Political Animal

BLOGO-CONSERVATISM….I’m not sure this is

BLOGO-CONSERVATISM….I’m not sure this is a very original observation, but ever since I started blogging I’ve been struck by the specific set of issues that conservative bloggers fixate on. Out of the entire range of conservative views, these are the ones that seem to get the most attention ? to the point that they are often simply part of the background culture, accepted almost unconsciously without even the need for argument:

  • Massive civil awards in lawsuits are commonplace and have become nothing more than a lottery system for greedy plaintiffs.

  • Affirmative action is reverse racism.

  • The problem with education is the teachers unions, which are universally corrupt and venal.

  • Anti-war partisans are “blame America” liberals.

  • Europe is weak and effete, a bunch of ingrates who have turned their backs on us after we bailed them out during WWII.

  • Paul Krugman is shrill and ridiculous.

Perhaps these are the hot button issues of some already-existing brand of conservatism that I’m not familiar with, but it seems like a peculiar assortment of issues. I wonder why these are the ones that seem to crop up so frequently?

MISSION TO MARS?….The Los Angeles

MISSION TO MARS?….The Los Angeles Times reports today that NASA wants to go to Mars:

The space agency is expected to request “significant resources and funding” to design a nuclear-powered propulsion system to triple the speed of space travel, theoretically making it possible for humans to reach Mars in a two-month voyage.

This is so frustrating. I’ve been reading science fiction since I was a tot, I was a glassy-eyed fan of Walter Cronkite’s coverage of the Gemini and Apollo launches for years, and the original moon landing excited me tremendously. Hell, it was all new back then, and as a stand-in for nuclear war with the Soviets it worked pretty well.

There are certainly conflicting opinions about whether nuclear powered spacecraft are a good idea on technical grounds, but one thing that seems clear is that the only real purpose of nuclear propulsion is for manned missions. But one of the things we’ve learned since 1969 is that there is very little need to put humans into space. For the most part, manned missions are driven by PR, not by legitimate research requirements.

I hope there’s more here than meets the eye. I have despaired in recent years over NASA’s egregious lack of vision or management competence. This latest news doesn’t make me any more sanguine.

UPDATE: Reader Ian D says that since Mars is the war god, maybe Bush thinks he has weapons of mass destruction and we need to invade. Heh.

AL SHARPTON….Conservative yammering about how

AL SHARPTON….Conservative yammering about how affirmative action is “reverse racism” and “the Democrats are the party of racism now” should be tossed in the idiot bin where it belongs. But sometimes they have a point, and Al Sharpton is the strongest arrow in their quiver. Geitner Simmons sums up Sharpton’s wretched race-baiting history today and says, “In the wake of the Trent Lott debacle, it should hardly come as a surprise that Republicans will make every effort to make sure that Sharpton?s record is put before the public, should he enter the Democratic presidential primaries.”

I’ve read plenty of people talking about how it’s tactically dangerous for the Democrats if Sharpton runs, but not much else. What Democrats should be saying is that Sharpton is a disgusting, race-mongering cretin and we want nothing to do with him. Support for Sharpton is the Democratic equivalent of stops at Bob Jones University for Republicans, and both sides should knock it off.

Bill Clinton had his Sister Souljah moment. I’d like to see some Democrats step up to the plate and have an Al Sharpton moment.

UPDATE: Nathan Newman defends Sharpton ? sorta. But I’m afraid I’m not buying. Sure, Sharpton has done some good things too, but as a defense I think that’s a little too close for comfort to “Mussolini made the trains run on time.” And the fact that he was eventually proved right about the Central Park wilding case doesn’t make him any less wrong for the racist attacks he’s engaged in sporadically over the years. Sharpton may bring in votes, but that’s just not a good enough reason for Democratic candidates to pander to him. Sorry.

UPDATE II: Max joins in. I dunno, though, saying that Sharpton is no better than Jerry Falwell is not a very convincing argument.

Come on, guys, we can do better. Just because Republicans routinely engage in similar behavior doesn’t mean we should accept it from our side. Shouldn’t we be better than that?


WHO IS THE REAL COLIN POWELL?….Daily Kos asks today, “Why is Colin Powell a Republican?” Unfortunately, he doesn’t even have a guess, let alone an answer. I’ve pondered this myself and have never come up with a good reason either.

Powell is Exhibit A for all those people who try to claim that the Republican party is not a hostage of the Christian right. He would probably have been a shoo-in for the GOP nomination in 2000 except for one thing: he’s pro-choice. The anti-abortion folks made it clear that they would fight to their last breaths to keep him off the ticket, and this was enough to make it clear to him that he couldn’t compete.

You really can’t win the Republican nomination without their support, and this means you have to toe their line. If this isn’t the definition of “held hostage,” I don’t know what is.