The Cliffhanger, Feb. 5

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???

** Barack Obama’s robot assassins: Imagine it’s a year after George Bush’s re-election, and a media outlet had just gotten its hands on a Justice Department memo outlining Bush’s secret program for using drone aircraft to assassinate those it deemed “terrorist masterminds”… even if they happened to be American citizens.  Imagine this memo revealed that the standards for choosing targets were far looser than several top Administration officials had previously been willing to admit – for example, the killbots could be sent after people who were designated an “imminent” threat, but “the condition that an operational  leader present an ???imminent??? threat of violent attack against the United States does not require the United States to have clear evidence that a specific attack on U.S. persons and interests will take place in the immediate future.”  Imagine that a top ACLU lawyer pronounced this document “chilling” because “it argues that the government has the right to carry out the extrajudicial killing of an American citizen,” with limits that are “elastic and vaguely defined.”

The media firestorm would have been intense, fed by gallons of gasoline from the hysterical far-left bloggers that drive so much of our journalism these days.  Bush’s defeated opponent, John Kerry, would have been so upset that he might have given a speech that people remembered.  Michael Moore would be racing around the country, trying to find the most photogenic moppets of Middle Eastern descent to play the collateral damage from drone strikes in his next movie.  But that was then, and this is now, because precisely such a memo from the Justice Department was just exposed by NBC News, and the response has been raised eyebrows at worst.  The only reason we’re learning anything about Obama’s drone strike program is that his counter-terrorism adviser, John Brennan, is about to undergo confirmation hearings, which won’t be five percent as entertaining as Secretary of Defense nominee Chuck Hagel’s were, because Brennan apparently has some vague idea of what the department he wants to run actually does.  And one of the things it does is rub out terrorists in a way the massed ranks of the Left would never have tolerated under a Republican president.

For my part, I’d have briefly considered voting for Obama if his campaign had touted this as a point in his favor – “Obama 2012, because he can use remote-controlled weapons to kill terrorist leaders without a squeak of protest from the Left, even when they’re American citizens.”  Then I would have remembered what Obama is doing to the economy and the Constitution, but that would have been an interesting twenty seconds or so.  I’ll content myself with visions of what the media would be saying, if it dug up a memo from the Justice Department of a recently re-elected President John McCain that said “imminent threats” are anybody he thinks really needs to die, pronto.

** A reason for impeaching Obama you might not have thought of: From the drone-strike program the  Administration doesn’t want to discuss, we turn to the cyber-warfare program that it couldn’t keep its mouth shut about.  Last summer, information was leaked to the media that purported to show Barack Obama personally ordered the deployment of the computer virus called Stuxnet against Iran’s peaceful nuclear program, which is primarily concerned with generating cheaper electricity for that oil-rich nation, with a sideline of boosting surplus primates and politicians into orbit.  But everyone is concerned that some monkey will push a button at an Iranian research reactor and a nuclear weapon will pop out, and it could accidentally roll into the payload compartment of an Iranian missile, and one of the many Iranian military leaders who has publicly declared his desire to nuke Israel might be on duty that day… However unlikely this scenario, it’s a risk we just can’t take, but Obama won’t do anything to actually stop it, so Stuxnet got its marching orders, and Iran’s computers became less productive for a while.

There have always been questions about who leaked the Stuxnet story, and why.  The FBI and Justice Department are now investigating the matter, and if they determine that Obama or his political team ordered the leaks to burnish his terror-fighting credentials for the 2012 election… well, right-wing rags are already wondering if the whole drama might just end with President Obama’s impeachment.  And by “right-wing rags” I mean the Washington Post.

** The Super Bowl blackout remains shrouded in mystery: Just one day after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell assured her nervous fans that Beyonce didn’t short-circuit the Super Bowl, sportscaster Boomer Esiason says he’s not so sure, because he was told she “blew the electric in the Superdome twice during her rehearsals during the week.”  Brazillian soccer legend Ronaldo said “it looks like someone from the 49ers threw a cat into the converter,” but provided no evidence to back up his claim.  It would be sad if Ronaldo’s allegations proved true, because that cat would have died in vain.    Superdome management says the stadium wasn’t drawing much more power than it does during a “typical New Orleans Saints game.”  We may never know the truth.  Perhaps President Obama should follow his usual winning political strategy and blame it all on George Bush.

** Law enforcement news from our gun-free paradise of Chicago: The police in Chicago say they’re not going to bother with immediate response to reports for trifles such as “criminal damage to property, vehicle thefts, garage burglaries, or other crimes in which the suspect is no longer on the scene, and the victim isn’t in immediate danger.”  Whatever could they be more preoccupied with?  Chicago has mega-strict gun control laws – it’s the model city for all of America – so they can’t possibly have violent crime.  Tip for Chicago homeowners: if someone’s stealing your car, call the White House to ask if they’ll use their discretion to declare you in “imminent” danger and send a drone.  Be advised that you will be responsible for cleaning up the collateral damage.

** More details of Senator Menendez’ youth outreach program surface: The Daily Caller pegs the number of Dominican sex workers who claim to have serviced Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) at six, and today relates a touching account of young love one of them committed to paper in her own hand.  Well, she was young – sixteen, to be precise.  Menendez was 55 at the time.  The Senator denies the whole story as a “smear” cooked up by “right-wing blogs,” but the Miami Herald has also been digging into the story, with mixed results.  “A week after the claims made headlines in the United States and on this Caribbean island, the alleged prostitutes have disappeared,” reports the Herald, which also had trouble getting their attorney on the phone.  But the apartment where some of Menendez’ alleged adventures took place was indeed occupied by a couple of nubile young women, believed by their landlady to be “beautiful foreign exchange students,” as well as lousy tenants.  And then there’s the smoking-hot Russian babe who does something-or-other for Menendez’ good friend and top donor, high-living but low-tax-paying Dr. Salomon Melgen.  The tipster for the Menendez scandal said “this girl is one of the most regular participants in the activities the Doctor arranges for the Senator.”  She spends a lot of time zipping around in Melgen’s jet, and also crashed his wife’s Chevy Impala in Coral Gables back in 2010, which must have been awkward.  Do we know where this Russian girl was when the Super Bowl lights went out?

** Happy ending to bizarre Alabama hostage standoff: A 5-year old boy held in an underground bunker for six days by an armed lunatic was rescued alive, while kidnapper Jimmy Lee Dykes, 65, was killed when police made their move.  “The boy is laughing, joking, playing he’s eating; he’s very brave, he’s very luck, and the success story is that he is out safe and doing good,” said FBI Special Agent Steve Richardson.  The tiny bunker was buried four feet underground, with “running water, heat, and cable television but no toilet.”  It was connected to the surface by a plastic pipe.  It’s impressive that the authorities found a way to breach the bunker and rescue the child.  Not much is known about the kidnapper and his motives, save that he was a Vietnam vet, a “loner who railed against the government,” and had a history of irascible behavior.

When Dykes stormed a school bus and demanded two children, bus driver Charles Poland stood up to him, and was murdered.  The school district said, “We are mourning  a hero, who gave his life to protect 21 students who are now home safely with their families.”  Hopefully our understandable fascination with the monster will not distract us from a proper appreciation for the hero.


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