Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Whenever the mavens of “bipartisanship” attempt to do more than spout pretty platitudes, they invariably reveal just how vapid and bereft of substance are their slogans. Former Sen. Bob Graham — who recently joined David Boren, Sam Nunn and others in threatening the country with a plutocratic Michael Bloomberg candidacy if the presidential candidates failed to become more “bipartisan” — has an Op-Ed in today’s Washington Post which is a classic entry in this genre.
Graham purports to list a slew of problems suffering from a lack of bipartisanship — “huge gaps in national and homeland security”; “Nearly 50 million Americans still have no health insurance”; crumbling infrastructure; high gas prices; and a lack of a brighter future for the next generation — and then proposes a litany of shallow process “solutions” such as a bipartisan cabinet, changes to the format for presidential debates, and regional primaries. Those “solutions” are total nonsequiturs. How would they resolve any of the intense differences over those policies? They manifestly wouldn’t.
But more importantly, “bipartisanship” is already rampant in Washington, not rare. And, in almost every significant case, what “bipartisanship” means in Washington is that enough Democrats join with all of the Republicans to endorse and enact into law Republican policies, with which most Democratic voters disagree. That’s how so-called “bipartisanship” manifests in almost every case.
Many people, especially partisans, always believe that their own side is compromising too much and that the other side is always winning, so it’s best to consult objective facts in order to know how “bipartisanship” works. Here are the vote breakdowns by party over the last couple years on the most significant and contentious pieces of legislation, particularly (though not only) in the area of national security.
In almost every case, the proposals that are enacted are ones favored by the White House and supported by all GOP lawmakers, and then Democrats split and enough of them join with Republicans to ensure that the GOP gets what it wants. That’s “bipartisanhip” in Washington:
GOP – 48-0
Dems – 12-36
GOP – 0-49
Dems – 24-21
GOP – 46-0
Dems – 7-40
GOP – 49-0
Dems – 8-38
GOP – 46-2
Dems – 30-20
GOP – 49-0
Dems – 23-25
GOP – 44-0
Dems – 20-28
GOP – 48-1
Dems – 16-33
GOP – 53-0
Dems – 12-34
GOP – 54-0
Dems – 34-10
GOP – 54-0
Dems – 18-25
GOP – 48-1
Dems – 29-22
On virtually every major controversial issue — particularly, though not only, ones involving national security and terrorism — the Republicans (including their vaunted mythical moderates and mavericks) vote in almost complete lockstep in favor of the President, the Democratic caucus splits, and the Republicans then get their way on every issue thanks to “bipartisan” support. That’s what “bipartisanship” in Washington means.
Leaving aside how shallow and, shall we say, unserious is this endless chirping for more “bipartisanship” — as though it’s a magic feel-good formula for resolving actual policy differences — it’s hard to imagine how there could possibly be any more “bipartisanship” in Washington even if that were the only goal. Other than formally disbanding as a party — or granting a permanent proxy of their collective vote to Mitch McConnell — how could Congressional Democrats possibly be more accommodating than they already are?
UPDATE: This superb ad, from Martin Heinrich, a Democratic candidate for Congress in the 1st District of New Mexico, makes the point about as well as a political advertisement can make a point — is it really that difficult for other Democrats to convey this message? As this ad — along with the one-minute clip from Sen. Feingold yesterday — conclusively demonstrates, it is actually quite easy to convey these points in a persuasive way for those who wish to.
NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins
On December 28, 2013, Expedition 38 crew member Mike Hopkins participating in the second of two space walks to replace a degraded pump module on the International Space Station. (NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio is reflected in his helmet!)
The Soyuz TMA-10M
The Soyuz TMA-10M headed towards the International Space Station with crew members from Expedition 37 onboard.
40 years ago the Apollo 8 mission flew up to the moon, orbited it ten times and then returned to Earth. This picture was taken from that flight and shows the Earth as it seemingly rises in similar fashion to a sunrise.
Sunrise from Expedition 36
NASA Flight Engineer Karen L. Nyberg of Expedition 36 took this photo of the sun rising -- a sight they saw nearly 16 times per day due to the speed of the International Space Station's orbit around the earth.
A pair of NanoRacks CubeSats -- nanosattelite spacecrafts carrying experiments -- were launched by Expedition 38.