Wall Street Moves Toward Obama

We have all heard how furious the Wall Street big wigs are supposed to be at Obama.  He is going to regulate us to death, kill the Market, etc.  But it’s a good bet when dealing with Wall Street to avoid the rhetoric and follow the money.  Forget Wall Streeters’ personal feelings about Obama and the Democrats.  It’s clear that they don’t think that the world will end with an Obama reelection.  Not only is the Market doing very well right now with Obama leading in the polls, it appears that traders are already betting with their electronic greenbacks on the reelection of the president.

Jeffrey Kleintop, chief market strategist at LPL Financial, has developed an index that tracks how well industries are doing that would benefit from either a Republican or Democratic win in November.  The index is clearly showing a move toward the Democrats.  You can find the latest report at  http://lplgraphics.com/~rss/LPL_RSS_Feeds_Publications/WSEP/Election_Polls_09132012.pdf

An article by Mark Gongloff, “Wall Street May Hate Obama, But It’s Betting On His Victory,” summarizes what Klientop has been up to.

Klingons and the Pentagon

Yesterday CBS Evening News reported the following, which is now on their website.

You might be surprised that as part of the Defense Department’s mission to protect Americans, your tax dollars funded a workshop about aliens from “Star Trek” entitled: Did Jesus Die for Klingons, Too? It’s just one questionable projects under the microscope of fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who’s taking his red pen to cuts that he sees as no-brainers.

Turns out that the question, as reported by the Christian Post, was proposed by a German professor.  Here is part of CP’s account.

During a recent conference that focused on the possibilities and implications of long-term space flight, a German professor made an attempt at applying Christian theology to extraterrestrial aliens, leading him to ask the question “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?”

Christian Weidemann, a philosophy professor from Ruhr-University Bochum in Germany, gave the lecture on theology and aliens as part of the 100 Year Starship Study symposium in Orlando, Fla., this past weekend.

Given the Pentagon’s mission, at first glance this certainly seems suited for the red pen.  But it turns out that if Coburn had spent some time on this he would have seen that he is taking a cheap shot.  It is just this kind of myopic, knee jerk reaction to programs that conservative legislators haven’t bothered to examine that threatens, paradoxically, to undermine some of the very things that they support, for example, America as a world leader in technology.   So, what’s the story here?

The conference in which Weidemann’s paper was presented was called the “100 Year Starship Symposium,” which was partially supported by DARPA.  What is DARPA?  From it’s web site:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) was established in 1958 to prevent strategic surprise from negatively impacting U.S. national security and create strategic surprise for U.S. adversaries by maintaining the technological superiority of the U.S. military.

To fulfill its mission, the Agency relies on diverse performers to apply multi-disciplinary approaches to both advance knowledge through basic research and create innovative technologies that address current practical problems through applied research.  DARPA’s scientific investigations span the gamut from laboratory efforts to the creation of full-scale technology demonstrations in the fields of biology, medicine, computer science, chemistry, physics, engineering, mathematics, material sciences, social sciences, neurosciences and more.  As the DoD’s primary innovation engine, DARPA undertakes projects that are finite in duration but that create lasting revolutionary change.

But DARPA does not limit its funding, especially in terms of seed money, only to directly fostering technologies.  It seems to be taking a longer range view.  The conference in which Weidemann’s paper was presented is described on DARPA’s site:

DARPA and NASA Ames Research Center are soliciting abstracts for papers and/or topics/members for discussion panels, to be presented at the 100 Year Starship Study Symposium to be held in Orlando, Florida from September 30 through October 2, 2011 (emphasis added).

The symposium is expected to attract roughly hundreds of people from around the world….

“This won’t just be another space technology conference – we’re hoping that ethicists, lawyers, science fiction writers, technologists and others, will participate in the dialog to make sure we’re thinking about all the aspects of interstellar flight,” said David Neyland, director of the Tactical Technology Office for DARPA. “This is a great opportunity for people with interesting ideas to be heard, which we believe will spur further thought, dreaming and innovation.”

“The 100 Year Starship Study” is currently funded by non-governmental organizations, which are concerned with innovation, space travel, education, and new technologies.  It is described as follows on its website:

“An Inclusive, Audacious Journey Transforms Life Here on Earth and Beyond” proposal won the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) challenge—to create “a viable and sustainable non-governmental organization for persistent, long-term, private-sector investment into the myriad of disciplines needed to make long-distance space travel possible.”

The non-profit Dorothy Jemison Foundation for Excellence, teamed with Icarus Interstellar and Foundation for Enterprise Development, received seed funding from DARPA to design, establish and implement this extensive program.

To make a long story short, it appears that DARPA provided seed money for the initiative and support for a conference that was meant to engage people in thinking about the implications of long term space travel.  The latter, in turn, whether it occurs or doesn’t in the foreseeable future, has implications for the ways in which we think about current technologies.  We talk all of the time about how America allows us to turn dreams into reality.  But we don’t know what dreams have promise if we avoid opportunities for engaging in sustained discussion of them.  Conferences and programs like this can be helpful.  And given the size of the Pentagon’s budget, this sort of support is almost literally peanuts.

