Work Requirement Pares Maine Food Stamp Recipients
Enforcement of a work requirement by Republican Governor Paul LePage's administration has led to 9,000 former recipients being declared ineligible to receive food stamps. Under the work requirement, able-bodied food stamp recipients were asked to put in 20 hours of work per week or 24 hours of volunteer services per month.
State Rep. Scott Hamann (D-South Portland) called the work requirement "inhumane" and compared it to "indentured servitude." "The Governor is taking the state out of the mainstream," Hamann argued. "Other states have sought an exemption from the work requirement, but LePage is charting a course that sends a message telling people they must work in order to eat. In my view, this is a step backward."
Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew defended the Governor's approach. "Entrenching people in a life of dependency is not a way to get them out of poverty," Mayhew said. "It's one thing for a person to be physically unable to support themselves. It is quite another for a person to refuse to contribute effort to sustaining himself."
Hamann belittled "the contention that self-reliance is an appropriate ethos for a modern society. Not everyone is equally endowed with a strong work ethic or the ambition to succeed. Some inherit laziness and stupidity through no fault of their own. We shouldn't be holding the losers in the genetic lottery to the same standards as the winners. Those who are lucky enough to be born energetic and ambitious have an obligation to society to help carry the weight of those less fortunate than themselves."
In Kansas, a bill to ban welfare benefits from being spent on body piercings, massages, spas, tobacco, nail salons, lingerie, arcades, cruise ships or visits to psychics was denounced by state Rep. Carolyn Bridges (D-Wichta) as "an unacceptable infringement on people's freedom to spend their own money as they see fit. As a society we have determined that these people are entitled to public support. By endeavoring to limit the uses to which they can apply thus support we are degrading their perception of self-worth and making them second class citizens. This is appalling. Freedom belongs to everyone. Poverty shouldn't be used to limit a person's choices."
In stark contrast to what's going on in Maine and Kansas, the nearly bankrupt State of California is looking to make illegal aliens fully eligible for state welfare benefits. "This nation was built by immigrants, how can we not cut them a piece of the pie?" asked state Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens). Lara dismissed the state's budgetary deficit as "an excuse, not a reason for excluding newcomers from enjoying the fruits of citizenship."
Iranian Ayatollah Calls Obama "Lying Devil"
Ayatollah Khamenei, Iran's supreme leader, characterized US President Barack Obama's statements about the agreement negotiated between the two countries as "deceptive" and evidence of "devilish" intentions.
"Obama's assertion that Iran has agreed to ramp down its pursuit of nuclear weapons in exchange for a phasing out of economic sanctions is a lie," Khamenei said. "What we have agreed to is this. First, all sanctions must be immediately ended. Once this happens we agree to refrain from engaging in any nuclear attacks until, in our judgment, circumstances for a favorable outcome warrant it. Most likely, circumstances won't be favorable for at least a few years."
US Secretary of State John Kerry sought to minimize any perceived discrepancy between the two sides, saying that "Khamenei's statement is within the bounds of the framework we've been constructing. We could quibble over which comes first—the end of sanctions or Iran's self-constraint as a nuclear power—or we could make the first concession as a step toward building good will."
"Right now, Iran is conceding that there will be at least a few years before they launch any nuclear strikes," Kerry pointed out. "This should ensure that nothing drastic happens during President Obama's remaining term. After that it will be up to his successor to devise a strategy for dealing with Iran."
In related news, State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf dismissed warnings from former secretaries of state Henry Kissinger and George Schultz about the nuclear agreement the Obama Administration negotiated with Iran as "lots of big words that few people will understand."
Kissinger and Schultz noted that the so-called agreement lacks any provisions for enforcement. Neither does it address Iran's sponsorship of terrorism—a behavior that will become a bigger problem once sanctions are lifted and Iran has more funds at hand to aid these groups.
