This week has been marked by momentous news events. At least the events seemed momentous to me. So I took a little vacation from posting to watch television to my heart's content and just absorb, without reflecting in a blog post here. Naturally, my readership fell off.
No posting at South by Southwest does not indicate that there has been a general slack off like mine. There's plenty of good reflecting in the blogosphere about what has been happening. My TwitterFox box has been full of tweets. It was scanning them and watching television that convinced me that these are big times characterized by change and risk.
Risk is the name of the game with the NASA Hubble mission, on its own with no ISS nearby. The STS 125 crew (MS Megan McArthur) has grappled the HST, secured it in the Atlantis payload bay, and taken note of a bit of space junk in their neighborhood. According to Astronautics, "STS-125 astronauts John Grunsfeld and Drew Feustel are set to make the first of five Hubble servicing spacewalks Thursday." And I will be glued to NASA TV. In fact, I plan to watch a great deal of the mission coverage for the next few days.
It was very risky politically for President Obama to make a 180 degree turn regarding the detainee photos as ordered in the ACLU lawsuit. Because his commanders on the ground convinced him to reverse course, he will ask his lawyers to argue that it would risk the safety of our fighting men and women in the south Asia theater. In this case I tend to agree and hope my liberal friends will understand why I am not having a fit about his pragmatic decision, that John Dickerson likens to parallel parking in a tight spot.
And there has been a change in what the Senate is doing regarding holding hearings about torture. I was glued to my computer screen (C-SPAN 3) for this one. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) chaired a Judiciary subcommittee hearing at which several witnesses testified regarding the Bush administration's torture program. It was an amazing and heartwarming thing to watch my favorite senator wade into this investigation swamp, with Ranking Member Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at his side. Senator Durbin (D-IL) was the only other senator to attend (briefly). MSNBC evening shows featured Senator Whitehouse on Countdown and Philip Zelikow on the Maddow show. Again I was glued to TV watching those appearances. Senator Whitehouse expects Judiciary Committee Chairman, Patrick Leahy (D-VT) hold the next major hearing, after the DOJ OPR report on the professional conduct of the Bush OLC lawyers. Bravo!
There is also a good deal of movement towards health care and credit card reform, which I have been following on television. There was a protest march led by the California Nurses Association in support of the inclusion in the discussion of the "single payer" option. Senator Baucus' Senate Appropriations Committee is beginning to try to find consensus of the form it will take, and "single payer" is not on his table. I am not even sure that the "public plan" option is on it. The direction right now is to find ways to cut the costs of health care. The Social Security and Medicare programs are at quicker risk of insolvency risk of insolvency than was previously believed.And the Senate is likely to pass a Credit Card reform bill that will bar a lot of the outrageous costs banks and credit card companies are charging their customers.
[Post date May 14, 2009]
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