John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News
Inspired by the NFL’s aggressive action against unauthorized use of the term “Super Bowl,” the Obama Administration is reportedly taking steps to copyright the term “Obamacare.” The most recent example of the NFL’s protection of its copyright occurred when the town of East Rutherford, New Jersey—site of Super Bowl XLVIII—was barred from calling its pre-game block party a “Super Bowl” party.
“We understand that the people of East Rutherford might feel they have some rights because they funded the stadium,” said NFL spokesman Harvey Hogg. “Well, they have the right to see the game played in their home town if they buy a ticket.” Ticket prices range from $1500 per seat in the upper deck near the end zone to more than $5,000 for one at the 50-yard-line.
White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett reasoned that “by securing the copyright to the name ‘Obamacare’ we could prevent anyone from using it without our approval. Since all of the bad press over the healthcare mess is associated with this name, preventing our opponents from using it would crimp their ability to gain traction criticizing the program.”
Jarrett took comfort in a Jimmy Kimmel poll showing that “voters have a much more favorable impression of the ‘Affordable Care Act’ than they do of ‘Obamacare.’ If we can force the Republicans to refer to the healthcare program by its official name the battle for who will win the 2014 elections is half won before it even starts.”
Pelosi Disavows Responsibility for Obamacare Failures
In an appearance on The Daily Show, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) insisted that “none of the problems of the Affordable Care Act are my fault. The bill we passed was over 2800 pages. I didn’t have time, no one had time to carefully read all of its provisions to see if there might be any glitches.”
“Beyond this there is always the problem of bureaucratic incompetence,” Pelosi continued. “Time after time we have passed legislation aimed at helping people—veterans benefits, medicare, medicaid, and now universal health insurance—only to see treatments bungled, services denied, and money wasted. It’s criminal.”
The show’s host, Jon Stewart, seemed perplexed by the Minority Leader’s stance. “With a repetition of the same kinds of problems in program after program when does learning from experience set in?” he asked.
“That’s a good question,” Pelosi acknowledged. “But you’re asking the wrong person. I’m no policy analyst. It’s the job of Congress to express the aspirations of the people by enacting laws that address their hopes and dreams. We trust the experts to make these laws work. If they can’t do that I guess there is no hope and the dream turns into a nightmare. The one thing we must not let happen is to give in to the naysayers who would exploit this failure to divert us from our course.”
White House Denies Gender Hypocrisy
In his State-of-the-Union speech, President Obama denounced pay inequities between men and women. Critics expressing doubts about his sincerity cited the fact that on the President’s own staff men are paid more than women. Among White House employees the 228 women pull down a median annual salary of $65,000 while 231 male staffers receive nearly $75,000.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough denied any hypocrisy on the part of the President. “Salaries at the White House are based on factors that consider skills, experience, level of education, and performance on the job,” McDonough said. “To use the raw data to imply that there is discrimination against women is unfair.”
McDonough saw no inconsistency in the President’s use of similar raw data to impugn the rest of the American economy. “We know that the President has no biases against women,” McDonough assured. “The same cannot be said for others. Government action to correct for the biases of the less enlightened employers who are wreaking injustice upon women and minorities is all the President was urging in his speech.”
That there might be more variables in the more complex employment environment outside the realm of White House desk jobs didn’t seem to faze either President Obama or his Chief of Staff. Studies have shown that more men than women choose jobs that offer higher monetary rewards. More men also work longer hours than women do. When these types of factors are considered the “pay gap” tends to disappear.
In related news, the New York Times reports that Obamacare regulations are inducing more employers to cut worker hours to under 30 per week in order to avoid having to pay for health insurance. The effects are disproportionately hurting female employees who, more so than men, tend to favor part time jobs.
