New NYC Mayor Vows to "Crush Inequality"
Newly inaugurated New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told those attending the ceremony that he would "put an end to inequality in this City. For too long we have tolerated a situation where some have had too much while others have had too little."
The first step toward Blasio's egalitarian utopia will be the elimination of Central Park horse-drawn carriage rides, which the Mayor labeled "frivolous and degrading. First of all, horses represent an inefficient form of transportation. Anything horses can do electric cars can do better. Carriages pulled by electric cars would enable people to tour Central Park more effectively and with less pollution."
"Secondly, horse-drawn carriages convey an image of aristocracy," de Blasio continued. "This is an image we should be extirpating from our consciousness. A person overpaying for these posh jaunts humiliates everyone who can't afford to do the same. The excuse that it is 'harmless recreation' and that it provides jobs cannot override its negative impact on people's psyches."
The Mayor doesn't have the last word on this. The City Council must approve the ban before it can take effect. If it does, 200 drivers will lose their jobs and 200 horses will likely be shipped off to slaughterhouses to be made into dog food.
In related news, New York City's Department of Investigation conducted a test to ascertain the probability of success for vote fraud. In the test, undercover agents went to various polling places and made 61 attempts to fraudulently obtain a ballot. On 39 occasions they used the names of dead people, 14 times they used the names of incarcerated felons, and eight times used the names of non-residents. They were denied ballots only twice. De Blasio discounted the significance of the findings by maintaining that "to my knowledge, very few elections in this city have been decided by as few as 59 votes. So I'd have to say that the fears that fraud might play a decisive role in who gets elected are way overblown."
GOP Bill on Obamacare ID Theft Irks White House
A Republican bill that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to inform persons whose identities may have been stolen via the Obamacare website was roundly criticized as "defamatory" by Press Secretary Jay Carney on Thursday.
Carney insisted that "whether the risk is real is not the point. By raising fears that people's identities might be stolen if they access the health care website the GOP is undermining people's confidence in the Government. The ripple effect of this is that fewer people will sign up for health insurance."
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va) countered, saying that "millions of people are being victimized by a shoddily constructed website. It's bad enough that the government has concocted its own man-made disaster in the effort to coerce everyone into a 'Procrustean' health insurance plan designed by idiots. Yet, despite widespread evidence of the noxious effects of the Affordable Care Act, Democrats refuse to offer any respite. Requiring HHS officials to warn potential ID theft victims is the least we can do."
The Press Secretary characterized Cantor's criticisms as "unpatriotic. As a member of Congress, Mr. Cantor has an obligation to stand up for the Government. He should not be promulgating initiatives that sully the image and dilute the people's respect for the Government. In the grander scheme of things, the hassles that a few private individuals might suffer as a result of having their identities stolen is of far less consequence than the damage this proposed legislation has already done to the people's faith in the President and his Administration."
In related news, Senator Mark Udall (D-Colo) complained that the Colorado Division of Insurance's accurate reports on the number of health insurance policies canceled in the state (nearly 250,000) were "destroying people's confidence in their Government and in me as a representative of their interests. How can we get people to comply with the law's mandate that everyone buy quality health insurance when they find out that many of those who already had insurance lost their insurance through no fault of their own? I'm not saying that the CDI should falsify the data. All I'm saying is that they could've just kept quiet about it."
Congresswoman Argues for End to "Welfare" as We Know It
Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) urged that we stop using the term "welfare" to describe the handouts government gives to support a distressingly large portion of the population.
"Welfare conjures up an image of some lazy person sitting around watching TV while taxpayers have to foot her bills," Jackson said. "We need to change this image."
The change Jackson is pushing is to rename the program. "If we were to call it the Transitional Living Fund we'd completely change people perception of what is going on," she bragged. "'Transitional' gives a sense of movement to replace the sense of stagnation that welfare implies. 'Fund' implies that it is an investment. And 'living' sounds so alive and uplifting."
Representative John Conyers (D-Mich) praised Jackson's intent, but urged caution. "There's no question we need to upgrade the terminology," Conyers agreed. "However, I'm not sure we should jettison the term welfare. The word 'welfare' is in the Constitution. 'Transitional living fund' is not. Since the 'good and plenty' clause of the Constitution authorizes Congress to provide welfare I don't know if it would be safe to abandon it."
DOJ Refuses to Press Charges for IRS Abuses
After investigating the IRS's discriminatory treatment of the President's political opponents, Barbara Bosserman, a lawyer in the Department of Justice's civil rights division, has determined that "no charges will be filed."
"It is clear that the individuals involved were working under a 'good faith' assumption that their actions were in concert with the President's wishes," Bosserman said. "No civil servant should have to face criminal charges for faithfully carrying out government policy. To do otherwise would unleash a cascade of hesitancy and second-guessing throughout the ranks of the bureaucracy. Discipline would be undermined if each employee had to wonder whether what he was doing is legal instead of just following orders."
Bosserman characterized the complaints lodged against the IRS as "a political dispute. If the critics of the policy of greater scrutiny toward so-called Tea Party and patriotic political organizations have a beef it is with the President, not his minions. The remedy for a Presidential abuse of power under our Constitution is impeachment. Rather than harassing the President's underlings they should be following the steps prescribed in this document they say they venerate."
House oversight committee chairman Representative Darrell Issa (R-Calif) professed "profound disappointment in Ms. Bosserman's sham investigation. The Administration is basically stonewalling any inquiry. They are confident that even if the House took action on this impeachable abuse of power the Democrats in the Senate would ensure that the President suffers no consequences. The Constitution's mechanisms against tyranny are ineffective when a sufficient number of those entrusted with them acquiesce in the abuses."
