The Cliffhanger, Feb. 20

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???

** Chinese hacking brings White House retaliation: The story about widespread Chinese military hacking of U.S. computers from yesterday proved to be serious indeed, as the White House announced it was pondering trade and financial penalties against China in retaliation.  It’s probably just bluster to add a little zing to diplomatic negotiations; an economy as weak as Barack Obama’s can’t afford a heavy-duty trade war against the nation that finances so much of its gigantic government debt.  It’s a bit like when Obama was throwing out stern warnings for China to stay away from all the oil he left in the Canadian ground by blocking the Keystone XL pipeline.  China is also very good at bluster, so they rushed out to say that not only is the exhaustive American report on People’s Liberation Army hacking inaccurate, but China is the victim of large-scale American hacking.  In grade-school diplomatic circles, this is known as the “I Know You Are, But What Am I?” defense.

The report on Chinese hacking gives Beijing a face-saving avenue to change its ways, by introducing the ghost of a possibility that rogue private hackers might just be carrying out the thousands of coordinated attacks on major U.S. interests without the knowledge of the control-freak Chinese dictatorship, and somehow rigging the Internet traffic to make it look like most of the attacks are coming from a single building owned by the Chinese army.  And even as the American government talks tough about sanctions, cyber-security experts made an effort to sound sympathetic.  “This will be the year they will put more pressure on, even while realizing it will be hard for the Chinese to change. There’s not an on-off switch,” said James Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.  And yet, the Politburo has on-off switches for just about everything else in China.

** The new liberal War on Women continues:  Liberal blowhard Bob Beckel signed up for the Left’s new War on Women Tuesday evening, when in the midst of a panel discussion about the outrageous University of Colorado advice for rape victims (“Tell your attacker you have a disease or are menstruating”) he suddenly began belching up bizarre opinions, such as rape on college campuses being rare – it’s basically mythological! – and date rape being no big deal.  Then he mockingly asked if armed prospective victims of date rape should shoot their dates.

Liberal misogyny is no big surprise to anyone who has watched a “tolerant” liberal launch into a spittle-flecked obscene tirade against a conservative woman, just as liberal racism is not big news to anyone who has seen a lefty erupt into racist insults against a minority who annoys him.  (Just ask the black cameraman who got on Alec Baldwin’s bad side the other day!)  There’s a strain of contempt running through the mandatory compassion and moral posturing on the Left; you can’t look at certain groups of people as hapless wards of the State without looking down on them.  Add that to the ideological blindness imposed by gun control mania, which requires liberals to find reasons why women who need firearms to fend off physically overwhelming attackers shouldn’t have them, and all sorts of wackiness ensues.  Also, being a liberal means you have to spend a lot of time defending the indefensible, and that’s driven far more thoughtful men than Bob Beckel around the bend.

** Shotgun Joe Biden offers home defense techniques: Another gun-control dimwit who’s going to get people killed if taken seriously is Vice President Joe Biden, who reduced the Second Amendment to the following advice for imperiled Americans: “If you want to protect yourself, get a double-barrel shotgun!”

But don’t shoot anybody with it!  Biden claims he has instructed his wife, “If there’s ever a problem, just walk out on the balcony here… walk out, pull that double-barrel shotgun and fire two blasts outside the house.”  Biden guarantees this will make any intruder turn tail and run.  You don’t even need real shotgun shells to follow Biden’s advice – you can make do with blanks, since you’ll just be shooting in the air, so you won’t mind if Biden and his possee confiscate your live ammo, right?  Biden should dismiss all Secret Service protection for his family, since Jill and her shotgun can handle all potential treats.  Yes, even when they travel.  If you don’t need a portable firearm that can fit in a pocket or purse, then the aristocracy doesn’t need them, either.

** Detroit is in deep trouble: State-appointed experts have been working around the clock to find a rescue plan for the financially distressed city of Detroit, which is in even worse shape than the federal government, although for many of the same reasons: unsustainable pension commitments, hidebound bureaucracy, big government borrowing and spending.  (Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: the city was borrowing enormous sums of money to balance its books…)  Unfortunately, the blue-ribbon panel just tore off its blue ribbons, threw up its hands, and declared Detroit’s finances to be as unsalvageable as Bob Beckel’s reputation.  It’s all in the hands of Republican governor Rick Snyder now – he’s got thirty days to decide if he wants to install an emergency manager, and perhaps move the city toward declaring bankruptcy.  A more relaxed “partnership” with the inept city government hasn’t been working out very well thus far.  Neither has several generations of one-party Democrat rule.  “The checkbook needs to be taken from the politicians,” said the president of a firm that handles municipal financial recovery.  From your lips to the ears of American voters, sir.

