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Friday, October 28, 2016

Serious gravity.

Well, maybe a larger booster rocket would help. Or some tightly wound springs. Then there's the lever option, like a catapult - give me a lever large enough and I will move the world, that sort of thing. No? Okay, never mind.

Oh, hi. Yes, we're grappling with the same conundrums that so vexed our predecessors in flight - how to defeat that old devil gravity. It's a little hard to imagine being able to reach planet KIC 8462852 without finding some way to break the surly bonds of Earth, whatever that means. Sure, it would be easier for Big Green to just give in and start doing terrestrial tour dates, packing ourselves into a multi-colored school bus and teetering down the road to Springfield and Lodi and East Aurora (unless we get stuck in Lodi ... again ...), but that would be an abandonment of all we hold dear. And in all frankness, gravity would still be vexing us! (Especially after a particularly long night.)

The other day, a big semi backed up to the front gate of the abandoned Cheney Hammer Mill (our adopted home) and dropped an enormous cardboard box with Mitch's name scrawled on the side. We had Marvin (my personal robot assistant) haul the thing into the courtyard as a precautionary measure - it was ticking and smelled vaguely of sulfur, so I certainly didn't want to touch the sucker. Well, it turns out that the box contained our ride to the Khyber Belt: the promised Plywood 9000 space rocket we rented from SpaceY, some assembly required. It's here, it's here!

So that's it, then, is it?Mitch Macaphee retreated into his lab and began tinkering with the thing, and just yesterday morning I awoke to the sight of a nosecone peaking over the courtyard wall. He managed to piece the thing together, but there were apparently a few parts missing. Engines, for one. (Or more precisely, for four, since there are supposed to be four of them.) Being a mad scientist, Mitch took this as a kind of challenge. Whereas any sane person would just phone the company and tell them to send the missing parts, he started adapting some odd pieces of technology he had lying around his workbench. There was that anti-gravity device he tinkered with a few years ago, for instance. Then there's that big blow-dryer he invented.

So, I don't know. Maybe a big catapult is more practical. If you have random thoughts on advanced interplanetary propulsion, please send them here.

No to reconciliation.

Want a good reason to vote next month? Here's one: Paul Ryan's "Better Way" agenda, which he will drive home like lightning if his party is successful on election day. With a Republican congress and a Trump presidency, Ryan can pass the most regressive political program ever contemplated on the national level. At the core of this agenda will be another raft of massive tax cuts for the rich, including a 20% cut for corporate taxes, which will drain trillions of dollars from the Federal budget and (no surprise) prompt austerity action on social programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security.

Why is this man smiling?On top of that, the "Better Way" will use reconciliation votes to repeal sections of the Affordable Care Act, including Medicaid expansion. Ryan tested his caucus's ability to use this tactic on non-fiscal legislation this past term when he brought an ACA repeal vote via reconciliation. This will be repeated next year, but with a Republican president, their vile legislation will get a signature. Ryan will be able to move forward with converting Medicare to a voucher. You can already hear right-wing pundits floating the concept of expanded Health Savings Accounts as part of their "repeal and replace" strategy - that and the seemingly evergreen notion of allowing insurance to be sold across state lines. This should be great comfort to the hundreds of thousands thrown off of Medicaid by their so called "better way."

Whatever your misgivings about Hillary Clinton (and I have plenty), voting for her is the best way to shut Ryan down. I strongly suggest you also consider voting down-ballot for Democrats. There's an outside chance that Dems could take the House and a stronger opportunity to retake the Senate. That's our best opportunity to ensure that we're not massively losing ground over the next four years, even if we're not leaping forward in great strides. I feel strongly enough about this that I have been volunteering for our local Democratic candidate for Congress (Kim Myers), mostly because her principal opponent is an anti-choice zealot who once referred to the head of the Oneida Nation as "spray-tan Ray" in a Trump-like drunk tweet. Classy.

There's plenty we need to do to build a more progressive, equitable, and sustainable political reality. Voting is a very small but important part of that. It's the best way at this point to say "no" to Paul Ryan's agenda. Let's stop that mother cold.

luv u,

jp