John Semmens

SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News

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SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News, September 14, 2014 Edition

Mexican President Calls Perry Border Policy "Unneighborly"

Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto castigated Texas Governor Rick Perry's deployment of National Guard troops on the U.S.-Mexican border as "unneighborly. He's like that Clint Eastwood character in Gran Torino telling my people to get off his lawn."

"For decades my people have become accustomed to the ability to pass freely between our two countries," Peña said. "In our minds this clearly establishes an 'easement' right to travel over these roads and pathways. For Governor Perry to suddenly seek to terminate these rights is an affront."

Peña indicated that he plans to bring the issue up before the United Nations. "America's trampling of human rights has become a growing problem for us," Peña complained. "While the United States may be the 800 lb. gorilla in our bilateral relationship they can't stand against the whole of humanity represented by the UN."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon promised "to give this matter serious consideration. The Earth belongs to all of humanity. The right of any individual to move about in any part of it cannot be denied by any secular power. The fact that Mexicans have been crossing the Texas border unopposed for generations would seem to have built a strong case for the easement right claimed by President Peña."

Peña brushed off contentions that his country has also been unneighborly by continuing to imprison US Marine Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi for inadvertently crossing into Mexico with guns in the trunk of his vehicle. "There is no right to bear arms in Mexico," Peña pointed out. "If we let this man go it will set a bad example for others. His case is in no way comparable. First off, he is one man. The persons impacted by Governor Perry's edict number in the tens, maybe hundreds of thousands. Few of them are armed, but even if they were, America's Constitution guarantees their right to own and carry firearms."

School Confiscates American Flags from Students

Woodruff High School in Spartanburg, South Carolina confiscated American flags from the vehicles of four students this past week.

The school's principal, Aaron Fulmer, explained that "professions of patriotism do not write a 'blank check' for egregious behavior. Many of our undocumented students may feel intimidated by such flagrant demonstrations. And as President Obama has pointed out, the American flag, like the Confederate flag, is seen as a symbol of oppression in many parts of the world."

"Flaunting so-called American exceptionalism also contradicts the lesson of humility our school is trying to inculcate," Fulmer said. "The United States is just one country out of hundreds. It is inappropriate for students to be acting like America is special and somehow better than anywhere else."

Fulmer was less certain about the possibility of confiscating other flags that have been brandished around the country. "A Mexican flag may be a reassuring symbol of a far away home that an immigrant misses," Fulmer speculated. "Who are we to take that away from them?"

As for confiscating the ISIS flags that have popped up elsewhere, Fulmer admitted that "that would be difficult. I wouldn't know the flag if I saw it. And I wouldn't want to risk angering some very dangerous people."

IRS Poised to Start Taxing Employer Provided Lunches

Some employers provide employees with company-paid free lunches. The idea is to keep workers at their desks and improve productivity. The expense has normally been lumped in with other expenses as a cost of doing business. The IRS now wants to tax these lunches as income to the employees.

IRS spokesperson Jason Coveter explained that "most employees have to furnish their own lunches. Whether they go out and buy it or bring it from home, they are bearing this cost themselves. It is unfair for other employees to get a lunch paid for by their employer. We're just trying to level the playing field."

The "leveling" will be retroactive "to help rectify previous wrongs," according to Coveter. "We're going to try to go back at least a few years if we can," he said. "Consuming free lunches is kind of a social crime and we're using a sort of 'statute of limitations' model that would impose a significant penalty, but not an unlimited one."

Some taxpayers could end up owing thousands in back taxes and penalties. Not to worry says Coveter, though. "We will have easy payment plans in place that will allow those who owe to pay in installments over the course of a year or two."

Other employer provided amenities that are in line for future IRS scrutiny include free parking, heating/cooling, lights, and toilet facilities. "Those are all things that the employee has to pay for when he's at home," Coverter said. "There's no good reason why he should be relieved of the cost of these burdens just because he's at work."

Germany Strikes Blow Against ISIS

The German Government has decided to strike back against the ISIS reign of terror in Iraq and Syria by revoking its access to civic amenities.

Included in the ban would be the total loss of privileges to use public facilities such as meeting rooms at libraries, ramadas at public parks, and participation in public parades. In addition, security personnel at sporting events will be instructed to deny admittance to anyone wearing Isis symbols including hats, t-shirts or other garb with the organization's insignia.

Defense minister Thomas de Mazière, characterized the restrictions as "a measured response. We want to give them the chance to feel the bite of these penalties and see if it reforms their behavior before considering more aggressive actions."

Holder Says Arming Mexican Drug Cartels "Our Ace in the Hole" vs. ISIL Infiltrators

While a key part of President Obama's strategy to combat ISIL involves arming supposed enemies of that organization, a program that has previously been roundly criticized is now being bandied about as "prescient" and "visionary" by Attorney General Eric Holder. The program: "Fast and Furious."