** Vote fraud never, ever happens: As you know, it is the official position of the Democrat Party that vote fraud absolutely never happens, and anyone who says otherwise is a racist who just wants to suppress the minority vote.  Therefore, Melowese Richardson – an Ohio poll worker who admits voting twice, and is suspected of fraudulently employing absentee ballots to vote up to six times, for Barack Obama in the last election must not exist.  Neither do the other 18 people suspected of illegal voting in her county alone.  Richardson and some of the other double voters claim they made innocent mistakes because they didn’t understand the voting rules, mistakes such as voting in person because they weren’t sure their absentee ballot would be counted.  If that’s true (and you’re probably just a vote-suppressing racist if you doubt them) it seems like a strong argument in favor of common-sense voter ID policies, which would help prevent both malevolent abuse and honest error.  But the Obama Justice Department spends all day blocking such voter ID reforms, and the Democrats really need their constituents to stay good and angry at anyone who favors sanity at the polling place, so it’s best if we all just go back to pretending Melowese Richardson doesn’t exist.

** Jon Corzine to be banned from futures trading? Another person whose existence is very politically inconvenient for Democrats is top Obama money man Jon Corzine, who was also formerly a U.S. senator and the governor of New Jersey.  Corzine’s company “vaporized” a billion dollars of investor money, much of it extracted from hard-working farmers.  Somehow the Wall Street-hating Little Guy-protecting hyper-regulators of the Obama Administration never got around to charging Corzine with any crimes for his unsavory behavior, but now the National Futures Association is considering a lifetime ban on Corzine.  “He doesn’t need to be near anyone’s money ever again in the futures space, and we want to make sure of it,” vowed newly-elected NFA director John Roe.

“You know what we were doing?  We were on the phone calling Jon Corzine – literally.  I literally picked up the phone and called Jon Corzine and said ‘Jon, what do you think we should do?'” Joe Biden reminisced in 2009, back when Corzine was the economics guru for the incoming Administration.  Those were happier times.  Now Biden recommends firing a double-barreled shotgun in the air to frighten Corzine away, if he comes anywhere near your money.

** ObamaCare triumphs again: The Universal Studios theme park in Orlando, Florida just announced that it will cancel health insurance for its part-time employees, because… well, you know why.  It’s the same reason people across the country are losing their coverage, and those lucky enough to keep it are bracing themselves for skyrocketing premiums.  But we’re stuck with this disaster forever, because progressivism means the ruling class never has to admit it made a horrible mistake, and voters don’t want to admit they made two horrible mistakes.  Remember when Obama promised you’d be able to keep your plan if you liked it?   If so, you’re not trying hard enough to forget it.

** Socialism triumphs again: The French are a bit further down the road Obama has paved for America, and at least we’re still strong enough to laugh at them.  That’s exactly what Maurice “The Grizz” Taylor, CEO of tire company Titan International, did when asked to step in and save a French factory on the brink of closure.  “The French workforce gets paid high wages but works only three hours.  They get one hour for breaks and lunch, talk for three and work for three,” Taylor wrote in a letter to the French minister of industry.  “I told this to the French union workers to their faces.  They told me that’s the French way!”  He doesn’t think much of American government or labor practices, either.  The socialist government of France is hopping mad that Taylor plans to recruit cheap labor in China or India and “ship all the tires France needs” while snorting that they can “keep the so-called ‘workers.'”  And he’s not the only one – France is reeling from large-scale capital flight.

Plenty of American liberals have pointed to France as a utopia.  Why shouldn’t everyone want 35-hour work weeks, exceedingly lax work policies when they’re on the clock, and huge amounts of mandated vacation time?  Competitive foreign workers standing by to eat our lunches very much hope we keep thinking along those lines.  The moral of the story is that there’s always someone willing to work hard, somewhere, and in the modern global economy, business managers can find them.