Congressional Republicans Sink to ‘New Low’

By John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News  

Both the White House and Congressional Democrats are upset about Republican plans to require that bills be read before being voted on.

Press Secretary Robert Gibbs called the read-before-passing strategy “a new low in this nation’s history. What they’re doing with the START Treaty, foe example, is both unconscionable and unconstitutional. Anyone familiar with the Constitution knows that the President is granted the power to make treaties. The Senate’s role is to ‘advise and consent.’ There is no need for them to read the treaty. There is no Constitutional authorization for them to hold a treaty hostage with this kind of delaying tactic.”

Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) seconded and expanded upon Gibbs’ take on the issue. “It would be bad enough if this problem were only confined to the Senate,” Kerry complained. “But the Republicans say they will be applying it to all legislation not just the Senate’s treaty consenting process. I mean, the omnibus spending bill is almost 2,000 pages long. Requiring us to read such bills before we pass them will severely hamper what we can get done in the limited time we have available.”

Kerry rejected the contention that passing laws that he hasn’t read might be irresponsible. “It’s not as if nobody has read these bills,” Kerry argued. “We have aides who do this sort of thing for us. Besides, pretty much everything we pass ends up in litigation anyway. The lawyers and the courts will parse the phraseology of the legislation and determine what it means. Why should we be required to duplicate their effort?”

New Deep Water Drilling Rules Explained

The US Government’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement unveiled new deep water drilling regulations that some are calling “incoherent” and “obstructive.”

“We’re not saying that firms can’t drill,” said Bureau Director Michael Bromwich. “All we’re saying is that no oil can be extracted.”

Bromwich defended the new rules as “suitable for the vast majority of drilling operations. Most of the wells drilled are what we call ‘dry holes.’ That is, they don’t strike oil. Our regulation banning the extraction of oil will not interfere with this typical outcome. So, the majority of drilling activities would continue to be allowed under the new rules. Only a minority of wells would be affected negatively.”

The Director said he is confident that “when all the factors are considered, people will see that this approach represents a balanced compromise between divergent interests. On the one hand, we’ll be protecting the environment from pollution. On the other, we will be protecting the majority of the drilling activity and the jobs they represent.”

“The ban on extracting oil will have its downside,” Bromwich conceded. “Supplies will be tighter and prices higher. But that will encourage more conservation efforts. We shouldn’t be myopic about this. People may be driving less, but this will boost public transportation. If high energy prices force people to turndown the heat, they’ll be forced to buy sweaters, pumping up demand in the clothing sector of our economy.”

Senator Claims Mandate for Higher Taxes

New York’s senior Senator Charles Schumer (D) contested the consensus view that last November’s election constituted a repudiation of his Party’s tax-and-spend agenda.

“Look, I won 66 percent of the vote in my reelection bid,” Schumer pointed out. “My position on taxes and spending has always been that more is better. Voters knew that before they sent me back to Washington. So, I’d have to say I have a mandate from the people of my state to push for both higher taxes and spending.”

Schumer dismissed the idea that New York voters had selfish motives. “I’m proud to say that New Yorkers have always paid more in taxes than they’ve gotten back in federal spending,” Schumer boasted. “We’re not in this for ourselves. We’re happy to be contributing to the benefit of others.”

New York’s return of 80 cents on each dollar of federal tax paid isn’t the worst ratio. That title belongs to the oft mocked New Jersey (55 cents). Since these states overwhelmingly vote for Democrats to represent them in Congress perhaps Senator Schumer is correct.

The best return on taxes: Washington, DC at over $6 in federal spending per tax dollar paid. Ironically, eleven of the 25 counties with the highest personal income in the US are in the Washington, DC metro region.

Snub Sparks Diplomatic Crisis

Revelation that the guest list for Prince William’s wedding next year won’t include the Obamas has sparked a diplomatic crisis. Sources inside the US State Department confirm that President Obama is considering severing diplomatic relations with the United Kingdom, a nation once held to be our closest ally.

“This is a royal snub if you ask me,” said the President’s visibly angry Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. “After all this country has done for the Brits—bailing them out in two World Wars, boosting the careers of the Beatles and Rolling Stones, adopting their language as our own—to be stabbed in the back like this is unforgivable.”

