President Nominates Senator Kerry for Secretary of State Job
President Barack Obama tabbed Senator John Kerry (D-Mass) as the person he wants to succeed the ailing Hillary Clinton as the nation's Secretary of State. While the move was not unexpected, the President said “it is imperative that the transition be accelerated before Secretary Clinton's memory loss becomes too severe and the encroaching dementia of an elderly woman erases or muddles vital knowledge that needs to be passed on.”
The President also cited the recently released report critical of massive dereliction of duty by key State Department personnel in the September terrorist attack on the Benghazi Consulate as a spur to action. “The forced resignations of Eric Boswell, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic security, and Charlene Lamb, the deputy assistant secretary responsible for embassy security demonstrate a failure of leadership in this important function of government,” he said. “I cannot stand down from my responsibility to restore Americans' faith in the ability of their government to perform at the highest possible level of competency.”
As for Clinton's replacement, Obama observed that “Senator Kerry isn't just a fresh face. He brings foreign policy experience to the job. This experience began in his youth where after bravely enduring the grievous wounds that earned him three Purple Hearts during his service in the Vietnam War he immediately embarked upon efforts to end that conflict. That these efforts were successful is a testament to his vision and ability.”
Kerry announced that the President has agreed that the top priority in his new position will be to achieve a treaty combating global warming, which he says represents the greatest existential threat to the planet. “The dangers posed by hostile nations and terrorist attacks are puny compared to the damage that will be done by global warming,” Kerry contended. “The people killed by bullets and the buildings blown up by bombs can all be replaced. But once the climate is irreversibly changed there will be no recourse.”
“In fact, inasmuch as a 'smaller human footprint' would be a positive step toward averting or ameliorating global climate change, the activities of so-called oppressive governments and terrorist organizations that occasion a reduction in the size of this footprint can be said to have a 'silver lining,'” Kerry argued.
Democrats Reject Need to Compromise with GOP on “Fiscal Cliff”
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) rejected the need to reach an agreement with House Republicans on taxes and spending. “It doesn't matter what bills they send over to us,” Reid assured. “We don't need to do anything. We are not going to do anything.”
Reid dismissed the fact that voters gave Republicans a majority in the House at the same time that they elected a Democratic majority in the Senate and a Democratic President Obama as unmeaningful. “We cannot let a little voter confusion at the polls to derail us from the correct policy,” Reid maintained. “The President is the representative of all the people. Senators are representatives of all the people in their states. Members of the House represent much smaller constituencies. That's why they're the 'lower house' of Congress.”
“What a lot of people forget is that the expiration of the Bush tax cuts that the GOP is so desperate to avoid is a problem of their own making,” Reid gloated. “The GOP controlled both houses when these tax cuts were passed. If they didn't want them to expire why'd they give them an expiration date?”
“Reasonable people all agree that Americans need to pay more taxes,” Reid claimed. “Americans spend too much money on stuff they don't need—big screen TVs, celebrity-endorsed clothes, dining out, fancy vacations, you name it. Meanwhile government is starving for revenue. The President's compromise, our Party's compromise is to let the lower income class off the hook. If the Republicans can't accept that then everyone's taxes will go up. That's an outcome we can live with.”
In related news, President Obama suggested that “the Newtown massacre ought to inspire Republicans to give up their futile opposition to higher taxes so we can devote our energies to the more vital task of enacting more stringent controls on the types of guns allowed and the persons who can be entrusted with them.”
NRA Call for Armed School Guards “Reckless,” Says Senator
Maintaining that laws banning guns are ineffective at deterring criminals, National Rifle Association CEO Wayne LaPierre urged that we “harden potential targets. The placement of trained and armed security guards in vulnerable locations would be a more potent defensive measure than the placement of signs declaring these locations 'gun-free zones.'”