In related news, the just passed "omnibus bill" contains language that explicitly authorizes the IRS to deny tax-exempt status to "political" groups like the Tea Party under 501(c)(4) rules while simultaneously exempting "non-political" groups like unions under 501(c)(5) rules. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) justified the distinction contending that "the Tea Party's sole purpose is to question the policies of the government. This is clearly prohibited political advocacy. Unions, on the other hand, work to support the policies of the government. This is clearly protected educational and patriotic activity."
Pennsylvania Judge Invalidates State's Voter ID Law
Commonwealth Court Judge Bernard McGinley voided Pennsylvania's statute requiring that voters show a photo ID at the polls before they can obtain a ballot. As the judge sees it "forcing a person to show ID places an unreasonable burden on the right to vote.
McGinley dismissed comparisons with the ID requirements people must meet to buy liquor or cash a check, as "misapplied and confused. Transactions in the commercial sector are privileges extended by private parties. Voting is a fundamental human right that may not be limited in any way."
The Judge pooh-poohed contentions that IDs may be needed to prevent fraudulent voting. "The attempt to segregate voters into valid vs. fraudulent categories strikes at the very heart of our democratic values," McGinley asserted. "Every human being is entitled to vote for those who rule over him. To exclude some on grounds that they fail to meet some geographic criterion or bureaucratic regulation is undemocratic."
"The rule for voting should be simple: everyone who requests a ballot must be given one," McGinley argued. "The fear that some individuals mat vote multiple times is exaggerated. Even if it were true, all it signifies is an above average concern for the outcome of an election. Aren't such committed voters more in tune with the spirit of democracy? Shouldn't we want such commitment to carry greater weight than the lesser exertions of others who limit themselves to voting only once?"
McGinley pointed out that "major league sports and American Idol have demonstrated successful adaptation of the 'no-questions-asked' distribution of ballots to all who request them. They accept votes from all over the world without quibbling over citizenship or place of residence. Since the scope of government is even broader than these entertainment enterprises shouldn't its election processes be at least as inclusive?"
Poll Indicates that Government Is Top Problem
A recent Gallup poll revealed that the number one problem facing America, according to those polled, is "the government." Twenty-one percent listed this as the worst problem facing the nation. Rounding out the top five problems were the economy (18%), unemployment (16%), healthcare (16%), and government debt (8%).
These poll results were dramatically out-of-sync with President Obama's declaration that "income inequality" is this nation's chief problem. Only 4% of the poll respondents agreed with his assessment.
As one poll respondent explained, "my work hours have been cut and my health insurance canceled. My wife has been unemployed for three years. We voted for Obama hoping he'd get us out of the Bush recession. As he promised, the government is doing more than ever, but things have just gotten worse."
President Obama, though, denied government is to blame. "The vast majority of economic activity—manufacturing, distribution, jobs—is the responsibility of the private sector," Obama said. "People pretty much get to do what they want. If they expect government to solve problems they've got to be willing to go where the government tells them and do as they're told. Without this type of cooperation it isn't fair that we are held accountable for people's dissatisfaction with their lives."
In related news, for the first time since the index of economic freedom has been kept by Heritage Foundation, the United States dropped out of the top ten. The US now ranks 12th, behind an array of countries that includes Chile, Mauritius, and the formerly Soviet Socialist Republic of Estonia.
President Hails 41st Anniversary of Roe vs. Wade
President Obama took the occasion of the 41st anniversary of the Supreme Court's decision proclaiming a woman's right to an abortion to urge Americans to "recommit ourselves to the decision's guiding principle: that every woman should be able to kill her own baby as long as she does so before it is born."
The President also reaffirmed his "steadfast commitment to ensure that this right not be abridged by lack of funding. No baby should be forced to be born just because her mother cannot afford to pay for an abortion. Preventing this unwanted life is a social responsibility that all must participate in financing."
"When we look back on the four decades since the Supreme Court's historic decision we can be proud that over 50 million unwanted children have been spared degradation and heartache as a result of this courageous act on the part of the Court."
So successful has the progressive abortion regime in New York been that for every 1,000 Black babies born, over 1,200 "have been spared degradation and heartache."
Pelosi Disavows Responsibility for Obamacare Failures
In an appearance on The Daily Show, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) insisted that "none of the problems of the Affordable Care Act are my fault. The bill we passed was over 2800 pages. I didn't have time, no one had time, to carefully read all of its provisions to see if there might be any glitches."
"Beyond this there is always the problem of bureaucratic incompetence," Pelosi continued. "Time after time we have passed legislation aimed at helping people—veterans benefits, medicare, medicaid, and now universal health insurance—only to see treatments bungled, services denied, and money wasted. It's criminal."
The show's host, Jon Stewart, seemed perplexed by the Minority Leader's stance. "With a repetition of the same kinds of problems in program after program when does learning from experience set in?" he asked.
"That's a good question," Pelosi acknowledged. "But you're asking the wrong person. I'm no policy analyst. It's the job of Congress to express the aspirations of the people by enacting laws that address their hopes and dreams. We trust the experts to make these laws work. If they can't do that I guess there is no hope and the dream turns into a nightmare. The one thing we must not let happen is to give in to the naysayers who would exploit this failure to divert us from our course."
SOTU Slams "Stagnant Economy"
President Obama vowed to rescue the country from the "enemies of prosperity" in his speech on the State-of-the-Union Tuesday.
"Too many people are without jobs because businesses place profit ahead of employment," the President complained. "This is the outcome of the perverse incentives of our market economy. If Congress will not act to offset these incentives I will take executive action to rectify this injustice."
"Too many people are without an income because they have no jobs," Obama asserted. "This is the outcome of a mentality that insists that being self-supporting is somehow a requirement for survival. If Congress will not act to eliminate this requirement I will take executive action to see that it happens."
