John Semmens

SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News

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SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News, October 19, 2014 Edition

Troops Being Deployed to Ebola Zone Get Skimpy Training

The US troops President Obama has ordered into West Africa to help in the battle against Ebola are receiving a scant 4 hours of training about the virus. Soldiers who have had the training have characterized it as "frightening." "We will be exposed with minimal protective gear." "If you get it you'll probably die a horrible death." "It's far worse than getting shot or even blown up."

United States Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID) spokeswoman Caree Vander-Linden insisted that the skimpy training was "appropriate for the mission. We're basically trying to warn the troops to be cautious, to not take undue risks. It's not that much different than the more typical training teaching them how to avoid being a casualty of enemy attacks."

Of course, the typical training related to enemy action is usually measured in months rather than hours and is more inherently connected to the normal military mission. Nevertheless, Vander-Linden asserted that "the ability of our armed forces to cope with emerging non-traditional threats is part of President Obama's planned transformation of America. This projected battle against Ebola will serve as good experience for troops when they are asked to take on the even greater threat of global climate change."

The inadequate training being given to the troops didn't dissuade a trio of Democratic Representatives from urging that these troops give direct care to Ebola patients. Reps. Keith Ellison (Minn), Karen Bass (Calif), and Barbara Lee (Calif) contend that "only by putting US troops on the front line of danger can our nation begin to make a down payment on the reparations we owe for slavery. A key byproduct of the exposure to our troops will be an enhanced incentive to increase funding for the CDC to help find a cure. As long as the vast majority of the victims are Africans the American people can afford to remain relatively indifferent. But when their sons and daughters are suffering and dying from this virus their attitudes will change."

President Dispatches Seasoned Political Operatives to Stem Ebola Crisis

President Obama took decisive action on the growing Ebola crisis this week by appointing two well-traveled political operatives to key roles. On the national front, he named Ron Klain his special Ebola Czar. At the same time, he tabbed Adrian Saenz to manage events on the ground in Dallas—site of America's "patient zero."

The fact that neither man has any expertise in any medical field, much less in infectious diseases, took many observers by surprise. Republican Senator Jerry Moran of Kansas called the appointments "puzzling. When I called for the naming of an Ebola czar I thought the fact that a person selected should have the appropriate medical background would go without saying. Boy was I wrong. The President has chosen to address this grave health situation by deploying a pair of Democrat political hacks. I fail to see how this will help."

Klain has most recently been Chief-of-Staff for Vice-President Biden. He also has experience as a lobbyist and was instrumental in securing a half-billion dollar government subsidy for the failed Solyndra solar panel company. Saenz has most recently served as Special Assistant to the President and Deputy Director of Intergovernmental Affairs and has also worked for numerous Democratic Congressional candidates.

Presidential Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted to bridge the credibility gap by emphasizing that "the medical issues are a minor technical aspect of the larger picture. What the President and the country needs even more desperately is someone who can work to restore the people's faith in their government. These men are skilled in crafting messages that resonate with average Americans, as is amply demonstrated in their previous success in helping elect Democrats to office."

In related news, Earnest tried to explain Center for Disease Control Director Tom Frieden's seemingly incoherent assertion that a person can't get Ebola from riding on a bus, but could give it to someone else on a bus. "Getting people to use public transit is critical to our policy of diverting people from driving their own cars." Earnest said. "Reassuring bus riders is a crucial part of stemming a stampede out of public transit. The odds of an uninfected person encountering an Ebola carrier on a bus are small. So a person shouldn't shun using a bus out of an irrational fear. On the other hand, a person who is infected shouldn't wantonly expose others. So, yeah, if you suspect you may have Ebola, don't use public transit. It makes perfect sense to me."

Houston Persists in Effort to Stifle Speech

Though the City of Houston has backed off its demand for local area ministers to submit copies of their Sunday sermons to the City's attorneys, it is now demanding copies of any non-sermon speeches they may have made.

Mayor Annise Parker, Houston's first openly lesbian mayor, defended this blatant invasion of freedom of speech, arguing that "Houston Equal Rights Ordinance (HERO) is the law of this land. No one is entitled to speak out against the law, especially not church leaders."

"Churches have special exemptions from government taxes," Parker pointed out. "As a quid-pro-quo for this benefit they ought to respect and teach respect for the duly enacted laws of the community—you know 'render unto Caesar' and all that. The City has a right to ferret out those who have violated this quid-pro-quo so that targeted corrective action to revoke these special exemptions may be undertaken where warranted. The requested copies of speeches will help the City distinguish which churches have violated their obligations under these exemptions."

First Lady Frustrated in Efforts to Motivate Democrat Voters

First Lady Michelle Obama showed signs of increasing impatience with the Democrats' voter base in her efforts to drum up enthusiasm for the Party's candidates. "Too many of the voters who helped put Barack in office seem to be asleep at the wheel for these mid-term races," she complained.

Michelle speculated that "poor diet may play an even bigger role than we thought. I mean, if a person is overweight feasting on junk food, getting up to go to the polls and vote may be too daunting a task. We've done all we could to try to eliminate impediments to voting. More voters than ever had been freed from having their time taken up having to go to a job to earn a living. We give them public housing, food stamps, even free cell phones. Why can't they make the minimal effort to give Democrats their vote?"