While the President himself is said to be taking the affront “stoically,” First Lady Michelle and his two daughters are reportedly “devastated.” “Participating in a royal wedding is every young girl’s dream,” said a tearful Michelle. “To have that dream crushed by those you thought were your friends cuts deep. I will be talking to the President about the appropriate response our government should take on this insult.”

Time Is Ripe for Openly Gay President Says Carter

Former President Jimmy Carter came out forthrightly in favor of an openly gay person as president of the United States.

“We’re breaking down the barriers that have been in place for hundreds of years,” Carter asserted. “President Obama is our first openly Black president. President Clinton was our first proven fornicating president. I think it’s about time that we have our first openly homosexual president.”

Carter dismissed rumors that several former presidents may have been secretly gay as irrelevant. “I know there are those who say Lincoln may have been gay,” Carter admitted. “And Buchanan, a lifelong bachelor, certainly had the look of a sodomite. But neither acknowledged being gay.”

The former President speculated that “an openly gay US President would likely improve our nation’s relationships with Middle Eastern countries” because “these are places where pederasty is very common and the leaders of these countries would then share more of a common bond with our gay president.”

Representative Barney Frank (D-Mass) praised “President Carter’s candor” and suggested that “an openly gay President would be able to get more members behind his legislative program.”

Child Nutrition Law Defended

The Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Law is “necessary because parents have fallen down on the job,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “In an ideal world, every parent would be properly informed and adequately motivated to choose appropriate nutrition for her children. But the reality is, too many are ignorant and others don’t care enough to make the right choices.”

“Granted, parents could still put inappropriate foods into ‘brown bag’ lunches brought from home,” the First Lady admitted. “That’s a problem we’ve left for another day. In the meantime, though, we’re hoping that the subsidies provided by this law combined with social pressure from teachers and fellow students will help guide and monitor what each child eats.”

The new $4.5 billion law gives the federal government the authority to control all the food available at public schools, including items sold in the cafeteria and in vending machines on school grounds.

Unregulated Speech an “Aberration” Says FCC Commissioner

FCC commissioner Michael Copps contends that “lack of government oversight of the media is an aberration that must end. Since the end of the ‘fairness doctrine’ in the 1980s broadcasters have been pretty much on their own. This has resulted in an unbalanced airing of views by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and Glen Beck.”

As a remedy, Copps proposes a “public value test” in which “the FCC would assess whether broadcasters are making appropriate use of the public airwaves. Those who aren’t would be removed and replaced by others who we can count on to respect the diversity of values we cherish in our democracy. The right-wing ‘lunatic fringe’ won’t totally lose their right to freedom of speech, just the ability to monopolize the airwaves with their rants against the people’s interests.”

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LA to Ban New Fast-Food Restaurants

By John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News  

The Los Angeles City Council took action to prohibit new fast-food restaurants from opening within half a mile of existing restaurants. The move was sponsored by Council member Jan Perry who asserted that “we must do something to combat malnutrition and obesity among the lower classes.”

Perry’s focus was on South LA, which currently has the city’s highest concentration of fast-food establishments. Fast-food accounts for 72% of the restaurants in this quadrant of the city.

“The fast-food industry is unfairly targeting our least educated and most vulnerable citizens,” Perry declared. “This type of exploitation and profiteering must stop.”

Perry dismissed arguments that the restaurants were simply responding to consumer demand. “Just because a child demands candy doesn’t mean a mother has to give it to him,” Perry said. “Likewise, just because people may be too ignorant to choose a balanced diet of healthful foods doesn’t mean we should let them eat junk.”

The role of fast-food restaurants in providing employment in a city with a 12% unemployment rate was also disparaged. “Those are dead-end jobs anyway,” Perry argued. “People should aim higher. Why not try to be a doctor or lawyer—something that pays a living wage?”

The Councilwoman acknowledged that the measure “is a compromise. Granted, too many fast-food restaurants will be allowed to remain open. Ideally, they all ought to be closed. But we have to take it one step at a time.”

President’s Absence at Debt Commission Meeting Downplayed

Concerns that President Obama ought to have “at least dropped by” at a White House meeting of the special debt commission he appointed were brushed aside by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs.

