John Semmens

SEMI-NEWS: A Satire of Recent News

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SEMI-NEWS: A Satirical Look at Recent News, Best of 2012 (Part 2)

Jun 3

Candidate Admits to Lie, Offers to Do “Community Service”

Massachusetts Democratic senate candidate Elizabeth Warren admitted that she falsely claimed Native American status in order to advance her academic career at Harvard Law School—a felony under current law. Warren's admission comes after weeks of denying that she had anything to do with the school's classification of her as a “woman of color.” Warren could be sent to prison for up to five years if convicted for her attempt to gain benefits by falsely claiming Native American status.

Warren followed this admission of guilt with a demand that her opponent, Senator Scott Brown (R), apologize for trying to take unfair advantage of a minor mistake that occurred so long ago. “This practice of picking apart a person's words looking for every little misstep demonstrates sexism at its worst,” Warren contended. “I was young. I was battling gender bias. I didn't do anything that any other woman wouldn't have done.”

The candidate dubbed “Fauxcahontas” and “Lieawatha” by her detractors tried to make the case that the appropriate punishment for her felony would be a stint of community service. “I think the best way for me to do penance for my little 'white lie' would be to serve six years in the US Senate,” Warren suggested. “I'd be an underpaid, overworked public servant dedicated to righting the wrongs that people like Scott Brown have been perpetrating on this country since its founding.”

A planned protest by Cherokees at the Democratic State Convention in Springfield Massachusetts was labeled “misguided” by Warren. “Regardless of how they may feel about my previous claims, I think these Indians have to admit that the attention I've brought to the issue of Native American rights has been a big plus,” Warren argued. “More people are focused on this oppressed minority now than have been for a 100 years. I'm not getting the credit I'm due for what I've done for them just by being who I am.”

In related news, Warren received the endorsement of Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick, who called her “the best representative of Democratic values seen in this state since the passing of Senator Kennedy.”

Jun 10

Veep Urges End to Traditional Farming

Vice-President Joe Biden told the graduating seniors of Cypress Bay High School (Fla.) that “it's long past the time when Americans should be shifting away from traditional farming as a means of supplying food.”

Let's face it, farming is unnatural,” Biden pointed out. “Using sharp tools to cut into the earth, planting seeds in neat rows for efficient reaping (also done with sharp tools, I might add), piping in water from far away—these are all artificial methods that rape the land.”

Biden argued that “in a more primitive era such methods may have been unavoidable. But do we really need them today? Why can't everyone just get their food from the supermarket? Jill and I have been doing that for as long as I can remember. Most of the stuff comes in boxes and cans. It's all very clean. You don't have to poke tools into the soil stirring up dust and polluting the air. If we can only convince more people to follow our example the environmental degradation being caused by farmers could be greatly reduced.”

The Vice-President also hailed the doubling of the amount the government has spent on food stamps since 2008 as “further proof that there are other ways to feed our population without destroying the land.”

In support of Biden's vision, the Environmental Protection Agency is deploying aerial drones to fly over agricultural areas “to gather evidence on those raping the land with these primitive farming techniques.” EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson declined to specify whether this evidence would be used to support prosecution of violators or whether the President would use it to select targets for drone-launched missile strikes. “I believe the President will choose the most appropriate enforcement mechanism on a case-by-case basis,” Jackson said.

Jun 17

President Initiates Plan to Boost Status of Illegal Aliens

A year ago, President Barack Obama told his Hispanic supporters that he lacked the authority to grant amnesty to people in the country illegally. “There are laws on the books that prohibit me from unilaterally granting the right to reside in America, hold a job, and vote,” the President said in a March 2011 speech at a Univision town hall in Washington, D.C. On Friday, June 15, the President issued an Executive Order that would spare up to 800,000 illegal aliens from deportation.

Despite ample opportunity to take action over the last year, Congress has failed to do its duty to remedy the plight of those in our country who lack the documents that are required to live normal lives,” Obama asserted. “Consequently, I have been forced to offset their negligence. Therefore, I have instructed Secretary Napolitano to immediately begin the process of providing those who were brought into the country illegally by their parents with the kinds of documents they need to fully integrate them into our society.”

