Fiddling while Rome burns

WASHINGTON -- Here are some of the run-ups to the current fiscal crisis threatening to rip holes in the fabric of American life and security as we know it:

--A plunge over an imagined "fiscal cliff" is averted at the 11th hour, only to encounter a manufactured "sequester" promising to take bring the federal government to its knees.

--On the eve of this trumpeted calamity, Congress goes home for the weekend.

--In doing so, it follows the example of the President of the United States, just back from a weekend in sunny Florida playing golf with Tiger Woods.

--In the spirit of good will, House Speaker John Boehner delicately tells the president and the Senate to get "off their ass" to break the impasse. He does so even as Obama is busy hyping his case for higher taxes on the rich, and painting firemen, policemen and other first responders as tied to the tracks by Republicans as an train approaches.

--For comic relief, the First Lady of the United States takes time off to present the Oscar for the year's best motion picture at the Academy Awards ceremony, via the magic of modern electronics. And the Oscar for playing first lady goes to ... Michelle!

It all makes one yearn for another revival of Anthony Newley's 1961 musical, "Stop the World -- I Want to Get Off." Or, better yet, the later lyrics by Randy Stonehill:

Well, it's OK to murder babies

But we really ought to save the whales

We're putting criminals in office

'Cause it's getting too crowded in jails

...

And we could pull the nation out of debt

For what we spend on locks and keys

Even suburbia is under attack

They're all buying handguns

Trying to fight back

There's a vigilante picnic in the cul de sac

...

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