“Look, voters are worried about the government’s budget deficit and the mounting debt burden,” Gibbs admitted. “So the President appointed a commission to try to bolster confidence that we’re going to do something about it. But let’s face it, there’s no way we can really repay this debt. Everyone from Treasury Secretary Geithner to Federal Reserve Chairman Bernanke knows this. The meetings are just ‘political theater.’ There’s no good reason why the President should be compelled to spend his precious time at them.”

In related news, Fed Chairman Bernanke rebuffed contentions that the Federal Reserve Bank is “printing money.” “It’s the Bureau of Engraving and Printing that prints money, not us,” Bernanke pointed out. “We merely create banking deposits to pay for the bonds we’re buying. We need no ink and no paper. We aren’t plagued by mechanical problems of any sort. Our operation is cost free and there’s no limit to what we can do. That’s why everyone should be confident that the government will never really run short of money.”

Homeland Security Announces “Trusted Traveler” Program for Mexicans

US Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nipplitaliano announced a “trusted traveler” program to “help speed Mexican air travelers through airport security.” Under the program, Mexicans that are certified by their government as trustworthy will be allowed to bypass x-ray screening and pat downs on flights destined for the United States.

“This will save Mexican travelers untold hours of time and the humiliation and inconvenience of routine air port security checks,” Nipplitaliano boasted. “At the same time, by handing off the security clearance to the Mexican government we spare the expense of screening them on the TSA’s dime. It’s a win-win situation.”

Mexico’s Interior Minister Francisco Blake was reportedly “ecstatic” with the new arrangement. “Previously, Mexicans seeking to enter the United States were impeded by fences and border guards,” Blake recounted. “Even when they got through, the cost and tedium of further travel led to the majority of them being concentrated in the border states. Now they will be able to fly directly to any US city with air service to Mexico.” Blake said that over 80 million Mexicans are expected to be cleared for departure within the next few months.

Not wanting to waste what she termed “valuable momentum,” Nipplitaliano signed a “letter of intent” committing her agency to “protect Mexican immigrants once they’ve crossed into the United States.”

Democrat Makes Case for 100% Death Tax

Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) defended the confiscatory taxation of estates arguing that “dead people have no more need for money. Look, everybody knows ‘you can’t take it with you’ when you die. So it’s a question of who gets your money when you do.”

Weiner contended that the deceased’s heirs don’t deserve it. “They didn’t earn it,” Weiner said. “They have no rightful claim. The fact that the person who died wanted them to have it is irrelevant. A dead person’s wishes have no moral or legal authority in the disposition of assets he no longer needs.”

“Rather than allow an unelected private person to determine how these assets will be used after his death,” Weiner continued, “it seems more just that the people’s elected representatives take control to ensure a more equitable distribution. There are many socially warranted programs that are under-funded. These have got to take precedence over the selfish desires of heirs to continue the family business.”

Pundit Denounces Tax Compromise

MSNBC’s Keith Olberman came out against the President’s compromise tax package calling it “fundamentally wrong and misguided.”

“What are the rich going to do with the taxes they don’t have to pay?” Olberman asked. “They’re not going to spend it. They’ve already got more than they can spend. They’re probably going to put it into stocks and bonds. This doesn’t help the economy at all.”

“It’s unemployment compensation that really drives the economy,” Olberman contended. “Virtually every dollar we pump into unemployment benefits is spent—generating income for vendors of goods and services throughout the economy. We need to get more people on unemployment for longer periods if we want to get out of this recession. So here’s my pitch: make the benefits permanent and make people who quit their jobs eligible. As more people receive and spend unemployment benefits the stimulation of the economy will be profound.”

Media Mogul Urges Stringent Birth Control

Media billionaire Ted Turner urged world leaders to impose a sort of “cap-and-trade” system for live births in order to reduce the global population. Under the Turner plan, each person would be entitled to participate in procreating one child. This right could be sold or used.

“There are just too damn many people,” Turner complained. “Everywhere I go there are crowds of people. A person can’t get any solitude or privacy anymore. We can’t go on like this. We’ve got to put a lid on this thing before it’s too late.”

