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From: Ahmed Idris
[Add to Address Book]
To: undisclosed-recipients@null, null@null
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Date: May 27, 2009 9:25 AM
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The attacks are inevitable and tremendously regrettable, just as they were for Chief Justice Roberts and Justice Alito. A cottage industry – literally an industry, given the sums of money raised and spent – now exists in which the far left and right either brutalize or lionize the President’s nominees. Because the absence of controversy means bankruptcy, it has to be invented by both sides, whatever the cost to the nominee personally and to the integrity of the judiciary nationally.
The Dynamic of the Nomination of Sonia Sotomayor
Three of the five majority opinions written by Judge Sotomayor for the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals and reviewed by the Supreme Court were reversed, providing a potent line of attack raised by opponents Tuesday after President Obama announced he will nominate the 54-year-old Hispanic woman to the high court.
"Her high reversal rate alone should be enough for us to pause and take a good look at her record. Frankly, it is the Senates duty to do so," said Wendy Wright, president of Concerned Women for America.
Sotomayor Reversed 60% By High Court
Anyone who is objecting now to Sotomayor's alleged "empathy" problem but who supported Sam Alito and never objected to this sort of thing ought to have their motives questioned (and the same is true for someone who claims that a person who overcame great odds to graduate at the top of their class at Princeton, graduate Yale Law School, and then spent time as a prosecutor, corporate lawyer, district court judge and appellate court judge must have been chosen due to "identity politics"). And the idea that her decision in Ricci demonstrates some sort of radicalism -- when she was simply affirming the decision of a federal district judge, was part of a unanimous circuit panel in doing so, was supported by a majority of her fellow Circuit judges who refused to re-hear the case, and will, by all accounts, have at least several current Supreme Court Justices side with her -- is frivolous on its face.
Justice Sam Alito On Empathy And Judging
So, Obama has made his decision, and it’s Sotomayor. While my Hispanic acquaintances are all thrilled to bits, the fact of the matter is that she’s not much of a liberal. Like Obama, she’s a centrist. She will stand up for programs like affirmative action and will vote to keep Roe, which is good, but she won’t be anything special.
Sotomayor - Nothing Special, But Not Awful
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has had a tough week — much of it her own making. But in looking at the substance of the accusations, it increasingly looks like she was right. Porter Goss was careful to parse his words in the conditional future tense when talking about what, exactly, he and Pelosi were briefed on in September 2002[.]
Bob Graham, who was theoretically in the room with Shelby, says he has no recollection of the meeting at all – this from a man who famously details his every waking minute. Perhaps the most astonishing response has been from the CIA Director Leon Panetta, who basically said: Don't trust our records. Which begs the question: what other issues have they kept questionable records on?
Pelosi's Probably Right
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
WASHINGTON, DC – Seeking to quell fears of terrorists somehow breaking out of America's top-security prisons and wreaking havoc on the defenseless heartland, President Barack Obama moved quickly to announce an Anti-Terrorist Strike Force headed by veteran counterterrorism agent Jack Bauer and mutant superhero Wolverine. Already dubbed a "dream team," their appointment is seen by experts as a crucial step in reducing the mounting incidents of national conservatives and congressional Democrats crapping their pants.
"I believe a fictional threat is best met with decisive fictional force," explained President Obama. "Jack Bauer and Wolverine are among the very best we have when in comes to combating fantasy foes." Mr. Bauer said, "We're quite certain that our prisons are secure. Osama bin Laden and his agents wouldn't dare attempt a break-out, and would fail miserably if they tried. But I love this country. And should Lex Luthor, Magneto or the Loch Ness Monster attack, we'll be there to stop them."
Anti-Terrorist Fantasy Dream Team on the Case
Here's one thing that hasn't changed in the Obama era: Republicans are still able to come up with scare tactics that turn Senate Democrats into a terrified and incoherent bunch of mewling babies.
It's hard to imagine anything more ridiculous than the suggestion that bringing some of the terror suspects currently incarcerated in Guantanamo to high-security prisons in America will pose a threat to local communities.
