CPACalypse Now

I saw a tweet yesterday—“How Obama Could Have Killed Bin Laden Harder”—that cracked me up. Intrigued, I clicked on the hashtag  #CPACpanels  and saw several people who populate my Twitter timeline making fun of the Conservative Political Action Committee (CPAC) convention in Washington D.C. this week by coming up with make-believe names for their panels. My favorite tweet in this list – “How Ronald Reagan Killed Osama Bin Laden From Beyond The Grave” – was a twofer, ridiculing both the patron saint of conservatism and the recent assertion by Sean Hannity that President Obama “really didn’t want to kill Osama bin Laden” in one fell swoop.

After laughing at a few of my other favorite fake panel names – ones like “Not A Coincidence: The Greatness Of America Is Fully Explained Through Everything You Are And Everything You Like”, “If You Can't See The Socialism, You're Not Looking Hard Enough”, “Brown People Or Brown-ish People: Which Is The Greater Threat?”, “Liberal Bias: Your Answer To Everything”, “We're Not Racists, We Just Have Two White Supremacists Speaking At Our Conference By Coincidence”, and “The Leninist History Of Teleprompters” -  I was more than a little curious to see what the agenda at the real CPAC looked like.


Of the estimated 5,500 attendees and most of the 1,200 credentialed “media” at CPAC, a significant portion are college students, part of a youth movement that has increasingly skewed the conference’s demographic. But although that youth contingent at previous conventions brought with it almost a party atmosphere, most attendees this year were gravely serious and intense. On the dais of the Marriott Wardman Park Ballroom, lawmakers, conservative commentators and movement leaders reflected the crowd’s angry, determined mood.

Lawmakers repeatedly lashed out at President Barack Obama for practicing what Republicans have come to label the “politics of division.”

At CPAC, a Serious, Heated Display of Conservatism

A few clicks later, I had access to the 21 page PDF file that listed all of the events planned for the three day event. CPAC is not really a Republican event but a conservative event, which is how you get past keynote speakers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. I was supposed to be investigating the event for my own information, but the longer I read through the names of actual panels being held, panels like “The Failure of Multiculturalism: How the pursuit of diversity is weakening the American Identity”, the more I wondered if the people who were just having fun on the #CPACpanel hashtag knew how close their tongue-in-cheek concoctions had come to the genuine articles. Some of the more eyebrow raising panels are below:

From Fidel to Chavez: How Do We Stop the Resurgence of Socialism in Latin America  – Marshall Ballroom*


Is Fusionist Conservatism Still Possible? Marshall Ballroom*

Nullification: The Rightful Remedy – CPAC Theater

Criminal Justice Reform: Too Many Crimes, Too Many Criminals Marshall Ballroom*

In the Name of “Tolerance”: Countering Sexual Identity Politics in Schools & Wait No More – Maryland

Does Hollywood Still Embrace American Exceptionalism?* - Marshall Ballroom

A New Voice Panel - Solutions to Battling Race & Class in Politics - McKinley

Why are U.S. taxpayers spending billions to promote abortion and homosexuality worldwide? –  Wilson C

It doesn’t take anyone listening to the live stream of these panels very long to conclude that President Obama is going to end up being named as one of the culprits to whatever problem they are discussing. CPAC is a pep rally type of gathering that is ready made for a Republican presidential hopeful, which is why Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, and Rick Santorum will be making speeches. No matter what amount of hubris these conservatives heap upon themselves regarding their movement and their importance in the presidential election process this weekend, Erick Erickson has aptly pointed out that Mitt Romney, who is now grudgingly acknowledged as the front runner for the GOP presidential nomination, may not need the support of conservatives to win.

Related Articles

How does alcohol affect your brain?

Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.

(Photo by Angie Garrett/Wikimedia Commons)
Mind & Brain
  • Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
  • Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
  • Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
Keep reading Show less

Scientists sequence the genome of this threatened species

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.

Surprising Science
  • A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
  • It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
  • Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.

If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.

Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.

elephant by Guillaume le Clerc

Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons

13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.

It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.

But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.

John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."

What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.

Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.

Why cauliflower is perfect for the keto diet

The exploding popularity of the keto diet puts a less used veggie into the spotlight.

Purple cauliflower. (Photo: Shutterstock)
Surprising Science
  • The cauliflower is a vegetable of choice if you're on the keto diet.
  • The plant is low in carbs and can replace potatoes, rice and pasta.
  • It can be eaten both raw and cooked for different benefits.
Keep reading Show less