Curmudgeons Corner

Random thoughts on politics, current events, popular culture, and whatever else interests me.

Mark R. Whittington is a writer residing in Houston, Texas. He is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including the novel of suspense Nocturne which he coauthored with his wife, Chantal, The Children of Apollo trilogy, The Last Moonwalker and Other Stories, Gabriella’s War, The Man from Mars: The Asteroid Mining Caper, and Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

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Saturday, September 05, 2015
As most Republican candidates rally to Kim Davis, the Westboro Baptists condemn

As USA Today noted on Friday, most of the Republican presidential candidates are rallying around Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who is in jail on a contempt of court charge surrounding her refusal to approve of same-sex marriage licenses on religious grounds. Donald Trump has proven to be the exception, stating, “We’re a nation of laws” and suggests that some accommodation should be found to allow Davis to adhere to her beliefs while her office still approves of same-sex marriage licenses. Most of the other candidates, especially Ted Cruz, is taking the position that Davis is a prisoner of conscience. Some of her supporters are even comparing her to Rosa Parks.

Banished: Surviving My Years in the Westboro Baptist Church

Just as a reminder. I shall be on The Space Show on Sunday between 3 PM and 4:30 PM Eastern to discuss my new book, Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Friday, September 04, 2015
Commercial crew supporters posit a conspiracy theory involving funding shortages

The Space Access Society, a group that advocates for government funded, commercially operated spacecraft, examined the annual fight between supporters of the heavy lift Space Launch System and supporters of the commercial crew program in a Wednesday communique. In the view of the SAS and other commercial crew supporters, Congress, on the behalf of the big rocket supporters, has been shorting funding for the commercial crew spacecraft in favor of the SLS. On the surface there seems to be no reason for this, as the two undertake different missions. The Space Access Society posits a conspiracy theory so immense that at first glance would seem to be in the same class as the Apollo moonlanding hoax.

You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes: Photographs from the International Space Station

Donald Trump warns Ben Carson, slams radio host Hugh Hewitt

One often commented aspect of Donald Trump is the fact that he tends to collect enemies the same way most people collect stamps or rare coins. Politico reported on Friday that Trump has warned that he might have to go after Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon who is doing surprisingly well in the polls, second only to Trump. In the meantime, as Hot Air noted, Trump lashed out at radio host Hugh Hewitt for some foreign policy questions that Trump had some difficulty answering.

Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again!

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

The Happiest Life: Seven Gifts, Seven Givers, and the Secret to Genuine Success

Boeing officially names its CST-100 commercial crew spacecraft the 'Starliner' reported Friday that Boeing has officially opened its spacecraft processing facility at the Kennedy Space Center. The facility, which used to be the Orbital Processing Facility 3, which processed space shuttle orbiters between flights, will now be used to process the Boeing CST-100 Starliner, the commercial crew vehicle that the company is building with NASA funding to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station. “Starliner” is the new name Boeing has given to the spacecraft, harkening to names given Boeing aircraft such as “Dreamliner” and “Stratoliner.”

NASA Commercial Crew Human Spaceflight Program for Transport to the International Space Station (ISS): SpaceX Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Contracts, Safety Reviews, History and Update Reports

Why Barack Obama should have asked Sarah Palin to show him around Alaska

When President Barack Obama recently visited Alaska to tout global warming, rename Mount McKinley, and to grace the good people of the Last Frontier State with his own magnificence, he did not pay a courtesy call on Sarah Palin. He might have derived some benefit from such a visit, as Palin, writing under the pen name of “Denali,” offered a few suggestions of things in Alaska he could have seen, but choose not to in a Friday piece in IJ Review. “Denali” was not only Palin’s Secret Service name during the 2008 campaign, but is now the new official name of Mount McKinley.

