Obama Nixes Ebola Travel Restrictions
Despite numerous urgings, President Obama remains determined not to block entry into the United States by persons who may have been exposed to the deadly Ebola virus.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that "the President emphatically believes that we are all citizens of the world. This ideal cannot flourish if we bar our doors to fellow citizens. We would do more damage to our image as leaders of a global community if out of fear of contagion we sealed our borders to those wishing to enter."
Earnest also cited "humanitarian reasons" for not blocking travel to the US from regions known to be infested with the virus. "Suppose it is some afflicted person's dying wish to visit America before he succumbs, should the President cruelly deny that wish?" Earnest queried. "Besides, it is entirely possible that innovations made by the Affordable Care Act will prove a crucial weapon in the battle against this disease. Is it not part of our obligation to share this benefit with those who are less fortunate?"
David Quammen, author of Ebola and Spillover—books on infectious diseases—argued in support of the Administration's policy saying that "America's legacy of slavery demands that it bear the burden of succor to ailing Africans. Many of those suffering from Ebola are ancestors of former slaves sent to Liberia by the American government. If this endangers Americans, well, just consider that part of the reparations they owe for that ancient crime."
GOP Refusal to Extend Unemployment Benefits Leads to Job Growth
A study published by the New York Federal Reserve found that the number of job openings rose by an estimated 20% in the six months following the lapse of the federal government's extended unemployment benefits. The lapse occurred because the Republican controlled House refused to vote to extend the benefits.
Fatih Karahan, one of the authors of the study, cited the "mutually reinforcing effects of decreasing the burden on businesses to fund the benefits and decreasing the incentives of recipients to shun employment. If your tax burden of supporting benefits declines you can afford to hire more workers. Similarly, if the reward for idleness is taken away your need to seek and accept employment rises."
Jason Furman, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers didn't dispute the economic logic of the study's findings, but suggested that "certain intangible factors may have escaped the authors' attention. The lapse of the extended benefits may have sent more people back to work, but the study failed to calculate the loss in leisure time experienced by those compelled to take jobs in order to feed themselves and their families."
"A person receiving unemployment benefits is relieved of some of the stress of making a living," Furman pointed out. "Being forced into the work-a-day rat race will have long term negative health consequences. So too will the loss of extra time to spend with one's family—both for the employed individual and his children."
The fact that four out of five new jobs added this past month were in the low wage sector bolstered Furman's concern that "more may have been lost than gained. When all factors are considered is a low wage job really better than unemployment payments from an individual's perspective?"
Obama Calls November Elections "Referendum on My Policies"
Miffed that so many Democrats running for reelection have shunned his endorsement and declined to appear in public with him, President Obama sought to take control of the narrative by insisting that "though I'm not on the ballot this November my policies certainly are." Mortified Democrats raced to microphones across the nation to dispute the President's assertion.
Senator Kay Hagan (D-NC) called the President's words "very discouraging and a 'stab in the back.' We supported his programs. He needs us in the Senate if he hopes to push ahead with his transformation. We're on-board with that, but we can't get there if voters know where we stand. It's discouraging that his need to be the center of attention has caused him to forget his obligation to his fellow Democrats."
Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana) expressed her own frustration, saying "doesn't he realize how unpopular he and his ideas are with the voters? Obamacare irritates more people each day as they see their insurance premiums rise and find the roster of doctors willing to treat them shrink. The open borders have let in illegal immigrants by the hundreds of thousands. It was bad enough when the biggest risk was exploding costs for welfare to feed, clothe, and house these indigents, but now they appear to be vectors for diseases that may kill untold numbers of Americans."
Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Grimes was especially aggrieved. "I wasn't in Congress," Grimes fretted. "I didn't vote for any of the President's programs. Now, with his latest statements I may never have the chance to help him transform America. It's just stupid. I thought he'd be a lot smarter than it appears he is."
A possible rationale for the President's pitch of a "referendum" theme may be his disappointment that "the gains for the economy have not been broadly shared. People who make investments or who have jobs are reaping a disproportionate share of the nation's collective wealth. Voters dependent on government for their sustenance need to realize that their votes are needed to ensure the continuation of federal benefits. It is crucial that this key constituency understand that this election is a referendum on my policies."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) sort of backed the President's view. "Republicans might win this year, but when voters start seeing their benefits cutback and are herded into jobs they'd rather not have by Republican policies they'll be champing at the bit to restore Democrats to control both Houses and the Presidency in the 2016 elections," she predicted.
GOP Criticism over Obama Missing Intel Briefings Panned
Revelations that the ISIS grew while President Obama skipped nearly 60% of his scheduled intelligence briefings has sparked harsh criticism from mostly GOP sources. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY) characterized the missed briefings as "disturbing and possibly irresponsible. Is ignorance of what's going on in the world behind what appears to be this Administration's feckless foreign policy?"
Former Vermont Governor and Democratic presidential aspirant Howard Dean dismissed the criticisms as "baseless. The erroneous premise is that any information that the President might have gleaned from any briefings would have altered his policy decisions. People who know the President are confident that no quantity of intel would have changed his policies in any significant way."
"President Obama is a once-in-a-life-time transformational figure in world history," Dean said. "He has insights and inspirations that go beyond what more ordinary men can conceive. The chattering of supposed intelligence experts are just distractions that could only deflect him from his destined course of action. Should such a giant fritter away his time listening to the ill-conceived notions of others? I believe 'no' is the obvious answer."
UK Bans Bomb-Sniffing Dogs
Protests from Muslims that dogs are "unclean" has prompted United Kingdom Transport officials to ban the use of dogs to sniff out explosives that terrorists might attempt to smuggle onto transportation vehicles.
Secretary of State for Transport Patrick McLoughlin explained that "for Muslims contact with a dog or even being in the presence of a dog is a certain and serious defilement. Since this is a religious belief rather than just a personal quirk it ought to merit the full protection of the law. I mean, we can't trample this right merely on the theoretical possibility that without these dogs explosives might make their way onto a plane or train."
Muslim spokesman Ayatollya Ibombu praised the decision as "a true victory for Allah. Protecting the faithful from being tainted is vital for their ultimate salvation. Even if they are blown to bits their clean status assures that they will enter paradise. This same assurance is available to unbelievers who convert to Islam."
Reporter "Creeped Out" by Michelle Obama Campaign Rally
Meg Kissinger, a long-time reporter for the politically liberal Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, attempted to cover a Milwaukee campaign speech by First Lady Michelle Obama. She was stunned to discover that she was prohibited from talking to members of the audience.
Michelle's aide Mary Burke explained that "it is important that the message the First Lady is trying to communicate not be confounded by inappropriate crowd comments to any reporters. This is, after all, her event. She has a right to control how it is perceived and reported."
"To say that I was creeped out is an understatement," Kissinger said. "We members of the press have been very friendly toward the Obamas. By now I would think we could be trusted not to portray their message in any negative way despite whatever feedback the audience might have given us. For me to get the 'Potemkin Village' treatment was a disheartening insult."
In related news, conservative commentator Dinesh D'Souza was sentenced to reeducation camp in order to undergo therapeutic counseling by Judge Richard Berman of the Federal District Court in Manhattan. "Mr. D'Souza's contention that others, including President Obama, who have committed a similar offense were not subject to a similar punishment is irrelevant," Berman ruled. "He holds no government office or related position that would entitle him to the exemption he requests. The very fact that he would ask demonstrates a serious lack of understanding of how the campaign finance laws work."