LaPierre pointed out that “Connecticut's law banning assault weapons had no impact on the madman who killed 20 school children. Government officials themselves don't place their trust in gun control laws. The President has armed guards to protect him. Many members of Congress have concealed carry permits. They put their trust in self defense. Why shouldn't our children have a similar protection?”
Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-NJ) called LaPierre's plan “reckless. How can more guns be the answer? What if the armed security guard turns out to be a madman? The NRA proposal would, in effect, allow armed lunatics to infiltrate our schools and be perfectly placed to carry out their evil agendas.”
In further support of his position, the Senator reminded that “the DOJ's plan to arm the Mexican drug cartels should have dispelled all illusions that simply increasing the number of guns would be a good strategy. Many of those guns have been used to murder hundreds of people.”
Representative Jim Himes (D-Conn) went even further saying that “those who use the Second Amendment to block the government from confiscating all unauthorized firearms have blood on their hands. There is no question in my mind that public safety requires the elimination of all privately owned guns. Laws making it illegal for private citizens to own guns would greatly simplify law enforcement.”
Himes pooh-poohed the notion that an armed citizenry might be a barrier to tyranny. “First of all, we have free elections, so tyranny is not a realistic possibility in America,” Himes insisted. “Even if it were, does anyone doubt that the firepower the government could muster would easily outgun civilian resistance? In a worst case scenario, I think most would agree that the potential risk of government oppression with gun control is preferable to the proven risk of random violence when the general population is allowed to have weapons.”
House Ethics Committee Dismisses Charge against Meeks
The House Ethics Committee cleared Representative Gregory Meeks (D-NY) of wrongdoing in connection with his secret acceptance of a $40,000 payment from Edul Ahmad, an individual who subsequently pleaded guilty in a multi-million-dollar mortgage fraud scheme.
While the Ethics in Government Act requires members of Congress to disclose payments received from private parties, Meeks argued that the $40,000 was a “loan” rather than a “gift” and, therefore, exempt from the reporting requirement. Unfortunately, Meeks was unable to document his claim as he says he “misplaced” the relevant papers.
The Ethics Committee report found that “while Congressman Meeks' excuse for his inability to verify his version of events is 'lame,' his word as a member of Congress must be held above that of an admitted felon. Further, the absence of corroboration by members of Congress in such instances is not unusual and, as such, should not be held as conclusive evidence of improper behavior.”
“Congressman Meeks' contention that he is under no obligation now to repay the loan to 'an admitted crook' has merit,” the report continued. “The Congressman's assertion that the $40,000 is safer in his hands than in Mr. Ahmad's is persuasive. Members of government are under the scrutiny of voters and can be turned out of office if deemed to be excessively corrupt.”
“Finally, Congressman Meeks' assertion that others owing far larger amounts have gotten away with not repaying loans is indubitably correct,” the report concluded. “The example he cited of the Solyndra Corporation 'stiffing the government for over $500 million' is irrefutable. Lest we set a precedent that works to the disadvantage of every member of Congress, we must absolve Representative Meeks in this case.”
Lawmaker Pleads Guilty to Vote Fraud
Massachusetts State Representative Stephen Smith (D-Everett) agreed to plead guilty to vote fraud in order to avoid a jail sentence. The plea agreement includes resigning from his seat in the state legislature and refraining from running for elective office for the next five years.
Smith's scam involved casting absentee ballots for ineligible voters as well as casting votes in the names of eligible voters without their knowledge. The scheme was aided by unnamed government officials who helped Smith intercept absentee ballots before they could be mailed to the intended recipients.
Mild as the sanctions on Smith appear to be, US Attorney General Eric Holder expressed concern that “the publicity surrounding this misdemeanor offense could add to the already serious problem of vote suppression in this country. Smith's crime was one of exuberance. He did not aim to stop anyone from voting. He merely sought to act on behalf of some who were disenfranchised by overly restrictive voter registration rules or other registered voters who may not have had the time or inclination to cast ballots.”
Holder said he may ask President Obama to issue a pardon in order to “avert an anti-democratic bias result.”