“Fiscal bloodbath” is how one federal official speaking off-the-record described the early impacts of the much dreaded budget sequester. “We're looking at the cancellation of many mission-critical government activities. There's no way of knowing whether the country will ever be able to recover.”
Anticipation of the cutbacks in spending inspired the Department of Homeland Security to release illegal aliens slated for deportation into the communities near where they were incarcerated. Secretary Janet Napolitano denied any responsibility for the early release and attributed it to a “misunderstanding by a low-level employee.”
“I don't really know why we were holding these people to begin with,” Napolitano said. “The President's policy is to grant a path to citizenship. Keeping these people locked up appears incompatible with that.”
While DHS has normally been releasing illegal aliens on their own recognizance until they are expected to voluntarily show up for deportation, others who are facing criminal charges or have criminal records are the ones jailed while deportation processes are underway. These are the ones that DHS started releasing this week.
Napolitano admitted that “this massive and sudden release has been a public relations disaster. I would've preferred a less overt strategy of dribbling out a smaller number each day over a more extended timeframe. No one would've noticed and the criticisms we've been hearing from the right-wing would be more easily ignored.”
Another casualty of the sequester is a projected severe reduction in the number of military aircraft flyovers at major sporting events. Incoming Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel expressed dismay “in having to preside over such a demoralizing blow to the country as one of my first official acts” and blamed “the excessive influence of the Israeli lobby on Republican members of Congress for blocking President Obama's tax increase solution.”
Representative Maxine Waters (D-Calif) predicted that the sequester will eliminate 170 million jobs. Since official government records show that fewer than 140 million Americans are working, the sequester will be more destructive than anyone imagines. Waters tried to reconcile these figures by pointing out that “even jobs in the underground economy will be lost. People being paid under the table, prostitutes, drug pushers—all these people will lose their livelihoods if federal spending isn't maintained at high levels. Let's be honest, we're facing a total unemployment Armageddon here and it's all the Republicans' fault.”
Meanwhile, the struggle over who will control the narrative on who's to blame took a nasty turn as the White House strove to keep the media in line. Long-time liberal reporter Bob Woodward ruffled a few feathers by reminding readers that the sequester was originally President Obama's idea.
“This is not the current meme,” insisted Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev). “Woodward's rummaging through statements made by the President more than a year ago is inappropriate. The President's says that the cuts forced by the sequester are dumb and arbitrary. Whether it was originally his idea is no longer relevant.”
“For the President's plan to succeed we must all pull together,” Reid demanded. “Reporters like Mr. Woodward can't allow themselves to be distracted by selfish notions that attempts to preserve their independence and integrity should rank ahead of the President's efforts to save the country. We all must say and do whatever is required to help him.”
One of the things Reid and the Democrats in the Senate refused to do was enact a bill passed by the House that would have permitted the President to substitute other spending reductions for those he deems “dumb and arbitrary.” “We gave the President a way out of what he has been characterizing as an undesirable course,” House Speaker John Behner (R-Ohio) said. “Rather than take responsibility for trimming the expenditures he deems least necessary, he prefers a perceived political advantage in accepting 'dumb and arbitrary' cuts because he thinks he can shift blame away from himself.”
More Firearms Advice from Vice-President Biden
Continuing his campaign for more gun-control regulations, Vice-President Biden elaborated on the logic behind banning assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
“Look, all a person needs for self-defense is a shotgun,” Biden contended. “Most people aren't going to be good enough shots to hit a target with a regular gun. With a shotgun you don't have to be an Annie Oakley. If you think someone is trying to break in, just fire the gun right through the door.”
That the idea of shooting someone sight unseen might not be a good one didn't seem to faze the VP. “I think most people can tell by the types of sounds coming through the door whether the person is a friend or foe,” Biden argued. The potential risk to innocent visitors like solicitors and salesmen was brushed aside. “Would it really be so bad if fear getting shot deterred some of these annoying pests?” Biden joked.
The Vice-President contrasted his “sensible use of firearms for self-defense” with “the total lack of need for multi-shot weapons. I mean, who needs weapons capable of taking on an army? Sure, we're supplying opponents of foreign dictatorships with assault type weapons, but in this country the Army is on our side.”
Apprised of the fact that gun-control has been a favorite policy of many brutal dictatorships didn't alter Biden's views. “You can argue that guys like Hitler and Stalin used gun-control as a way to disarm opposition, but there is no doubt in my mind that things would've been a lot worse if citizens had the means to engage in armed battle with police and troops,” Biden maintained.
In related news, a 22-year-old man in Virginia Beach, Va., was arrested on a charge of reckless endangerment for taking Biden's advice to shoot through the door to his home to scare off a couple of suspicious characters. The man expressed confidence he would be absolved of the charge. “No court would dare convict me,” he said. “All I did was follow Biden's advice. Even if I'm found guilty, I think a Vice-Presidential pardon is in the bag.”
Regulations Stifling Business
Fred Deluca, founder of Subway Restaurants says that government regulations are hurting business so much that if he were attempting to start Subway today he'd be unlikely to succeed. Among the regulations he cited as most harmful were the mandatory minimum wage and Obamacare.
“The costs incurred to comply with regulations are particularly hard on small businesses,” Deluca complained. “A guy trying to run a sandwich shop can't afford the added legal expense of trying to keep up with constantly changing rules. Government bureaucrats think we can easily pass higher costs on to customers, but customers have many choices and will not simply dig deeper to pay more.”
Press Secretary Jay Carney characterized Deluca as “a first-class ingrate. Subway is already a large business. To the extent that regulations are driving up costs for small businesses government is actually helping him fend off the competition of newcomers. He should be thanking us.”
Government regulations discouraging new start-ups was seen as a good thing. “Going into business for yourself is risky,” Carney pointed out. “The majority of new small businesses fail. Stopping them before they get started saves them from the financial and emotional setbacks of failure. It's not as if there aren't already enough sandwich shops out there. Besides, the President is a cheeseburger and ice cream kind of guy anyway.”
In related news, in Albuquerque, New Mexico the Route 66 Malt Shop says it will defy a new city ordinance boosting the minimum wage. “Our choice is a stark one—obey and go bankrupt or refuse and stay in business,” said owner Eric Szeman. The shop currently employs 12 minimum-wage workers.
Pat Davis, executive director of the liberal activist group Progress New Mexico, is demanding that the law be strictly enforced. “Failure to pay what the law prescribes is stealing from the employees,” he declared. “The business says that the employees should have the right to choose whether to accept the sub-minimum wage rather than lose their jobs. We say it is better that no one work than that unfair wages be paid.”
Homeless Shelter Ordered to Destroy Food
The Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission was ordered to destroy 1,600 pounds of venison by the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals. It's not that there was anything wrong with the meat. It had been processed in accord with regulations put out by the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry. It's just that the Mission hadn't gone through the appropriate channels to get venison on the approved foods list.
“Just because an organization is trying to feed the hungry doesn't mean they can serve whatever food they want,” Secretary Bruce Greenstein explained. “That the food may be wholesome and nutritious is not the point. We have a process for reviewing foods that institutions would like to add to their menus. If they don't follow the process they can't serve the food, it's as simple as that.”
Whether it would've been practical for the Mission to follow the process for this ad hoc donation from Hunters for the Hungry, an organization that allows hunters to donate any extra game to charity, seems doubtful. Not to worry, though, “in the grand scheme of things, the waste of 1,600 pounds of meat is no big deal,” Greenstein insisted.
Ironically, venison is the kind of high-protein, low-fat type of meat that First Lady Michelle Obama has been urging Americans to eat for their health.