The Cliffhanger, Feb. 22

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???

** Chaos at the accounting office: What happens when a government that can’t even pass a budget delays writing the latest additions to our already monstrous tax code until the last possible moment, because revenue-hungry Big Government acolytes wanted everyone in America good and panicked when they made their latest push for tax increases?  Mass confusion among tax preparation services, business accountants, and IRS agents across the country, that’s what.  “This is the worst year I’ve ever had,” sighed a tax preparation specialist with 40 years of experience, quoted by CBS News.  Everyone is scrambling to incorporate the last-minute fiscal cliff deal into their returns.  Companies that make tax preparation software are frantically re-writing their code.  And some of the necessary forms don’t even exist yet.  The current state of American government is hopelessly degenerate – it’s devouring two and a half trillion dollars of our money, spending another trillion on top of that, and treating both its levies and expenses with less care than the average first-grade kid running a lemonade stand.  But don’t worry, they’ll do a fine job managing your health care.  They’d never dream of using that to manufacture a politically useful crisis, would they?

** Decomposing body leaves no bacteria in drinking water supply at L.A. hotel: How about some good news for a change?  It turns out that the corpse found floating in the drinking water tank at the budget-priced Cecil Hotel in Los Angeles didn’t release any harmful bacteria into the water supply.  Chlorine in the water tank and cold weather are credited with minimizing the danger of contamination.  The body was that of 21-year-old Canadian tourist Elisa Lam, whose death about nineteen days before she was discovered in the water tank is being investigated as a homicide.  Authorities actually have not completely ruled out the possibility she fell into the sealed water tank in some sort of bizarre accident, but that possibility seems remote – and there is hotel security camera footage of her riding around in the elevator on the eve of her disappearance, apparently either looking for someone, or hiding from them.  It wasn’t until the hotel’s drinking and bathing water began looking, smelling, and tasting peculiar that her body was found; the water tank even concealed her remains from police dogs, deployed after she was reported missing.  It’s a bit sad, but unsurprising, that public and media reaction to this case has focused largely on the water contamination issue, rather than evoking horror and outrage that a monster who would do this to an innocent young woman may be on the loose in Los Angeles.  That sort of monster is too commonplace nowadays to draw big headlines.

** Benghazi emails to be released at last: The Republican effort to squeeze more information about the Benghazi debacle out of the Obama Administration, by holding up the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Defense Secretary, appears to have borne some fruit, as the Administration has finally agreed to release emails pertaining to the construction of those phony “spontaneous video protest” talking points.  The story from the White House has been that rogue elements of the CIA doctored these talking points to create the false protest narrative and strip out references to the true nature of the consulate attack, which was a military action undertaken by al-Qaeda affiliates.  Maybe we’ll finally know which renegade CIA operatives decided to punk the well-meaning but naive President and his top advisers, who would have no idea why terrorists in a terrorist-infested section of an unstable post-war Libya would murder an American ambassador on the anniversary of 9/11, unless intelligence professionals patiently explained it to them.

As for Chuck Hagel, his post as Defense Secretary is a done deal – two more Republican senators, Richard Shelby of Alabama and Deb Fischer of Nebraska, have signaled they would vote for cloture.  “He’s probably as good as we’re going to get,” sighed Shelby.  He might have meant that as snark, since he presumably watched Hagel’s disastrous confirmation hearing.

** Special military benefits for same-sex couples stir controversy: The current Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, has drawn criticism for ordering the Pentagon to “begin efforts to extend certain benefits to same-sex domestic partners of military members” – benefits which are not available to the opposite-sex partners of heterosexual military members.  The Pentagon described this as the “new inequity,” back when it was warning that precisely this situation would occur, in the final hours of the old “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy on gays in the military.  Supporters of the move counter that federal policies currently leave gay military personnel unable to get married, so there’s no other way for their partners to get benefits.  Extending these benefits to heterosexual unmarried couples would cause mass chaos, not to mention expenses that a military already facing financial evisceration can’t afford, so the likely outcome will be a renewed push for federal policies that would allow homosexual service members to get married.  We’ll probably hear more about it after the first heterosexual couple decides to sue the Pentagon for discrimination.

** Anonymous gun owners surprised to discover they are no longer anonymous: The city of Santa Fe recently held a gun buyback program called “Operation Safe Streets,” in which citizens were encouraged to sell their firearms back to the government.  This resulted in a large database of information about participating gun owners, but they were promised it would be kept absolutely secret, just like the federal government pinky-swears it would never, ever abuse information from the massive national gun registry it longs to create.  But when the program ran out of funding and requested more money, it released the list of participants to the public, providing criminals with a nice list of potential victims who are no longer armed.  Whoopsie!

** President Obama responds to complaints about limited media access during his golf vacation: By holding an off-the record meeting with reporters.  Because hard-hitting objective journalism is all about holding off-the-record meetings.

** Bizarre shootout on the Strip kills rapper plus two innocent bystanders: In a scene straight out of an unrealistic Hollywood crime drama, a drive-by shooter in a Range Rover that still wore paper dealer plates fired into the Maserati sports car driven by 27-year-old rapper Kenny Cherry, right on the Strip in Las Vegas.  Cherry’s car went out of control and slammed into a taxicab, causing a fiery explosion that finished off Cherry and killed the 62-year-old cab driver and his passenger.  At least four other people, including the passenger in Cherry’s car, were injured.  The incident apparently began as an argument in the valet parking area of a club; it may well have been drug-related, since Cherry was fond of posing with drugs and singing about “pimping women” in his rap videos.  An angry Clark County sheriff Doug Gillespie made a curious statement as the wreckage was being cleared away: “What happened on the Strip today will not be tolerated… there are no absolutes when people’s behavior is in question.”  Maybe we should be absolutely intolerant of this behavior.  The Las Vegas Review-Journal includes at least one call for gun confiscation in response to the murder.  But maybe the drugs and pimping are what we should be absolutely not tolerating.

** Your tax money incubates far-Left ideology: Judicial Watch has been slowly prying details of a United States Department of Agriculture “sensitivity training class” out of the government with Freedom of Information Act requests.  In video clips already released, the sensitivity trainer was seen casually remarking upon the enormous cost of his program, insisting that the term “minorities” be replaced by “emerging majorities,” and leading the class in a rousing chant of “The Pilgrims were illegal aliens,” sagely noting that said Pilgrims never gave their non-existent passports to the non-existing immigration authorities of the American Indian tribes.

Now we’ve got him leading his captive audience in a weird little confessional, where they were required to declare in unison: “If we work for a federal agency, we have discriminated in the past.  Every federal agency has discriminated against African Americans, Hispanics, Native American Indians, and other groups.”  He goes on to lecture his brainwashing subjects that this discrimination occurred throughout the mighty federal Leviathan because “every agency reflects the values of the generation in charge.”  Take that, racist America!  And don’t try hiding from this man’s righteous judgment by bleating about the staggering sums of money invested by that hyper-discriminatory government in various anti-discrimination efforts, including affirmative action programs.  Your sins are forever.

It’s anyone’s guess what any of this has to do with the efficient, fiscally prudent functioning of the USDA.  But the next time you hear a political hack insisting that the first dollar of government spending cuts has to come out of meat inspectors and paramedics, remember that a lot of money is being spent on using government agencies as incubators for left-wing lunacy.


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