The situation with North Korea gets more bizarre and serious by the day, but the United States Air Force is grounding combat jets, due, it says, to the sequester.

The budget cuts known as sequestration are forcing the United States to ground hundreds of its warplanes, at a time when they are likely to be called upon in the event of a conflict with North Korea.

According to internal documents obtained by Air Force Times, an independent newspaper covering the service, the spending cuts that have gone into effect March 1 will result in 44,000 fewer flying hours until September, when the government’s fiscal year 2013 ends.

The newspaper cited a memo by Maj. Gen. Charles Lyon, director of operations for Air Combat Command, saying the Air Force’s budget for flying hours was reduced by $591 million for the remainder of the fiscal year, making it impossible to keep all squadrons ready for combat.

Meanwhile, out in Wisconsin, government men with clipboards will pay you to spit into a tube.

The U.S. government sent a man to our door to pay $90 if one of us would answer a few questions and spit in a tube.

Me, I don’t answer the doorbell unless I already know who is there, but Meade went to the door to find a man with a clipboard and a National Health and Alcohol Study badge. If somehow I’d gone to the door, I’d have seen through the window that it was a man with a clipboard and given my no-none-of-that-here hand gesture and never opened the door. And if somehow I’d started talking to the guy and he’d said the first thing — that he was doing a government health survey — I’d have abruptly refused. No way! And if he’d reached the part about giving a saliva sample, I’d have laughed in his face.

Turns out it is a health survey being conducted under the auspices of National Health and Alcohol Study. It’s obviously costing a nice sum of money once you multiply the $90 per spit take plus the men with the clipboards plus the back end analysis, lab work, and so forth. Probably several million of your dollars.

I’m not suggesting that it’s ridiculous, or that the money the survey costs is equivalent to the money the Air Force expects not to spend by grounding its jets.

I am suggesting that the sequester continues to be overplayed via gaudy stunts designed to scare us, and that this administration’s priorities might be a tad out of whack.

And yeah, I wouldn’t have given the G-man my spit either. I gave them quite enough when I was actually in the now non-flying US Air Force.