Bloggers are going nuclear over the Senate debate of a judicial nominee; they also ponder the Air Force proposal to put weapons in space and evaluate George Galloway's testimony before a Senate subcommittee yesterday.
Nuke this: Senate debate on controversial judicial nominee Priscilla Owen began today after negotiations for a compromise to avoid the so-called "nuclear option" failed. Republican leaders have threatened to change the Senate rules that require a 60-vote supermajority to end a filibuster that blocks a judicial nomination. Because they don't have the two-thirds support normally needed for such a rule change, their alternate plan is to muster majority support for their position and then to ask presiding Senate officer Vice President Dick Cheney to break the impasse and declare filibusters unconstitutional.
At popular liberal blog Daily Kos, contributor Hunter breaks down the nuclear goings on. "The Republican Party has managed to turn even the most basic foundations of American government on their head, simply to force complete compliance with their agenda," he protests. "It's not about majority vs. minority status. It's about the removal of essential, long-standing authorities of the legislative branch in deference to a very small handful of party ideologues." At personal blog Radical Mirrors, Jeff questions the Republicans' interpretation of advise and consent: "The sticking point is the word 'consent'. The President, Mr. McClellan, and the Senate Republicans are using the dictionary definition, which is to agree. That's not the meaning that the founders intended. Rather, what they meant was that the Senate shall review the nominations, and if found lacking, reject them."
At the conservative Lime Shurbet, Robert is not impressed with the willingness of Democratic Sens. Harry Reid and Ted Kennedy to confirm other nominees in exchange for a delay on Owen: "That doesn't smell of high principles to me - it smells of fear…well, and the scotch and/or bourbon Teddy is likely sweating out of this system this morning." Meanwhile, conservative author and talk-show host Hugh Hewitt says the Democrats might be picking the wrong fight. "Had they not forced the issue now and done so with so much venom and obvious ideological motivation, their opportunity to filibuster a single or even two Supreme Court nominees would have been in tact."
The other star wars: The Air Force has requested a presidential directive to put weapons in outer space. The New York Times notes that the Air Force says it is simply seeking "free access in space" but also points out that the Pentagon is already developing space weapons.
Julian Ku at Opinio Juris, an international law and politics blog, has a good primer on the treaties that regulate weapons in space—we can't place WMD on the moon, for example. He concludes pragmatically that, "Space will be developed and used, whether or not there is an worldwide treaty regulating such use. … The key to how outer space will be developed will lie in decisions by folks like President Bush and President Putin, and not in the world of international lawyers."
William Kilarjian at GOPBloggers writes, "[Space weapons'] global access and reach in the ability to engage a broad range of targets could make them an indispensible tool in defending the nation. … While it is to be expected that there will be the usual caterwauling from the 'peaceful uses of space/let the United Nations govern the universe' crowd, they should be paid precious little heed." Administration critic BlueSun2600 is resigned. "It looks as if Rumsfeld will get his boondoggle. … And this term "free access to space" can not mean nothing other then suppressing other space powers."
Noah Shachtman at Defense Tech pokes some holes in the Times piece. "[T]he paper of record actually ignores some of the Air Force's actual, working space weapons while spilling ink over the service's least-likely schemes," he writes, revealing some surprising targets listed in Air Force documents. Meanwhile, the Air Force's plan gets a 4 out of 10 at the Bullshit Meter, a site devoted to measuring hypocrisy, misinformation, and lack of common sense.
Galloway's gall: British MP George Galloway made a fiery appearance on Tuesday before a Senate subcommittee investigating the U.N. oil-for-food scandal. Galloway is one of several prominent foreign officials accused of impropriety by the Senate Permanent Subcomittee on Investigation. Galloway rejected the charges and criticized U.S. policy toward Iraq.
Mick at right-leaning Uncorrelated provides a rundown of the charges against Galloway and offers his grudging respect. "Galloway may be corrupt, crazy and a fool, but he sure has balls coming to the U.S. and reiterating the usual leftist nonsense about Iraq." The Daily Ablution's Scott Burgess live-blogged Tuesday's testimony. Today, he points out Galloway's possible lies. "Darwinian libertarian" Sissy Willis at Sisu predicts that Galloway's "rabidly anti-Bush soundbites will be manna for the gaping media maw in the coming news cycles. Presumably that's Galloway's strategy, but we have a gut feeling the truth will out."