"Too many people's welfare benefits are threatened because the government lacks the resources to ensure a steady and reliable flow of resources to sustain them," Obama warned. "This is the outcome of an obsession with fiscal solvency. If Congress will not raise the taxes needed to fully fund these programs I will take executive action to secure whatever revenues are necessary."
Representative Steve Stockman (R-Texas) took issue with both the President's assertions and his proposed remedy of "executive action." "The job situation is bleak because the President's policies have increased the cost of employing people," Stockman contended. "The culture of dependency he has cultivated and vows to expand and entrench contradicts the principles of freedom upon which this country was founded. His intention to bypass Congress in order to impose his will is beyond his Constitutional authority and invites impeachment."
In related news, North Carolina has enjoyed an economic boom since ending extended unemployment benefits last July. This occurred in the face of Democratic forecasts that cutting off these payments for not working would devastate the state's economy. NC State Representative Jason Saine (R-Raleigh) who had himself been a recipient of extended unemployment benefits observed that "years of extended benefits didn't seem to be having a positive effect on jobs. We decided, instead, to try cutting business taxes to stimulate the economy. I'm happy to say that this seems to be working."
Dems Say Obamacare Will Liberate Millions from Workplace Drudgery
Democrats touted a Congressional Budget Office report that projects more than 2 million workers will opt out of full time work because of the Affordable Care Act's subsidies for unemployed and underemployed persons.
"While the Administration's opponents will try to make this look like bad news, the fact is that work is a disutility," said Press Secretary Jay Carney. "Everyone knows that leisure is man's preferred state. By enabling more people to obtain health insurance at government expense, the Affordable Care Act is liberating millions from the drudgery of full time employment."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) maintains that "enabling more people to escape the burdens of toil was one of the key objectives of the Act. Ideally, we would've liked to extend this same benefit to every American. Unfortunately, some will still be required to work longer hours in order to provide the funds needed to subsidize the benefits we were able to give to those willing to abandon full time jobs."
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid hailed "the end of job-lock. By leveraging the efforts of those willing to work longer hours we have been able to subsidize the health insurance of those who have better uses for their time. Combined with the expansion of the disability rolls and the extension of unemployment benefits, the Affordable Care Act is helping to create a new class of free agents in our society. It is a dream come true for a growing segment of our population."
Ironically, the CBO report also projected that in 10 years the number of Americans without health insurance is expected to exceed 30 million—virtually the same number that was cited as a rationale for imposing the Obamacare mandate. "There will always be people who refuse to cooperate with the program," Carney acknowledged. "Hopefully, the IRS will be able to track them down and fine them for noncompliance."
In related news, Carney maintained that the $4,000 per year decline in median household income since the start of the Obama Administration is "evidence of an America turning away from materialistic concerns. Households are taking home less money because the Administration's policies have helped persuade people that grubbing for dollars is not an appealing way to live one's life."
Congresswoman Proposes Expedited Legislative Procedure
Citing the "unwarranted thwarting of the will of the people by the Republicans in the House," Representative Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas) unveiled what she called "an expedited legislative procedure." Under this procedure, a so-called "full employment caucus" comprised of Democratic lawmakers will draft Executive Orders and pass them on to President Obama for his signature.
"We cannot sit by idly while the GOP uses out-dated clauses of the Constitution to block the initiatives of the Administration," Jackson said. "By gathering the true representatives of voters into our caucus we can ensure that the President's will prevails over obstructionism."
Jackson went on to point out that "as long as everyone is willing to comply with the President's Executive Orders they have the same impact as an Act of Congress. We'll be able to bypass Congressional gridlock and get things moving."
Included among the items under consideration for this expedited procedure are an increase in the minimum wage, extending unemployment benefits, loosening the restrictions on food stamps, and amnesty for immigrants in this country illegally. "Removing these impediments to prosperity is essential if the President's vision for America is to be realized," Jackson asserted.
NSA's Revenue Generating Potential Being Explored
The Obama Administration is reportedly evaluating the possibility of using data gathered by the National Security Agency (NSA) to help fund the government.
NSA Deputy Director Richard Ledgett says that "for too long we've been overlooking the commercial opportunities of this vast surveillance project. We know what web sites people have been visiting. We know who they've been calling on their cell phones. And in many instances we've been reading their emails. There has got to be a lot of businesses that would pay substantial sums to have a peek at this information."
Ledgett speculated that "the obvious customers for purchasing this information would appear to be corporations seeking probable buyers of their products or services. But on the flip side we believe that there may be a market amongst persons wanting us to withhold release of data that might be inconvenient or embarrassing. We haven't yet developed a refined plan for realizing the full revenue potential, but we are seriously exploring options."
Jason Furman, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, sees the revenue potential as "a heretofore untapped resource. As changing lifestyles diminish the traditional methods of funding the government, as more people choose subsidized leisure over gainful employment, the idea that we can support the public sector by simply taxing productive effort is becoming out-dated. In our so-called 'information age' it seems fitting that we exploit the information the government has gone to such great lengths to acquire in order to help finance the government's needs."
Campaign Finance Law Enables IRS Harassment of Conservatives
The impetus behind the passage of federal laws to regulate contributions to political campaigns was the idea that this would prevent the surreptitious influence of big money in elections. By requiring donors identities to be disclosed to the Federal Elections Commission voters would be able to find out who was backing a candidate or a cause. That the government might use this information to punish dissent was overlooked.
Anonymity has long been a method by which persons critical of the government have protected themselves from retaliation. Pamphleteers of the American Revolutionary Era often used pseudonyms for this purpose. The failure of proponents of the campaign finance laws to consider why this was done has had pernicious effects.