Sarah Palin's Alaska

Ted Cruz makes the moral and political case for Kim Davis' defiance of the law

Kim Davis, the county clerk in Kentucky who has refused to put her signature to same-sex marriage licenses due to her religious beliefs, has been sent to jail on a contempt of court charge. According to a Thursday story in the Washington Times, Davis has a powerful ally in the fight that has pitted the religious freedom of a government official vs. the Supreme Court ruling that has made same-sex marriage the law of the land and the right for gay people to marry. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a candidate for president of the United States, has declared himself to be firmly in Davis’ corner.

The Bible's Yes to Same-Sex Marriage, New Edition with Study Guide: An Evangelical's Change of Heart

Thursday, September 03, 2015
Russia plans to land Luna 25 probe on the moon's south pole by 2024

While Russian ambitions to land a cosmonaut on the moon by 2030 has become beset by lack of money, the country that lost the Apollo moon race in the 1960s is still attempting to turn its focus to Earth’s nearest neighbor in the 21st Century. According to a Tuesday piece in Spaceflight Insider, that the Russian Space Agency intends to take a preliminary step by landing Luna 25, a robotic space probe, at the Boguslavsky crater near the lunar south pole in 2024. The probe’s instruments are already being developed by the Russian Space Research Institute.

The Race: The Complete True Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

PBS's Gwen Ifill not backing down from retweet mocking Netanyahu over Iran deal

When Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland became the 34 Senate Democrat to support President Obama’s Iran nuclear weapons deal, PBS’s Gwen Ifill took to Twitter and exalted, “Take that, Bibi.” The reference was to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who had worked tirelessly against the deal that placed his country in mortal danger. As Twitchy reported, the tweet set off a social media firestorm as people responded to the mocking tone of Ifill’s tweet. The Washington Free Beacon reported on Wednesday that the PBS Newshour host is not backing down though she stated that she was just retweeting a State Department tweet.

A Durable Peace: Israel and its Place Among the Nations

Wednesday, September 02, 2015
Senate Democrats ready to 'go to Hell for fellowship' for the Iran nuclear deal

Reuters reported on Wednesday that Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Maryland has become the 34th vote in the Senate to oppose the resolution of disapproval of the Iran nuclear weapons deal. That means that President Obama will be able to veto the resolution and see is sustained. While Mikulski pretended to believe that the deal was the best way to prevent Iran from acquiring the bomb, the obvious fact is that she is basing her vote on party loyalty than on the facts. That means that due to partisanship, a very real possibility exists that the United States will be compelled to launch a preemptive nuclear strike on Iran to destroy that country’s weapons of mass destruction.

A Man for All Seasons: A Play in Two Acts

Why arguing with Ted Cruz is not a good idea

One of the newest sports engaged in by political activists is to ambush a presidential candidate at a public event, say a town hall and ask him or her an embarrassing question. The hopefully incoherent answer can then be put up on YouTube for the entertainment of all. Actress and lesbian Ellen Page tried to engage Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas at the Iowa State Fair about LGBT issues, as Politico reported at the time. On Monday, a pair of global warming activists tried to tag team Cruz at an event in New Hampshire. As with Page, the result was similar to a deer trying to bring down a grizzly bear.

Global Warming-Alarmists, Skeptics and Deniers: A Geoscientist Looks at the Science of Climate Change

China preparing to send crewed Shenzhou 11 to Tiangong 2 space station in 2016

China has not sent people into space since the mission of the Shenzhou 10 to the prototype space station Tiangong 1 in June 2013. Since then the Chinese have accomplished the landing of the Chang’e 3 on the lunar surface. According to a Monday story in Space Daily, the hiatus in Chinese crewed spaceflight is about to end with the launch of the Tiangong-2 prototype space station in 2016 with the subsequent visit by a crew of Chinese astronauts on board the Shenzhou 11. The mission will be a prelude to the construction of a larger Chinese space station, slated to be completed by 2022.

