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Politics

White House Suggests Uninsured Run Into Nearest Street, Shout, “Give Me Insurance!”

Washington – With the healthcare.gov website often down for maintenance, and not working properly even when it is active, Obama Administration officials have suggested that uninsured individuals seeking health coverage could register by phone or by conventional mail. However, criticism has mounted since those options were suggested, due to the fact that the uninsured would still have to eventually be logged into the site to officially enroll, thereby not making either option an effective end-run around the problems with the web portal.

On Tuesday, the White House unveiled a new option for those looking to enroll in a health care plan: run into the street and shout, “Give me health care!”

The suggestion came from White House press secretary Jay Carney, in an answer to reporters questions at a daily press briefing.

“We understand the website is not operating as we would like, and that the other options, the phone option and the mail option, still present people seeking health insurance with a lot of the same difficulties,” Carney said. “So today we’d like to propose that those individuals seeking health coverage run into whatever major street is nearest to them, extend both arms as fully as possible and yell, ‘Give me health insurance!’ We have place literally hundreds of thousands of facilitators — or as we call them, Navigators — all over the country, and once they hear that cry, they will come running and take that individual’s information, and get them on the road toward getting fully enrolled in a health care plan that works for them.”

Carney was immediately asked whether that individual’s information would still have to be entered in the same web portal that is experiencing problems.

“Yes, it would,” he said. “And I see where you’re going with that. But, look, this option gets them on the road to enrollment, and that’s the important thing. Plus, it allows them to vent some steam at the same time. And we know people are frustrated. And after all, aren’t we talking about improving our health here? I mean, isn’t that’s what this is all about? That’s a healthy thing to do, to relieve some stress that way. Believe me, I just screamed in the parking lot for about twenty minutes, before I came in here. I felt a hundred times better afterwords.”

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National

Freedom of Information Act Now Classified

Washington – The Obama administration has classified the 1967 Freedom of Information Act, according to intelligence officials. The landmark piece of legislation, often referred to as FOIA, was signed by President Lyndon Johnson and guaranteed access to previously unreleased information and documents controlled by various branches of the U.S. government. It had a wide-ranging impact on the ability of advocacy groups, journalists and the general public to obtain information which they would otherwise likely have been unable to obtain.

The intelligence officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, as they are not authorized to speak publicly on the matter, admitted they were not aware of the reason for the law’s sudden classification. Attempts to view the text of the law on the U.S. Department of Justice website return a 404 “not found” error page, as of 4PM est today.

The White House would not comment on why the famous piece of legislation is now classified, but White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued a statement which said, “The White House will have no comment on the law in question, as the fact that it has been designated classified, is itself classified. Rest assured, whoever released information about this legislation’s classification to the press will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

Earnest went on to say, “It should be pointed out that even if FOIA were still available to the public, a FOIA request would not allow those without proper clearance from viewing the text of the law, as properly classified material is exempt from FOIA requests.”

President Obama has appeared in the past to be a strong supporter of the law, as evidenced by a 2009 memo where the newly-elected president urged all government agencies to adhere to FOIA, and called for “a presumption in favor of disclosure.”

That memo has apparently also been classified, as it is no longer available on the whitehouse.gov website, though a copy of it does exist on the servers of the whistleblowing group WikiLeaks. It bears the subject line, “Freedom of Information Act,” and was signed by Obama on January 21, 2009, shortly after he was sworn in as President. It tasks government agencies with “reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency” in their adherence to FOIA. It states, “The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails.”

The Freedom of Information Act and the Obama memo addressing its implementation are apparently not the only documents to be newly classified. Also classified is Obama’s “Transparency and Open Government” memo of 2009, and H.R. 553, The Reducing Over-Classification Act.

Categories
Business/Economy

Experts: Larry Summers Clear Choice to Guide Us Into Next Financial Crisis

Washington – With speculation rife that President Obama may tap former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers to be chairman of the Federal Reserve when Ben Bernanke steps down in January, experts are weighing in from all over the political spectrum. The consensus seems to be that Summers is the perfect choice to guide us directly into the next economic catastrophe.

Summers, who pushed for repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act of 1933, the law that had separated investment and commercial banks, also has written about how unemployment benefits “contribute to unemployment” by providing an incentive to not work.

John Pinske, an Economics professor at Duke University, says Summers is exactly the right candidate to lead us into the next crisis.