Secretary Napolitano characterized the move as “simple justice. Those without documents are at a serious disadvantage when it comes to enjoying the benefits of living in America. This new law levels the playing field. It will also allow my Department to redeploy enforcement resources from chasing down these unfortunate victims of racial prejudice and to focus on those that pose a real threat to the government.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) thanked the President “for saving us the trouble of trying to get this kind of a law through Congress. As we have seen with other legislation like the health care bill, it is a tedious process that too often results in lengthy and confusing enactments. An Executive Order bypasses the logistical difficulties of the 535-headed Congressional monster and substitutes the simplicity and elegance that can only spring from a single mind. Americans should be grateful they have a President with such courage.”

Attorney General Eric Holder expressed confidence that the documents that the Department of Homeland Security will issue would effectively counter state voter ID laws. “This gives us another weapon in the fight to prevent the disenfranchisement efforts being pursued in many states,” Holder bragged. “We're still going to oppose these efforts, but in the event that we can't block their enforcement many of the intended victims will be able to show the kind of paperwork that should get them into the voting booth.”

Representative Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, denounced the Executive Order. “The Constitution places legislative authority in Congress,” he pointed out. “Using Congress' refusal to act as grounds for legislating via Executive Order is a blatant usurpation of power that violates the President's oath to faithfully enforce the law.”

Whether President Obama's violation of the Constitution's separation of powers will move Congress to oppose this usurpation by invoking its authority to impeach him remains to be seen.

Jun 24

Press Secretary Parries Questions on “Fast & Furious” Scandal

Press Secretary Jay Carney denied that President Obama's grant of “Executive Privilege” status to the Department of Justice correspondence on the scheme to get guns into the hands of Mexican gangsters is an effort to cover up wrong doing. Despite the widespread laughter from members of the media that greeted his assertion that “it's a matter of principle,” Carney attempted to expound upon the concept.

The principle is that under our Constitution, the President is the country's supreme ruler,” Carney maintained. “That status cannot be infringed by Congressional interference in how he chooses to run the country. The sole purpose of the GOP demand to see the DOJ memos is to obtain information they can use to denigrate the policies and decisions made by the Administration.”

The Constitution says nothing about Congress having the right to read the Executive's mail,” Carney continued. “In fact, first on the list of Congress' responsibilities is the power to enact taxes. Yet, it is the GOP contingent that steadfastly refuses to take up this responsibility. So, I'd say that instead of trying to poke their noses into what is none of their business maybe Congress ought to stop neglecting its own duties.”

Carney also rejected comparison's to former President Nixon's invocation of Executive Privilege in his attempt to block scrutiny of his Administration's efforts to cover up the Watergate scandal. “First of all, the two issues are not even in the same ballpark,” Carney argued. “The Watergate break-in was a GOP operation aimed at influencing the outcome of the 1972 presidential election. It was a dagger to the heart of our democracy.”

Fast and Furious was a minor affair carried out far from the centers of power,” Carney said. “Ninety-nine percent of the impact occurred in another country. None of the victims were essential players in the governance of the country. The fact that we can't remember any of their names is a testament to the relative unimportance of this whole issue compared to the machinations that cheated Senator McGovern out of the presidency.”

In related news, NBC News' Thomas Roberts ruled that the Congressional Committee on Oversight and Government Reform was not entitled to the DOJ documents that Attorney General Eric Holder refused to supply. “You're not the government,” Roberts told Committee member Representative John Mica (R-Fla). “President Obama is the government. If he says you can't have something, you can't have it.”

Jul 1

President Says Obamacare Decision a Victory for Freedom

President Barack Obama hailed the US Supreme Court's narrow 5-4 decision to uphold his signature Affordable Care Act as “a victory for freedom.”

By affirming the legality of our health care plan, the Court has ensured that every American will be free from the worry of having no insurance,” the President said. “By compelling everyone to purchase insurance we are freeing them to enjoy the benefits of medical coverage and relieving them of the necessity to plan ahead and decide for themselves whether get this insurance.”