It is nothing more than a bogeyman argument, easily refuted with a little common sense. (Isn't that what prisons are for?) But that's assuming you don't spend your every moment living in fear of Republican attack ads questioning your devotion to the security of the country. Or that you have a modicum of respect for the intelligence of the American public.
With Friends Like These
[Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach is] an F-15 fighter pilot, 18-year veteran of the United States Air Force," Rachel explained. "On Sept. 11, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach was picked to be part of the initial alert crew immediately after the 9/11 attacks. The following years, in 2002, he deployed to Kuwait, where he flew combat missions over Afghanistan, attacking Taliban and al Qaeda targets. After the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, Lt. Col. Fehrenbach deployed there, flying combat missions in support of mission Iraqi Freedom.
Over the span of his career, he has flown 88 combat missions, including missions that were the longest mission sorties in the history of his squadron. He's logged more than 2,000 flying hours, nearly 1,500 fighting hours, 400 combat hours. Lt. Col. Fehrenbach is also highly decorated -- he's received nine air medals, including one for heroism. After 18 years of active duty in the Air Force, this experienced, decorated fighter pilot says he is ready and willing to deploy again. He's ready to do what his country and the United States Air Force ask of him.
Lt. Col. Fehrenbach
First Lt. Daniel Choi, 28, of New York City, graduated from the U.S. Military Academy in 2003 as an Arabic major and served as an interpreter in Iraq in 2006 and 2007. He later left active duty and joined the New York Army National Guard.
Two months ago, Choi joined a West Point alumni group called Knights Out (West Point's mascot is the Black Knights) to advocate on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender soldiers and their right to openly serve their country. Choi came out as a gay man and began a media blitz against "don't ask, don't tell," the military policy that forbids homosexual service members from disclosing their sexual orientation or engaging in homosexual acts.
Choi's decision had a price. Just days ago, he received a discharge notice from the Army: "You admitted publicly that you are a homosexual," the letter said. "Your actions negatively affected the good order and discipline of the New York Army National Guard."
Choi said he will not resign, even if it ruins his chance for an honorable discharge.
"It's not honorable to hide. It's not honorable to lie," he said. "That's not what soldiers do. All I know is how to put up a good fight."
West Point Grad Targeted
A report issued last week by UC Santa Barbara's Palm Center research institute said Obama had the power to thwart the discharging of military personnel for their sexual orientation. Under the "stop-loss" provision, Obama can issue executive orders to retain any soldier deemed necessary to the service in a time of national emergency, the report said.
The president also could halt the work of Pentagon review panels that brand troops as gay and thus excluded from service, the report said. And Obama and his Defense secretary could revise discharge procedures, as allowed under the 1993 law banning gays in the military.
Obama In No Hurry To End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'
Rejuvenated by hours of repairs in space, the Hubble Space Telescope floated out of shuttle Atlantis' cargo bay on Tuesday to reclaim its place as the world's flagship observatory for astronomical research.
Atlantis astronauts spent more than 36 hours over five marathon spacewalks to make upgrades and outfit Hubble with new instruments. These included a panchromatic wide-field camera that should be able to see objects formed just 500 million years after the universe's birth in the big bang explosion some 13.7 billion years ago.
Astronauts Release Hubble Telescope Back Into Space
The Atlantis crew completed everything NASA had planned, including the unprecedented repair of two science instruments not designed to be worked on in space. The astronauts, clad in bulky suits and gloves, sometimes struggled with the repair work, and were held up at times by stuck bolts.
Astronauts Release Hubble Telescope Back Into Space
Nothing in the astronaut’s regular tool kit could remove so many fasteners in a short time, Cassidy said. The pistol-grip tool, which is NASA’s version of a cordless drill, turns about 15 times a minute on the high side. It’s a staple for space construction, but could not do the job fast enough on the Hubble servicing flight. Engineers wanted at least 10 times that speed, but didn’t need the torque the pistol-grip tool generated.
"With these fasteners, you don’t need a really strong motor to break them free, but what you need is a really, really fast motor to be able to, basically like an Indy pit crew, to be able to buzz through all these fasteners in a very rapid succession of time," Cassidy said.
They also needed something to corral all the fasteners as they came loose. Otherwise, they might float into something critical inside the telescope and cause a problem.
