The Federal Communications Commission plan to send “researchers” into newsrooms in order to observe how stories are selected and reported has sparked fears of government intimidation and censorship. Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, said “the mere presence of agents of the government may exert a subtle pressure to slant reporting in a way that deters critical coverage of Administration policies.”
Ajit Pai, one of the FCC's Commissioners, voiced his concern that “this claimed 'information gathering effort' to ascertain the 'philosophy' behind how those in the news media do their jobs could stifle dissent. It strikes me as beyond the scope of the Commission's legitimate authority.”
Representative Fred Upton (R-Mich), Chairman of the House Committee on Energy and Commerce argued that “The FCC was created to ensure that broadcast media is competitive and is not monopolized by any one business entity or point of view. Sending personnel from the FCC into newsrooms to ask about their 'philosophy' and demanding to know who chooses which stories to report isn't a necessary or appropriate method for carrying out the agency's legally authorized responsibilities. It has the heavy-handed appearance of a tactic aimed at influencing how the news is reported.”
FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler characterized these apprehensions as “the typical overreactions of those who are out-of-step with President Obama's agenda for transforming this country. Our goal at this stage of the process is to obtain information on who is doing what. Media outlets that are doing a good job of covering essential information and meeting the needs of under-served populations can avoid duplicating the fate of Jay Leno whose excessive and inappropriate mockery of the President necessitated his involuntary exit from his cherished gig as host of the Tonight Show.”
FCC Commissioner Mignon Clyburn defended the initiative saying that “we must emphatically insist that we leave no American behind when it comes to receiving the news that the Administration has determined is essential for them to hear. Finding out who is adequately doing this job and who is not must be the first step in any plan to reform how information is transmitted by media outlets entrusted with this public responsibility.”
First Lady Says Obamacare Needed to “Save Young People from Their Own Stupidity”
In an interview on the Tonight Show, Michelle Obama unveiled the latest effort of the Administration to induce young and healthy adults to sign up for health insurance by pointing out how stupid this target cohort is.
“If you look at how young people behave it's clear that the vast majority of them are knuckleheads,” she asserted. “They can't be trusted to do this simplest tasks—like making a sandwich—without hurting themselves. Their choices for leisure activities are typically dangerous and irresponsible—you know, smoking dope, getting drunk and then getting behind the steering wheel of a car. We're trying to get the message to these youngsters that they need the insurance the Affordable Care Act requires them to buy.”
Michelle admitted that “the low enrollment rates for this group are a cause for concern. In hindsight, our expectation that these folks could be compelled to sign up of their own volition under threat of a penalty was probably overly optimistic. Educating them about their responsibility is a difficult and likely hopeless undertaking. We really need to find some way of making the sign-ups and the extraction of fees automatic.”
Perhaps, though, these young adults aren't as clueless as the Administration thinks. True enough, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama. On the other hand, in a recent study, researchers from the Stanford University of Medicine found that among those suffering traumatic injuries, uninsured patients get better care than those who are insured. It seems that those with insurance are routed to hospitals on their plan while those without insurance are taken to the nearest trauma center.
This Week's New Executive Orders
True to his word, President Obama bypassed Congress this week with a trifecta of new Executive Orders.
Concerned that trucking firms are “needlessly wasting money on gas-guzzling semi-trucks,” the President ordered haulers to “improve their MPGs.” As Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx explained, “no one cares more about this country and its well-being that President Obama. These truckers may be satisfied to fritter away costly fuel, but the President is not. Unless they clean up their act we will shut them down.”
In a bid to end the debate over global warming, President Obama issued an Executive Order declaring that “the science proving global warming is irrefutable.” Because the consequences of denying global warming are “severe” the Order bars any firm or individual that contests this irrefutable climate science from bidding on, or participating in, any work funded by the federal government.
On Wednesday President Obama corrected an omission from President Franklin Roosevelt's 1941 State-of-the-Union speech by adding “freedom to enjoy sodomy” to FDR's famous “four freedoms.” Previously, the four freedoms included freedom of speech, freedom of worship, freedom from want, and freedom from fear. “Even though Americans' right to pursue happiness could be construed to include this right—as it could be construed to include FDR's list—for similar reasons it is clear to me that a more explicit enumeration is required to ensure that this right will never be abridged by those who refuse to participate under the guise of feigned religious objections by the practitioners and purveyors of intolerance.”
Administration Insists that Increase in Minimum Wage Will Increase Employment
The Obama Administration battled back against the Congressional Budget Office finding that boosting the minimum wage would cost the economy about 500,000 jobs.
In a “tweet” sent out to his followers, the President wrote “The notion that raising the price of labor will cause employers to purchase less of it is an out-dated misconception. Our research shows it will create 140,000 jobs.”
Jason Furman, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers explained that “the biggest disincentive for getting a job is low wages. Right now with the minimum wage at only $7.25 per hour it makes more sense for people to go on welfare than go to work. We estimate that raising the minimum to $10.10 will inspire as many as 140,000 of these so-called 'slackers' to accept jobs they previously scorned.”
“With additional 140,000 persons receiving these higher wages we will pump over $30 billion into the economy, thus making the increase self-financing,” Furman contended. “Better paid workers will buy more stuff. This will lead to higher sales and profits for businesses. It's a win-win situation for everyone.”
Asked why businesses would have to be compelled to pay higher wages if his theories are correct, Furman suggested that “the people running businesses may not be sophisticated enough to grasp the big picture. From their short-sighted and self-centered perspective, they think that holding down costs is prudent and efficient. They can't comprehend the seemingly nonsensical reality that paying more for something is the path to greater efficiency at the collective level. Thus, we must force them to do what's best for themselves and everyone else.”
William Dunkelberg, small business, entrepreneurship and consumer behavior specialist for Forbes magazine, called the President's and Furman's contentions “ludicrous and utterly inane. If it is to survive a business must hold its costs below its revenues. If we raise the cost of labor it creates a need for businesses to reduce their use of this input. The inevitable outcome is that fewer jobs will be offered.”
White House Puts Lid on Drone Killing Info
Complaining that “the release of information on the Administration's use of drones to kill its enemies has led to unforeseen consequences,” Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney said “there will be no further information forthcoming about any aspect of this program.”
“The thinking was that the Administration's aggressive use of this technology to counter threats to national security would be met with a greater sense of appreciation,” Carney opined. “Unfortunately, it has not. Instead it has resulted in a spiral of annoying questions from the media wanting to know too many details.”
“Some opponents of the President are raising accusations that these killings violate due process,” Carney said. “Others worry about the collateral damage to nearby innocent parties from using missiles to take out the intended target. These kind of distractions are impeding the President's latitude to carry out actions he deems appropriate. It has become clear that a greater degree of secrecy would better serve our interests.”
Retiring NSA Snoop Says Eavesdropping Is Not Indiscriminate
General Keith Alexander, who is leaving his post as the Director of the Nation Security Agency next month, denied that the agency is spying on everyone. “We have not been indiscriminate in our selection of who to monitor,” Alexander maintained. “The Government pretty much knows who its enemies are.”
The General justified the huge volume of data being collected by alleging that “the dangerous persons we feel must be kept under surveillance easily exceeds tens of millions of individuals in this country alone. Sixty million people voted against President Obama in 2012. There are an estimated 270 million firearms in the hands of private citizens in the United States—obviously, many of these weapons are in the hands of the President's opponents. Under such circumstances, it is prudent that we remain as alert and watchful as we can.”