Monday Reads: Is there Life on Mars?Posted: September 28, 2015
Did you see the Blood Super Moon last night?
Sky-watchers from the Americas to western Europe enjoy a rare astronomical event in which the moon appears to redden in the night sky – a ‘blood moon’. It is the result
NASA has a site up with some fantastic pictures if you’d like to see what some great lens and photography can do for an event like this. You can also read about NASA’s amazing find. There is briny water on Mars which portends the finding of some kind of Martian life. It’s actually flowing!
So the news is that there is flowing water on Mars. The evidence comes from dark streaks that appear on the surface of the Red Planet. These have been known about for many years because the landscape has been seen to change on successive images taken by spacecraft orbiting Mars. Although flowing water has always been a possibility for their creation, other ideas such as the movement of dry ice (carbon dioxide) or the action of the wind, could not be ruled out.
Now, however, strong evidence for them being driven by water has been collected by an instrument called CRISM on board Nasa’s Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter. It has seen the signature of salts known as perchlorates in the dark streaks. These indicate that flowing salty water is responsible for the markings.
In light of this discovery, the search is on for finding where this Mars water is coming from, how it finds its way to the surface and how much of it is down there? There is much we do not know: previous radar studies from Europe’s Mars Express spacecraft had come up empty handed when looking for underground aquifers of water. So where is the water hiding?
Nearly seven in 10 Americans — 69 percent — oppose shutting down the government over funding for Planned Parenthood, according to the results of a new national Quinnipiac University poll released Monday.
Just 23 percent support closing the government over the dispute. Even among Republicans, a majority of 56 percent to 36 percent opposes a shutdown due to Planned Parenthood.
At the same time, 44 percent to 39 percent said they had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood, with a significant gender gap. Among women, 50 percent to 35 percent approve of the group, while men disapprove, 43 percent to 38 percent.
But as far as cutting off funding to the group, 52 percent said they would oppose doing so, compared with 41 percent who supported such an action. Women opposed such an action by a wide margin — 60 percent to 34 percent — while men responding to the survey supported an end to federal funding 49 percent to 44 percent.
Paul Krugman refers to the the scorched-earth policy of the Republicans as damaging to American credibility abroad and to the economy at home. He also calls them the Blackmail Party.
In other words, despite all Mr. Boehner’s efforts to bring him down, Mr. Obama is looking more and more like a highly successful president. For the base, which has never considered Mr. Obama legitimate — polling suggests that many Republicans believe that he wasn’t even born here — this is a nightmare. And all too many ambitious Republican politicians are willing to tell the base that it’s Mr. Boehner’s fault, that he just didn’t try blackmail hard enough
This is nonsense, of course. In fact, the controversy over Planned Parenthood that probably triggered the Boehner exit — shut down the government in response to obviously doctored videos? — might have been custom-designed to illustrate just how crazy the G.O.P.’s extremists have become, how unrealistic they are about what confrontational politics can accomplish.
But Republican leaders who have encouraged the base to believe all kinds of untrue things are in no position to start preaching political rationality.
Meanwhile, Boehner talks about the lesser angels–or perhaps more apt, larger demons--left to do the dirty work in the caucus. He called them “false prophets” which far kinder than they deserve.
Visibly exasperated, Boehner said his top accomplishments as speaker – including the first major entitlement reform in decades, and deficit reduction – “all were voted against by my most conservative members because it wasn’t good enough. Really? This is the part I really don’t understand.
“Our founders didn’t want some parliamentary system where if you won the majority you got to do whatever you wanted,” he added. “They wanted this long, slow process. And so change comes slowly. And obviously too slowly for some.”
Asked if his critics on the right are unrealistic, Boehner exclaimed, “Absolutely they’re unrealistic!”
Democrats in both chambers say Boehner’s resignation has given them a sinking feeling ahead of the hard negotiations slated for later this fall.
“I’m afraid that it may make things much worse. John Boehner is a good and decent man. I’ve known him since he’s been in the Congress and he’s trying to do his very, very best,” Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.) told MSNBC.
The outside groups that constantly attacked Boehner immediately said they expect more from his successor.
“We have a reset. Now the challenge is will whoever takes John Boehner’s job understand that dynamic and be aggressive in trying to put forth conservative policy and fighting for that conservative policy,” said Dan Holler, spokesman for Heritage Action for America.
No matter who is the next Speaker, he or she will face a difficult task in reaching deals with Obama on spending levels, the debt ceiling and a host of other issues.
Before Boehner’s announcement, some had faint hopes that a lame-duck president and Speaker might be able to work out a deal. Those hopes came crashing down on Friday.
“There’s a building sense among some in the administration and on the Hill that a bigger package could have been put together in a December, but now I don’t think anyone thinks that’s possible,” said Jim Manley, a former senior aide to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.).
If Congress is able to agree to a short-term spending bill this week, its next challenge may be reaching an agreement on a measure to keep the government operating through the next fiscal year.
Democrats want to lift the spending ceilings agreed to as part of a 2011 budget deal, and some Republicans are interested in a deal if it increases defense spending.
Holler, however, said conservatives would put heavy pressure on Boehner’s successor to not agree to any such deal.
“I would certainly think that as members are meeting with folks who are interested in having that job, that’s going to be one of the questions they ask,” Holler said of proposals to break the caps set by the 2011 Budget Control Act.
Even something supported by many centrist Republicans, such as extending expiring tax provisions, could be thrown into jeopardy.
One conservative aide called the package of tax provisions “cronyism,” adding, “It’s not a good image, bailing out Wall Street at Main Street’s expense.”
The Export-Import Bank’s authority lapsed over the summer. Boehner was a supporter of the bank, but House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the favorite to succeed him, is not.
The GOP establishment has been troubled by Boehner’s rocky tenure in the House, and many elder Republicans said they are worried about the trend in their party.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) cheered Boehner’s demise at a Values Voter Summit Friday in Washington, while Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who, like Cruz, is running for president, said McConnell should be next.
Meanwhile, there are some pretty weird people lining up for the overall of Republican Leadership in the House. Okay, weird is simply too nice. There are all kinds of whackadoos lined up including “Check out my White Sheets” Scalise.
All manner of knuckle-draggers want be the next Speaker of the House. Where is Dennis Hastert now that you really need him? Oh, yeah, never mind.
Rep. Kevin McCarthy, who is quietly locking down support to be the next House speaker, is privately assuring Republicans he’ll take a tougher stand against the White House — and also the Senate GOP leadership, according to people familiar with the talks.
Oh yeah, it can get worse. Even their “moderate candidate” wants blood on the floor.
Another funny name I saw mentioned is Pistol Pete Sessions from Texas. OhHoly Crap. The guy is also known asCaptain Stupid. But there’s also the possibility that he’ll be a hairdresser’s dream.Best Pete Sessions?
Just hours after federal agents charged banker Allen Stanford with fleecing investors of $7 billion, the disgraced financier received a message from one of Congress’ most powerful members, Pete Sessions.
“I love you and believe in you,” said the e-mail sent on Feb. 17. “If you want my ear/voice — e-mail,” it said, signed “Pete.”
He’s a crate of crazy, Honey.Oh yeah, pick him! Pick him!
Maybe I should consider signing up for the next Mars Mission.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?