondefense programs, which are used by lawmakers to write government funding bills.” (The Hill)

DO AS I SAY, NOT AS I DO: “Presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders has pledged to American workers that he would institute a $15-per-hour minimum wage if he wins the White House in 2020. But unionized workers on Sanders’ own campaign say they wish he would start now — by paying a higher wage to them. According to a report, members of Sanders’ staff have been using the senator’s own campaign rhetoric against him as they try to wrestle more pay from the self-described democratic socialist.” (Fox News)

FUTILE EFFORT: “The Democrat-led House voted to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour, more than double the current rate of $7.25, and the first proposed increase in a decade. The legislation, approved 231 to 199, now goes to the Republican-led Senate, which is not expected to take it up.” (Washington Examiner)

IRAN DRONE DOWNED: “President Trump announced Thursday that a U.S. warship has downed an Iranian drone flying in the Strait of Hormuz. ‘The Boxer took defensive action against an Iranian drone, which had closed into a near distance, approximately 1000 yards, ignoring multiple calls to stand down, threatening [the] safety of [the] ship and ship’s crew,’ Trump told reporters during a White House press conference. The drone was ‘immediately destroyed,’ according to the president.” (National Review)

RECRUITMENT ENIGMA: “The best way to fix the U.S. armed forces’ recruiting challenges may involve dipping further into the nation’s high schools. As the Army, Navy and other services contend with a thriving economy and a directive to expand their ranks, there is a growing debate over whether the military should consider lowering the minimum enlistment age from 17 to 16.” (The Washington Times)

BITING THE HAND THAT FEEDS YOU: “Netflix’s latest quarterly report shows the streaming service giant experienced a chill in growth with its first quarterly loss of paid domestic subscribers in eight years. The dip in subscriptions came in the same quarter as Netflix’s decision to take a stance against Georgia’s pro-life ‘heartbeat bill.’” (The Daily Signal)

BAIL DENIED: “A federal judge on Thursday denied bail to wealthy investor Jeffrey Epstein, citing the potential danger to ‘new victims’ from his apparently ‘uncontrollable’ sexual fixation on young girls, and the risk that Epstein would flee to avoid prosecution for child sex trafficking charges.” (CNBC)

TRAGIC: “FDNY firefighter Richard Driscoll died on Wednesday, becoming the 200th New York firefighter to pass away from a 9/11-related illness just as the Senate was attempting to agree on an extension of the September 11th Victim Compensation Fund.” (National Review)

NOTICE A PATTERN?: “The U.K., most notably London, has experienced a sharp increase in knife-related crime, despite ‘knife control’ efforts to curb the violence, newly released figures detail. Knife crime in both England and Wales is up 8% from April 2018 to May 2019. U.K. police reports from 43 departments recorded 47,136 incidents involving sharp objects, an Office of National Statistics crime report says.” (The Daily Caller News Foundation)

POLICY: To avoid a debt crisis, look to … Canada and Sweden? (Issues & Insights)

POLICY: Fifty years after Apollo 11 moon landing, America is once again asserting leadership in space (The Heritage Foundation)

HUMOR: NASA announces all-female remake of staged moon landings (The Babylon Bee)

For more of today’s editors’ choice headlines, visit In Our Sights.

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OPINION IN BRIEF

Erick Erickson: “[Willem] Van Spronsen died … while attempting to firebomb an immigration center in Tacoma, Washington. Van Spronsen embraced Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s claims that these centers are concentration camps. … There is a great deal of talk on the left and in the media about a violent, out-of-control ‘alt-right’ in this country. But James Hodgkinson came from the left. He came from the same movement that inspired Floyd Lee Corkins in 2012 to attempt the mass murder of Christian activists at the Family Research Council. Actually paying attention to both and what antifa has been doing could cause any rational person to predict Van Spronsen’s actions. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez said there were concentration camps, and a man is now dead. Democrats said Republicans would kill people with health care reform, and six people nearly died in a mass assassination attempt as a result of those claims. But Donald Trump tweeted something mean, so he must be held accountable. Our moral betters behind the anchor desks and keyboards of American newsrooms have rarely met a violent progressive they did not want to excuse. They will go to their graves covering for the growing violence on the left while condemning mean tweets from the right.”

SHORT CUTS

Upright: “These arguments over our past are really over the present — and especially the future. If progressives and socialists can at last convince the American public that their country was always hopelessly flawed, they can gain power to remake it based on their own interests. These elites see Americans not as unique individuals but as race, class and gender collectives, with shared grievances from the past that must be paid out in the present and the future. We’ve seen something like this fight before, in 1861 — and it didn’t end well.” —Victor Davis Hanson

Braying Jenny: “We are not in politics anymore. We are in racism… We are in a fascistic government.” —Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

Lacking self-awareness: “Having a seat in Congress is not about individual glory — it never has been, and never will be.” —Ocasio-Cortez

Braying Jackass: “I see President Trump as a bigot, as a demagogue, as a fear-monger, as somebody who’s trying to rip our country apart at a time where other nations are showing a sense of common purpose.” —Cory Booker

Non sequitur: “As much as he is spewing his fascist ideology on stage, telling U.S. citizens to go back because they do not agree with his detrimental policies for our country, we tell people that here in the United States, dissent is patriotic.” —Ilhan Omar (Unless your dissent is not consistent with hers…)

Just sayin’: “You guys have the ability to impact on where our nation is headed, not only here in the United States but even in our nation back home.” —Ilhan Omar in 2015

Fake news: “None of these members of Congress are socialists, but that is the way the Republican leadership wants to frame this election face-off. There’s not a single member of these congressional representatives who are avowed socialists, so I don’t know where that is coming from other than opposition research.” —MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell

The BIG Lie: “You can keep your doctor under [the ‘Medicare for All’] system.” —Sen. Kamala Harris

And last… “If Republicans all denounced a Republican as racist, that might mean something. But Democrats calling a Republican racist is just white noise and doesn’t mean anything to anyone.” —Frank Fleming

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TODAY’S MEME

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TODAY’S CARTOON

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Semper Vigilans Fortis Paratus et Fidelis

Nate Jackson, Managing Editor
Mark Alexander, Publisher

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