John Semmens: Semi-News — A Satirical Look at Recent News
In the midst of the Obama Administration’s efforts to “reform” IRS regulations, the Senate Democratic majority rejected language proposed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have blocked the IRS from acting to penalize dissent against government policies and programs.
The specific text of Senator Cruz’s proposed language would have made it unlawful for the IRS to “willfully act with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate, or single out and subject to undue scrutiny any person or organization in any state.”
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) explained, “whether intent is malicious or scrutiny is undue is a matter of opinion. Senator Cruz’s amendment would invite persons dissatisfied with how they are treated by the IRS to put the issue before a court. Frankly, we don’t see they need for that. The president and his appointees at the IRS are fully capable of rendering an appropriate interpretation on whether any actions taken by the agency are malicious or excessive.”
The Democrats also unanimously rejected Cruz’s amendment that would require the IRS to use the Federal Election Commission’s definition of political activity as a guide for whether more scrutiny or other action is warranted in any given case.
“Tying the IRS to a preexisting standard would hamper its flexibility to adjust to changing conditions,” Reid observed. “The Government must have as wide a latitude as possible if we are to deter individuals and organizations from engaging in unwarranted and unwanted political activities. The job of governing the nation is difficult enough without organized attempts to challenge the wisdom or intent of policies we deem necessary.”
“To be truthful, I’m sick and tired of those who are using the First Amendment as a crutch for their persistent opposition to this Administration’s policies,” Reid angrily continued. “The voters elected President Obama to do a job. Loyal Americans have an obligation to support their president in his efforts. Those intent on obstructing him are about as un-American as I can imagine.”
President Complains Media Give too Much Credence to His Opponents
President Obama expressed his frustration with a news media that “feels compelled to give air time to opponents of my policies. We all know that there is no substance to the views of these malcontents, but out of a ‘knee-jerk’ compulsion to appear even-handed the media are allowing them to voice their opposition to a wide audience.”
While acknowledging that “mainstream media outlets have been appropriately favorable in most of their coverage of what I’m trying to do, the sliver of contention that they allow to be juxtaposed to the Administration’s official proclamations is undermining the country faith in our program.”
One sign of the undermining of faith cited by the President was a poll showing that nearly 60 percent of Americans are disappointed in the Obama Presidency. “This destabilizing shift of opinion never would’ve happened if the media had been more discreet and selective with who they give air time to,” Obama maintained. “Just think about the damage that would be done to people’s religious faith if Satan were given equal time, or even any time, at weekly church services. Isn’t it about time that we stop allowing the voices of political evil into our living rooms? Isn’t it about time that the FCC takes stronger measures to ensure these voices are more muted?”
Inability to Cancel Called a “Feature, not a Flaw” of Obamacare
A new problem with Obamacare is that people who have signed up and later changed their minds are finding it impossible to stop the automatic deductions of premiums from their bank accounts. A Florida man has spent over 50 hours trying to stop $300 per month debits to his checking account for coverage he no longer needs. After six weeks of effort he has yet to succeed.
“I found a plan that costs only $116 a month for similar coverage,” Andrew Robinson said. “I want to cancel the more expensive and now redundant $300 plan, but haven’t been able to accomplish that.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius denied that this is yet another “glitch” in the Affordable Care Act’s implementation. “We cannot have people canceling coverage willy-nilly,” she asserted. “The decision on whether to discontinue a plan is one that we cannot carelessly leave up to unqualified individuals.”
As for redundancy, Sebelius argued that “it is better that a person be over-insured than uninsured. If we let people just drop plans that they decide they don’t want there is too much risk that they’ll end up without any coverage. Our Department has a process for evaluating which plans are a better fit for each person. We will determine when or if a particular plan may or may not be dropped for any given individual.”
Sebelius also contended that “the so-called redundancy issue is phony. From a collective standpoint all of the premiums collected will be put to use for someone’s benefit. Any one person who pays for more than he needs simply helps contribute toward our shared responsibility for the well-being of others.”
In related news, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) characterized those who allege that they have been made worse off by the Affordable Care Act as “liars, pure and simple. This law was passed for the good of the country. It is inconceivable to me that the end result could be to make anyone worse off. Contentions that persons are being denied critical care because previous insurance that they liked was canceled by ACA rules can only be fabrications. We ought to be cracking down on these people for slandering the President and the Democratic Party.”
First Lady Calls for More Stringent Food Regulations
Claiming that “America’s moms are confused and bewildered by the task of selecting from a wide array of non-standardized options when it comes to feeding their families,” First Lady Michelle Obama made a plea for more rigorous government control over what’s available for purchase.
“Reading the labels of multiple alternatives for a single food item is, at best, time consuming,” Michelle complained. “Understanding these labels is also daunting. Is there any mom who can be expected to know how to choose wisely?”
The first lady suggested that “if nutrition experts were to oversee what’s available we could simplify the process of shopping by eliminating the redundancies of stocking more than one product for each food item. Rather than having to weigh which of a half-dozen cans of beans to buy, the shopper could simply decide whether to buy the only available can that has been certified as the best by the experts.”
“Businesses would also benefit from not having to stock so many items,” she added. “This will save time in purchasing inventory. It will reduce the shelf space needed and lower the real estate costs of grocery stores. If we could convert the unneeded floor space into an area for calisthenics the time moms saved by not having to read product labels could be invested in aerobic exercise that would be of far better benefit to their health.”
Senator Calls Keystone Pipeline a Health Threat
Senator Barbara Boxer (D-Calif) wants the EPA to take a closer look at the proposal to build the Keystone Pipeline. The pipeline would replace rail transport of oil from Canada and is considered a generally safer means of getting the flammable commodity to its destination.
Boxer sought to clarify her opposition to the pipeline, saying that “I’m not stupid. I know that trains sometimes get derailed and that in terms of the safety of transporting oil a pipeline would be less dangerous. The point I am trying to make is that a cheaper and safer mode of shipping will mean lower costs and higher supplies. This means more fossil fuel will be burned. The emissions from burning more fuel are what worry me.”
“The pollutants from fossil fuel burning cause cancer and heart disease,” Boxer declared. “Making this energy source more plentiful and affordable means more people will die. The EPA needs to consider the benefits of making fuel less plentiful and more expensive in its analysis of the Keystone proposal.”
“The higher we can push the cost of fueling automobile travel the better chance we will have of pricing people out of this market,” Boxer envisioned. “Those for whom we make it unaffordable to drive will have to use public transit. This requires more walking to reach stops and stations, which is healthier.”
AG Says Enforcing the Law Is “Optional”
US Attorney General Eric Holder urged his state attorney general counterparts “to not let rigid adherence to the prescribed duties of your office force you into enforcing laws with which you disagree. As your state’s top legal official you have a prosecutor’s discretion to decline to enforce such laws.”
Holder cited the Obama Administration’s successful refusal to enforce laws it dislikes “as proof it can be done. I’m not saying that there won’t be complaints. There most certainly will be those who try to pressure you to blindly follow your state’s laws. But what can they really do?”
The AG praised those “willing to boldly seize the initiative of overtly flouting imagined constraints,” but also admitted that “a subtler strategy of quietly dragging your feet could be just as effective in some jurisdictions.”
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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