"What the President's critics have lambasted as wrongheaded and improvident is starting to look pretty good now that ISIL has vowed to infiltrate the United States via our southern border," Holder bragged. "The Mexican drug cartels are very territorial about what crosses over this border. They won't be too friendly toward ISIL actions that may threaten their smuggling profits."

Holder hailed "the toughness of these people. As we have seen they are every bit as vicious as the thugs running ISIL. They have murdered hundreds—many by beheading. And with the huge volume of firearms we have helped them acquire they are well-prepared to defend their perceived turf against these ISIL interlopers."

Jennifer Lasley, a senior official in the Department of Homeland Security's intelligence and analysis office concurred in Holder's take on the issue. "These Mexican gangs are scary. Setting them up to be our first line of defense against potential ISIL infiltration was a stroke of genius that the Administration won't get enough credit for."

It's possible, though, that ISIL might use a portion of its profits from sale of oil from the wells it seized in Iraq to bribe the cartels for a truce and passage through their border fiefdoms. Should this occur, Holder vowed that "we will put our heads together to try to come up with a 'plan B.'"

In related news, Rep. Eddie Johnson (D-Tex) argues that "the beheading of those journalists doesn't warrant the war President Obama now seems eager to initiate. That was only two guys. As many or more are murdered every week in the President's home town. So, is he going to launch air strikes against the gangs that are terrorizing the streets of Chicago? Aren't they more dangerous to more Americans than ISIS?"

Senator Udall Says Debates "Not Part of My Strategy"

Sitting Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo) refuses to debate his GOP opponent Cory Gardner, saying that a proposed televised debate is "not part of my strategy for reelection."

"These live debates are such a crap shoot," Udall groused. "You can't carefully craft your message. You only have a few seconds to compose answers to off-the-wall questions. The risk of a misstatement is high."

Rather than endanger the major investment his campaign has made in focus group-vetted platitudes by debating, Udall expressed satisfaction with his plan to bombard voters with dinner-time robocalls. "The beauty of these is that a candidate has total control over what is said," he boasted. "A brief message that pushes a couple of key buttons can reach thousands of voters per hour. Why should I ruin that by stumbling through a debate?"

Press Secretary Chides Golf Clubs

The Trump National Golf Club, Winged Foot and Willow Ridge rejected requests to let President Obama play on their golf courses over the Labor Day weekend. This mightily irked Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest.

"These clubs put the needs and convenience of their members ahead of the needs and convenience of the President of the United States," Earnest charged. "It's a clear case of misplaced priorities."

The inconveniences to golf club members would've been substantial. All other golfers would've been barred from the course while the President played through.

"Where's their sense of patriotism?" Earnest wondered. "The President is Commander-in-Chief. Where's their sense of social conscience? Their club members are part of the wealthiest segment of society. The President is the representative of all the people, including the lowliest among us. Where's their sense of humanity? The President has the hardest job in the world. Surely that entitles him to some much needed relaxation. It's just so cruel and unfair."

To try to make amends, Donald Trump offered to allow Obama unlimited access to all of the golf courses he owns if the President would only resign from office. "His mouthpiece is asking for a sense of humanity," Trump observed. "How about a win-win situation where Obama is relieved of his burdens while the world is rescued from his incompetence?"

Kerry Says Islamic State Is Not Islamic

US Secretary of State John Kerry challenged ISIL's definition of itself and insisted that the self-proclaimed Islamic State is not, in fact, Islamic.

"I studied Islam in college," Kerry asserted. "None of the books I read or classes I took mentioned anything about beheading unbelievers or raping women. I'll stack this up against the mutterings of an uneducated terrorist any day of the week."

Palestinian-Jordanian politician Muhammad Bayoudh Al-Tamimi disagreed with Kerry and maintained that ISIL's "actions and words stem directly from the Quran and Sunna—two of Islam's most sacred texts."

A spokesman for ISIL suggested that "perhaps this chattering moron, Kerry, has not read the right books or listened to the words of practicing believers. If he falls into our hands we will give him the opportunity to rectify this gap in his education. Then we will cut his head off as the Quran commands."

IRS Chief Says "We Try to Follow the Law Whenever We Can"

IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the House Ways and Means subcommittee that "as a general rule, we try to follow the law whenever we can." Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex), who leads the subcommittee, expressed the idea that the IRS ought to always follow the law and asked for instances in which Koskinen thought breaking the law might be necessary.

"Laws are such static things," Koskinen observed. "They don't necessarily provide for every possible contingency. If the President feels that there is a gap in the law we're not going to allow ourselves to be stymied by the lack of legislative authorization for what needs to be done."

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