China in Space: The Great Leap Forward (Springer Praxis Books)

Tuesday, September 01, 2015
Rep. Patrick Murphy says that Iran nuclear deal will bring 'peace in our time'

When Rep. Patrick Murphy, D-Florida entered the Democratic nomination race to replace Sen. Marco Rubio in the United States Senate, the Democratic Senate campaign arm right willingly threw its support behind him. He was considered a sensible alternative to Rep. Alan Greyson, who is also running for that Senate seat and is given to saying alarming things like Republicans want people to die. However, as the Washington Examiner reported on Monday, Murphy said something in support of the Iran nuclear weapons deal that puts every politician for the past 75 years to shame.

Hitler, Chamberlain and Appeasement (Cambridge Perspectives in History)

Report: Hillary Clinton originated and sent classified information intentionally

As the New York times reported on Tuesday, the latest dump of emails, some of them heavily redacted, from Hillary Clinton’s private server revealed a great many exchanges between the then secretary of state and Clinton retainer Sid Blumenthal. Blumenthal, known to many as “Sid Vicious” for his aggressive manner, was forbidden government employment by the Obama administration. Blumenthal was the source of a great deal of unsolicited advice to Clinton. However, the main revelation from the dump was not just the correspondence with Blumenthal (though that was bad as well), but rather Clinton’s propensity for knowingly originating and distributing classified information from her private, unsecured email server.

Hillary Clinton Action Figure

Curt Granderson, big league ball player, big time moon landing conspiracy nut

The Detroit Free Press noted on Monday that former Detroit Tiger and current New York Mets ballplayer Curtis Granderson is not only handy fielding pop fly balls, but he is also a moon landing conspiracy theorist. Ordinarily, the opinions of any baseball player on subjects unrelated to the prospects of his team making the World Series wouldn’t matter a hill of beans. But, Granderson got to the idea that man never landed on the moon by a particularly creative chain of logic that needs addressing. He believes that we never went to the moon because we have never been back since 1972.

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Barack Obama makes PETA mad at him for appearing on Bear Grylls' 'Running Wild'

According to a Monday story in the Hill, PETA has joined the ever-expanding list of groups that are mad at President Barack Obama. The president is headed to Alaska for a number of reasons, including renaming Mount McKinley back to its native Alaskan moniker Denali. His main purpose is to tout global warming and the necessity to combat the same. For this purpose he has agreed to appear on an episode of Running Wild, hosted by tough guy/survival expert Bear Grylls.

A Survival Guide for Life: How to Achieve Your Goals, Thrive in Adversity, and Grow in Character

Monday, August 31, 2015
Did George W. Bush really consider a nuclear strike on Afghanistan after 9/11?

The Israeli newspaper Haaretz, citing a story in the German newspaper Der Spiegel, reported on Saturday that President George W. Bush considered responding to the 9/11 attacks with a nuclear strike against Afghanistan. “Michael Steiner, who served as a political advisor to then-German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder, told the German daily that the nuclear option was one of the possibilities examined after the attacks.” Neither Der Spiegel nor Haaretz revealed how seriously the nuclear option was considered. Nor was it revealed how an official working for a German government that was not altogether friendly with the United States would know this piece of information.

Decision Points by George W. Bush

I am scheduled to appear on The Space Show this Sunday, 3PM to 4:30 PM Eastern to talk about by new book Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon? That means you have a week to get the book (available in paperback and for the Amazon Kindle) and read it. There will be a quiz.

Dr. Ben Carson is tied with Donald Trump in Iowa

One of the great questions that have haunted political observers is whither Donald Trump? Will he fade at last, with people tiring of his blustery reality show that constitutes his run for the presidency? Or will Trump go all the way, to the Republican nomination and even, further, to the presidency? One indication that it may be the former was announced Monday by the Monmouth University Poll that showed Trump tied with Dr. Ben Carson in Iowa with both garnering 23 percent of the vote.

Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story

NASA mulls the Enceladus Life Finder mission to an icy moon of Saturn

Among the candidates for the next Discovery-class mission, NASA is mulling a probe called the Enceladus Life Finder, according to a Monday story in If selected, the ELF would launch in 2021. When it arrives in the Saturn system, the ELF would fly through the geysers of ice that spew from inside the surface of Enceladus, one of the moons of the ringed planet, and sample the material for signs of life.

The Jets of Enceladus (A journal from the first manned mission to the Saturnian System)

Kayne West announces for president in 2020 and Donald Trump is unhappy about it

To add some more spice to an already bizarre political season Politico noted on Monday that Kayne West, singer and public nuisance, received an award from the hands of Taylor Swift at the Video Music Awards and, among other things, announced for president in 2020. Few people are taking the rambling announcement seriously. However, Donald Trump, who is really running for president, tweeted, “Kanye is as qualified at being president as Jorge Ramos is as being a credible journalist.” That statement may be one of the truer ones that the Donald has made during his career.

College Dropout

Sunday, August 30, 2015
'Star Trek: Renegades' beams onto YouTube

As Film Industry Network reported on Sunday, the pilot episode of Star Trek: Renegades is now available for view. The hour and a half film, produced by a group of fans along with Star Trek veterans from both in front of and behind the camera, can be best described as the product of a torrid one night stand between Star Trek and Firefly. This of it as The Dirty Dozen in space, The result is an uneven film that has beautiful special effects and an intriguing concept, but with a script that could use a little polishing and acting from some of the supporting cast that was somewhat less than up to snuff.

Star Trek: Renegades (Original Soundtrack)

Bernie Sanders, wanting the bad parts of Sweden, closes in on Hillary Clinton

Politico noted on Saturday that a new poll conducted by the Des Moines Register and Bloomberg shows that Bernie Sanders has come within striking distance of Hillary Clinton in Iowa. Clinton is at just 37 percent with Sanders at 30 percent. Vice President Joe Biden, who has not yet entered the race, is at 14 percent. As the Clinton campaign continues to spiral in a death spiral, Democrats are faced with the real possibility of a repeat of the 1972 election when the establishment favorite, then Sen. Edmund Muskie, was defeated for the Democratic nomination by then Sen. George McGovern, who went on to a 49 state defeat at the hands of then-President Richard Nixon.

Rick Steves Scandinavia

Saturday, August 29, 2015
Now Hillary Clinton says Republicans are Nazis for wanting to deport illegals

As Real Clear Politics reported on Friday, Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and current presidential candidate, seems to be on a role. The day after she suggested that the Republicans were a branch of ISIS for wanting to defund Planned Parenthood, she stood up in front of an audience in Minneapolis and declared that Republicans, who favor deporting illegal aliens, were, in effect, Nazis? Why did Clinton openly flout Godwin’s law, that states that the first person who brings up Hitler, the Nazis, or Nazism in an argument has lost. Some theories suggest themselves.

The Queen: The Epic Ambition of Hillary and the Coming of a Second "Clinton Era"/P>

Next destination proposed for NASA's New Horizons, a frozen rock 2014 MU69

NASA’s New Horizons space probe excited the attention of the world with its spectacular images of Pluto and its system of moons, including Charon, last July. It had uncovered worlds that had hitherto been specks of light, seen only through telescopes. The space agency announced Friday that New Horizons is not done with its voyage of exploration. NASA has selected the next target, a Kuiper belt world a billion miles beyond Pluto.

At the Edge of the Solar System: Icy New Worlds Unveiled (Springer Praxis Books)

Friday, August 28, 2015
Marco Rubio proposes to get tough with China

As Politico noted on Friday, the Republican presidential candidates have become pretty united in taking a dim view of China and its policies. The recent stock market crash in the most populist country in the world has caused Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Florida, to publish a piece in the Wall Street Journal outlining what he would do about China, which he sees as both an opportunity and a challenge. Rubio’s opinions are worth noting because even if he is not elected president, he might be on the short list for becoming secretary of state in a Republican administration.