It took four to five years to develop the mini power tool and the fastener capture plate, Cassidy said. The power tool spins at 210 revolutions per minute. The capture plate, meanwhile, was designed to work with the fastener tools and simply collects each fastener as it is removed.
Hubble Flight Tests Toolmakers
While activities here in the [Space Telescope Operations Control Center] in support of the telescope and the space shuttle are nearing a conclusion, the science mission orbital verification work involving detailed checkouts, alignments and focusing of the new instruments is expected to take several months to complete.
Hubble scientists expect the first "new" images to be released in September.
Space Telescope Operations Control Center: Flight Day 8
Until recently, I thought the single most embarrassingly stupid event of the last decade's national security debates -- the kind that will make historians look back with slack-jawed amazement -- was the joint dissemination in the run-up to the war by the Bush administration and the American media of playing cards that featured all of the "Most Wanted" Iraqi Villains and their cartoon villain nicknames.
If you weren't on board with all of that -- if you weren't hiding under your bed shaking when these cartoons were shown on the TV -- that meant that you were neither Tough nor Serious. Just as is true now, the Tough and Serious people were the ones who became frightened by the comic book villians.
Terrorists in Prison: Is There Anything The Right Doesn't Fear?
The era of apologizing for Republican mistakes of the past is now officially over. It is done. The time for trying to fix or focus on the past has ended. The era of Republican navel gazing is over. We have turned the corner on regret, recrimination, self-pity and self-doubt. Now is the hour to focus all of our energies on winning the future.
Steele: GOP Must Take On Obama Directly
If this is the level of deep thought and real-world concern that the Hoover Party is bringing to the debate on health care, then they are as "willing to work with President Obama" as rust is willing to work with an engine.
These words from Digby sent chills straight down my spine, because she's right:
The argument against torture is slipping away from us. In fact, I'm getting the sinking feeling that it's over. What was once taboo is now publicly acknowledged as completely acceptable by many people. Indeed, disapproval of torture is now being characterized as a strictly partisan issue, like welfare reform or taxes.
If you oppose torture and share that despair, watch Kagro X (David Waldman of CongressMatters) on CNN.com and he'll be your hero, too.
I Oppose Torture, and Kagro X Is My Hero
So you must wonder, by what authority is this letter writer speaking? Well, as a Lieutenant Colonel and Combat Arms Battalion Commander in the Army I am responsible for the welfare, training, good order, and discipline of my soldiers. I am responsible for everything they do or fail to do. I am also responsible to follow and issue only those orders that are legal, ethical and moral. Torture of another human being is illegal, unethical and immoral, and I would be duty bound to disobey any such order...just as PFC Lynndie England and SPC Charles Graner (and their many counterparts, senior officers and NCOs at Abu Ghraib) should have done...just as any of my soldiers should disobey should I give such an order. We all have the lessons of Nuremburg to rely upon anytime such questions come to mind; "I was just following orders" is never justification for committing crimes against other human beings.
Before deploying to Iraq last year, I explained these things to my troopers. It is difficult to explain to young (practically) kids, with little experience, and poor knowledge of the world...but if you are caring and committed, and repeat yourself often enough they learn and understand. I told them the most important thing they needed to take away from all their preparations was that while it would be terrible to lose one of them or have one of them seriously physically injured, it would be worse to have them come home physically well and mentally broken because they had somehow lost their humanity. Torture destroys our humanity, and any equivocation (feel free to exercise the Kantian absolutist vs utilitarian argument to your heart's content) on the matter is just bullshit.
Torture: A National Guard officer responds to Krauthammer
"I was ordered to..." has been a a discredited and unacceptable basis for a defense in war crimes trial since the trials of the Nazis at Nuremberg. "Things were tough..." is an equally discredited defense.
What are we saying? Is it our position that international law applies to eveyone but us and that it does not apply to us because we are "special?"
Are we that childish?
Nuremberg And American Exceptionalism
Waterboarding is worse than a crime. It is stupid. (That was a quiz. 10 points for recognizing the quote) As [SERE trainer Malcolm] Nance says in the article, when you are being drowned, you will say anything, anything, anything.... Surely that should lead to the conclusion that, at the very least, it is useless to waterboard people. Useless, unless you happen to be a sadist who just likes doing things like that without regard to rational thinking. People like me are given to rational thinking and moderation in action. That's what the word "professional" implies. Waterboarding should not be something that the United states allows, EVER.