Cleta Mitchell, member of the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on Election Law, says that "many donors to conservative causes and candidates are showing up as targets of IRS audits. The increased frequency of this type of thing is disturbing. The message that is going to be taken from this is that daring to assist an opponent of the Democratic Party is an invitation to increased harassment."
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen rebuffed GOP complaints saying that "there is nothing in the statutes that guarantees an equal distribution of audits among persons of various political leanings. If these GOP donors have done nothing wrong they have nothing to worry about."
Mitchell wasn't reassured, however. "An IRS audit is a grueling ordeal even when the taxpayer has totally complied with the complex tax code," she observed. "By itself an audit is viewed as a punishment by the person undergoing the scrutiny. In the absence of probable cause one would hope that the selection of audit targets would be done in a random manner. That political factors might be used is abusive and tyrannical."
First Lady Says Obamacare Needed to "Save Young People from Their Own Stupidity"
In an interview on the Tonight Show, Michelle Obama unveiled the latest effort of the Administration to induce young and healthy adults to sign up for health insurance by pointing out how stupid this target cohort is.
"If you look at how young people behave it's clear that the vast majority of them are knuckleheads," she asserted. "They can't be trusted to do this simplest tasks—like making a sandwich—without hurting themselves. Their choices for leisure activities are typically dangerous and irresponsible—you know, smoking dope, getting drunk and then getting behind the steering wheel of a car. We're trying to get the message to these youngsters that they need the insurance the Affordable Care Act requires them to buy."
Michelle admitted that "the low enrollment rates for this group are a cause for concern. In hindsight, our expectation that these folks could be compelled to sign up of their own volition under threat of a penalty was probably overly optimistic. Educating them about their responsibility is a difficult and likely hopeless undertaking. We really need to find some way of making the sign-ups and the extraction of fees automatic."
Perhaps, though, these young adults aren't as clueless as the Administration thinks. True enough, they voted overwhelmingly for Obama. On the other hand, in a recent study, researchers from the Stanford University of Medicine found that among those suffering traumatic injuries, uninsured patients get better care than those who are insured. It seems that those with insurance are routed to hospitals on their plan while those without insurance are taken to the nearest trauma center.
Senate Democrats Reject Limits on IRS Intimidation of Political Speech
In the midst of the Obama Administration's efforts to "reform" IRS regulations, the Senate Democratic majority rejected language proposed by Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would have blocked the IRS from acting to penalize dissent against government policies and programs.
The specific text of Senator Cruz's proposed language would have made it unlawful for the IRS to "willfully act with the intent to injure, oppress, threaten, intimidate, or single out and subject to undue scrutiny any person or organization in any state."
As Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev) explained, "whether intent is malicious or scrutiny is undue is a matter of opinion. Senator Cruz's amendment would invite persons dissatisfied with how they are treated by the IRS to put the issue before a court. Frankly, we don't see the need for that. The President and his appointees at the IRS are fully capable of rendering an appropriate interpretation on whether any actions taken by the agency are malicious or excessive."
The Democrats also unanimously rejected Cruz's amendment that would require the IRS to use the Federal Election Commission's definition of political activity as a guide for whether more scrutiny or other action is warranted in any given case.
"Tying the IRS to a preexisting standard would hamper its flexibility to adjust to changing conditions," Reid observed. "The Government must have as wide a latitude as possible if we are to deter individuals and organizations from engaging in unwarranted and unwanted political activities. The job of governing the nation is difficult enough without organized attempts to challenge the wisdom or intent of policies we deem necessary."
"To be truthful, I'm sick and tired of those who are using the First Amendment as a crutch for their persistent opposition to this Administration's policies," Reid angrily continued. "The voters elected President Obama to do a job. Loyal Americans have an obligation to support their President in his efforts. Those intent on obstructing him are about as un-American as I can imagine."
Seriously Ill Hurt by Obamacare a "Tiny Minority"
As the number of seriously ill patients whose access to treatment has been impeded by the Affordable Care Act continues to increase, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius insists that "the actual number affected represents only a tiny minority of the population."
"No plan can comfortably accommodate every single person," Sebelius pointed out. "Trade-offs are inevitable. We can't let ourselves be distracted by the pitiful stories of a handful of unfortunate victims of rare diseases. The vast majority are receiving the coverage we deem essential."
Providing the "vast majority" with contraceptives, mammograms, and sex change surgery while short-changing the desperately sick would appear to contradict the main purpose of insurance. According to Sebelius, though, "serving the majority's needs is more democratic. Why should the healthy majority be denied the convenience of having basic services covered at the cost of investing society's scarce resources in a futile effort to treat those likely to die from their ailments?"
The Secretary argued that "from a broader perspective, culling the weakest from the herd is the sounder investment. The money saved by diverting funds from being spent on hopeless cases can be better used to serve the much larger number of persons who can benefit from basic preventive care."
The IRS has estimated that the "basic care" provided by the Affordable Care Act will cost the average American family $20,000 a year—a statistic that Sebelius insisted "bolsters the case for prioritizing outlays to ensure as wide a distribution of benefits as possible. The notion that we should concentrate these outlays for the benefit of a sick minority flies in the face of political reality."
Carney Explains President's "God's Work" Comment
Speaking to a group of "pro-choice" advocates for government-funded abortions, President Obama praised them for "doing God's work." In a bid to stem criticism from "pro life" opponents of abortion, Press Secretary Jay Carney suggested that "since God is supposed to be all-powerful, how can the President's assertion be wrong?"