Harf insisted that "these concerns are irrelevant since Iran will not agree to inspections and reserves the sovereign right to use its resources as it deems best. For us to raise these issues would complicate the negotiations and make any agreement unlikely. We feel that it is better to have half a loaf than none."
Administration Brushes Off Russian Hackers
Evidence that Russian computer hackers penetrated security at the White House and State Department was brushed aside by National Security Council spokesman Mark Stroh.
"Since the Administration has no hostile designs on Russia we don't consider their gaining access to confidential correspondence at the State Department or White House a threat to our security," Stroh maintained. "In a way, this could be a good thing. They will see that we bear them no ill will. That could open up new avenues for better relations between our two countries."
"It would be far more worrisome if our correspondence had been illicitly obtained by domestic right wing groups that have long harbored a racist resentment of the President and his transformative agenda," Stroh contended. "These groups have been working assiduously to undermine the President from day-one. They even mounted an unsuccessful effort to oust him from office in 2012. The Russians haven't done anything as menacing as that for the whole time he's been in office."
President Chastises "Less than Loving" Christians
President Obama took the occasion of Easter Sunday to chastise Christians for being "less than loving." "Over the past few months alone we've seen so-called Christians refuse to take photographs and bake cakes for gay weddings," the President lamented. "This directly contradict's Jesus' admonition to 'judge not lest ye be judged.'"
Obama rejected the idea that Christians might have legitimate religious objections to social policies with which they disagree. "Jesus bade his followers to turn the other cheek if they are offended," he reminded. "Jesus allowed himself to be crucified rather than fight back against those who wronged him. Shouldn't Christians be following this example?"
In related news, murders of Christians by Islamists in Kenya and elsewhere this month failed to elicit any comment from President Obama. Press Secretary Josh Earnest explained that "the hundred or so students murdered in Kenya is but a small fraction of the 2.2 billion Christians in the world. So, in no way can Christians be considered a 'persecuted minority.' Besides, from a historical perspective, didn't Christian martyrs play a huge part in sparking the spread of Christian beliefs? Maybe these Islamist atrocities will help reinvigorate Christianity from its fading role in modern culture."
In related news, Christiana Figueres, the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, called such massacres "a clumsy and cruel, but nevertheless effective method toward achieving the necessary and essential goal of depopulating the planet."
White House "Gender Neutral" Restroom "Not Good Enough"
The Obama administration's efforts to earn gratitude from the gay lobby by adding a "gender neutral" restroom to the White House came up short.
Lesbian-Gay-Bisexual-Transgender spokesperson Irma Crank called the move "not good enough. Every bathroom in every home in America is 'gender neutral.' Many businesses already have 'family restrooms' that can be used by either gender. The Administration's attempt to curry favor with such a lame and wishy-washy measure is an insult. Frankly, we expected more from this President."
The "more" expected by Crank "is the right of any person to use any facility—men's room, ladies room—based on their sexual feelings of the moment. Herding individuals with uncertain or fluctuating sexual identities into a neutral space stigmatizes them. Anatomy must not be allowed to overrule a person's mental state. An anatomically male individual must have the right to explore his feminine side whenever the urge presents itself. Likewise, an anatomically female individual must be free to express her masculine side."
Crank also denounced "the dodge of one-occupant-at-a-time facilities that some businesses have been turning to. Urinating or defecating in a room by oneself stunts a person's feelings of solidarity with those whose sex he or she is striving to identify with. Obviously, we are not yet at the point of full gender identity freedom in this country. We will not be satisfied with halfway compromises. We need to keep up the pressure until everyone is free to go wherever he or she pleases."
White House spokesman Jeff Tiller expressed his disappointment with "Crank's hasty condemnation. I think we're all on the same page here. The gender neutral facility is for those who may be uncertain about their gender identity. Individuals who are sure may opt for the men's or ladies' room as they see fit. Beyond the White House, the Department of Justice will vigorously prosecute any businesses or organizations that try to restrict who may use whatever restroom facilities they provide."