Boehner Immigration Reform Outline Garners Praise
House Speaker John Boehner’s outline for a prospective immigration reform bill received an encouraging “thumbs up” of approval from Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY). “With the Republicans agreeing on a broad-based amnesty we have a good foundation for the type of reform we need.”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) was more cautious in her assessment. “I don’t want to say what John has done isn’t a worthy effort,” she declared. “However, legalizing these immigrants without giving them a fast-track to citizenship is unacceptable. They’ve been mowing our lawns and making our beds for under-the-table wages for too long. It’s time they got full voting rights so they can participate in our democracy.”
President Obama’s pollster, Joel Benenson, echoed Pelosi’s view saying that “legalized non-citizens may satisfy the Chamber of Commerce’s interests, but it doesn’t offer enough to win Democratic support. If business gets their cheap labor we ought to get new Democratic voters as a quid pro quo.”
Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush (R) called the GOP’s enactment of immigration reform “essential if they want me to run for president in 2016. It is the key to creating the kind of joyful environment that would make being the country’s president a worthwhile use of my time.”
SOTU Slams “Stagnant Economy”
President Obama vowed to rescue the country from the “enemies of prosperity” in his speech on the State-of-the-Union Tuesday.
“Too many people are without jobs because businesses place profit ahead of employment,” the president complained. “This is the outcome of the perverse incentives of our market economy. If Congress will not act to offset these incentives I will take Executive action to rectify this injustice.”
“Too many people are without an income because they have no jobs,” Obama asserted. “This is the outcome of a mentality that insists that being self-supporting is somehow a requirement for survival. If Congress will not act to eliminate this requirement I will take Executive action to see that it happens.”
“Too many people’s welfare benefits are threatened because the government lacks the resources to ensure a steady and reliable flow of resources to sustain them,” Obama warned. “This is the outcome of an obsession with fiscal solvency. If Congress will not raise the taxes needed to fully fund these programs I will take Executive action to secure whatever revenues are necessary.”
Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) took issue with both the President’s assertions and his proposed remedy of “Executive action.” “The job situation is bleak because the President’s policies have increased the cost of employing people,” Stockman contended. “The culture of dependency he has cultivated and vows to expand and entrench contradicts the principles of freedom upon which this country was founded. His intention to bypass Congress in order to impose his will is beyond his Constitutional authority and invites impeachment.”
In related news, North Carolina has enjoyed an economic boom since ending extended unemployment benefits last July. This occurred in the face of Democratic forecasts that cutting off these payments for not working would devastate the state’s economy. NC State Representative Jason Saine (R-Raleigh) who had himself been a recipient of extended unemployment benefits observed that “years of extended benefits didn’t seem to be having a positive effect on jobs. We decided, instead, to try cutting business taxes to stimulate the economy. I’m happy to say that this seems to be working.”
University Announces New “Kangaroo Court” Procedures for Sex Accusations
Determined to “stamp out the scourge of sexual abuse,” Columbia University President Lee Bollinger unveiled a new set of procedures for prosecuting students accused of sexual assault and harassment.
Under the new guidelines, a student accused of an offense will be given a five-day advance notice (if possible) of his disciplinary hearing, will not be entitled to legal representation, will not be permitted to directly question his accuser or any witnesses, and will be judged by a three-member panel of experts composed of two administrators and one student. Punishments may be imposed before a verdict is rendered at the discretion of the school.
“Those who are criticizing the so-called violations of due process that these procedures entail are seeking to inject notions of individual justice that are inappropriate for both the University and the seriousness of the charged offense,” Bollinger maintained. “The rights of the accused that they are trying to insist we observe do not apply to the University community. Accusers need to know that we will do everything we can to ensure that they need not live in fear that their accusations will be devalued by adherence to rigid standards of evidence or that clever legalistic cross examination might be used to discredit their story.”
Bollinger downplayed the risk that students might be unfairly accused or convicted by false or flimsy evidence saying that “we feel it is better to be safe than sorry when it comes to these kinds of allegations. Those who might be unjustly treated will still be free to carry on with their lives elsewhere. Those traumatized by what they perceive to have been a sexual assault or harassment are psychologically damaged for life.”
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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