In extremis, I might do something really beastly to someone to satisfy the needs of the "ticking bomb" fantasy scenario, but it would not be waterboarding, and I would want to know that it was not legal.
Waterboarding Is Torture
Even as Americans struggle with two wars and an economy in tatters, a USA TODAY/Gallup Poll finds majorities in favor of investigating some of the thorniest unfinished business from the Bush administration: Whether its tactics in the "war on terror" broke the law.
Close to two-thirds of those surveyed said there should be investigations into allegations that the Bush team used torture to interrogate terrorism suspects and its program of wiretapping U.S. citizens without getting warrants. Almost four in 10 favor criminal investigations and about a quarter want investigations without criminal charges. One-third said they want nothing to be done.
Even more people want action on alleged attempts by the Bush team to use the Justice Department for political purposes. Four in 10 favored a criminal probe, three in 10 an independent panel, and 25% neither.
Poll: Most Want Inquiry Into Anti-terror Tactics
This happens all the time in our political debates. Rather than argue the substance of the issue, there is this virtually compulsive need to assert -- with no evidence -- that "the American people" believes a certain way and that anyone who believes otherwise is fringe and isolated. There's just no denying the fact that, as evidence of the depth of our national crimes continues to emerge, there is increased attention across the political spectrum being paid to these issues. In today's New York Times alone, Frank Rich lays out the case for why investigations are critically necessary, and Maureen Dowd -- in an uncharacteristically cogent and substantive column -- ends with this:
I used to agree with President Obama, that it was better to keep moving and focus on our myriad problems than wallow in the darkness of the past. But now I want a full accounting. I want to know every awful act committed in the name of self-defense and patriotism. Even if it only makes one ambitious congresswoman pay more attention in some future briefing about some future secret technique that is “uniquely” designed to protect us, it will be worth it.
If [the Center for American Progress, a progressive policy group, some of whose members apparently don't support investigations] wants to have its representatives arguing against torture investigations, that's its prerogative, but it really shouldn't be making claims about what the "American people" and especially Democrats believe when those claims are so clearly false.
Distorting Public Opinion on Torture Investigations
Pres. Obama’s decision to keep the military commissions, while expanding the parameters of rights and procedures, in no way surprises me. Remember, Senator Obama actually voted for military commissions in 2006, which he mentioned in his statement yesterday.
Many others were surprised:
Some liberals and human rights groups said they were stunned by the announcement on Friday, with several calling it a betrayal.
Frankly, I find it stunning people are seemingly shocked that Obama continues to act in keeping with who he is.
Decision On Military Commissions Shouldn't Surprise
Now [astronaut John] Grunsfeld has begun the most daunting task of the mission: He must repair the non-functioning Advanced Camera for Surveys (ACS), which was never designed to be repaired -- not on Earth and certainly not in space.
The spacewalker must extract 30 screws, remove a protective plate, and reach into the ACS with a specially designed tool that will clamp onto four sharp electrical circuit cards. He'll remove the cards -- being careful to keep his gloved hands away from any sharp edges -- and then install a new power source to the instrument.
Grunsfeld's task will be made all the more difficult by the awkward position of the instrument. He will not be able to face the screws head on, but rather from a 45-degree angle. A strut will partially block his vision.
Astronauts Having Success on Tricky Hubble Repair
The first spacewalk, also conducted by Grunsfeld and [Andrew] Feustel, was stymied initially by a bolt that wouldn't budge and threatened to trap an old instrument in the telescope and ruin the hopes of scientists and engineers who had spent a decade building a replacement. The astronauts used three different tools with ever higher amounts of torque, to no avail. There were fears both in space and on the ground that the bolt would shear. But Feustel, who fixes cars in his spare time, removed all limits on his socket wrench and, carefully applying ever more force, managed to loosen the bolt without shearing it.