"When a person dies the devoutly religious often say God has called him back to heaven," Carney recalled. "So, if a doctor sends a fetus back to heaven who's to say he isn't doing God's work? Look at all the suffering that is averted. An unwanted child is spared a lifetime of pain. A hard-pressed would-be mother is spared the encumbrance of two decades of imprisonment as an unwilling caregiver. Aren't these objectives worthy of God's appreciation? I think those taking the President to task on this are skating on thin ice."
In related news, at the University of Georgia, the Women's Studies Student Organization and Sexual Health Advocacy Group screened off an anti-abortion demonstration so it could not be seen by passersby. Danielle Duncan, one of the pro-choice activists, defended what she characterized as "guerrilla censorship," contending that "the pro-life display is hate speech, pure and simple. Showing the dismembered bodies of aborted fetuses could trigger negative emotions. So-called freedom of speech shouldn't be used to offend people in this way."
Senator Complains about CIA Spying
This week Senator Diane Feinstein (D-Calif), a long time supporter of the intelligence community, expressed outrage upon discovering that the CIA has been spying on members of Congress.
"I have backed every budget request the CIA has put forward," Feinstein declared. "I have defended them against their detractors from both sides of the ideological spectrum. Now we find out that they have been surreptitiously breaking into the emails of members of Congress—including mine. It is one thing to spy on ordinary people. It is quite another for them to spy on a separate branch of government."
CIA Director John Brennan dismissed the Senator's complaints saying that "to be effective surveillance must be comprehensive. Just because a person is a member of Congress is no guarantee that he or she doesn't have malevolent intentions toward the Administration. In fact, Senator Feinstein's public disclosure of our penetration of her email account is the kind of breach of security that gives aid and comfort to our enemies. As far as I'm concerned it vindicates the need for our Agency to leave no source of information untapped."
In related news, reports have surfaced that the NSA has been using social networking websites as a means of hacking into individuals' personal computers. NSA Director General Keith Alexander would neither confirm or deny these reports. However, he did postulate that "from the amount of personal information voluntarily posted on these public sites we don't think it unreasonable to infer that these individuals have waived their right to privacy. Under these circumstances, it would be irresponsible for us not to use this avenue for the purpose of defending the nation against threats to the Government."
Judge Rules Border Fence Illegal
U.S. District Court Judge for the District of Columbia Beryl Howell ruled that "the construction of any kind of barrier to the free movement of people across the US/Mexican border is illegal. There can be no disputing that such a barrier would explicitly target a protected ethnic minority. This violates the equal protection clause."
As the Judge sees it, "in order to pass muster, a policy, program, or enforcement must be shown to affect all racial, ethnic, religious, sexual, and sexual-orientation subsets of the population in roughly equal proportion to each group's percentage of the population. Since a fence along the United States' southern border would disproportionally affect Hispanics it is impermissible under our laws."
Howell suggested that "if Congress is determined to build a border fence they should look north rather than south. The mix of populations on both sides of the US/Canada border is roughly similar. No one group would be disproportionally disadvantaged by having their movements over this border impeded."
While not part of the case being adjudicated, Judge Howell hinted that "deportations should be subjected to scrutiny, as well. There is little doubt in my mind that a disproportionate share of those being forced to leave this country against their will are Hispanic. This would also appear to violate the equal protection clause."
The Mexican Government hailed Howell's decision. Mexico's former foreign minister, Jorge Castañeda, insisted that "there must be no impediments to the migration of Mexican nationals into the land that was stolen from our country by American aggression in the 19th century."
US Blocks Sexual Fidelity and Abstinence in Battle against AIDS
To the consternation of African representatives on the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), US and European delegates rejected the idea of including sexual fidelity and abstinence among a list of measures aimed at countering the AIDS epidemic in Africa.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power defended the move as "part of the United States devotion to protecting the unrestricted right of individuals to have sex with whomever they choose, whenever they choose. To merely suggest that a person might lower their risk of infection by remaining faithful to a sexual partner or deferring sexual gratification until such time as they can secure a condom is an intolerable infringement on this most basic of human rights."
CSW delegate from Zimbabwe, Taurai Chinyerere, expressed severe disappointment with the censorship of these options. "We need to advocate every feasible means of fighting this infection," Chinyerere said. "We are not saying that fidelity or abstinence are the only ways to combat this illness. We only want to include them in our communication to the general public. Rich nations may be confident that they have the means to attack the infection after it has struck, but poor nations must take inexpensive precautions where possible."
Nevertheless, Power was adamant that "the inclusion of advocacy aimed at self restraint is demeaning toward those who may lack this ability. It implies that those who become ill may be at least partially at fault. This can have devastating psychological impacts that we should do our utmost to avoid."
Power tried to reassure the distressed African contingent that "the wealthier nations will do what they can to help poorer nations purchase the medications they need to treat HIV and AIDS. Remember, ensuring the revenues of the pharmaceutical firms that have invested so heavily in a cure is a crucial building block to our efforts against this plague. We can't afford to attenuate their return on this investment if we hope to win this battle without interfering with basic human sexual rights."
EPA Justifies Experiments
Revelations that the US Environmental Protection Agency has been conducting deadly experiments on unwitting volunteers have surfaced. According to the Office of the Inspector General (OIG), the EPA's experiments exposed individuals to pollutants in quantities up to 50 times greater than the levels the agency deems safe.
The OIG findings were dismissed as "exaggerated scaremongering" by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. "The number of individuals exposed to these toxins are but a tiny fraction of the population. Those criticizing the Agency are overlooking the potentially larger gains to the vast majority of the country that may be achieved by the sacrifice of the few."
Solicitations for experimental subjects invited individuals suffering from shortness of breath or asthma to earn $12 an hour by participating in a study aimed at improving air quality. None were told they would be exposed to pollutants in quantities far in excess of safe levels.
