Space porn: These images are (quite literally) out of this world
Whoops! Sen. Lisa Murkowski regrets a vote she took … a few days ago. If she knew five days ago what she knows now, she never would’ve supported the Blunt Amendment, the add-on to a highway bill that would’ve allowed any employer with “moral objections” to refuse to cover contraception — or any other health-related service or activity — in their healthcare plans. Murkowski voted for the amendment, along with every other Republican save retiring Maine moderate Olympia Snowe. Now, one weekend later, she says sorry. She had no idea she was signing on to a hugely unpopular and politically suicidal campaign to restrict the rights of women!
Alaska’s Murkowski is not quite a Snowe-level RINO, but she did rather famously lose a primary election to a Tea Party upstart in 2010, putting her solidly in the “too moderate for the modern Republican Party” camp. (She then won reelection with a rare successful write-in campaign, in part because the Tea Party upstart turned out to be a weird extremist with a history of paranoia and lying.) She is pro-choice. She is obviously pro-contraception. She just voted against those two principles because … well, because she’s a Republican, and it seems like a bunch of Republicans briefly convinced themselves that this issue was a winner, politically.
Then she went home to Alaska for the Iditarod, and according to the Anchorage Daily News, a bunch of her supporters gave her what-for.
“I have never had a vote I’ve taken where I have felt that I let down more people that believed in me,” she said.
She’d meant to make a statement about religious freedom, she said, but voters read it as a vote against contraception coverage for women. The measure was so broad, it’s hard not to read it that way. I suspect Murkowski saw that, but for reasons she didn’t share with me, voted for it anyway.
Yeah, that isn’t a great excuse. Two weeks ago Murkowski was aligning herself with the conservative Catholic bishops and practically adopting the “Obama’s war on religion” talking point. Professional moderates like her are always shifting according to the prevailing political winds, but they usually don’t reverse themselves so definitively quite so quickly. And it is an especially bad look to do so less than week after a controversial vote.
It should be clear that there’s not actually room in the current party for pro-choice women — it’s clear to Snowe, it’s fair to say — and attempts by these 14 sad members of Congress to balance their needs to actually represent their constituencies with their responsibilities to party leadership will only get more difficult. The GOP basically just took a 40-year step back on reproductive rights, and everyone in the party who disagrees with that decision should have probably actively resisted it instead of apologizing after the fact.
Alex Pareene writes about politics for Salon and is the author of "The Rude Guide to Mitt." Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @pareeneMore Alex Pareene.
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.