Astronauts Having Success on Tricky Hubble Repair
Krauthamer: "The second exception to the no-torture rule is the extraction of information from a high-value enemy in possession of high-value information likely to save lives. This case lacks the black-and-white clarity of the ticking time bomb scenario. We know less about the length of the fuse or the nature of the next attack. But we do know the danger is great."
This of course is a blatant post-facto attempt at rationalizing the (inevitable) misdiagnosis of the ticking time bomb scenario. Now all of a sudden the standards are lower. Krauthammer is advocating fishing expeditions -- with a waterboard.
In an essay that first appeared on the Washington Note blog, [aide to then Secretary of State Colin Powell Lawrence] Wilkerson says that even when the interrogators of Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, the Libyan al-Qaida operative, reported that he had become “compliant” -- in other words, cooperative after sufficient abuse -- the vice-president’s office ordered further torture of the Libyan by his hosts at an Egyptian prison because he had not yet implicated Saddam with al-Qaida. So his interrogators put al-Libi into a tiny coffin until he said what [Vice President Dick] Cheney wanted to hear. Nobody in the U.S. intelligence community actually believed this nonsense. But now, al-Libi has reportedly and very conveniently "committed suicide" in a prison cell in Libya, where he was dispatched to the tender mercies of the Bush administration's newfound friends in the Qaddafi regime several years ago. So the deceased man won't be able to discuss what actually happened to him and why.
Wilkerson's essay was followed swiftly by an investigative report in the Daily Beast, authored by former NBC News producer Robert Windrem, who interviewed two former senior intelligence officers who told him a similar story about a different prisoner. In April 2003, U.S. forces captured an Iraqi official named Muhammed Khudayr al-Dulaymi, who had served in Saddam's secret police, the Mukhabarat. Those unnamed officials said that upon learning of Dulaymi's capture, the vice-president's office proposed that CIA agents in Baghdad commence waterboarding him, in order to elicit information about a link between al-Qaida and Saddam. Evidently that suggestion was not enforced by Charles Duelfer, the head of the Iraq Study Group who controlled Dulaymi's interrogation.
We Tortured To Justify War
In President Bush's first term, some of the most important decisions about U.S. national security -- including vital decisions about postwar Iraq -- were made by a secretive, little-known cabal. It was made up of a very small group of people led by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
When I first discussed this group in a speech last week at the New American Foundation in Washington, my comments caused a significant stir because I had been chief of staff to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell between 2002 and 2005.
But it's absolutely true. I believe that the decisions of this cabal were sometimes made with the full and witting support of the president and sometimes with something less. More often than not, then-national security advisor Condoleezza Rice was simply steamrolled by this cabal.
The White House Cabal
In his new book, Hide and Seek: The Search for Truth in Iraq, and in an interview with The Daily Beast, Duelfer says he heard from “some in Washington at very senior levels (not in the CIA),” who thought Khudayr’s interrogation had been “too gentle” and suggested another route, one that they believed has proven effective elsewhere. “They asked if enhanced measures, such as waterboarding, should be used,” Duelfer writes. “The executive authorities addressing those measures made clear that such techniques could legally be applied only to terrorism cases, and our debriefings were not as yet terrorism-related. The debriefings were just debriefings, even for this creature.”
Cheney's Role Deepens
In a just-completed Capitol Hill press conference, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said without equivocation that the CIA is lying when it implies that she was briefed in on the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. Pelosi stated that the CIA told her, in September 2002, that waterboarding was not among the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on high value detainees. Reporting by Marcy—among others—now shows that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah started at least a month earlier.
BREAKING: Pelosi Says the CIA is Lying
Bob Graham just appeared on WNYC's Brian Lehrer Show. In addition to repeating earlier reports that he was never briefed on waterboarding, Graham revealed that the first time he asked the CIA when he was briefed on torture, it claimed it had briefed him on two dates when no briefing took place.
Senator Bob Graham: The CIA Made Up Two Briefing Sessions
I've got to correct something I said yesterday about Bob Graham. I reported that Graham said that CIA had given him two erroneous dates for briefings. That was wrong (RawStory reported the number correctly, though). They gave erroneous dates for three briefings.
