Obama Disputes Iran Ransom Claim
President Obama disputed claims that a planeload of $400 million in cash sent to Iran was a payment for the release of four Americans held hostage by the regime. He dismissed the simultaneous arrival of the plane carrying the cash with the departure of the plane carrying the hostages as "coincidental."
Brian Stelter of CNN cited this coincidence as "proof GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's claim to have seen a video of the exchange is delusional. I have it on good authority that the video of the so-called ransom payment doesn't exist." As it turns out, the "good authority" cited by Stelter is Democratic VP candidate Sen. Tim Kaine.
Stelter speculated on whether this "latest Trump gaffe will be the one that finally forces him out of the race. I mean, President Obama has denied it was a ransom. Secretary Kerry has denied it was a ransom. All of the major news outlets are denying it was a ransom. The accumulation of testimony from those in a position to know has got to reach critical mass at some point."
That the payment might have been a ransom is not without supporting evidence. As reported by the BBC's Hadi Nili, the Iranian government asserts that the $400 million in cash "was a partial payment for the release of these American criminals." Then there is the statement of Saeed Abedini, one of the four hostages, that "our captors told us we would be held at the airport until the ransom was received."
Press Secretary Josh Earnest characterized the incident as "an issue of semantics. We don't see it as a case of paying ransom. If the Iranian government wishes to cast it in that light there's nothing we can do about that. If it soothes their egos to imagine we have ransomed these hostages, so be it. They key thing to take away from this whole sequence of events is that Donald Trump is clearly in the wrong."
EEOC Orders Employers to Crack Down on "Anti-Social" Political Views
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ordered employers to crack down on employees daring to wear t-shirts or caps with the "Don't Tread on Me" slogan. The slogan traces back to the American Revolution.
"What may have been appropriate as an expression of resistance against British subjugation in 1776 is completely inappropriate today," claims EEOC Chairwoman Jenny Yang. "Our government is a democratically elected government. It is not treading on anyone. From time to time our government may have to guide people toward correct thought and behavior. There is no individual right of resistance against this guidance. There is no right to slander the government be implying it is tyrannical."
According to Yang, the burden of enforcing correct thought and behavior can be delegated to employers because "businesses chartered by the government and given permission to operate have an obligation to suppress anti-social attitudes before they fester into rebellion."
Pope's Contention that Islam Is Peaceful Takes Hit
Pope Francis' belief that Islam is a religion of peace was expressly contradicted by Boko Haram leader Abu Masab Al-Barnawi this week in an interview published in Al-Naba Newspaper. The Islamic terrorist vowed "to kill every Christian and blow up every church until all are for Islam in Nigeria and the world."
Al-Barnawi cited Christian charities as "the aggressors in this battle for men's souls. They prey upon the victims of calamities, seducing them with food, shelter, and medical supplies. They insidiously tempt them with kindness and mercy to turn them away from Allah's command to submit to Islam and fight against unbelievers."
The ISIS magazine Dabiq also chimed in against the portrayal of its attacks as "senseless violence," calling it a "smear by the enemies of Islam. We are not randomly killing people. We are targeting the unbelievers as the Quran bids us to do. The Pope can have his peace, but only after all Christians have submitted to Islam."
One of the historical grievances gnawing at Dabiq's editors was "the Christians' efforts against slavery. The profit from selling slaves is one of the boons granted to Muslims by Allah. The West's interference by suppressing this commerce unjustly deprived Muslims of rewards to which they are entitled."
The Pope professed himself as "unmoved by the threats of violent Muslims. I remain confident that the vast majority of Muslims will not lift a hand against Christians. Even the minority that do only send our martyrs to heaven a little bit earlier than they might have otherwise arrived. Is that really such a bad thing? What are a few more years on Earth compared to an eternity with the Lord? By granting Christians the opportunity to suffer and die for their faith might not these terrorists actually be helping them follow the example Jesus set for all of us?"
