The Cliffhanger, Feb.21

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???

** Deadly ice and snow threaten millions: So says the Weather Channel, as Winter Storm Q hits the Plains and Midwest en route to the East Coast.  CNN figures it’s about 30 million people under the gun, with everything from blizzard warnings in Arizona, to blankets of snow covering Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri, to thunderstorms flooding the Gulf Coast.  At least 175 flights are expected to be canceled today.  If you’re in the path of the storm, please stay safe.

** Florida accepts ObamaCare: After running for office as a dedicated foe of ObamaCare, Florida governor Rick Scott finally caved in Wednesday, and accepted the Medicaid expansion directed by President Obama’s health care reforms.  This will increase Florida’s Medicaid rolls by anywhere from 30 to 50 percent, depending on which estimate one believes, with the feds covering all of the costs for the first three years, while the state will eventually be expected to pick up at least 10 percent of the tab.  And then amnesty for illegal aliens will kick in, and the fun really begins.  There was a lot of pressure on Gov. Scott to take the huge amount of other people’s money offered by the federal government; he betrayed the principles he was elected on to give himself a fighting chance at re-election.  That’s not exactly a new story.  A lot of people had to say “yes” to such offers to give us a $16 trillion national debt.

** Gas tax grabs: Democrats in Washington State are tired of letting Democrats in Washington D.C. have all the tax-raising fun, so they’re getting into the act with a bill that would crank their gas tax up by 10 cents over the next five years – this in a day when gas already costs over double what it did when Barack Obama came into office, and prices keep rising.   If you’re worried those high prices might dissuade people from driving their cars, and thus reduce the amount of revenue to state government, relax – they’re way ahead of you, because they’ve also got a new tax on bicycles as part of the package.  New Hampshire and Maryland are also considering gas tax hikes (of 70 percent in Maryland!), while Virginia is thinking about moving gas taxes from the pump to wholesale purchases, reducing them in concert with increased retail sales taxes, which nicely hides the gas tax burden from motorists.  Even a state senator in Texas is talking about raising gas taxes – and he’s a Republican.  Most of these state gas taxes are supposed to go towards infrastructure, but of course all government money is fungible.  Public demand for fuel has held up pretty well even through the soaring gas prices of the Obama era, so politicians sense a few more nickels and dimes can be harvested at the pump.

** Texas mulls law to make enforcement of overweening federal gun laws a crime: Speaking of Texas lawmakers, another one – freshman Republican state Rep. Steve Toth – is floating a measure to make the enforcement of any future federal gun- or ammo-grabbing laws a state crime.  “Toth’s proposal would create a Class A misdemeanor for police officers enforcing any new federal gun regulations.  It also would establish cause for the state attorney general to sue anyone who seeks to enforce new federal gun regulations,” explains the Associated Press.  Toth correctly assumes the resulting brouhaha would end up at the Supreme Court, where scrappy Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott would sort out the pile of law enforcement officers handcuffed to each other.  Another state representative who supports the bill speculated that it might pass “if it’s not demagogued as an anti-Obama bill.”  Sure, that’s probably not going to happen.

** Illinois state senator moves to wipe out Internet anonymity: Why should Texas be the only source of provocative legislation?  Illinois has fun people, too.  One of them is state Senator Ira Silverstein, who introduced a bill to outlaw anonymous comments on Internet message forums.  Every website administrator could be ordered to delete anonymous posts unless the posters agree to attach their real names, and confirm both their Internet and physical home addresses with the administrator.  This isn’t actually the first time such a measure has been introduced.  The government does not like anonymity, with the notable exception of people who violate our immigration laws.

** John McCain faces angry constituents on the border: Senator John McCain (R-AZ) appeared at a town hall meeting Tuesday to talk about immigration reform, promising that high technology would secure the border and reduce identity theft by making Social Security cards tamper-proof, while the gigantic new legalized alien population will be forced to learn English, cover back taxes, and pay fines for their previous violation of America’s immigration laws.  Some in the audience were skeptical, and expressed their skepticism in terms that would probably be described as “heckling” in the media, if McCain were a Democrat.  The doubters were tired of hearing promises that border security would be improved Any Day Now, and worried that the new quasi-legal population would end up on the dole.  “We are a Judeo-Christian nation,” McCain replied.  Unfortunately, we’re more properly described as a Judeo-Christian-Broke nation.  Meanwhile, activists marched outside the office of Arizona Governor Jan Brewer and demanded driver’s licenses for illegal aliens.  Everyone is so impatient these days.

** China poised to gobble up Obama’s taxpayer-subsidized failures: Remember A123 Systems?  They were one of Barack Obama’s many, many green energy failures, a battery company that went bankrupt and was eventually purchased by a Chinese firm.  Their big customer was another Obama green energy failure, electric car maker Fisker Automotive, which soaked up a cool $530 million in lettuce harvested by Obama’s tax serfs.  Now the Chinese are poised to buy them, too.  Republican Senators John Thune of South Dakota and Chuck Grassley of Iowa are not amused.  “Obama’s green energy investments appear to be nothing more than venture capital for eventual Chinese acquisitions,” snarked Thune.  But really, it’s okay, because Obama’s madcap deficit spending means we could say we borrowed that subsidy money from China in the first place.  Let’s say all the actual taxpayer money went to stuff like cell phone welfare, robot squirrels, food stamp fraud, and paying old people to play “World of Warcraft.”  That should make everyone feel better.  It would be nice if China thanked the American taxpayer from all this venture capital by taking a break from looting our computer systems.

** Obama trolls for gun violence anecdotes: Have you ever heard the saying “the plural of anecdote is not data?”  Well, don’t tell Barack Obama.  His gigantic permanent campaign apparatus, Organizing for Action, is actively soliciting stories of gun violence from citizens, to use as ammunition (if you’ll pardon the expression) for his big “assault weapons” crusade.  Oddly, the request is not limited to stories of assault with assault weapons, which is for the best, because there aren’t many such incidents, and the Obama campaign machine requires large quantities of propaganda oil to function smoothly.  Also, it would be best not to waste your time by sending them stories of how people have successfully used legal firearms to thwart crimes.  Especially if the citizen exercising such vigorous self-defense happens to be female.  Democrats are really touchy about armed women these days.