The Cliffhanger, March 4

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???

** Sequestration Terror continues to deflate: The hybrid earthquake-tsunami-blizzard of sequestration threatened by President Barack Obama and his Administration chiefs continues to be downgraded through each successive fiscal weather forecast.  The day it hit, it was abruptly downgraded from hurricane strength to a topical depression; by Sunday it was more like scattered showers of austerity, with the chance of some light flooding in a month or two, if you happen to live right on the dependency beach of Big Government.

White House economic adviser Gene Sperling (the guy who told Bob Woodward he’d “regret” diverting from the approved media narrative on sequestration) appeared on NBC’s Meet the Press to claim that “nobody ever suggested that this was going to have all its impact in the first few days.”  It’s simply amazing to hear advisers dismiss their own boss as “nobody,” since Barack Obama was indeed loudly bellowing that sequestration would produce instantaneous devastation… as recently as Friday, in fact, when he falsely claimed during a news conference that “starting tomorrow everybody here, all the folks who are cleaning the floors at the Capitol. Now that Congress has left, somebody???s going to be vacuuming and cleaning those floors and throwing out the garbage.  They???re going to have less pay.  The janitors, the security guards, they just got a pay cut, and they???ve got to figure out how to manage that.  That???s real.”  No, it’s not real, as the Washington Post’s fact-checker pointed out in a four-Pinocchio complete-B.S. smackdown.

Sperling also finally admitted – for the record, and contrary to hundreds of hours of false rhetoric from Obama during and after the 2012 campaign – that sequestration was “designed” by the White House.  But everyone north of the fabled Low Information Voters already knew that.  The real bombshell of the interview was hearing the President of the United States openly dismissed as “nobody” by top White House staffers on national television.   If only Mitt Romney had been that tough on him.

** Romney for Sequester Czar: Speaking of Mitt Romney, he turned up on Fox News Sunday to criticize President Obama’s divisive, blame-shifting perpetual sequester campaign, which has included roughly one hour and seven minutes of actual governing through meetings with congressional leadership.  “It kills me not to be there, not to be in the White House doing what needs to be done.  It’s hard,” lamented the defeated 2012 Republican presidential candidate.

But why couldn’t Romney be there, doing what needs to be done?  Obama flatly refused the offer of authority to implement the sequester cuts in a “smarter,” less arbitrary manner.  If he’s not up for the job, why not let one of the world’s most renowned efficiency experts and turnaround managers have a crack at it?  Appoint him “Sequester Czar” and let him get to work trimming $44 billion out of the most outrageous government flab.  That bit of fiscal liposuction, so completely beyond the abilities of Barack Obama, will take Dr. Romney about six hours.  Give him another $50 billion to cut the next day, and let him repeat until he’s finally forced to submit a budget that actually would require furloughing Capitol Hill janitors, increase airport wait times to 90 minutes, or any of the other dark fantasies Obama has been peddling.  We might well have a balanced budget in time for Tax Day.  Granted, Romney wasn’t all that good at campaigning – but why shouldn’t the American people receive the benefit of what he indisputably is good at?

** North Korean madman, has-been athlete propose basketball summit with Obama: The practical requirements of governing may lie outside Barack Obama’s skill set, but he is very good at sweet-talking people and wasting time on long discussions of ephemeral issues, so why not take sports oddity Dennis Rodman’s suggestion and hold a basketball summit with Kim Jong-Un, the blood-splattered lunatic dictator of North Korea?  “He loves basketball,” Rodman said of Mr. Kim.  “I said Obama loves basketball.  Let’s start there.”

Rodman promised more trips to North Korea “to find out more about what’s really going on,” but he’s already seen enough to pronounce Kim – whose psychotic regime executed people in creatively sadistic ways for failure to show appropriate levels of grief at the passing of his father, the previous Grand Poobah – a “good guy” and declare “as a person to person, he’s my friend.”