Turner argued that making the procreative right transferable “would help overcome the reproductive imbalance we see around the globe. Prosperous and intelligent people are having too few children. On the other hand, the stupid and impoverished masses are breeding like rabbits. If we clamp down, yet give them the option of selling their birth rights they can trade their poverty for prosperity by selling to someone who can afford to pay for it.”

“A vigorously enforced plan could halve the population in each succeeding generation,” Turner observed. “In only ten generations we could get the world population down to a more manageable 6 million total. And most of those, I’m betting, would be the offspring of superior stock.”

Turner has five children—a feat he considers “in line with my proposal, inasmuch as I would’ve been willing and able to pay for the privilege if my plan had been in effect.”

Sharpton Demands Government Crackdown on Right-Wing Critics

One-time Democratic presidential candidate Al Sharpton demanded that the federal government pull “illegitimate commentators off the air.” The Reverend was especially incensed by radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.

“The air waves belong to the government,” Sharpton maintained. “The government has the right to decide who may use them. Those who misuse them like Rush Limbaugh does ought to be shut down.”

“Free speech is not the issue,” Sharpton argued. “Just because we say there’s free speech doesn’t mean you can say whatever you want. There’s got to be limits. When a person like Limbaugh persistently criticizes the President without just cause, that’s racism, and the FCC has the authority to take him off the air.”

To help facilitate the FCC’s regulatory process Sharpton offered to vet all talk show hosts “in order to prevent racism and ensure that those biased against the President aren’t permitted to abuse the public airways with their message of hate and intolerance.”

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White House Seeking Open-Ended Budget Authority

By John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News  

Citing what he termed “the need to avert a gridlock that could paralyze our government,” President Barack Obama has asked the “lame duck” Congress to enact a budget reform that would permit him to transfer funding between accounts.

“With the House passing into the control of the Republicans next January there is a very real threat that our achievements of the past two years could be thwarted by the simple mechanism of the budgets being ‘zeroed out’ or otherwise crimped,” Obama wrote in a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). “This would bring the transformation that I have promised to the American people to a halt. Granting the Executive the power to transfer funds between accounts will neutralize any prospective GOP efforts to undo what we have already done or to prevent further reforms from being undertaken via Executive Order.”

While the grant of such authority to the Executive would seem to run contrary to the intent of the Constitution that Congress control the public “purse strings,” the President asserted that “Congress has the authority to delegate its powers as it sees fit. The requested delegation of authority is necessary to ensure the flexibility needed to maintain our momentum toward progressive goals. It’s a simple question of whether Democrats in Congress prefer to have their President or the new Republican majority controlling public policy.”

Kenya Takes Exception to “Malicious” Wikileaks

The most recent posting of confidential diplomatic documents struck a nerve in the Kenyan government this week. According these documents, Kenya has been characterized as a “swamp of corruption.”

Kenyan government spokesman Alfred Mutua called the characterization “malicious and false.” “Kenya is a nation of varied topography,” Mutua pointed out. “We border on the beautiful Lake Victoria. The Serengeti Plain in the west is home to the magnificent wildlife that draws tourists from around the world. And you can see the stunning Mount Kilimanjaro from our southern border. Only the tiniest portions of our country have any swamp-like features and that is only during the rainy season.”

While Johnnie Carson, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, has conveyed the US Government’s apology to Kenyan Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Mutua said he is hopeful that “a more forceful response will be forthcoming. It is unconscionable that President Obama could abide such slander of his native land. We expect reparations in the form of cash payments will be on their way soon.”

In related news, Press Secretary Robert Gibbs explained why the Obama Administration isn’t “scared” of the leaks. “Look, it’s one guy,” Gibbs observed. “All the President has to do is say the word and he’d be taken out. Assange is the one who should be scared. He’s upset the Russians. I wouldn’t be surprised if they took him out.”

Administration to Block Oil Drilling off East Coast for Next Seven Years

Reversing course on an earlier promise to permit oil companies to explore the potential for drilling offshore wells along the US east coast, the Obama Administration declared that there will be no drilling in this region for at least the next seven years.

“I know this will reduce future supplies of petroleum products in this country and that some people will be upset about this, but if we’re ever going to wean ourselves off oil we’ve got to start somewhere,” the President said. “Shorter supplies and the higher prices they’ll bring will encourage people to conserve or switch to alternate means of meaning their needs.”

