The fourth year of President Obama's reign maintained his traditional omission of God from the Thanksgiving address to the nation. This break from his predecessors was vigorously defended by First Lady Michelle Obama.
“Why should God get the credit for blessings that He had no part in creating?” Michelle asked. “It's federal farm programs that ensure a robust harvest each year. It's the FDA that guarantees the food we put on our tables is safe to eat. And it's the generous expansion of eligibility for Food Stamps that has enabled even the poorest among us the opportunity to enjoy an adequate diet.”
The First Lady contrasted government's role with “the seeming indifference of God. There has been drought, floods, and storms to impede the process of feeding the hungry under God's watch. We need to move beyond a superstitious awe for a mythical entity and show a greater appreciation for the beneficence that Barack has bestowed upon the common people of this nation.”
Not wishing to appear excessively closed-minded, Michelle did allow that “if people want to thank God for anything it should be for creating Barack. That such a person has arrived to lead this country at a pivotal point in our history is a miracle everyone should be grateful for.”
UN Official Demands Repression of State Marijuana Laws
The legalization of marijuana by voters in the states of Colorado and Washington has sparked consternation in other parts of the world. Raymond Yans, head of the United Nation's International Narcotics Control Board, says the approvals send ‘‘a wrong message to the rest of the nation and it sends a wrong message abroad.’’
“What the voters in these states have overlooked is that marijuana is an important cash crop in many Third World countries,” Yans pointed out. “Legalization, if it catches on, will depress the prices that can be charged. This will negatively affect the farmers who grow it, the smugglers who transport it, the dealers who market it, and the police whose livelihoods depend upon expenditures aimed at suppressing it.”
Yans urged US Attorney General Eric Holder to‘‘take all the necessary measures to ensure that marijuana possession and use remains illegal throughout the U.S. Too much is riding on this for us to permit a misguided attachment to democracy in a few subdivisions of America to overrule more important concerns.”
Holder is reported to be amenable to Yans' request. Despite recent research indicating the heavy use of marijuana has a stupefying effect on those who consume it, the ability of the federal government to assert its power over the states by over ruling local decisions is held likely to win out.
“While in the long run a more stupefied electorate is much to be preferred, at this time, the principle of national supremacy is probably a more significant step in the President's promised transformation” Holder observed.
Egyptian President Assumes Dictatorial Powers
The so-called “Arab Spring” took a decidedly ugly turn in Egypt this week when President Mohammed Mursi issued a decree barring any challenges to his decisions.
Egyptian opposition leader Mohammed El Baradei denounced Mursi's action calling it “a major blow to the revolution. What good does it do us if we get rid of the dictator Mubarak only to replace him with a dictator Mursi? Isn't sharing of power and open debate the whole point of democracy?”
Mursi denied he was trampling democracy. “Debate is fine, but there must be limits,” Mursi maintained. “The laws I decree must be enforced. There must be respect for my authority. Words or deeds that would serve to undermine either of these critical objectives cannot be tolerated.”
Whether Mursi's expansion of his own authority will be tolerated is an open question. Many of the same protesters who rallied against Mubarak are back in the streets demonstrating against this latest development.
Clashes are expected as Mursi described these protests as “unwarranted interferences.” “Mubarak was a fraudulently elected tyrant,” Mursi pointed out. “In contrast, I, like recently reelected US President Obama, have a legitimate mandate from the voters. Mubarak was also sick and weak. I am not.” The Egyptian President warned opponents that “attempts to obstruct my rule will result in dire consequences for those who go too far.”
The US State Department said it was taking a “wait and see” attitude toward this seemingly antidemocratic shift. “They're still working on their constitution, so it's possible that what appears to be an unjustified usurpation may yet be endorsed by those drafting the document,” cautioned Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. “Then, too, Mursi was just recently elected. So we can't rule out the argument that he, in fact, has a mandate of sorts. As we are wont to say, elections have consequences.”
As for Mursi's declaration that actions taken by the courts or legislature in contravention to his wishes are void, Clinton expressed sympathy. “Sometimes a president may have to bypass other bodies in order to carry out his mandate,” she said. “Maybe we shouldn't be so critical. For all we know, President Obama may find himself in a similar bind in the not too distant future.”
In related news, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's order blocking the Iranian Parliament from investigating President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's mismanagement of the economy was called “intriguing” by the US Secretary of State. “Khamenei's point that such an investigation could weaken the regime seems well taken,” Clinton observed. “Congressional investigations of Fast and Furious and Benghazi are damaging to our country. Making them disappear might eliminate a great deal of the negative impressions these inquiries are causing.”
Local Governments Pilot Testing Tyranny
Local governments on opposite sides of the nation are exploring new ground in the never ending battle against individual freedom in this country.
In New York City, inspectors from the Department of Health cracked down on unauthorized distribution of food to survivors of Hurricane Sandy. The serving of meals to people whose homes were destroyed by the storm was found to be “non-compliant with existing restaurant standards” by Health Inspector Constance Medler.
“The meals are being served outdoors,” Medler complained. “The cooking is done by uncertified cooks on uninspected stoves. The food is served on paper plates and eaten with plastic utensils. There has been a complete disregard for our regulations.”
Medler said that “the argument that this is just a temporary response to an emergency is no excuse for flouting our standards. Just because some people are voluntarily providing food to those willing to eat it doesn't negate our responsibility to protect the public from consuming substandard comestibles.”
In San Diego, Regional Water Quality Control Board officials are working on new regulations that would impose stiff penalties (fines up to $100,000 per day and jail terms of up to six years) on home owners whose lawn sprinklers dampen the sidewalks. Washing cars in driveways and neglecting to pick up dog waste in your own backyard would also be similarly penalized. In addition, a “hot line” will be set up for persons to report on neighbors who violate the new regulations.
“Just because you pay a mortgage or have a deed doesn't mean you can do whatever you want on that property,” Board spokesperson Christine Waters explained. “The harsh penalties are necessary to show that we are serious about enforcing these rules. If a neighbor is forced out of his home by crushing fines or is sent to prison others will be much more careful about obeying these laws.”
Undelivered D-Day Message Prolonged War, Prof Says
A university professor says the recent discovery of a carrier pigeon's corpse in a chimney in Normandy, France has shed new light on events of the last year of World War II in the European theater.
Harvard professor of European History Albee Leftkowitz believes that the failure of the pigeon's mission may have hampered the advance of American forces on the Western Front and forced President Roosevelt to accede to Soviet domination of Eastern Europe at the Yalta Conference in February 1945.
“Right-wing critics of President Roosevelt have made much of what they call FDR's misplaced trust in 'Uncle Joe' Stalin,” said Leftkowitz. “But this latest development proves that he had no choice. Denied the benefit of this carrier's message, FDR, as Commander-in-Chief of the Western Allied Forces, had no alternative but to grant the Soviet Union dominion over Poland, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Bulgaria, and Yugoslavia.”
Leftkowitz discounted the possible influence of Soviet spies within the Roosevelt Administration as a factor. “Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and the others had no direct impact on the fighting,” the Professor contended. “They didn't command any troops and they certainly didn't cause this pigeon to get trapped in that chimney.”
The fact that the lost message is in code and has yet to be translated didn't faze Leftkowitz. “Whatever the message might have said has got to be more important than the leftist philosophies or political connections of some of Roosevelt's advisers,” he argued. “In fact, its very existence serves to vindicate these maligned men.”