John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News
Ohio State Senator Capri Cafaro (D-Hubbard) has introduced legislation to boost state regulation of homeschooling. Senate Bill 248 would require that parents be investigated and approved before being allowed to homeschool their children.
“The very fact that parents would want to deny their children the enriching experience of a public school education raises a ‘red flag,’” Cafaro declared. “It makes one wonder what other risks of neglect or abuse might be present in the home environment. Rather than supinely wait for tragedies to occur it is incumbent upon the government to intercede ahead of time.”
Cafaro hypothesized that “overt signs of excessive religious fervor, gun ownership, or the presence of books and magazines that denigrate progressive values and undermine loyalty to and faith in the efforts of the government to better people’s lives would demonstrate an anti-social environment that is unfit for children.”
The Senator acknowledged that “there are likely too many anti-social home environments for us to take the most appropriate remedy of removing the afflicted children. We should at least insist that the children attend public schools as a way of counterbalancing these pernicious influences on their education and development.”
Senate Majority Leader Checks Himself into Hospital
Senator Harry Reid (D-Nev) checked himself into the hospital Friday as a precautionary measure. “Luckily, the senator has the best of healthcare coverage,” said Reid’s greatly relieved spokesman, Adam Jentleson. “We expect he will be back on his feet shortly, but the senator asked that I use this occasion to remind those less well insured to sign up for Obamacare before illness strikes them down.”
Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill) said that he would be replacing Reid in his absence and urged his fellow senators “to move forward with the vital work to which Senator Reid has given his life, so that his sacrifice shall not have been in vain.”
Senator John McCain (R-Ariz) hastened to be the first Republican to heed Durbin’s call to action. “I don’t know if there ever will be a more appropriate time for us to reach across the aisle and offer a helping hand to build upon the legacy of this great man,” McCain offered. “Just tell me what I need to do.”
In contrast, Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) begged to differ, “first of all, Senator Reid didn’t die. So, memorial tributes would seem to be premature. Aside from this, no occasion justifies passing bad legislation. Each bill must be judged on its merits. None should be waved past the finish line as a so-called legacy to some ‘great man.’ Of course, the assertion that Senator Reid’s record has been one of ‘greatness’ is subject to debate.”
Obamacare: Administration Grants More “Hardship” Exemptions
This week the Obama Administration granted yet another exemption from compliance with the Affordable Care Act. Using the “hardship clause” of the Act, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius ruled that “those whose previous insurance was canceled and who are unable to buy qualifying policies may buy substandard policies for the next year.”
Sebelius admitted that “it’s a bit ironic that our effort to push everyone into quality insurance plans has actually resulted in fewer people having health insurance than before the Affordable Care Act took effect. Among the more obedient segment of the population, the failures of the website have blocked many from acquiring policies that conform to the mandated standards. Among the more disagreeable segment, unwillingness to pay the higher premiums for coverage they deem inappropriate to their needs has led to many declining to participate.”
“Fortunately, the Act gives me virtually unconstrained authority to exempt whoever I feel warrants exemption,” the Secretary continued. “I’m using that authority to declare that the Act itself has created a hardship for people whose plans that they liked were canceled. I mean, if the President didn’t see this coming how can we have expected lesser common and ordinary people to have foreseen it?”
Robert Zirkelbach, spokesman for America’s Health Insurance Plans criticized the move as “disruptive and confusing. The whole premise of the Affordable Care Act was that it would enable us to insure the previously uninsurable by compelling the healthy to pay more for coverage they don’t need. Without this compulsory element the system won’t be financially feasible.”
Sebelius characterized Zirkelbach’s remarks as “unhelpful. We need solidarity and cooperation, not criticism. Everyone needs to pull together to get the ship of state righted. We need everyone to trust that we will get all the problems solved and give the American people the world’s best healthcare system if given enough time.”
How much time might be required is in dispute amongst the program’s supporters. Democratic National Committee Chairwoman, Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (Fla) is convince the system will be working great in time to boost Democratic candidates’ chances in the November 2014 election. David Plouffe, former top adviser to President Obama, says we need to “wait until at least 2017 to know one way or the other.”
