The Cliffhanger, Feb. 7

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???

** John Brennan enters the confirmation Thunderdome: Today brings us the confirmation hearings for prospective CIA director John Brennan, who will face questions from the Left about the robot rubout lists maintained by our Nobel Peace Prize-winning President, and questions from the Right about those suspiciously-timed national security leaks that produced all sorts of useful stories about re-election candidate Obama’s muscular anti-terrorist policy.  Why, throw in his unilateral war in Libya, and he was basically George Bush without the cowboy hat.  The only real questions are: (1) do Democrats really care enough about killbot violations of civil liberty to seriously threaten Brennan’s confirmation, and (2) is he about to pull a “Hagel” and perform so badly that he talks himself into the penalty box?  The answer to both of those questions is most likely “no,” so enjoy the show today while it lasts.  The major objective of Republicans today is to see if they can pry any useful intel about the intel leaks from Brennan, without actually waterboarding him.  The major objectives of Democrats is to convince themselves they weren’t all ridiculous hypocrites when they were hyperventilating over George Bush’s anti-terrorist policies.

** Hagel vote delayed: Speaking of Chuck Hagel, the Senate Armed Services Committee was supposed to vote on his confirmation as Secretary of Defense today, but the vote has been delayed indefinitely.  The delay came at the request of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX).  It wasn’t even really because of the confirmation hearing train wreck; it’s because the Armed Services Committee wants to look into Hagel’s financial dealings, which he has not been forthcoming about.  Democrats could not care less about the dubious financial connections of an Obama nominee – not even when it involves cheating on the taxes they love so very, very much – but if Hagel doesn’t clear this up, there might now be enough Republican resistance to mount a filibuster.

** Southern Poverty Law Center mixed up in drone strike controversy: In this case, the drone was named Floyd Lee Corkins, and he tried to shoot up the Family Research Center last summer, his goal being to “kill as many as possible and smear the Chick-Fil-A sandwiches in the victims’ faces, and kill the guard.”  He got these ideas by imbibing deeply of Southern Poverty Law Center propaganda, which is big on portraying people the SPLC doesn’t like as sub-human hatemongers.  (The assault sandwiches in Corkins’ arsenal were made from hate chicken, because Chick-Fil-A donated money to groups that support traditional marriage.)  Corkins managed to wound the security guard in question, so on Wednesday he pled guilty in a D.C. courtroom to several charges, including domestic terrorism.  He confirmed that he used the SPLC website to select his targets.

The Left was very keen to blame innocent conservatives for creating the “climate of hate” that prompted the decidedly non-conservative Jared Loughner to carry out his deadly rampage in Tucson, Arizona.  Unlike Corkins, Loughner never actually saw or heard any of the conservative material falsely blamed for inspiring his crimes, but because liberals control the media, we had a gigantic national freak-out over it.  President Obama eventually had to pretend this wasn’t strictly a one-way street and ask everyone to respect differing viewpoints.  Then he ran a re-election campaign that involved slandering his opponent as a callous tax-cheating wife-murdering dog-abusing robber baron.  And his Justice Department considers the Southern Poverty Law Center a valuable partner.  Hopefully the SPLC won’t have any input into those drone strike kill lists.

** Worried that grocery prices aren’t high enough?  The FDA is here to help!  Remember how ObamaCare mandated that restaurants had to publish exhaustive details of the nutritional information for everything on their menus?  Guess what?  Grocery stores have to do that, too.  Compliance will cost them a billion dollars just in the first year, as they test and label everything in their salad bars and bakeries.  Did I say “them?”  Silly me, I meant “you.”  Quick, someone update the ObamaCare Burden Tracker!

“If you get it wrong, it’s a federal crime, and you could face jail time and thousands of dollars worth of fines,” warned Erik Lieberman of the Food Marketing Institute.  Getting it “right” will make America look even more like a nation of hapless children, wandering aimlessly through a world wallpapered in warning labels and federally mandated advisory notices, most of which they never bother to read.  Creeping socialism is awesome, isn’t it?  If you’re an Obama supporter who owes the ObamaCare critics in your life some apologies, just give them hugs instead.  All citizens will be required to carry a card detailing safe and sanitary hug procedures by 2014.

** Smart power update: The Supreme Leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, just blew off Vice President Joe Biden’s request for direct talks with the United States on the subject of Iran’s program to develop nuclear peace delivery systems.  Some Iranian officials initially sounded receptive, with the Foreign Minister declaring that Iran has “no red lines,” but then the Ayatollah found some red lines, and that was that.  “You are holding a gun against Iran saying you want to talk.  The Iranian nation will not be frightened by the threats,” said El Supremo.  He’s referring to the economic sanctions against his country, which have crashed the value of its currency and caused various shortages, allegedly including medical supplies.  It doesn’t seem to be persuading them to give up their nuclear program, though.  The finish line is in sight.  We’re about to find out if it’s a “red line.”

** Violent videogames are even getting North Korea in trouble: Today’s update from the violent videogame cliff does not concern disturbed adolescents obsessed with computer simulations of extreme violence… well, actually, yes it does.  The disturbed adolescents in question run the North Korean propaganda agency.  They recently released an online video depicting the nuclear annihilation of New York City, with the 80s humanitarian anthem “We Are the World” playing in the background.  It turns out the North Koreans swiped their computer graphics from a “Call of Duty” videogame.  The game company used a copyright complaint to get the NoKo snuff film pulled down.  Huzzah, Call of Duty makers!

** Marco Rubio will deliver the GOP response to the State of the Union: “House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced today that they have selected U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) to deliver the Republican Address to the Nation following the President???s State of the Union address on February 12, 2013,” declares a press release from Speaker Boehner’s office.  Rubio is only serving his third year in the Senate, but the Republicans obviously want to put their rising star in front of a big national audience and see what he can do.  Speaker Boehner hailed Rubio as “one of our party’s most dynamic and inspiring leaders,” while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said he “embodies the optimism that lies at the heart of the Republican vision for America.”

Since Rubio is also in charge of GOP outreach to the Hispanic populace, his address will be delivered in both English and Spanish.  But under his proposals, English proficiency is a core requirement for amnes… er, provisional citizenship.  One might wonder if providing bilingual national addresses sends a mixed message, if one also seriously believes illegal aliens who lack English proficiency are going to be deported.