As to the paper on Klingons and Jesus, it doesn’t appear to have been a very compelling paper.  But everyone who has organized large conferences knows that there are bound to be some weak and even off the wall papers that slip in.  Nevertheless, the paper did work on a certain level, or at least its title did.  For the point here is to get people thinking about the ethical implications of how we might respond to those who are different, space aliens, or perhaps just people who appear different from ourselves.  (This relates to ethical issues that are involved in warfare, many of which are addressed in military codes of conduct.  But this is a post for another day.)  The conference organizers understood that technology is not just about things but the way that we think about them, dream about them, and use them, including in our relationships with other people or even Klingons.

Senator Coburn and his budget cutting friends should really do some cost benefit analyses, and they should pay attention to the future  when they do so.  It’s very easy to wave a red pen around.

Mitt Romney Was Never Governor of Massachusetts

After weeks of withering criticism from Fox News regarding Mitt Romney’s governorship of the liberal state of Massachusetts, the Romney camp finally addressed the issue in a statement.

Mitt Romney is not now and has never has been the Governor of Massachusetts.  His twin sister, Mitsy Romney, well known for her moderate and even liberal positions on health care and women’s rights, was actually the governor of Massachusetts from 2003 to 2007.  Mitsy touted her moderate and progressive views, not Mitt.

When the campaign was immediately challenged by reporters and fact-checkers, who claimed that Mitt Romney had indeed been governor and presented himself as having moderate and progressive views, it responded with a statement from its lead pollster, Neil Newhouse.

“Fact checkers come to this with their own sets of thoughts and beliefs, and we’re not going to let our campaign be dictated by fact checkers.”

The campaign also told reporters that if they questioned Mitsy’s term as governor, they could check out her Facebook Page (here).  They are expecting many folks to comment on her Facebook Page and become friends with Mitsy in the days ahead.

The campaign also said that Mitsy would be reaching out to women voters in the weeks ahead.

Money, Money, Money

I’ve been thinking about how the Supreme Court made it possible for rich donors to give millions and millions to political causes, which typically turn out to be candidates in some shape or form, who turn out to be mostly Republicans.  This led me to start thinking about how money could help my blog.  However, giving money away to people who visit UP@NIGHT wouldn’t work because it could get too expensive.  But a couple of years back I noticed that if I put pictures of money on a post, it would often get tons of hits.  It seems that people were coming to see or use images of money.  So why not have a post of images of different denominations in order to lure people to my blog.  It’s a lot less shameful and expensive than what is going on in the political arena.  And so here it is, my ad, the money post.

Whoops.

The Economic Fire

Photo

When the Normans conquered a region of present day Italy in the eleventh century they engaged in extortion.   They would start to burn the crops of the natives and then demand payment for putting the fire out.

This form of extortion parallels what the citizens of the U.S. face today from the GOP, with one noteworthy exception.  You see, they helped create the economic mess that we have been in, that is, they set the fire.  They did so through deregulating Wall Street and the banks, along with lax enforcement of existing regulations, which led the economy to tank at the end of the Bush years.  (Yes, the Democrats did go along with some of these measures but the initiative to deregulate Wall Street and the banks has been based on Republican dogma.)  But unlike the Normans, they can’t put the fire out.  For the tools they would use to extinguish the fire are the same ones that helped start it in the first place.

Now you say this is unfair.  The Normans intended to extort by setting the fires.  The Republicans believed that what they were doing was good for the economy.  They did not plan to extort.  Fair enough.  But we have now reached a point in which it doesn’t really matter what the Republicans’ intentions were or are.  The fact is that they set the fire and they want to use the same flame thrower to put it out.

What does this actually amount to for us non-wealthy folk?  We will have less protections against various kinds of fires, for example, illness, unemployment, lack of resources for retirement, etc.  And we will be asked to pay more for any protections that are left.  We will be told that this isn’t so by the GOP.   They will tell us that by lowering taxes and deregulating we will unleash the as yet unleashed forces of the market.  Well, fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me.  There are no free lunches.  As the vast majority of experts on the economy will tell you, we can’t get out of our current fiscal situation without prudent entitlement policies and new taxes.  This was the recommendation of the Simpson Bowles Commission,  a recommendation which free market fanatics like Ryan helped tank because it suggested new taxes (although Ryan dishonestly has tried to blame Obama).

If the GOP wins this election and manages to push through more deregulation and tax cuts, especially for corporations and the rich, we and our children will end up having to pay more to cover the enormous debt and suffering that will be created by these policies.  We will have to pay for the fire that they have started, once again.

Eastwood’s Empty Chair for Romney

An UP@NIGHT exclusive.    UP@NIGHT has learned that Clint Eastwood originally intended to have two or possibly even three empty chairs during his address to the Republican convention.  We have all seen the chair that he used for the imaginary Obama.   Eastwood thought that he might also have an imaginary Romney sitting next to Obama.  Here is the very chair that was selected for the imaginary Romney by his associates at Bain Capital.

In addition, UP@NIGHT has also learned that Eastwood not only toyed with the idea of a third seat, he had selected one for an imaginary Ryan, although he was persuaded not to use it because the GOP thought it might be taken as a statement about his budget.