Say what you will about Rodman, but he’s actually got a pretty good geo-political strategy here.  Just look at what Barack Obama’s foreign policy has done for the Middle East!  If Obama starts directly engaging with Kim and spending time in North Korea, it’ll become an Islamic theocracy in no time.  Granted, that’s not much of an improvement from the standpoint of global stability, but at least we’d finally be able to close the books on the Korean War, and we could point at China and laugh like Nelson Muntz from The Simpsons.  And China would finally stop sticking up for the Norks all the time, since they’re not generally wild about Islamic theocracies perched on their borders.  It’s so crazy it just might work!

** State Department confirms Obama has been blocking Keystone XL pipeline for no good reason: Part of this week’s epic Friday night document dump was a State Department report that found “there would be no significant environmental impact” to building the Keystone XL pipeline, and in fact “other options to get the oil from Canada to Gulf Coast refineries are worse for climate change,” according to the Associated Press.  Now two of the most powerful special interests in Washington – which, of course, are never described as “special interests” by Barack Obama – will get to fight a cage match for our amusement: Big Labor vs. Radical Green.  It will take months for Obama’s sclerotic Administration to make a final decision, so enjoy the show.

** 700 more pages of ObamaCare rules land on America’s back: Guess what else popped up in the Friday document dumpster?  Another seven hundred pages of ObamaCare regulations.  A lot of the new paperwork load pertains to the state health care exchanges, the fabulously expensive, inefficient, and coercive ObamaCare substitution for free-market competition in health insurance.  But remember, if we trim one dollar from this federal non-budget, it’s curtains for teachers and firefighters.

** Menendez scandal widens again: It’s good news and bad news for Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ.)  The good news is that people aren’t buzzing about his alleged dalliances with underage Dominican prostitutes these days.  The bad news is that it’s because the sex scandal has been eclipsed by corruption scandals.  Questions continue to multiply about the legislative services Menendez performed for his best buddy and top donor, Dr. Salomon Melgen of Florida, who is apparently one of the true Renaissance men of our age.  Not only is Melgen an eye doctor, port security expert, and aviation enthusiast, but he’s also on the board of directors of a company that converts diesel vehicle fleets to use natural gas instead.  Senator Menendez just happens to have been a “principal supporter of a natural gas bill that would boost tax credits and grants to truck and heavy vehicle fleets that converted to alternative fuels,” according to the Associated Press.   The bill didn’t pass, and the company Melgen invested in eventually discarded its plans to market its technology for the sort of vehicles that would have been heavily subsidized by the bill, but for a while there it looked as if a truly beautiful multi-million-dollar act of legislative and investment symmetry was in the offing.  If you think “clean energy” is a process of enormous expense in the pursuit of impractical goals, try comparing it to the quest for clean government.

** Biden Cliff update: The Cliffhanger has determined that yet another cliff we are all dangling from is the Joe Biden Advice Cliff, in which taking the ravings of the Vice President seriously can result in arrest, serious injury, and/or death.  A man in Virginia Beach found out the hard way that Biden’s recent advice for dealing with trespassers – firing a shotgun through the door – constitutes “reckless handling of a firearm,” which is a misdemeanor in Virginia.  Biden was most recently seen at the commemoration of the 1965 voting-rights march in Selma, joining in the hysterical denunciation of common-sense voter ID laws as racist vote suppression.  Once again, a public service reminder: taking Joe Biden seriously, about anything, is dangerous.

** Wisconsin Democrat compares governor to cannibal serial killer: A spokesman for the Democrat Party in Wisconsin compared Republican Governor Scott Walker to Jeffrey Dahmer, the infamous flesh-eating serial killer, Friday on Twitter.  After a weekend of blowback, said flack – dismissed as “pretty insignificant” by the Governor, so we won’t bother with his name – apologized to both Walker and the families of Dahmer’s victims.  Wisconsin Dems have a history of going nuts over Walker; the really interesting part of this story is that Mr. Insignificant took pains to delete his offensive Tweets.  It’s so adorable when people do that.  As if there’s any way to erase the bottomless cached and screen-captured memory of the Internet!