The Cliffhanger, Jan. 28

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???

** Immigration cliff approaching: Even as the growing power of the aristocracy makes Washington the wealthiest city per capita in America, the nation’s capital-extraction capital remains plagued by crime.  There are even gangs of Six, Eight, and Twelve roaming the halls of Congress.  The Gang of Eight is about to announce a bipartisan compromise plan for immigration reform, just hours ahead of President Obama announcing something even more permissive and expensive that will get a new wave of Democrat voters to the polls even faster.  According to Fox News, the reform package includes a “path to citizenship” for illegal aliens, reform of the immigration process for anyone who still bothers to fill out the paperwork, and a more sophisticated system for verifying the citizenship status of employees, which employers won’t have to use if they can demonstrate they were filling one of those “jobs that Americans just won’t do,” and besides, hardly anyone will be “illegal” anyway, what with the “path to citizenship” and all.

Speaking of which, the path to citizenship is supposed to be “contingent upon security the border and better tracking of people here on visas.”  “Contingent” is the magic word Washington uses when it’s pretending that the ruling class still feels some sense of responsibility towards its citizens, as when they promise that tax increases will be “contingent” upon spending cuts as part of a “balanced approach” to making the deficit ten percent smaller.  You know how letters are sometimes silent?  Well, in Washington, everything after the word “contingent” is silent.

** Whistling along the edge of the Big Labor Cliff: The astonishing level of disproportionate political influence exerted by America’s dwindling labor unions creates a “labor cliff” which provides a lovely scenic view of the Constitutional Cliff, with the Fiscal Cliff providing cool shade for both of them.  The Obama Administration remains vaguely amused by the Constitution, and has decided to ignore the bombshell court ruling that says the president abused his authority by making recess appointments to the National Labor Relations Board when Congress was not in recess.  That’s probably for the best, because fidelity to the Constitution could nullify hundreds of union-friendly decisions the NLRB has handed down over the past year, and the mandates of today’s bureaucrats are far more important than anything a bunch of old farts in funny clothes wrote down over 40 years ago.  (It doesn’t matter how much longer than 40 years ago it was, because Roe vs. Wade is 40, and that’s when the Constitution had to be sealed up in a lead-lined vault for public safety, because it started giving off penumbras and emanations.)  Perhaps King Barack I will soon take the obvious and necessary step of declaring Congress permanently in recess.  Imagine how the media would swoon!  We’d finally be China.

** Israel contemplates strike on Syria: Israeli officials are warning that they might have to take out Syria’s chemical weapon stockpiles before they fall into the hands of Hezbollah or al-Qaeda.  Hezbollah is backed by Iran, which recently declared it would consider an attack on Syria to be an attack on Iran.  The Syrians are grumpy because they see Israel and NATO deploying Iron Dome and Patriot anti-missile batteries to either side of it.  Syria resents the implication that it plans to do anything other than peacefully butcher its own citizens until they realize what a swell leader Bashar Assad is.  For their part, the Syrian resistance is uncomfortably cozy with groups like al-Qaeda and Hezbollah, who would love to have a massive inventory of chemical weapons, but were really hoping Auntie Iran would get them some nukes for Christmas.  Meanwhile, something uranium-related may or may not have blown up in Iran the other day.

** Egypt is restless: For some reason they’re having “waves” of violence in Egypt today, even though President Obama fixed it years ago.  But the second anniversary of Obama’s great Egyptian triumph turned sour.  People who don’t like the new dictator tried doing the same thing that people who didn’t like the old dictator did… but alas, Barack Obama likes the new dictator, even though he makes unpleasant statements about Jews, America, and the Jews he thinks are running America, so it didn’t get them far.  Also, there was a huge riot after a football game, by which they mean soccer, a game the rest of the world evidently finds much more exciting than Americans do, because sometimes the fans just go nuts.  21 of the key figures from this riot were sentenced to death, but now their relatives are rioting over that, and they appear to have a lot of relatives.  There are suspicions that some or all of these riots are orchestrated by the Morsi dictatorship.  The previous dictatorship spent most of its time orchestrating the Egyptian treasury into its pockets.

** The amazing power of the magic D: ABC News somehow managed to get through an entire six-minute interview with New Jersey Senator Bob Menendez without asking him a single question about his growing underage Dominican hooker scandal.  (The scandal is growing, not the hookers, who had almost certainly attained their full growth by the time Menendez allegedly employed them.)  If you’re a politician, it’s absolutely wonderful to have a “D” after your name, isn’t it?  You hardly have to worry about the “adversarial press” at all.  Harry Potter never cast a spell so powerful.

** Jack Lew is eminently qualified to be Treasury Secretary: The Wall Street Journal emphasizes what a perfect fit Treasury nominee Jack Lew is for the Obama Administration, by noting that he pulled down seven figures of taxpayer-subsidized income by running an investment unit with funny accounting practices that lost $358 million in a single quarter while trying to make money off the government-initiated housing market collapse.  No one can seem to remember what Lew actually did while he was working for Citigroup; it looks as if he held one of those cushy figurehead seats reserved for people with the right political connections.  And thanks to the Dodd-Frank legislation, he’ll now be in charge of detecting exactly the kind of market crisis that wiped out his old investment unit!  Maybe it’s better to have a lookout who doesn’t see the icebergs Captain Obama is steering us toward.  No reason to panic anyone in the first-class section of the Titanic until the rising fiscal water sweeps away their cocktail glasses.  It took a lot of work to make Washington the richest city in America; they deserve a little extra time to enjoy those first-class accommodations.