McCarthy defended misleading the volunteers as "a necessary ploy. If we had been forced to clearly inform the study participants of the dangers we wouldn't have been able to conduct the experiments. No one would've volunteered.." McCarthy asserted that "these methods are no worse than previous experiments carried out using prison inmates as the guinea pigs for testing exposure to harmful substances. Anyone willing to accept $12 an hour to let us use them in an experiment can't have much value to society. So, prisoners or volunteers, either way, persons of low social value have an opportunity to make a useful contribution to the larger community."
State Department Priorities Debated
Prior to 2012's attack on Libyan Ambassador Chris Stevens there were numerous rejected requests from the Ambassador for more security. Then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton blamed the repeated rejection of these requests on budget constraints. At the same time, the State Department was laying out funds for some dubious undertakings—including funding the sending of comedians to India.
Senator Rand Paul (R-Ken) questioned whether funding comedians might have been a frivolous use of money that might have been better used to provide more security in Libya.
In testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, current Secretary of State John Kerry advised that "we not jump to hasty conclusions. I recognize that there is a huge emotional reaction to our Ambassador being murdered by Muslim extremists, but it is not at all clear to me that diverting the money spent on comedians would've been better used to fund more security in Libya."
"Think about it," Kerry urged, "Given the size of the mob that attacked the Consulate it seems to me that a larger security force would've merely bumped up the casualty count from four to whatever. And adding more 'Rambos' would not have jibed with the President's decision against resisting the attack."
"Let me also point out that there were no casualties suffered in India," Kerry continued. "Does this not imply that the comedians we financed had a salutary effect? It is said that a smile turneth away wrath. Comedians induce people to smile. The extent to which the calm that has prevailed in India may have been due to this timely intervention can never be adequately measured or appreciated."
"Well, what about the $700,000 spent on shrubs for our embassy in Brussels or the $5 million for new crystal ware for the State Department?" Paul asked. "Couldn't those funds have been better used for security in Libya?"
"We shouldn't be second guessing decisions that can't be unmade at this late date," Kerry replied. "I'm sure that my predecessor had sound reasons for the budget choices she made. To her credit, Brussels has remained one of the calmer spots in the world. Perhaps the new shrubbery played a role in that. And entertaining foreign dignitaries is a fundamental responsibility of the State Department. If we give them drinks in shabby glasses it would reflect poorly on our nation."
An Inspector General's report found that nearly $6 billion was misplaced by the State Department during Clinton's tenure there. Whether any of this money could have made a difference in Libya is unknown.
President Vows "No Fixes" to Obamacare until GOP Changes Attitude
Despite heart-breaking stories of critically ill patients being denied treatments under Obamacare, President Obama steadfastly refuses to offer any relief "until the GOP changes its attitude."
"Those who are suffering need to know that I stand ready to fix all their problems as soon as the Republicans cease their criticism of the Affordable Care Act and get behind the effort to implement it nationwide," the President said. "The Republicans are harping on the theme that these people are suffering because provisions in the ACA caused their previous insurance to be canceled. Well, I can abolish those provisions, but the price is GOP acquiescence in the permanence of this law."
"Republican contentions that the 7 million we signed up for policies under the ACA is only a tiny fraction of the nation's 300 million population are irrelevant," the President continued. "The new signees may represent less than 3% of the population, but I, as their President, represent 100% of the population. And I say that the law is here to stay. As soon as the GOP comes to terms with this reality everyone can partake of its benefits."
Senator John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a physician, labeled the President's attitude "cruel and sadistic. It is his law that has bumped people off of insurance that would've covered their ailments. It is his law that is boosting the cost of medical care for everyone. For him to say that he will alleviate the consequences on the condition that all resistance to his tyranny cease is extortion, plain and simple."
Administration Exploring Options for Curbing Anti-Muslim Hate Speech
The U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee, Bill Killian, says "the Administration is looking into ways we can curb anti-Muslim hate speech. Such speech violates Muslims' Constitutional right to freely exercise their religion. It is our duty to protect this right."
Killian acknowledged that "there are some tricky and delicate issues here. Some believe that freedom of speech gives them the right to make remarks critical of or disparaging toward Islam. On the other hand, Islam commands its faithful to fight against, subdue, and slay those who insult their beliefs. The only way we can see to head off potential violent confrontations is to interdict the insults through official prohibitions."
"Muslim beliefs are different from those of Christians and Jews," Killian explained. "Jesus bade his followers to 'turn the other cheek' toward those who harm or offend them. And Jews have a long history of suffering under discriminatory laws and pogroms without violently responding to these oppressions. So, while there is clearly no need for the Government to intervene against anti-Christian or anti-Jewish speech the same cannot be said in regard to anti-Muslim speech."
"If we can persuade Muslims that the Government will impose satisfactory sanctions against persons who insult their religion there will be no need for them to take matters into their own hands," Killian argued. "They will see that Government is up to the task of protecting their faith and that they won't have to take up arms to defend it. It's simply a matter of maintaining both the Constitutional right of Muslims to practice their religion and our Constitutional obligation to secure domestic tranquility."
Democrats Say Benghazi Is Old News Unworthy of Further Concern
The revelation of Obama Administration memos proving that it knowingly perpetrated a fraudulent cover story blaming a little watched video for the attack on the US Benghazi Consulate is, according to former National Security Council Spokesman Tommy Vietor, "old news unworthy of further concern."
"Look Dude," Vietor told Fox News' Bret Baier, "all that happened like two years ago. There's nothing anybody can do about it now. I think former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton established that it doesn't make any difference at this point."