In related news, a recently released email obtained by Wikileaks from the stash of emails hacked from former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's unsecured server revealed that Clinton created a secret and illegal alliance between the United States and al-Qaeda to assassinate Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi and distribute weapons to Middle Eastern terror groups. Clinton Campaign Manager Robbie Mook rebuffed the revelation as "old news. The email is from 2011. None of the actions taken then can be undone now. We must not let ourselves be diverted from the greater threat posed by the possibility that Donald Trump might seize power and take this country in the wrong direction."
Hillary Latches onto Winning Issues
In a bid to boost her post-convention momentum, Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton latched onto two ideas her campaign believes will finally put her over the top.
One idea is to appoint outgoing President Obama to the first Supreme Court vacancy available. "One of the things that has got to be depressing a lot of Americans is the prospect of losing the talents of the most extraordinary man to have ever held the presidency," Hillary observed. "While term limits may force him out of his current position the nation could retain his services for decades if we can get him on the Supreme Court."
"I think I can say with a high degree of confidence that there is no way my opponent would be able to promise to appoint President Obama to the Court," she added. "So, every voter who would like to see Obama continue as one of the key lawmakers in our government knows what to do to make this happen."
A second big idea is to raise taxes on the middle class. Hillary tried mentioning this idea in a speech in Iowa this week and received roars of approval from the crowd. Rally attendee Laqueena Leech heartily endorsed the idea. "The super rich will find a way to dodge taxes,' she argued. "But a lot of those who call themselves middle class still have a lot more than they need. Getting them to share some of it with folks like me by providing free health care, free schooling, and other free stuff is a fair and practical way to redistribute the wealth of this country."
"It's individuals like Ms. Leech who are the real backbone of the Democratic Party," said campaign manager Robbie Mook. "If we can lock up that vote we'll get the landslide mandate we need to create a whole new way of life for everyone in our society."
Feds May Take Control of Elections
In response to GOP presidential candidate Donald Trump's concerns that the November elections may be rigged, President Obama moved to assert an unprecedented federal role in the voting process. At the President's direction, Homeland Security Jeh Johnson would be tasked with ensuring that "the process is protected from unwanted manipulation by unauthorized elements."
"A tainted election process would undermine faith in the legitimacy of the outcome," Johnson pointed out. "It would be a threat more severe than a terrorist attack. I have been granted a wide latitude from President Obama to take whatever measures are necessary to ensure a valid result."
One of the measures currently under discussion is a proposal by Rep. Karen Bass (D-Calif) to require Donald Trump to undergo a psychiatric evaluation to determine his eligibility to receive votes. "It should go without saying that any person aspiring to assume the presidency must be of sound mind," Bass argued. "Verifying this before allowing a person to takeover the government is a 'no brainer.' The sooner Mr. Trump submits to such an evaluation, the sooner we can get this hurdle out of the way."
A second measure Johnson is said to be working on is the recruitment of volunteers to man all polling places to ensure that no one is denied the opportunity to vote. "Anti-democratic elements throughout this country have schemed against allowing full minority participation by throwing up impediments aimed at deterring them from showing up at the polls," Johnson maintained. "Supposedly neutral photo ID rules scare off voters who fear arrest for outstanding warrants or harassment for casting a ballot for a friend who couldn't make it to the polls. Our volunteers will help discourage these barriers to full participation."
Constitutionally, voting is a state government responsibility. However, President Obama has vowed "to not let out-dated rules prevent the actions needed to guarantee a fair outcome. We cannot afford to permit a misguided allegiance to a loathsome 'states' rights' shibboleth stand in the way. Nor can we stand by and let an unfit person be handed the reins of government."
In related news, investigative journalist James O'Keefe released an undercover video showing how easy it was for him to obtain a ballot while impersonating someone else at a polling station in Michigan. "I had no valid ID, yet was able by dint of a lame excuse sign a paper attesting to a false identity and be handed a ballot," O'Keefe recounted.