Saturday, December 17, 2005

What's up in DC?

What's up in DC?
There's been a lot of movement and directions taken remain incredibly unclear.

First, we have the shuffle involving Mike Roco and there does not seem to be a conspiracy afoot. He's no longer chairing NSET (the chairman/person/ship rotates). The NSET co-chairs as of December 2005 are Celia Merzbacher of OSTP and Altaf Carim of DOE. Mike remains a member representing NSF. Mike has been an incredibly powerful advocate for the science side of the NNI. I often tell folks "You gotta love the guy. How many times has he had to explain that nano was not about little robots coursing through our arteries?!" For that alone, he deserves our commendation. Personally, I enjoy his pugnacious style and his fiery defense of all things nano.

Second, there was a grantees meeting from Dec. 12-15 (two days for the recent NIRT grant recipients and two days to recipients of larger-scale NSEC related) grants). Rachelle Hollander announced her retirement (a while ago) which from the newly renamed NSF Science and Society program (which incorporates a number of earlier subprograms including both STS and EVS). I didn't attend so ask someone who did.

Third, we have the queer way that the NSEC for the Center for Nanotechnology in Society was handled where we have ended up with two Centers and some money given to two other teams (presumably NIRT-like awards since none we awarded this year for SEIN work). Presumably this will be hammered out in a February meeting of the PIs from the four recipients.

Finally, we have mid-term elections coming up and science and technology policy will not be relevant in any campaigns. Next, we have the elections in 2008. While it's early to predict who will comes out of the pack. Democrats seem to have Hillary Rodham-Clinton (Sen., NY), John Edwards, and John Kerry. Edwards and Kerry are not science and technology advocates though Edwards less than Kerry and both less than Rodham-Clinton. Republicans have a score of folks but that includes Condoleeza Rice who would be an unlikely candidate given her rhetoric and her foreign policy focus (not a campaign issue against the economy) though she can bark about terrorism better than most, former mayor of NYC Rudy Giuliani who will probably run on a "tough on terrorism" platform. The NNI might be incidental to both of their candidacies. Then there's John McCain (Sen., AZ). There's a recent plus in his candidacy given the legislation on torture which might be able to attract some crossover voters and he does have a strong record on science and technology serving on the Science Committee. We also have George Allen (Sen., VA) who has to improve his national visibility and everyone knows Allen is a great supporter and though I responded to some of his hyperbole in a recent issues of ISSUES that does not mean I wouldn't vote for him given the opportunity.

My spin - watch McCain and Allen closely. A McCain-Allen ticket would be a science technology team worth our attention. They'd probably get my vote.

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