There was a point in my life - a long, long time ago in a land far away - that I waited not-so-patiently for late Saturday afternoons when I could hijack the family TV (NEVER during a Notre Dame football game!) and flip on ABC's Wide World of Sports. WWS was a hodgepodge of traditional, niche market sports such as the Penn Relays, amateur boxing, international soccer (Remember now, this was the 1960s.) and some really arcane competitions like barrel-jumping. (Who doesn't enjoy a good barrel-jump crash?!?) and the iconic cliff diving competitions from La Quebrada, near Acapulco, Mexico.
Cliff diving - it appears - is making a big comeback!
No, this version does not include majestic vistas of bright sunlight glistening off blue water as a backdrop to a group of whacked-out daredevils perched on a rock sitting perilously close to a huge cliff that looks a mile high even on black & white TV (the 1960s ... Remember?).
No, this fiscal cliff diving version just includes the whacked-out daredevils.
Now admit it ... Wouldn't you just LOVE this fiscal nonsense as REAL cliff-diving?!? Are you a bit twisted, just enough that you would enjoy this political pissing contest just a little bit, if it included the possibility that John Boehner, President Obama, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi could possibly ... just maybe ... go SPLAT at the bottom of the shallow end???
Hmmm ... But that would leave Joe Biden in charge.
Well, this is hypothetical; so let's push that thought way, way back into that Dark Space we reserve for the Zombie Apocalypse, IRS audits, and Nicki Minaj.
Where was I?!? Oh yeah ... cliff diving ...
Anyways, cliff diving competitions use a method of score-keeping that emphasizes style, creativity, and a difficulty factor in lieu of how many jumps you make before going SPLAT or the number of broken bones should you survive.
That's the way I would score it. But remember, I also like a good barrel-jumping crash!
Now, regardless of where you stand on the impending Thelma & Louise act (Obama as Susan Sarandon's Louise, of course) currently being played out on the cliffs overlooking Washington, D.C., it's best to be prepared when it's your turn to Follow-the-Leaders over a perfectly good cliff.
Frankly, I really could not care less about the Fiscal Cliff.
My long, long-standing federal employment never required me to pay into or rely upon Social Security (Thank God!). So not only did I NOT benefit from the Bush tax cuts, which were applied to Social Security taxes, I will not suffer from their expiration either. And maybe ... just maybe ... we actually NEED this to happen. Afterall, 51 percent of the electorate did not give a rat fart about the economy during the November election, so why worry about it now?!?
Yes, in that regard I am a bit selfish.
The reality is that BOTH parties would probably benefit from a hand-holding cliff dive, no doubt screaming "WEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!" all the way to the bottom. President Obama could then brag that he faced down the terrible Republicans, who realize that raising taxes in a bad economy is a really stupid idea. (Apparently so does the president, since he couples his demand for increased marginal tax rates on the wealthy with a $50 billion stimulus package.)
The Republicans - on the other hand - can claim they never gave in to the anti-economy, income-redistributing Democrats. (Is there really any other explanation for taking from the rich with one hand and pushing out a stimulus with the other when the "real issue" is supposed to be deficit reduction?) All told, the president's proposal amounts to $1.6 TRILLION in new taxes and spending, and $400 billion - or 2.5 percent of the total $16 TRILLION of National Debt - in deficit reductions!
As one critique described it, "Four hundred billion in spending cuts is like foregoing the monogrammed towels in the 16th bathroom of a 52,000-square-foot house."
So, if you too are willing to embrace the possibility of becoming a mushy piece of fiscal fish food, now is the time to consider your approach to Taking the Dive. Will you scream like a teenage girl on the Tower of Terror? Will you stick out a stiff upper lip and leap with resignation and a modicum of dignity? Or will you dive with flair and style, performing a triple flip with a full twist while singing Madonna's classic, "Material Girl (Guy)" all the way to the bottom?
And if you're wondering how it all came to this, to ridiculous deficits, to abject failure in leadership for addressing the excess in deficit spending, to the notion that raising taxes on 2 percent of the population - as if foregoing the monogrammed towels - is a "solution," then simply check out the story this week coming out of Detroit's City Council.
Hey, $200 million here, $200 million there ... What's the BIG DEAL, right? At least we now know why Detroit voted Obama ... To bring home "the bacon!"
As historic French cliff-diver, Alexis de Tocqueville is rumored to have said,
"A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the majority discovers it can vote itself free stuff * out of the public treasury."
(* OK ... He actually said, "... largesse ...". )
With that in mind, allow me to recommend the following in cliff-diving hints and techniques:
- Never hit the water head-first, as dives above 85 feet can result in concussion. (How high is a $16 trillion dollar stack of Benjamins?)
- Select a spot along the cliff with an unobstructed view all the way down to almost certain death.
- No Speedos, men, unless you're a professional cliff-diver or at least look like one.
- Poise precariously on the smooth rock of economic sanity; time the incoming wave of debris from the Eurozone; and push away violently from this amazing mess.
- Immediately assume the simple pike position; feet wisely pointed down; and extend the middle digits on both hands as you sing this verse from Sarah Johns' The One in the Middle:
And now I'm giving you the one in the middle,
The one that's a little bit longer.
And I have another one on the other hand,
So I can say it even stronger.
(For more from Mike, visit crankymanslawn.com.)