THE TEXAS GOP LOSES ITS NERVE….Gregg Easterbrook, a longtime critic of the space shuttle, says the only reason it’s still around is good ‘ol pork barrel politics:

What’s really happening is that today’s NASA exists to pander to the aerospace contractors (mainly Boeing and Lockheed Martin) and congressional districts (mainly in Alabama, Florida, Ohio, and Texas) with significant stakes in manned-space funding.

Hmmm, Texas? Last night I spent some time on the phone with my mother convincing her that the Texas Republican party platform I wrote about last week was not a joke. It really was their platform. And they really do want to do away with the income tax, Social Security, welfare, the EPA, the Department of Commerce, and most of the rest of the federal government.

“Well, what we ought to do is move NASA out of Texas,” she said. “They get a lot of money from NASA.” True enough, they do. So how do these radical small government Texans feel about getting rid of NASA, anyway? I looked it up:

NASA ? The party supports appropriate funding for the National Aeronautics and Space (NASA) and the Texas Aerospace Commission. The party strongly urges the utilization of private research and design for the purpose of replacing or supplementing the current ?shuttle system? with a ?completely reusable vehicle?, which would be more cost effective in getting to and from space; for the purpose of maintaining and establishing space stations, communications and surveillance satellites, solar-generating system; and enhancing national defense.

A brand new replacement for the shuttle? Establishing space stations? A solar generating system? And of course NASA already uses “private research and design,” so that phrase is nothing more than a magician’s sleight of hand. Far from being a cutback, this is actually a call for expanding NASA.

It’s funny how your radicalism stops short when it’s your own federal pork on the line, isn’t it?