The difference is critical, because it means the CIA tried to claim it had briefed Graham on torture in April 2002, which would have put it in compliance with the National Security Act. But Graham, by consulting his trusty notebooks, proved that claim to be false.
Graham also notes that the CIA is obligated to tell the entire intelligence committees, not just the leadership.
Graham: They Claimed to Have Briefed Before Torture, Did Not
The Obama administration changed direction today, announcing that it would oppose the release of photographs showing the alleged abuse of prisoners in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The administration this month had agreed to release dozens of the photographs, but reversed course after top military officials said they were concerned that the photos could put U.S. troops in jeopardy, particularly in Afghanistan.
In an about-face, White House opposes release of alleged prisoner abuse photos
A couple of points here: First, it isn’t the photos; it is the acts themselves that put US troops in danger. The abuse is widely known among Iraqis, and those inclined to act don’t need photographic evidence as justification.
BREAKING: Obama Does 180 on Release of Abuse Photos
"The decision to not release the photographs makes a mockery of President Obama's promise of transparency and accountability," said ACLU attorney Amrit Singh. "It is essential that these photographs be released so that the public can examine for itself the full scale and scope of prisoner abuse that was conducted in its name."
In an about-face, White House opposes release of alleged prisoner abuse photos
The Human Rights Council has been a controversial organization since its creation, three years ago. It was created in 2006, replacing the disgraced Human Rights Commission. The council has received a great deal of criticism for focusing its scrutiny on Israel and for not acting on the most pressing human rights issues of the time, including Darfur. Critics also accuse the council for being hypocritical, since many of its members are human rights offenders themselves. So rather than help shape the organization from withing, the Bush administration chose to stay out of the council, making this America’s first time seeking a seat.
U.S. Joins the Human Rights Council
The crew of the space shuttle Atlantis is using the NASA vehicle's robotic arm to determine whether the spacecraft's heat shield was damaged during yesterday's blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The astronauts are using the technology to inspect critical areas of shuttle's thermal protection system, especially on the craft's nose and the edges of its wings. Data and images from the inspection, which is a routine check up after any shuttle launch, is sent down to analysts at Mission Control in Houston, according to NASA.
NASA Shuttle Crew Uses Robotic Arm To Inspect For Damage
The WFPC2 instrument, which was installed in 1993 to replace the original Wide Field/Planetary Camera, will be removed to make room for Wide Field Camera 3 during the STS-125 mission.
During the camera's amazing, nearly 16-year run, WFPC2 provided outstanding science and spectacular images of the cosmos. Some of its best-remembered images are of the Eagle Nebula pillars, Comet P/Shoemaker-Levy 9's impacts on Jupiter's atmosphere, and the 1995 Hubble Deep Field -- the longest and deepest Hubble optical image of its time.
NASA Image Of The Day, May 10, 2009
This planetary nebula is known as Kohoutek 4-55 (or K 4-55). It is one of a series of planetary nebulae that were named after their discoverer, Czech astronomer Lubos Kohoutek. A planetary nebula contains the outer layers of a red giant star that were expelled into interstellar space when the star was in the late stages of its life. Ultraviolet radiation emitted from the remaining hot core of the star ionizes the ejected gas shells, causing them to glow.
In the case of K 4-55, a bright inner ring is surrounded by a bipolar structure. The entire system is then surrounded by a faint red halo, seen in the emission by nitrogen gas. This multi-shell structure is fairly uncommon in planetary nebulae.
This Hubble image was taken by WFPC2 on May 4, 2009. The colors represent the makeup of the various emission clouds in the nebula: red represents nitrogen, green represents hydrogen, and blue represents oxygen. K 4-55 is nearly 4,600 light-years away in the constellation Cygnus.
NASA Image Of The Day, May 10, 2009
A Congressional Quarterly article about GOP efforts to get conservative Democrats to oppose major legislation contains an interesting admission from Sen. Judd Gregg (R-NH).
Acording to the piece, Republicans "have vowed to block, reshape or defeat a number of Democratic initiatives in coming months, even though Specter's defection has left the Senate Republican caucus with just 40 members."
