Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. At least one Republican has gotten the message. Senator John Thune from South Dakota told a local newspaper that if he’s learned one thing during this August recess holding town hall meetings with constituents – it’s don’t cut Medicare and Social Security. Thune told the paper that that message is one that he’ll be taking back to Washington, DC. Of course – the rest of the Republican Party still doesn’t get it. That’s because they’re either not holding ANY town hall meetings, or they’re holding private, corporate-funded town halls that charge constituents 40 bucks to ask a question, or they’re busy keeping “watch lists” to intimidate their constituents from asking tough questions. Either way – John Thune seems to be the only Republican who’s actually doing his job – and listening to the American people who are in lock-step opposition to the Republican’s radical agenda.
Obamacare is working. According to a new report by the Government Accountability Organization – many health insurers plan to lower premiums next year as a direct result of the medical loss ratio provision in the Affordable Care Act. The provision requires health insurers to spend at least 80% of what they collect in premiums on actual medical care. As the GAO notes – since executives can’t pocket as much money now – they’re lowering premiums. So why do Republicans want to repeal the law again??
In the best of the rest of the news…
Republican Congressman from Ohio Steve Chabot doesn’t know jack about the Constitution. Last week – the Congressman – fearing that tough questions asked of him may end up on YouTube – banned constituents from having cameras at his town hall meeting – even employing the police to confiscate recording devices from attendees. Now – the first circuit U.S Court of Appeals has ruled that citizens have a right to film government officials conducting official business. The court’s opinion reads, “Gathering information about government officials in a form that can readily be disseminated to others serves a cardinal First Amendment interest in protecting and promoting “the free discussion of governmental affairs…Freedom of expression has particular significance with respect to government.” Yet another case of Republicans having no understanding whatsoever of the United States constitution.
Thanks to Irene – the state of Vermont is now dealing with its worst bout of flooding in more than a century. Almost a foot of rain was dumped in the state turning calm streams into deadly river torrents. And for all those who argue Irene was too hyped up - the death toll from the storm has now topped 40 – making Irene the 4th deadliest storm to strike the US in the last 30 years. Yet another freak weather phenomenon that is becoming all too regular this year – and likely from here on out as the planet continues its climate-change induced transformation.
Speaking climate change - the nation’s expert in the field – Dr. James Hansen – was arrested outside the White House yesterday in ongoing protests against the TransCanada Keystone Pipeline. Hansen heads up NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies – and has been one of the most vocal climate change advocates in recent years. So far – Hansen joins 520 other activists who have been arrested outside the White House since demonstrations began last Saturday. While the State Department released a report yesterday saying the pipeline will produce minimal environmental effects – President Obama himself still has yet to weigh in on the issue – and environmentalists all around the nation are hoping he keeps his campaign promises to begin healing the planet by saying “no” to the oil oligarchs in Texas who want this pipeline built.
There are more questions now about the safety of the North Ana nuclear plant in Virginia after last week’s freak earthquake rattled the East cost. Working off information that the earthquake’s magnitude may have actually exceeded what the nuclear plant is designed to withstand – the Nuclear Regulatory Commission has now sent more inspectors to the plant to ensure no equipment damage occurred. NRC confirmed that the plant would remain shut down until the inspectors report back. This nation dodged a bullet last week – but if we don’t get kick the nuclear energy habit soon – we may not be so lucky next time.
Whoops. Wikileaks stepped in it – releasing thousands of State Department documents that included sensitive information such as the names of confidential sources and agents. Up until now, Wikileaks has been very careful to redact names and protect the identities of individuals mentioned in leaked classified documents. However – this latest release failed to do so. Reportedly the documents were mistakenly released due to a feud between Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and spokesman Daniel Domscheit-Berg who left the organization back in 2010.
Crazy Alert! No snakes on this plane. A passenger trying to board a flight out of Miami International Airport didn’t make it pass the Chertoff porno scanner without TSA agents discovering a strange bulge in his pants. Turns out – the man was trying to smuggle bags of exotic animals in his trousers. All in all – TSA agents found seven snakes and three tortoises stashed in nylon bags in his pants. Allegedly – the man tried to resist a search of his pants by simply telling the TSA agent he was just happy to see him.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, August 30th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.