Dealing with China: An Insider Unmasks the New Economic Superpower

Hillary Clinton comparison of Republicans to terrorists backfires

Hillary Clinton, a former secretary of state, and current presidential candidate, is not a happy woman. She is beset by multiple scandals, one of which, having to do with a private email server she stored classified information on. She is under investigation by the FBI, with many observers wondering when the indictments are going to be handed down. The Democratic Party is currently casting about for a new candidate and seems to have settled on Vice President Joe Biden, of all people. So, Hillary has decided to attempt the tried and true political gambit of trying to change the subject. According to CNN, Clinton compared the Republican presidential candidates to terrorists.

HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton

Buzz Aldrin Space Institute formed to plan the settlement of Mars

The Florida Institute of Technology announced on Thursday the formation of the Buzz Aldrin Space Institute which will be dedicated to planning a program that would lead to the first Mars settlement by 2039, the 70th anniversary of the first Apollo moon landing. Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon and a long-term advocate of Mars settlement, will serve as a research professor of aeronautics and a faculty advisor for the Institute that bears his name.

Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration

Thursday, August 27, 2015
What Ben Carson thinks of NASA

One of the big surprises of the current presidential election cycle, besides the rise of Donald Trump and the collapse of Hillary Clinton, is the relative strength of Dr. Ben Carson in the polls, as Newsmax noted on Tuesday. The soft spoken former neurosurgeon is, at least in demeanor, the polar opposite of Trump. So, since Carson is now a credible choice for president or even vice president, space enthusiasts will want to know, what are his views on NASA and space exploration?

One Nation: What We Can All Do to Save America's Future

Why is it So Hard to Go Back to the Moon?

Speaker John Boehner thinks Ted Cruz is a 'jackass' and says so

The Daily Caller reported on Thursday that House Speaker John Boehner referred to Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, a presidential candidate, as a “jackass.” He said that in front of several witnesses at a fundraiser in Steamboat Springs. It is doubtful that the speaker meant that observation for public consumption. However, several of the attendees were irked by Boehner’s impoliteness and, therefore, leaked it to the media.

A Bar Owner's Son: John Boehner: THE AMERICAN DREAM, unauthorized biography

Russia's lunar program hit by budget cuts and faces cancellation

Just a few months after bravely announcing a goal of landing a Russian cosmonaut on the moon, the project has become wracked with budget cuts and may face cancellation, according to a Tuesday story in NDTV. Nevertheless, the moon remains a goal of the Russia space program, hampered by a series of launch failures and starved of funding reported that Russia will embark on an eight day ground simulation of a lunar circumnavigation mission with an all-female crew. Russia has already conducted simulations of long duration Mars expeditions.

The Race: The Complete True Story of How America Beat Russia to the Moon

As Russia's economy goes into free fall, Putin may be on his way out

The Fiscal Times reported on Wednesday that Vladimir Putin’s Russia faces a grim, economic future, largely the result of falling oil prices. The ruble has collapsed, and the Russian economy is in free fall. Even though Putin remains popular with the Russian people, many of the oligarchs that some Kremlin watchers have dubbed “Politburo 2.0” blame him for Russia’s troubles. Forbes recently suggested that moves are in motion to slowly remove Putin from power.

Putin's Russia: How It Rose, How It Is Maintained, and How It Might End

Obama administration admits that solar, wind subsidies can end

Recently, as the Associated Press reported, President Barack Obama touted the benefits of solar and wind power at a green energy conference in Los Vegas, Nevada hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid. The Obama administration has poured tens of billions of dollars into subsidies for green energy, the theory being that it will start to supplant fossil fuels and thus combat global warming. But, the Washington Examiner reported on Thursday that Obama administration officials and outside experts are saying that solar and wind have become cost competitive enough so that the subsidies can be brought to an end.

Solyndra and the Department of Energy Loan Guarantee Program: House Hearings on Stimulus Funding for Solar Energy Company