The President attempted to reconcile the compulsory nature of the health care mandate with the concept of freedom. “Don't be led astray by those who would have you believe that their notions of freedom are a match for what every American needs,” Obama warned. “Just think back to the times when your parents made you eat your peas. In your kid's mind you probably saw this as an imposition on your freedom. But your parents were only trying to give you the gift of good health—freeing you from the consequences of a bad diet.”

We're doing the same kind of thing with our health care plan,” he continued. “By taking the issue of whether to buy insurance off your list of things to do we are freeing you from having to spend time figuring out what to do. That time can now be used in whatever way you want. On top of this, you'll be healthier. And can there be any question that a healthier person is freer than a sick person?”

Jul 8

Transportation Secretary Envies China Dictatorship

Miffed that the Administration's dream of a nationwide high-speed rail passenger system may be derailed by uncooperative states, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said he wished the US were more like China. Thus far Florida, Ohio, and Wisconsin have opted out of participating in the President's high-speed rail scheme.

In China the government doesn't have to put up with people thwarting their plans,” LaHood explained. “If the top guy says do something, everyone has to go along. They don't have state legislatures or governors deciding they don't want to pony up their share of the cost for the rail program. And they certainly don't have to worry about voters rejecting the taxes or bonds that are needed to fund construction.”

LaHood held out the hope that November's election might change things here in America. “Up to now, the President has had to go through the motions of asking for states to join in voluntarily in funding the program,” the Secretary pointed out. “After he is reelected, though, there'll be no need for that. A single signature on an Executive Order mandating universal participation should suffice.”

A key factor in LaHood's optimism was the Supreme Court's recent ruling on the Affordable Care Act. “It is now a matter of settled law that those who refuse to participate in a government mandated program can be taxed,” he contended. “Faced with the prospect of being taxed and getting nothing in return I think states contemplating rebellion against the federal plan for high-speed rail will come into line.”

Jul 15

Administration Eases Burdensome Work Requirement for Welfare Recipients

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued notice that it is rewriting the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) reform law of 1996. Specifically, HHS is notifying states that they may waive the law's requirement that welfare recipients must seek work to be eligible for benefits.

Representative Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) denounced the move calling it “a blatant violation of the law. The whole point of the work requirement was to get people to pull themselves out of poverty. The purpose of this reform was to convert welfare dependency from a way of life into just a temporary condition. By waiving this requirement HHS is saying that it's okay to make dependency a permanent lifestyle. This is a disservice both to taxpayers and to the welfare recipients.”

HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius characterized Jordan's remarks as “an illustration of the clashing visions the President has said voters will have to choose between this November. As the GOP sees it, work is the center of the universe. But is this what most Americans really want out of life?”

We know that people usually prefer leisure to work,” Sebelius argued. “Most only work because they feel they must. They look forward to the day they can retire. All we are doing here is bringing that day forward for as many people as we can. I mean, why should we try to force those who are already out of the workforce to get jobs that they'll only hold until they retire? Isn't that just wasted motion?”

The Secretary dismissed statistics indicating that the TANF reform has helped nearly three million families get off the welfare rolls. “Republicans would have everyone believe that this is a sign of progress,” Sebelius said. “What they overlook is the significant reduction in leisure this represents. Parents who could've been spending more time with their children, watching TV, or just hanging out are now condemned to the wage-slavery that the work requirement has imposed on them.”

Sebelius hastened to add that the new HHS directive “doesn't require states to waive the work requirement. States in thrall to the GOP's vision may continue to reduce the number of people carried on their welfare rolls if they want. We'll just give the federal aid saved to other states that are more in sync with the President's vision.”

A recent Americans for Tax Reform (ATR) report calculated that the average taxpaying American has to work 197 days a year to pay for the cost of government—a statistic that Sebelius says “makes my point. The more people we can liberate from this treadmill of toil the greater will be the sum total of happiness in our society.”

Jul 29

Mayors Play Chicken with First Amendment Rights

Though it would seem that Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy's opinion that marriage is an institution between one man and one woman is protected by the Constitution's First Amendment, mayors in three cities have vowed to punish this heresy.

Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel says he “will do everything in my power to prevent such a vile establishment from setting up shop in my city. Mr. Cathy's values are not Chicago's values.”