“There are also significant social and environmental gains that will follow from this policy,” Obama added. “If it costs more to fuel your car you’ll do less driving. Less driving means less pollution. If you substitute taking public transit you’ll get to meet more of your neighbors face-to-face. This will help boost the communal spirit that I think is vital to the transformation of American life that forms the core of my program.”

The President admitted he wasn’t entirely comfortable with using high prices to discourage consumption. “Pricing isn’t the best allocating mechanism,” he said. “It favors the rich over the worthy. Ideally, we ought to be ensuring that resources go to those who truly need them. What we need is a commission to weigh the relative claims of each person and make a socially justifiable determination of who does and doesn’t deserve them.”

Senators Say GOP Are “Terrorists” on Tax Talks

Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) declared that Republican demands for extending tax cuts are “terroristic.” The comment came amid negotiations between Republicans and Democrats over the so-called “Bush tax cuts” that are due to expire on December 31 of this year.

“They want us to approve an across-the-board extension of these tax cuts,” Menendez complained. “They say that taxpayers deserve to keep more of their own money. Their money? Congress is who decides whose money it is. We make the laws. We can distribute this money as we see fit for the benefit of the whole nation.”

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-Missouri) concurred and suggested that “Americans might have to take up arms against these enemies of the government just like our ancestors did in 1776. Haven’t Republicans heard that we have a deficit? The Government needs this money more than these high-bracket taxpayers do. Taking this money out of the Government’s hands is a greater threat than anything al-Qaeda could do to this country.”

Nipplitaliano Says DREAM Act Will Help Ease Her Burden

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nipplitaliano urged Congress to pass the so-called DREAM Act saying that “it will make my job a lot easier. Every undocumented immigrant who can be taken off the status of ‘illegal alien’ is one less person I’ve got to worry about. While I think comprehensive immigration reform that will legalize the 20 million undocumented immigrants believed to be in this country is the ultimate answer, anything that chips away at that total is a step in the right direction.”

The DREAM Act would legalize illegal immigrants who arrived in the U.S. before the age of 16, have lived in the U.S. for at least five years, earned a high school diploma or equivalent, and attended college or enlisted in the military for at least two years.

Governor Wants to Pardon Morrison

As his final act before leaving office in January, Florida Governor Charlie Crist says he wants to pardon Jim Morrison. Morrison was convicted of indecent exposure during a rock concert performance in Miami in 1969. By all accounts, Morrison was extremely intoxicated and abusive toward the audience. In the midst of a largely inept performance, Morrison asked the audience “Do you wanna see my cock?” whereupon he unzipped his fly and dangled his member.

“There was nothing indecent about Jim Morrison,” Crist said. “His body was a thing of beauty. He should not have been prosecuted for sharing a rarely seen glimpse of a most precious and comely part of it with his adoring fans—among whom I must count myself.”

Crist’s pardon would have to be posthumous. Morrison died of a drug overdose at the age of 27 in 1971.

Obama Administration Seeking Technology to Disable Cell Phones

Citing the “dangerous distraction” that cell phones pose to motor vehicle drivers, US Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood is proposing that a means of disabling cell phones from operating while they are in vehicles be installed in all vehicles.

“It’s bad enough that we so readily allow nonprofessional drivers to operate vehicles on our roads,” LaHood said. “The vast majority of them aren’t really competent to drive. They should be riding public transit. But when you allow cell phone conversations to driving it’s a deadly combination.”

LaHood observed that “there’s a lot of technology out there that can disable cell phones. Getting some of that installed in all cars would go a long way toward making our roads safer.”

The Secretary downplayed arguments that cell phones have saved many lives by enabling victims and witnesses of crashes to call for help. “We’re not saying that people can’t have or use cell phones,” LaHood explained. “We’re just asking that they step outside the vehicle before making a call.” As for getting help after a crash, LaHood advised people to “purchase cars that have the On Star system.”

On Star is a navigation and communication system owned by General Motors. Owners of GM vehicles can purchase services from On Star in exchange for an installation charge and annual subscription fee. Today’s “smart cell phones” provide similar capabilities and more in addition to being portable.

On a related note, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Nipplitaliano said “an even broader government capability to block cell phone transmissions would help us prevent threats to the government of this country.”

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