Uh Oh – Partisanship on the Supplemental

In his press conference this morning, the President defined the limits of his tolerance on the Iraq war supplemental: $108 billion. More than that, he says, and Congress can expect a swift veto. Since this supplemental is potentially to include science spending, and needs bi-partisan support to even get the the President’s desk, I was concerned when I saw this today:

“Democrats will meet throughout the week to hash out their strategy, and
they insist that Pelosi and other Democratic leaders have not yet made
any final decisions about how to handle what’s likely to be the last
Iraq funding debate of the Bush presidency. But Republican and
Democratic appropriations staffers say Pelosi’s office is seriously
considering skipping over their committee to take a $178 billion war
funding bill — $70 billion more than the president wants — straight to
the House floor.” [1]

If the House pulls this, unless the Senate can restrain the process the supplemental will likely face a veto from the President. The possibility of including science spending in such a bitter bill waorries me more and more.

[1] GOP fears Pelosi power grab on Iraq

The revival of scienceaction.org?

Back in 2005, just after the March Washington lobbying effort by SLAC and Fermilab users, a few of us at SLAC decided to setup a website that could serve as a hub for political action by scientists. It was intended to be a resource more than an organization (unlike SEA, which formed later), a means to raise issues about pending science policy decisions and call for action by scientists on those issues. From the desire to have such a site, scienceaction.org was born.

After the NUFO meeting last week, I came to realize that while scienceaction.org never took off, there is still a latent demand out there for such a resource. Users’ organizations, based at government labs and seeking non-government resources to express their needs to politicians, are in a tough position. They need a site they can use to create letters, call for action, and circulate news about the current status of U.S. science funding policy and activity.

I revamped the site over the weekend, migrating from the old Zope site to a more modern web framework.

I invite all interested parties to contact me about becoming “correspondents” for the site. Your role would then be to post news you find or hear, initiate calls to action from subscribers to the site, and spread the word about the need for all scientists to be citizen scientists.

The software is also going to migrate to the new framework, allowing issue letters to be created and then tracked on calls to action. My goal is to provide a flexible set of tools to establish such letters, get them to the community, and estimate how many people are trying to send these letters.

Turning them to the dark side

Future PhysicistsTo one of my recent posts, a comment was made by the mysteriously named “The Chemist” criticizing my teaching of special relativity to my nephews as turning them to “the dark side”.

That’s nothing. Check out what my wife did. This makes relativity look like . . . well . . . child’s play.