In related news, another court struck down another state's voter ID requirement. In this case, the Arkansas Supreme Court negated a state law requiring voters to show a photo ID at the polls. "It is hard enough to get the indolent segment of the population to make the effort to vote," the court ruled. "Requiring them to show the same type of ID they must show to purchase liquor is an intolerable and unnecessary burden. Not taking the voter's word that he is who he claims to be is an unconstitutional infringement on the right to vote."

Guatemalan President Blames US for Illegal Immigration from His Country

Guatemalan President Otto Perez says the recent influx of illegal immigration to the US from Central American nations is America's fault.

"Look, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvadore are veritable cesspools," Perez admitted. "Who wouldn't want to leave? Compare this to welfare obtainable in the United States if you are poor and you have a strong motivation to try to get there. With President Obama's open border policies its practically an invitation to make the arduous journey north."

As an alternative to mass migration, Perez suggested that "more generous foreign aid to our counties in the south could dampen the need for us to export our excess poor. First, if there are meaningful financial rewards for our government officials the incentive to take steps to discourage this traffic will be enhanced. Second, if we distribute a small share of the foreign aid in the form of benefits to our impoverished citizens perhaps they will see less need to try to escape the deploring conditions in our countries."

"The ball is in your court Mr. Obama," Perez taunted. "Pay us now or bear the consequences later."

US War on ISIL Gets Name

After several weeks of debate on what the US bombing campaign against ISIL ought to be called, the Obama Administration has settled on "Operation Inherent Resolve."

Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey explained that "though the phrase has been dubbed 'squishy' by some, it embodies a basic truth about the campaign. We are trying to tread a fine line here. Those favoring the annihilation of these terrorists are urging us to go outside the bounds of the President's thinking. The President wants an accommodation with Islam. The fear is that if we annihilate these jihadis we will alienate a billion Muslims around the globe."

"The aim, as President Obama has clearly stated on numerous occasions, is to 'degrade' ISIL, not destroy it," Dempsey declared. "If ISIL were destroyed there would be no authority left with which we could reach an accommodation. A plan to destroy ISIL could have been described as 'explicit resolve.' However, the more complex objective of holding back our response to keep it within the parameters of the President's philosophy implies a sort of resolve. So, the 'inherent resolve' is the best compromise moniker we could come up with.""

Colorado Governor Plays "Extortion Card" in Bid for Reelection

Unfavorable trends in recent polls have spurred Colorado's Governor John Hickenlooper (D) to threaten to release mass murderer Nathan Dunlap from prison if he is defeated in the November 4th election. Nathan Dunlap killed four people at an Aurora Chuck E Cheese restaurant in 1993.

"If I am reelected I'll be too busy with other work to have the time to commute his sentence and let him out of prison, "Hickenlooper said. "Should voters turn me out, though, well, I probably won't be too busy to consider commuting the sentences of Dunlap and other long-suffering inmates of our state prison system."

University Officials Crack Down on Free Speech

University officials at Southern Oregon University (SOU) threatened students with disciplinary action for having the temerity to pass out copies of the US Constitution on campus last week.

"Freedom of speech is not without limits in our society," according to SOU Director of Student Housing, Tim Robitz. "If the students who want to hand out copies of the Constitution would only read the document they'd see that it is Congress that shall make no law abridging freedom of speech. There is no mention of the SOU administration in that document. So we are not similarly prohibited from abridging this freedom if we deem it necessary."

"The fact that the University has set aside a special free speech zone in a designated location on campus shows that we have done more than we have to to facilitate the rantings of the discontented," Robitz contended. "Complaints from malcontents that the designated space is small and inconveniently off the main pathway demonstrate a lack of gratitude for the privileges we have extended to them."

Robitz also criticized "the arrogance of those who assume that right is on their side. Not everyone is a fan of free speech. Many students have come to me to express their fear of being confronted with discomforting political points of view. Don't they have an equal right to be protected from having to listen?"

NIH Deflects Criticism of Spending Priorities

GOP critics of government priorities in how tax dollars are spent have latched onto the National Institutes of Health investment in studying why lesbians are fat as a sign of the agency's poor judgment.

Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex) says "the more we learn about the decisions made by this Administration, the worse it sounds. Back in 2008 the incoming Obama Administration was advised that it should take stronger measures against a possible Ebola pandemic. Instead, they divert scarce resources to studies like this."

NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins defended the allocation of resources. "The number of obese lesbians in this country easily exceeds the number of Ebola patients," Collins observed. "Using our limited resources toward efforts to serve this larger cohort doesn't seem out of line to me."

"On top of this, let's not forget that even for those who have contracted the Ebola virus the suffering is relatively brief," Collins asserted. "On the other hand, obesity is often a lifelong problem that can produce decades of mental anguish and physical and emotional pain. So, no, I don't think the NIH's priorities are out of whack and I deplore the political opportunism of those who would like to make it appear as if they are."

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