Vietor also defended the State Department's and White House's pivot toward protecting the Administration from damaging political fall out. "While it was sad that four Americans died in Benghazi, the greater threat to the Administration from the domestic insurgency led by Mitt Romney had to be dealt with in a decisive manner," Vietor argued. "The four casualties we suffered in Benghazi was a minor setback. A loss to Romney would've had far graver impacts for the President and his program. Even in hindsight, I think we made the right choice."
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif) echoed Vietor's perspective and called continued GOP interest in the topic "a baldfaced attempt to divert people's attention from the headway this Administration is making. They don't want voters to know that over 8 million have signed up for the Affordable Care Act's new health insurance. They don't want voters to know that unemployment has dropped to its lowest level since the President took office. It's the same old 'dirty politics' we have come to expect from Republicans."
Pelosi predicted that "this scheme won't work because I believe that the Statute of Limitations for prosecuting anyone involved in anything that happened in Benghazi has expired. And even if it hasn't President Obama can simply pardon anyone the GOP witch hunters try to get their claws into. It's time to move on."
Study Said to Vindicate President's Economic Policies
A study recently published by the National Employment Law Project reports that a plurality of the new jobs created under the Administration's economic policies have been low-wage jobs. Data analyzed in the study indicated that while 22% of the jobs lost during the recession were low-wage, 44% of the jobs created since then are low-wage.
"If proof were needed that this President is on the side of the little guy this is it," said Jason Furman, Chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers. "Expanding job opportunities for those with little education and few skills focuses on the population cohort that is most in tune with the President's view of the world."
"Combined with government assistance like food stamps, public housing, subsidized health insurance and miscellaneous free stuff these low-wage jobs can be an ideal situation for a lot of these people," Furman explained. "The fact that a majority of these new jobs are part time means that a hefty share of the low-wage segment are also enjoying a highly coveted extra leisure time to spend with their families."
"Step-by-step, the President's policies are breaking down the preconception that each individual has to provide for himself and his family by working full time at a high-wage job," Furman continued. "More and more people are coming to realize that a package of government benefits combined with some part time work is an attractive and viable life style in a transformed America."
Maybe a more persuasive "vindication" of the President's economic policies is the reported anemic one-tenth of one percent annual growth in GDP achieved in 2014's first quarter. As bad as this is, the Administration is bragging that it would've been worse without Obamacare. "Without this law forcing people to pay an added 10% for medical care during the quarter GDP growth would have been negative," Furman asserted. "Can we really dare to think of repealing this economic shot-in-the-arm?"
The Congressional Budget Office projects that this "shot-in-the-arm" will compel taxpayers to pay more than $50,000 per year for every person that has signed up for Obamacare. The CBO also predicts that within 10 years the Affordable Care Act will have reduced the number of uninsured Americans from a current estimated 42 million down to a lower total of 31 million.
Hillary Clinton Denies any Responsibility for Boko Haram's Terrorism
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's attempt to join in the widespread condemnation of the Nigerian terror group Boko Haram's kidnapping spree bumped up against evidence that her efforts at State blocked this organization from being added to the terror watch list.
In her defense, Clinton contended "I had no way of knowing then that they would later kidnap 300 girls to sell into slavery. It was my impression then that Boko Haram was engaged in a campaign to uplift impoverished Muslims in Nigeria."
In contradiction to Clinton's assertions, the FBI, the CIA, and the Justice Department all pleaded with the State Department to have Boko Haram designated a terrorist organization. "That may well be," Hillary said, "I don't specifically recall. What I do remember is that Bill assured me that fighting poverty was their mission. And for that I didn't think they deserved to be stigmatized with a terrorist label."
Judging from its actions, the real target of Boko Haram appears to be education. For years it has been murdering teachers and students. In fact, roughly translated, Boko Haram means "education is sin." Kidnapping school girls to sell as sex slaves seems more a blow against education than an anti-poverty program.
The former Secretary of State maintained that "whatever I did do back then is no longer relevant. I can't undo it now. So what does that matter at this point? I want to go on record today as deploring their latest atrocity."
Current Secretary of State John Kerry placed Boko Haram on the terror watch list in November 2013. "Much as we might want to sympathize with their anger against a world they did not make, the simple fact is that they do not offer any kind of health insurance for either their troops or the people they seek to subjugate," Kerry complained. "To us this is a stark reminder of how barbaric they are in their outlook. President Obama has declared that health insurance is a human right. Lack of respect for this right by Boko Haram leaves us no choice but to classify them as terrorists."
Industry Group Warns Prescription Costs Will Rise under Obamacare
The Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) reports that a study comparing out-of-pocket costs under Affordable Care Act health insurance policies will likely exceed costs under employer sponsored plans by an estimated 130%.
John Castellani, president and CEO of PhRMA, expressed concern that "millions of Americans may be priced out of receiving the medicines they need. This completely contradicts the Administration's promise that the Affordable Care Act would provide coverage equivalent to or better than what people had prior to the new law."
Deputy Secretary of Health and Human Services Bill Corr disputed the implication that the health of Americans would be negatively affected. "Most of the prescription drugs people take are unnecessary," Corr asserted. "Some are outright harmful when all of the negative side effects are taken into consideration. So if higher out-of-pocket costs reduce the consumption of these drugs not only will we save money, we will save lives."
"If the general public had known that boosting consumers' out-of-pocket drug costs in order to discourage consumption was an intended outcome of the President's health care reform I doubt they would've supported its passage," Castellani observed. "I certainly know our organization wouldn't have supported it."
"What these outsiders may have believed is not important," Corr replied. "The key was to reform our nation's health care system by whatever means necessary. The ACA is now the law of the land. We will carry out its provisions as the President deems appropriate. If this cuts into drug manufacturers' profits, so be it."
In related news, health insurance executive Marcus Merz, CEO of PreferredOne, says another accomplishment of Obamacare will be "to help people break away from the idea that they should have a range of choices when it comes to who will treat them. Choice adds to the cost of health care. The less of it there is, the more we save."