In addition to Cathy's views on marriage, Emanuel also found the restaurant's policy of closing on Sunday's problematic, calling it “an unacceptable 'holier than thou attitude.' People need to eat on Sundays. Restaurants should be open to serve them. Besides, Sundays aren't sacred to other religions. Jews revere Saturdays, Muslims Fridays. By setting aside only Sundays, Mr. Cathy is discriminating against other faiths.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee warned the restaurant to “not even think about trying to open an outlet in our city.” Lee rebuffed criticism that penalizing a business for exercising freedom of speech was beyond his authority. “The Constitution says Congress shall make no law prohibiting freedom of speech,” Lee pointed out. “It doesn't say anything about mayors or city councils taking action to prevent the spread of heinous beliefs.”

Boston Mayor Tom Menino backed off from his promise to block any Chick-fil-A franchises from setting up shop in the city. “It appears that I have no say over who can and can't operate a business here,” Menino acknowledged. “However, it appears we can regulate businesses. Let's see how these purveyors of hate like having city inspectors hound them on a daily basis.”

Menino's strong stance against Chick-fil-A is a stark contrast to his assisting the Islamic Society of Boston’s establishment of a mosque in the city. This came despite the Islamic Society of Boston's Imam Yusef al-Qaradawi's insistence that homosexuals be put to death. “That's a freedom of religion issue,” Menino said. “As I understand it, the Quran explicitly commands that homosexuals be put to death. There is no language in the Christian Bible that explicitly says they can't marry. Anyway, Chick-fil-A is a business, not a church. It has no freedom of speech or religion rights per se.”

In related news, the US Department of Justice rejected Hercules Industries objections to being forced to cover abortions in the company's self-insurance plan. “Freedom of religion is an individual right, not a business right,” the DOJ wrote in its decision. “The business owners may choose to believe whatever they want, but as a business they must comply with the rules laid out by the Department of Health and Human Services. If the business owners feel these rules violate their beliefs they always have the option of exiting the market.”

Aug 5

Dems Move to Block Military Vote

In recent elections less than 5% of the ballots cast by active duty military personnel serving overseas arrived in time to be counted. Nevertheless, the Obama for America Campaign, the Democratic National Committee (DNC), and the Ohio Democratic Party have jointly filed suit in Ohio to strike down a law that gives deployed troops more time to cast absentee ballots.

The suit alleges that the provision allowing more time for deployed troops is “contrary to the policy of the current Administration” and “would improperly embroil military personnel in partisan politics.”

DNC Chairperson Representative Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-Fla) declared that “it is a long standing tradition in America that our armed forces do not engage in partisan politics while on duty. States should not be permitted to undermine this tradition.”

Not only would the Ohio law undermine this tradition, it also would undermine national security,” she added. “Soldiers deployed overseas should not be distracted from their primary duty of carrying out the orders of their Commander-in-Chief. The idea that we should be accommodating the opportunity for them to vote to depose their Commander-in-Chief is about as wrongheaded as could be.”

Wasserman-Schultz assured that she isn't advocating taking away their right to vote because “a move that overt could incite a negative reaction from too many people. Letting them cast ballots that arrive too late to be counted is a good compromise. It's kind of a 'pressure release valve.' We allow them to vent without subjecting the nation to an unwarranted influence on election outcomes.”

Surveys of military personnel indicate that they tend to favor Republicans by about a three to one ratio.

In related news, U.S. District Judge Gregg Costa blocked a Texas voter registration law on the grounds that “requiring ID will tend to discourage those without documents from voting. This disproportionately affects those of Mexican descent.” Costa ruled that “until everyone has documents no one can be required to show them in order to cast a ballot.”

Aug 12

Obama Expresses Dissatisfaction with Media Coverage

President Barack Obama expressed his profound displeasure with the media's coverage of the election campaign.

I'm sure they think they're being even-handed when they juxtapose the message we're trying to get out with the false assertions of the opposition,” Obama complained. “Unfortunately, this gives an undeserved platform from which the enemies of truth can spread their lies.”