But in a 99-member Senate, 40 votes are enough to keep Democrats from cutting off debate on major legislation. "Usually you need 41 votes to get anything done around here. But right now, you can do a lot with 40 votes,'' said Judd Gregg
In a 99-seat Senate, 40 votes isn't nearly enough to "get anything done." Not at all. It is rather the bare minimum necessary to make sure nothing gets done. And it explains why so many Republican senators will routinely vote against cloture on major Democratic agenda items. It's called a filibuster--and it isn't typically thought of as way to "get stuff done."
An Accidental Moment Of Candor From Judd Gregg: With Franken Tied Up, 'We Can Do A Lot With 40 Votes'
Practical equality of opportunity for all citizens, when we achieve it, will have two great results. First, every man will have a fair chance to make of himself all that in him lies; to reach the highest point to which his capacities, unassisted by special privilege of his own and unhampered by the special privilege of others, can carry him, and to get for himself and his family substantially what he has earned. Second, equality of opportunity means that the commonwealth will get from every citizen the highest service of which he is capable. No man who carries the burden of the special privileges of another can give to the commonwealth that service to which it is fairly entitled.
I stand for the square deal. But when I say that I am for the square deal, I mean not merely that I stand for fair play under the present rules of the game, but that I stand for having those rules changed so as to work for a more substantial equality of opportunity and of reward for equally good service...
Wikipedia: Theodore Roosevelt
If the Hubble repair crew due for liftoff on Monday got into the deepest sort of orbital trouble, yet another shuttle would have to be launched into orbit as little as a week later. NASA hasn’t launched two piloted spacecraft so close together in more than 40 years. But that's just the first act of the drama.
The rescue shuttle, Endeavour, would have to pull within about two dozen yards of the stranded shuttle Atlantis, and then help Atlantis' crew members make their way across a lifeline to refuge. Then Endeavour, full to capacity, would have to leave Hubble as well as Atlantis behind and return home — but not before Atlantis' controls are set for a self-destruct sequence.
NASA Set For Dramatic Shuttle Rescue
In a perfect world, the STS-400 team would just mark time until Atlantis heads back to Earth, after which Endeavour would be put back into preparation for a flight to the space station in mid-June. But if STS-400 is needed — and the need might not be discovered until the final few days of the STS-125 mission — the countdown would resume, and Endeavour would launch three days later. A day after that, using an abbreviated rendezvous path, it would be hovering back to back, 75 feet (23 meters) from Atlantis.
NASA Set For Dramatic Shuttle Rescue
If all goes completely to plan on Hubble Servicing Mission 4, the orbiting observatory will be reborn as the most productive telescope in history, with even greater powers to probe the Universe's deep history and help cosmologists make sense of one of their biggest problems - "dark energy".
Peering Into Hubble's Future
The mission, scheduled for May 2008, should see the space shuttle Discovery take a team of astronauts to the orbiting space telescope. Once there, the crew will boost the satellite into a higher orbit, replace its ageing batteries and gyroscopes, and install some new instruments.
Taken together, the repairs should leave the telescope in fine form until its replacement, the James Webb Space Telescope, can be launched in 2013.
Ups and downs
The decision is the latest turn of fortune for Hubble, which, in recent years, has seen its repair plan approved, replaced, cancelled and reconsidered. The mission, the fifth to the telescope, was originally scheduled for 2006, but was cancelled in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster.
NASA approves Hubble repair
"I'm very excited about it!" said Fernando Ribeiro, a Brazilian educator and artist who runs the Web site SaveTheHubble.com. "It's what we've been fighting for all these years. I think this is going to mean a lot both to science and to the public."
Telescope rally cry
Ribeiro founded his site in 2004 after the shuttle servicing mission, originally scheduled to launch in 2004, was cancelled over safety concerns in the wake of the 2003 Columbia disaster. Ribeiro collected some 5,500 signatures on a petition to reverse the decision, which would have left Hubble without new instruments and repairs needed to keep it alive.
Other Hubble fans (often called "Hubble Huggers") founded similar sites such as SavingHubble.com [(Flashmedia support required)], which sells Hubble T-shirts.
NASA credits this outpouring of public support for the mission as part of the reason it was resuscitated.
Hubble Huggers Ecstatic for Telescope's Facelift