Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio's pause to take a drink of water during his rebuttal to President Obama's State-of-the-Union speech was declared “a possible career ender” by CNN's Wolf Blitzer.
“Voters may tolerate a lot from their prospective leaders,” Blitzer observed. “We've learned that diddling interns is okay. A bogus birth certificate may be worth a few snickers, but does not seem to undermine our confidence in a man's leadership capabilities. However, the jarring interruption of a high-profile speech by a moment of thirst would appear to be the type of thing that raises serious questions about fitness to serve.”
“No President has ever interrupted a speech by pausing to take a drink of water,” Blitzer remembered. “It's just something that isn't done. You can go back through the film archives and not find a single instance.”
As for the substance of Rubio's remarks, Blitzer admitted that “I can't honestly recall what he said. I was so thrown by the water drinking incident that I couldn't concentrate on his words. In this regard, I think my reaction was fairly typical. Only those hopelessly enthralled to the GOP's right-wing agenda could've gotten past this major gaffe to spy something of relevance in Senator Rubio's speech.”
Obama Urges Catholics to Appoint a “Progressive” Successor to Pope Benedict
The unusual resignation of Pope Benedict XVI launches the search for his successor. While he has no formal role in this process, President Obama has urged the Cardinals to select a “progressive.”
“The Catholic Church has a choice to make,” Obama said. “It can continue to promulgate out-moded ideas or it can get behind a program for a 21st century agenda.” Among the issues mentioned by the President for this “21st century agenda” were birth control and gay marriage.
“Over-population is placing an excessive burden on the planet's resources,” Obama claimed. “To save the environment we must reduce the human footprint. Birth control is an essential measure for achieving this goal. Since we cannot effectively intervene in humans' sexual activities we can at least interdict the consequences by making birth control and abortion convenient and inexpensive. The person who is chosen to lead the Catholic Church should get on-board with our efforts to accomplish this.”
“Gay marriage complements the drive to reduce human reproduction,” Obama added. “These marriages can't produce children. By increasing the frequency of such unions we would simultaneously be acknowledging the right of same-sex couples to enjoy the sacraments of marriage while diverting them from reproductive sexual intercourse. It seems to me that a doctrinal change along these lines could also provide the Church with a way out of some of the sex scandals that have plagued it in recent years.”
President Obama's remarks did receive some encouragement from the Government of China. “We think he is on the right track,” said President Hu Jintao. “Ideally, all religious posts ought to be cleared for compatibility with ruling secular authorities. In China it is simple. We appoint the Catholic bishops. Globally, some sort of international vetting is needed—perhaps through the United Nations.”
To assist the Church in finding a “progressive” Pope, President Obama is reported to have forwarded a list of what he considers “acceptable candidates.”
EEOC Unveils New Hiring Regs
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's newly updated hiring regulations pose dilemmas for firms on the matter of hiring ex-convicts. On the one hand, businesses are warned that refusal to hire ex-cons will expose the firm to charges of racial discrimination. On the other hand, businesses would still be liable for any crimes committed by their employees.
Jacqueline Berrien, Chairwoman of the EEOC defended the new rules as “necessary to level the playing field. Given that African-Americans are seven times more likely to have served time in prison, a hiring policy that attempts to screen out felons would have a racially disparate impact. It is the Commission's position that any hiring practice that would tend to produce an imbalance in the racial composition of the firm's workforce is, by itself, illegal. As the President has said on many occasions, a company's workforce should be a microcosm of the ethnic, racial, and sexual-orientation of all Americans.”
Berrien said that “the easiest way for firms to avoid systematic discrimination against former felons is to forgo a criminal background check as a normal part of its hiring process. I mean, if you're trying to hire a delivery driver, a carpet installer, or security guard is it really relevant that he may have served time in prison?”
The Chairwoman deflected criticism that the new regulations might pose a danger to consumers because “the consumer is still protected by tort liability laws. Any harm done to any customers by any of a its employees is still the responsibility of the business.”
Todd McCracken of the National Small Business Association called the new rules “a classic 'catch-22.' If you don't make these risky hires the EEOC will be on your case. If you do you could be put out of business if one of these employees seriously harms someone. The safest course is to outsource as much as you can and hire as few people as possible.”
Colorado School Restricts Tutoring Assistance
A Colorado elementary school has restricted its after-school tutoring program to exclude whites from participating. Andre Pearson, principal of Mission Viejo Elementary in Aurora, Colorado explained that “only students of color are eligible for the program. Too few white students are failing for us to justify including them in the program.”
Pearson said he rejected race-neutral criteria based on performance because “that wouldn't provide the maximum leverage for equalizing outcomes between whites and minorities. By focusing our efforts on bringing up the performance of our minority students through tutoring while allowing that of whites to continue to drift downward we will be squeezing out the inequalities from both ends.”
After receiving complaints from a few parents of white children, Pearson agreed to allow failing white students into the program “if there are any spots left after every minority child has been accommodated.”
Pelosi Takes Aim at Sequester's “Cruelest Cut”
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) characterized the limitations on Congressional pay in the looming sequester as “the cruelest cut in the entire package.”
“Considering all the money we have appropriated for those making dubious or even negative contributions to our society it is unconscionable that we should be treated so shabbily,” Pelosi contended. “We are key players in ruling this country. We ought to have salaries commensurate with the significance of our role.”
“Corporate executives presiding over budgets a tiny fraction of what we dispose of in a year take down salaries and bonuses in the millions of dollars,” she pointed out. “Equity argues for us to to paid on a similar scale.”
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) seconded Pelosi's take asserting that “a boost in my pay is necessary to complete the emancipation initiated by President Lincoln during the Civil War. I can't be truly free until the repression suffered by my ancestors in slavery is repaid to me in cash.”
The Minority Leader conceded that it is unlikely that her view would prevail because “the GOP is too busy tearing down the magnificence of government in a calculated bid to starve it of the resources to which it is entitled. Their portrayal of government as a burden that must be lightened and a power that must be restrained is the exact opposite of what the voters who reelected President Obama want.”
Pelosi expressed optimism that “voters will tire of seeing their elected representatives suffer under the hardships imposed by the sequester and elect solid Democratic majorities in the 2014 balloting. Then there will be no impediments to the President's progressive agenda to transform America.”
Democrat Defends Voting Multiple Times
Melowese Richardson, a longtime Cincinnati Democratic activist admitted that she voted more than once for President Obama this past Fall. Though multiple votes are illegal, Richardson vociferously defended her actions.
“Having the right man govern our country is more important than abiding by petty rules,” Richardson argued. “In our country's history many have had to fight and die to secure freedom. If taking up arms on behalf of freedom is the right thing to do, how can taking up an extra ballot be wrong?”
Richardson contrasted her “bloodless combat for Obama with the killing done by George Washington in 1776. I didn't have to shoot any British troops or Hessians to promote the cause. The way I see it, I deserve at least as much credit as a freedom fighter as those who did have to shoot people.”