In related news, Teresa Fryer, the chief information security officer for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, told House Oversight Committee officials that the healthcare website is unsuitable for public use because of severe security risks. Fryer testified that she explicitly recommended denial of the website’s Authority to Operate, but was overruled by her superiors. “Sadly, the need to portray the president’s image as a man who keeps his promises prevailed over the reality of undue risk of identity theft to the website’s users,” Fryer said.
Hillary Clinton Named 2013’s “Most Fascinating Person”
In a list she’s been keeping since 1993, media personality Barbara Walters named Hillary Clinton the year’s “most fascinating person” of 2013.
“When you juxtapose her disastrous stint as secretary of state with polls that show she would easily win the 2016 presidential election, well, that’s fascinating,” Walters contended. “Consider the whole Benghazi thing, there were numerous warnings that our people in Libya working under Clinton’s Department of State supervision needed better protection. She neglected to address these warnings and people died as a result.”
“One would think that this blot would be enough to sink anyone’s political future,” Walters went on. “But she brazened it out in front of a congressional inquiry and persuaded America that at this point it doesn’t matter. It shows that she is a potent person, a force that is, inexplicably, unstoppable. It’s freakish, frightening, and—fascinating. You think you ought to look away, but you are drawn to her out of morbid curiosity.”
In other media personality news, CNN’s Piers Morgan hailed A&E’s sanctions against Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty. “Vile homophobic bigotry doesn’t merit First Amendment protection,” Morgan argued. “Acceptance of homosexuality is America’s policy now. We cannot allow this policy to be undermined by disagreement or ridicule, especially by someone with as large a following as Robertson.”
Union Says Right-to-Work Laws = Slavery
Michigan Teamsters Local No. 214 filed a lawsuit alleging that the State’s right-to-work law constitutes an “unconstitutional reinstitution of slavery.”
“Unions are a worker’s main protection against employer abuse and mistreatment,” union spokesman Peter Piddler maintained. “Abuse and mistreatment are the hallmarks of involuntary servitude. For the State to allow a person to work without becoming a member of a union opens the worker to abuse and mistreatment and is, therefore, an endorsement of slavery.”
“Slaves weren’t allowed to form unions,” Piddler pointed out. “That was a crucial block to their attainment of full human rights. Unions compelling every worker to be enrolled as a member liberates workers from the virtual slavery that is every employer’s ultimate objective.”
Obamacare May Have Unforeseen Mobility Impacts
In feudal times, serfs were tied to the land—unable to leave without their overlord’s permission. In the old Soviet Union, workers were tied to their jobs—unable to leave without the government’s permission. In many insurance plans, medical services rendered outside of the network are uncovered. This becomes a problem when the network is extremely narrow, as many of the plans offered under the Affordable Care Act are.
It is bad enough when the “network” is bounded by the state’s borders. It is worse when the boundary is the county or city line—as is the case with many of the “affordable” plans being offered under Obamacare. Going on a trip adds a whole new category of potential unforeseen expenses if you venture too far from home.
Press Secretary Jay Carney acknowledged the potential deterrence to travel, but contended “it could be a good thing. Travel, especial by car, is an inherently risky behavior. It’s probably the riskiest thing most people do on a regular basis. The injuries sustained in car crashes add to the nation’s healthcare bill. If the fear of being uncovered away from home discourages travel we will avoid some of these crash costs.”
“Besides, a lot of private travel is frivolous and unproductive,” Carney argued. “The need for people to get in their car and go sight seeing is practically nonexistent. Everything worth seeing has already been videoed and is available for download at a fraction of the cost. People can use Skype to visit with friends and relatives on a more frequent basis than a holiday trip to grandma’s house. So, on balance, if the new health plans reduce travel I think it may be more of a plus than a minus.”
A Satirical Look at Recent News
John Semmens is a retired economist who has written a weekly political satire column for The Arizona Conservative since 2005. He says working on his satires is one of the ways he tries to honor the liberties that our nation’s Founding Fathers tried to protect.
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