Image by ESO/Yuri Beletsky (ybialets at eso.org) (http://www.eso.org/public/images/potw1036a/) [CC-BY-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
NASA announced yesterday that the Kepler spacecraft, launched during the first months of the Obama administration, has discovered a new planet 600 light-years away from Earth that could potentially support life. The new planet, Kepler-22b, orbits its star every 290 days and has an average temperature of 72 degrees Fahrenheit…not too far off from Earths 365 day orbit of the sun and average temperature of 59 degrees. NASA still can’t tell if Kepler-22b is made of rock, gas, or liquid though, so hold off on your plans to move and set up a Terra Nova type existence for yourself…though I wouldn’t blame you for considering the thought.
It should be no surprise that the same news cycle that saw the discovery of a new and possibly life-sustaining planet, also told the tale of the discovery by astronomers at U.C. Berkeley of the two largest black holes ever recorded; no surprise, that is, to anyone paying the slightest bit of attention to the 2012 Presidential race.
President Obama has the unemployment rate down to 8.6%, the economy is adding jobs every month instead of shedding them, and he caught and killed Osama bin Laden in the gutsiest military move by an American President in recent memory, but the GOP field of challengers is accusing him of not fixing the economy their party broke, and of not being a strong leader. New planets vs black holes.
The payroll tax cut is set to expire in January and, if it does, tens of millions of American workers would see a tax increase of about $1,000, but the Republicans in Congress (the soldiers for Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich’s hopes) are blocking extending the payroll tax cut. The GOP talks a good game of being fiscally responsible…but this tax cut is paid for. A bipartisan compromise bill is being introduced by Senator McCaskill of Missouri (Dem) and Senator Collins of Maine (Rep) this week that would extend the current payroll tax cut, and fund the rebuilding of our highways and bridges, without adding a penny to the deficit, by adding a 2% surtax on incomes over $1 million a year. What you will probably hear from the Republicans is opposition to the tax on millionaires (but they’ll call it a tax on job creators)…and no voice of protest against the tax on job workers that will ensue if the payroll tax cut lapses.
Americans are sick of gridlock and inactivity by the government while our country’s economy flounders, and the Republicans are offering two candidates: Newt Gingrich, the architect of gridlock as a governing strategy whose gigantic ego played a major role in the government shutdown of 1995, and Mitt Romney, the millionaire from Bain Capital who comes off as being as close to human as Kepler-22b is to Earth (600 light-years away), and made of as indeterminate of a substance as that newly discovered planet.
President Obama has said that his reelection campaign won’t be as “sexy” as his original campaign for the presidency, but he doesn’t need any will.i.am. songs, or Hope posters to get reelected, maybe all he needs are opponents like Mitt and Newt.
Sarah Warden is the author of the novel Three Fifths of Love, available as an ebook for 99 cents at http://www.amazon.com/Three-Fifths-Love-Marriage-ebook/dp/B005EZ3QU2/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1318174116&sr=8-1