When I started this blog, I described its content as “random quick takes by Lionel Deimel.” I’ve certainly delivered on the random thing, but some posts have gotten exceedingly long. Here’s a post that may live up to the “quick” designation.Kudos to President Obama for his announcement yesterday about the space program. I never thought that George W. Bush’s plan to go back to the moon was a good idea. It represented more of the same. In particular, it meant that the same people who were earning money from the space program would continue to do so and for the same sorts of things they were already doing. People concerned about the space program from a more dispassionate perspective were more interested in getting to Mars, a task requiring new and different technology from that which took us to the moon. I see that The Planetary Society was pleased with the new direction for NASA.
Actually, from my point of view, Obama had a very good day yesterday. His order to Health and Human Services to draw up regulations allowing patients in hospitals getting money from Medicare or Medicaid to designate who may visit them will be a great boon to gay and lesbian couples, but it can affect others as well. I am especially sensitive to this issue as I have been seeing a friend through a long illness. I have had little problem gaining access to my friend’s room, but I may have had a good deal more trouble elsewhere. According to The New York Times, “In some instances in the past, hospitals have barred bedside visits by the person who held the medical power of attorney for a patient.” It is difficult to see the president’s order as anything but reasonable and humane. Of course, right-wing partisans can. We have this from an NPR story this morning:
J.P. Duffy, vice president for communications at the Family Research Council, said Obama is pandering to a radical special interest group.Finally, there is the Supreme Court vacancy created by the retirement of Justice John Paul Stevens. There seem to be two questions the media are asking: How liberal a candidate will President Obama name, and will the Republicans allow anyone to be confirmed by the Senate? It has been suggested that Obama is likely to nominate someone only moderately liberal, as he is not the ultra liberal that Republicans make him out to be. The political problems are tricky, however, and they must be taken into account. Given that the Supreme Court has been stacked with extreme conservatives, my advice to the president would be to nominate the most liberal candidate that could conceivably be confirmed. To be an effective Supreme Court justice, of course, the nominee should also be unusually persuasive.
“There are many other ways to deal with this issue, whether through a health care proxy or power of attorney, through private contractual arrangements. We have no problem with those situations,” Duffy said, “but the fact here is that this is undermining the definition of marriage.”