“If you’re looking for someone to escort us into the next crash, he’s the guy, hands-down,” Pinske says. “He’s very pro-deregulation, pro-Wall Street, and is pretty much the embodiment of the attitudes that precipitated the last crisis, and crises before that, and will most likely precipitate whatever the next one will be.”

Pinske says that Wall Street firms are already playing many of the dangerous games they were playing in the lead-up to the subprime mortgage disaster. Summers’ appointment would almost certainly lead to less regulation of those firms, thereby increasing the risk of a similar crisis, only in a different sector.

“Could be student loans, bonds, online education, maybe even housing again,” Pinske says. “The point is, it will most likely start with Wall Street, with large banks, and if we want that to happen, we need a guy to go easy on Wall Street again. And that guy is Larry Summers.”

Categories
Politics

Bill That Would Result in Death of Majority of Americans Falls Three Votes Short in Senate

Washington – The Senate today effectively killed the so-called “Breathing is a Privilege” bill, originally put forward by House Republicans and passed by the House of Representatives earlier this week. The bill was defeated in a 52-48 vote, with Democrat Ben Nelson of Nebraska bucking his party to vote in its favor.

The bill would have disallowed every American except the top two percent of earners from seeking access to oxygen. National Guard troops would have been tasked with seizing all available oxygen from around the country and storing it in locked, sealed containers. Armed guards would stand watch at each supply center.

Any American declared ineligible, and not in possession of an Oxygen Access card, would have been denied oxygen, beginning on February 8, 2012.

Experts said that if the bill had managed to pass, the country’s borders would have needed to be sealed off, so that a mass exodus did not occur once people realized they would run out of oxygen, and attempted to go elsewhere to get some.

President Obama faced criticism in the run-up to the Senate vote for not saying conclusively whether or not he would veto the bill, were it to come across his desk. He is no longer faced with such a dilemma.

In remarks on the Senate floor, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said, in supporting passage of the bill, “This bill is admittedly strong and unyielding, but it is necessary. No longer can we live in the welfare state of America, where anyone can receive oxygen, just because they wish to breathe. There have to be limits.”

But some Senate Democrats saw the bill differently. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he could not support the bill, though part of him agreed with its necessity.

“Although I see the logic behind this bill, and the thinking that went into its drafting,” Reid said, “I must draw the line at letting the majority of Americans die, due to lack of available oxygen. I urge my fellow Senators to vote no on this motion, if no other reason than most people in their constituencies will die if it passes.”

Following the vote, Reid admitted the vote was “closer than he would have liked,” but refused to discuss Sen. Nelson’s possible reasons for crossing the aisle. “I respect Senator Nelson very much, but of course, I’m very concerned with the current climate, yes,” Reid said. “Very concerned. Especially with things like the ‘Extermination of the Poverty-Stricken’ bill, which is coming up for a vote next month. I think that has a real shot at passage.”

Republicans, for their part, were celebrating.

“Look, three votes is awfully close, ” said Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), a supporter of the bill. “And it’s one more than we thought we could count on. So, obviously we’re doing something right, and we have to keep doing it. We almost got this one through, and this kills almost everyone. So I’m optimistic about our chances in the future.”

Categories
Politics

Congressman Voting His Conscience, or Whatever That’s Called

Washington – Representative Jason Armon, Democrat of Virginia, announced Saturday he is changing his vote on health care reform legislation from ‘no’ to ‘yes.’ In a brief session with reporters at the Capitol, Armon explained why he is now voting in favor of the bill, after opposing it previously.

“I am voting yes on this bill because on an issue such as this, I felt I must vote my conscience. Or whatever that thing’s called. The thing that tells you what’s right and wrong. Your, your moral center. Whatever they call doing what that thing tells them to do when they vote, that’s what I’m doing.”

Mr. Armon denied that he is now voting for the bill because he has been promised a spot on the House Ethics Committee.

“My vote has nothing whatsoever to do with promises or deals or anything of that nature,” he said. “Unless you count the promise I made to the American people, and the people of Virginia’s 12th district. And my conscience. Then it is about promises. Because when I promise my conscience something, boy, I deliver. I don’t disappoint my conscience. Because, you know, when you disappoint your conscience… you… um… Look, all I know is I’m voting my conscience. Unless that doesn’t mean what I think it means, in which case I’m not doing that.”

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi would neither confirm or deny that Armon has been offered a spot on the Ethics Committee. She would only say that he was voting for the bill because he thought he was doing the right thing.

“Representative Armon is voting for health care reform because he believes in health care reform,” Pelosi said. “He believes in health care reform in his heart. Or wherever people believe in things.”