President Ups Pressure for Immigration Reform
Determined to maneuver Republicans in Congress into supporting immigration reform before the November elections, President Obama ordered the release of 36,000 illegal alien criminals. The crimes committed were for offenses other than entering the country illegally, including 116 homicides, 426 sexual assaults, 303 kidnappings, 1,075 aggravated assaults, 1,160 stolen vehicles, 9,187 dangerous drug possessions, and 24,822 driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
"By denying these undocumented immigrants legal status we force them into the shadows where they must struggle to support themselves," the President complained. "The vast majority accept low-wage work cleaning our homes, mowing our lawns, and serving our fast food. But some can't even get these slavery-type jobs. They are forced into lives of crime. It would be unfair to hold this against them while Congress—a virtual co-conspirator—repeatedly refuses to enact corrective legislation."
The release of these criminals outraged Senator Jeff Sessions (R-Ala). "After pleading for latitude in dealing with so-called 'harmless' undocumented aliens, the Administration now goes ahead and sends dangerous criminals out into the streets of America's cities and towns," Sessions complained. "This goes beyond dereliction of his duty to enforce the law. It is a malicious attempt at extortion."
Governor Calls Fetal Pain Bill Efforts "Waste of Time"
A push for a special session to consider legislation that would address fetal pain and, thereby, place a limit on abortions was labeled a "waste of time" by West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin (D).
"As I've said before, legislation that would elevate concern for a fetus's pain above that of a woman's right to terminate her pregnancy is unconstitutional," Tomblin reiterated. "The argument that the pain inflicted on the fetus is a violation of the Eighth Amendment's bar against cruel or unusual punishment is unpersuasive. The Eighth Amendment protects against cruel punishment. The fetus has committed no offense and is not being punished. Therefore, it is not entitled to this protection. Neither is the pain unusual. There have been over 50 million abortions performed since 1973's Roe vs. Wade Court decision."
"On a more practical level, the pain inflicted is momentary," Tomblin added. "Whether the fetus is injected with poison, has its spinal cord severed, or its brain evacuated, death is relatively quick. In contrast, the pain inflicted by an unwanted birth can last decades for the mother and a lifetime for the child. It seems to me that those trying to avert a momentary pain at the cost of one of greater duration are the true proponents of unusual cruelty."
President Not Getting Enough Credit for Foreign Policy
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki lamented the perception that President Obama's foreign policy has been plagued by incoherence and inconsistency, saying that "President Obama doesn't give himself enough credit for what he's done around the world."
"Lesser minds are having difficulty comprehending the sophisticated nuances of the President's world view," Psaki contended. "They see the resurgence of al-Qaeda as evidence of failure in the war on terror. What they fail to understand is that if the United States is not perceived as threatening, that it is no longer their enemy, they will have no reason to attack us. And unlike during the Bush Administration, there have been no terrorist attacks on America since President Obama introduced his 'smile turneth away wrath' approach."
Some members of the media found Psaki's perspective "laughable," however, former Vermont Governor Howard Dean came to her defense. "There is no question that there are vast differences between the mental capabilities of different people," Dean said. "President Obama is at the pinnacle of the human pyramid. It stands to reason that persons further down would have a hard time trying to figure out his thinking."
As an example of President Obama's superhuman mental accomplishments Dean cited "the transformation he has wrought in Libya. For 40 years Gaddafi ruled that land with an iron fist, but with the skilled intervention carried out under President Obama's orders a democratic and peaceful regime has supplanted his tyranny."
According to Dean, the fact that few would be inclined to agree with his assessment "only bolsters the case for President Obama's genius. Historically, geniuses have always stood out from the pack. Many have been pilloried and persecuted as President Obama is being pilloried and persecuted for his vision of a better world."
In related news, Secretary of State John Kerry labeled Edward Snowden a coward for refusing to return to the United States where he faces the threat of prosecution for divulging that the US Government spies on its own citizens. "I think that a person who has objections to what his Government is doing has an obligation to air these grievances face-to-face like I did as a young naval officer in order to expose the war atrocities being committed by US troops in Vietnam," Kerry said. The Secretary's comparison may be inapt, though. While Kerry may have committed crimes, the Government never sought to try him—a circumstance that Kerry attributed to "both Nixon's cowardice and the irrefutable truth of what I had to say."
President Calls Return of Bergdahl a "Mission of Mercy"
President Obama continued to insist that Sgt Bergdahl's health was a major factor in his decision to negotiate the exchange with the Taliban.
"On the videos I saw he looked sick," the President said. "And based on what I've been reading in the newspapers the waiting time for medical treatment for veterans is dangerously long. As it is, veterans already in this country have to wait months, possibly years, to receive critically needed care. I felt it was crucial for me to get Bergdahl back as soon as possible so he could take his place in this lengthy queue."
The President denied that the price paid for Bergdahl's release might've been too high. "There's an old Chinese saying that it is better that a hundred guilty men go free than that one innocent man suffer," Obama recalled. "I only let five guilty men go free, so we really got quite a bargain."
Obama discounted the possibility that the five Gitmo prisoners he released would soon rejoin their jihad against the United States. "While it is, of course, possible that they may resume their terrorist attacks, I for one, wouldn't bet on it," the President declared. "Under the terms of the agreement for their release we are paying for all their expenses for an indefinite period at a five-star hotel in Qatar. If it were me there'd be no way I'd give up those kinds of perks to go into the desert or mountains to fight well-armed US troops. I mean, unlimited golf, satellite TV, fine dining vs. dodging bullets and drones. Come on, it's a no brainer."
Whether the President's assessment