The President said he had hoped that “our friends in the media wouldn't succumb to pressures to appear balanced. When we hand them the truth they shouldn't feel they have to dilute it by inserting the disagreeable counterpoint of a disproved theory. For example, we don't see the viewpoint of the 'flat-earthers' included in every report on astronomy. Why must clearly erroneous opinions on healthcare, taxes, or spending be sandwiched into every piece on the election?”

If the media continue to feel compelled to include these erroneous opinions why can't they clearly label them as such?” he asked. “I mean, expecting the average voter to sort out the difference between what's true and what's not is may be assigning him a task he isn't capable of handling.”

Reforming the way the media reports on Administration policies is on the President's agenda for a second term. “It's clear that we need to do more than the Federal Election Commission has been doing to police what rhetoric is allowed in public,” Obama said. “We need to add scrutiny of statements that may be made in between election seasons. I think the federal government needs to take a stronger stance on behalf of the truth on a 24/7 basis.”

Aug 19

Dems Say Budget Deficit Not Appropriate Debate Topic

Representatives Mike Honda (D-Calif), Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and Jan Schakowsky (D-Ill) issued a statement demanding that the issue of the federal deficit be excluded from any upcoming presidential debates, saying it would give the Republicans an unfair advantage.

The President has been forced to take actions that those outside of government, like Mitt Romney, have been able to avoid,” Nadler pointed out. “For him to be called upon to defend those actions at this time would present a fundamentally unbalanced tenor to those debates, especially when Mr. Romney has continued to refuse to disclose all of his personal tax records.”

Nadler went on to assail the broader notion that “fiscal responsibility and economic success ought to be used as some sort of measure of whether the President's policies are appropriate. Not everyone is fiscally responsible or economically successful. If I had to guess, I'd say that a majority of Americans are not. Shouldn't a democratically elected government carry out policies that are more suitable for this majority?”

Aug 26

DOJ Seeks to Hire More People with Mental Problems

The Department of Justice, responding to an Executive Order issued by President Obama, issued a memo to all sections encouraging them to hire more persons with “targeted disabilities.” Among the disabilities targeted are people with “severe intellectual disability,” “psychiatric disability” and other “current severe physical, intellectual or mental conditions.”

Attorney General Eric Holder defended the Order saying that “the President doesn't just talk the talk, he also walks the walk. From his selection of Joe Biden to be his running mate President Obama has taken a strong stand on behalf of the rights of the mentally disabled. It is his belief that for a democracy to be truly representative it has to draw from every segment of the population. Does this mean that the deranged and the stupid must be given their fair share of the responsibilities of governing the nation? Yes, it does.”

For his part, Biden embraced his role as “poster boy” for the mentally impaired, boasting that “the President be puttin' us all back in chairs.”

In related news, Vice-President Biden blamed Republicans for mortgage foreclosures. According to Biden, Republicans in Congress are blocking the Administration's plan to forgive all mortgage debt. “Here we have a cost-free solution to provide free homes to everyone, but can't get cooperation from the GOP,” Biden complained. “Our message to the middle class is simple, if you're tired of having to pay your mortgage vote Democrat.” Biden said he was confident that “a reelected President Obama would have the mandate to bypass Congress and enact mortgage forgiveness by Executive Order.”

Sep 9

Marijuana's Effects on President's IQ Contested

Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney insisted that the President's admitted heavy use of marijuana as a teenager “does not prove he is a dope.”

The question of whether President Obama may have suffered brain damage as a member of the infamous “Choom Gang” as a youth reared its ugly head when a recently completed study by two New Zealand professors measured an average decline in IQ of 8 points for heavy users of weed.

First of all, these figures are an average person,” Carney argued. “The President is already acknowledged to be so far above average that a decline of such a magnitude is easily overwhelmed by his innate genius.”

Second, we challenge anyone to demonstrate any evidence they may believe they have that shows the President to be deficient in any way,” Carney asserted. “I think the recognized mediators of our culture are pretty unanimous in their perception that the President is, by far, the most intelligent person to ever hold the office.”

Finally, even though it is likely that his Mormon opponent never touched pot, I don't know anyone who wouldn't trust the President to make a more intelligent decision on issues crucial to this country's future,” he concluded.

