Showing posts from April, 2009

The Specter of Souter's replacement

The news just broke an hour or so ago that Supreme Court Justice David Souter will retire. Souter was appointed by George HW Bush and proceeded to drive conservatives insane by refusing to bend to the right-wing agenda. Instead he has been what I consider a moderate voice on the court, though in general he has voted along with the liberal bloc. He was not as unpredictable as Justice Sandra Day O'Connor was, for example. Naturally this gives President Obama an opportunity to leave his mark by appointing a judge early on in his term - and thanks to Sen. Arlen Specter's party switch a few days ago, the Republicans are in a uniquely powerless position to interfere with Obama's selection. Unfortunately, this golden opportunity is kind of wasted, since Souter was already a member of the liberal bloc on the Court, so any pick Obama is likely to make probably won't vote much differently than Souter would have, on average. A real coup would have been for a conservative justice

respect, but don't fear, the Tea Parties

Yesterday's nationwide Tea Bagger tax protests seem to have been reasonably successful, with total turnout probably at least a couple of hundred thousand people. Despite dogma by the conservative blogsphere that the media was ignoring them, it seems that coverage was everywhere - including on NPR , which even interviewed Glenn Reynolds . One of the more fairly written articles about these protests was at The Daily Beast, which pointed out that there was also a substantial Obama Derangement Syndrome (ODS) mentality running through them: But when I saw the giant placard which read “Hussein = Commie,” the time had come for some counseling. The guy holding the sign looked like he could have come over on the subway from Williamsburg, wearing a hoodie, sunglasses, and an iPod. I asked him if the sign was serious. Oh, yes. “Every-time he opens his mouth he spouts textbook Marxism, Communism, Socialism,” said the man who initially gave his name as “Barry Soetoro”—Obama’s name when he

Nick Lampson for NASA Administrator?

Eric Berger, science blogger at the Houston Chronicle, points out that NASA remains a headless organization under Obama's administration: It's clear Obama is unhappy with NASA's plan to rely on Russian support for five (or maybe even six) years while awaiting results from its work-in-progress Constellation program. He also just doesn't seem all that interested in space. These are hard times for folks at Johnson Space Center. They support manned spaceflight. But the shuttle program is coming to an end in a couple of years and the new boss may not support a robust manned spaceflight program in the future. That's bad for Houston. Perhaps even worse right now, NASA doesn't even have a new boss and the uncertainty over the future is palpable and damaging. The message to NASA from the President, whether intentional or not, is pretty much: "You're not a high priority." The comment thread is interesting however, pointing out that NASA's Johnson