The Cliffhanger, Jan. 25

Ever since the language of the ???fiscal cliff??? was appropriated to describe the political battle over a tax increase, it???s become increasingly clear that every issue is a ???cliff??? now.  Here are today???s snapshots from the edge???

** March for Life fills Washington, driving reporters from the streets: Today is the annual March for Life, in which half a million pro-life demonstrators will form up between 7th and 9th streets in Washington and march past the Supreme Court building, somehow managing to find every place a camera is not pointing along the way.  Since this is the 40th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade, a healthy turnout can be expected.  The “abortion cliff” is looking pretty steep these days.

“Please dispose of your trash properly,” March for Life organizers instruct, at the very top of their website.  “Use the receptacles on the mall. If you can’t find a receptacle, or if the receptacles are full, please take your trash with you–do not leave it on top of, or on the ground next to, a full trash can. Do not leave trash anywhere on the mall where someone else will have to pick it up.”  Maybe that’s why they get so much less coverage than the relatively tiny Occupy Wall Street demonstration that the media obsessed over for months.

** Second anniversary of Tahrir Square uprising observed: Not only is the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade upon us, but it’s also the second anniversary of the Tahrir Square uprising.  Not everyone is celebrating.  At least one protester has been marching around the square with a sign calling U.S. President Barack Obama an “idiot” for helping the Muslim Brotherhood seize power, and now the Brotherhood is “killing Egyptians.”  He’s probably just an agent of that Jewish media conspiracy that Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohammed Morsi, was warning the United States Senate about the other day.

** More gun control legislation heading our way: Republican Senator Mark Kirk of Illinois, who recently returned to his seat after recovering from a stroke, is “working with two Democrats to draft bipartisan gun control legislation,” according to the Daily Herald of Chicago.  Ah, Chicago, that peaceful gun-free Shangri-La, where the mayor occasionally pleads with gang-bangers to aim more carefully, lest they hit young innocent bystanders in their zeal to pump each other full of lead!  How can a legislator fail to be inspired to new heights of gun-control creativity, with such a muse perched upon his shoulder?

In Kirk’s case, he’s working with Democrat Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York to “crack down on gun trafficking,” and also on background checks with the fabled Joe Manchin of West Virginia, a Democrat who loves guns so much that he once used a rifle (mercifully devoid of terrifying features like a flash suppressor or bayonet lug) to blow away cap-and-trade legislation in a political ad.  He once said he was totally behind ObamaCare, but then he said he might bust a cap in that, too.  Then he decided he wasn’t really totally behind the Second Amendment, either.  No matter what he works out with Kirk, his legislation-shooting days are probably behind him.  Unless the legislation was taped to a duck, and Manchin proceeded to shot it in a responsible manner.  Democrats are fine with that, because they love “responsible hunters” more than anybody in the whole wide world.

** The FBI looks into Senator Menendez: In foreign-prostitute-cliff news, the Daily Caller reports that the FBI has opened an inquiry into the adventures of Democrat Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey, who was enjoying a visit with a big campaign contributor at his lavish Dominican Republican estate when a couple of Caribbean hookers fell on him.  Funny, that never happens on Downton Abbey, but estates have changed a lot over the past hundred years.

Based on official emails revealed by an anonymous source, it appears Menendez might have skirted around Senate Ethics Committee rules requiring members to report gifts from contributors (no, not the hookers, he allegedly paid for that himself; it’s contributor-provided travel to the Dominican Republic he should have reported.)  This information was all made available to major media sources as far back as last May, but they tactfully avoided saying a single word about it until after the election, which is exactly how they would have handled the situation if Bob Menendez was a Republican.

** Medicare fraud gobbles up $120 million: The good news is that Medicare has been dispensing money with blinding speed.  The bad news is that a lot of the people getting that money are illegal aliens, prison inmates, and other people ineligible to receive it.  There goes $120 million over the last two years!  But it’s okay, because Politico says “Medicare lacks the tools to get the money back.”  Wait, that’s not okay.  Isn’t all-powerful, all-knowing Big Government wonderful?

** Bobby Jindal thinks all-powerful, all-knowing Big Government is not wonderful: How’s that for a segue?  Louisiana’s Republican governor, Bobby Jindal, delivered a major speech to the Republican National Committee on Thursday, in which he said it was essential for Republicans to make it clear they are “a populist party.”  Jindal declared, “If any rational human being were to create our government anew, today, from a blank piece of paper, we would have about one-fourth of the buildings we have in Washington, and about half the government workers.”  Something tells me the media will suddenly become interested in high unemployment again, if anyone takes a shot at reducing the federal workforce by fifty percent.

???Washington has spent a generation trying to bribe our citizens and extort our states,??? continued Governor Jindal, who just might be running for President in 2016. ???As Republicans, it???s time to quit arguing around the edges of that corrupt system.???  He had some tough advice for his party, including “compete for every single vote” and “stop insulting the intelligence of voters.”  Hey, the Democrats do that on a regular basis, and they seem to be getting along just fine.

** The government no longer thinks Dreamliners are just fine: Once upon the time, federal regulators insisted the Boeing Dreamliner was perfectly safe, even though it had a long history of battery problems during testing.  But that was a long time ago.  Fourteen days, to be exact.  Now the entire Dreamliner fleet is grounded, as battery fires and overheating make it clear the thing is basically a huge Chevy Volt with wings.  That’s actually not far from the truth, because they both use lithium-ion battery technology.  “We have yet to understand why this battery resulted in a fire when there were so many protections that were to be designed into the system,” said National Transportation Safety Board chair Deborah Hersman.  “Were to be?” The race to produce super-efficient batteries seems to have been moving a bit too swiftly.

** North Korea remains testy: Things have not gotten any calmer in Pyongyang since yesterday, because now North Korea is threatening to go to war with South Korea over U.N. sanctions, which the North views as an outrageous and unreasonable response to their entirely peaceful program for building long-range rockets.  Each North Korean rocket comes packed with a delightful surprise toy, ranging from a crummy satellite that doesn’t work to a nuclear bomb.

“If the puppet group of traitors takes a direct part in the U.N. ‘sanctions,’ the DPRK will take strong physical counter-measures against it,” the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea declared, according to Reuters.  Whoa… I sure hope they don’t have a Committee for Non-Peaceful Reunification!  Imagine how angry that committee would be right now!

Even China seems to be running out of patience with North Korea, grumbling through its state media (which is roughly as independent as Pyongyang’s) that “it seems North Korea does not appreciate China’s efforts.”

But it’s cool, because Beijing doesn’t let such things keep it down in the dumps.  “China hopes for a stable peninsula,” the state media mused, “but it’s not the end of the world if there’s trouble there.”  The sun will come out tomorrow… bet your bottom yuan that there’ll be sun… Oh, hell, that bright flash wasn’t the Sun…