 

Sep 16

HUD Secretary Says More Taxes Needed to Subsidize Latinos

In a speech to the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute, Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan argued that taxes should be raised to support more subsidies for Latinos.

On balance, Latinos are more apt to be tax-consumers rather than tax-payers,” Donovan pointed out. “A robust program of government investment in housing, food stamps, and welfare disproportionately benefits Latinos. The GOP's plan to cut this spending, on the other hand, would disproportionately hurt Latinos.”

Donovan admitted that “making the case for tax hikes is not an easy one. The Republicans have done a pretty good job of making the IRS into a bogeyman. But you only need to be afraid if you're part of the minority that pays taxes. Most Latinos, though, especially those without documents, are in the majority who are exempt from income taxes. We need to get the message out that raising these taxes is basically a free ride for most Latinos.”

In related news, the Environmental Protection Agency commemorated Hispanic Heritage Month by touting Che Guevara as “the kind of champion of social justice that Latinos everywhere can look to for inspiration. He gave his life fighting for a more equitable redistribution of wealth. Surely we can give our votes.”

Sep 23

President Says He Can't Change Washington from the Inside

In a gaffe that some are calling “Bidenesque,” President Obama sought to divert attention from his broken promises by claiming impotence.

The most important lesson I've learned is you can't change Washington from the inside,” he told the audience at at a forum hosted by the Spanish-language TV channel Univision. “You can only change it from the outside.”

A nonplussed host inquired, “If you can't change it from inside why are you running for reelection?”

As frustrating and unrewarding as being the president may be, I feel it is my duty to occupy that chair in order to prevent malevolent forces from taking over the country,” Obama answered. “As we have seen, my opponent has great animus against the 47% who rely on government for their living. Allowing him to be elected would be seen as a validation of the notion that people should be expected to fend for themselves.”

It's taken us about three generations to get to that 47% level,” the President continued. “That's a lot of progress, but we can't let ourselves be satisfied with only half a loaf. While we can probably never get to 100%, I hope that reaching 98% or 99% might be attained during my lifetime. I'm confident that with another term we can reach the tipping-point where a clear majority is aligned with our program. Once that happens the transformation I envision for America will never be undone.”

In related news, Presidential Press Secretary Jay Carney maintained that “Romney's '47%' remarks may effectively disqualify him from serving as president. His disdain for dependency puts him out-of-step with the moral mainstream of our society. Those who rely on government to meet their basic needs shouldn't have to live with the fear that they might be forced to enter the workforce against their will. Romney's made a thinly veiled attack on a way of life that I think voters will soundly reject come November.”

Sep 30

Administration's Belated Admission that Libyan Attack Was Terrorism “No Biggie”

Though evidence has emerged showing that the White House knew the murder of the US Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was a terrorist attack within 24 hours of the event, it persisted in advancing a “riot over an insulting video” meme for more than two weeks. This failure to be straight with the American people is, according to Press Secretary Jay Carney “no biggie.”

The terrorist thing has been around for a long time, what good would announcing one more episode of the lengthy story have done?” Carney wanted to know. “On the other hand, the course the Administration did take gave the President the opportunity apologize for the insulting video. This helped build bridges to our Muslim friends. The President showed himself as sympathetic to Islamic religious sensitivities in his speech to the UN. We think this will pay big dividends in the future.”

A second factor influencing the Administration's stance was the matter of security. “Look, if the Ambassador's death is the result of video-inspired mob violence it's not the Administration's fault,” Carney continued. “We didn't even know about the video, so there was no opportunity for us to try to interdict it. But embassy and consulate security—those are the direct responsibility of the State Department. If these facilities are vulnerable to terrorist attack who do you think will get the blame? It was the President's desire to shield Secretary Clinton from this blame as long as he could.”

Carney suggested that “the Administration's actions were largely successful. No one was exposed during the vulnerable period. Now that interest has died down the damage to the Administration has been minimized.”

In related news, former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader labeled Obama a “war criminal” and “worse than Bush.” “His claim to have the authority to assassinate anyone he declares an enemy of the state is a fateful stride toward tyranny that I think every person who cherishes freedom ought to oppose,” Nader said.

 

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