In today's On the News segment: The high court ruled that Citizens United applies to state as well as federal elections, 34 lawmakers got insider trading information from high-ranking Bush officials during the 2008 financial crisis, Julian Assange says he may agree to go to Sweden if diplomats guarantee he will not to be extradited to the United States, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The Supreme Court had a chance to correct its mistake with Citizens United today – but chose not to. In another 5-to-4 ruling, the Conservative justices struck down a Montana law that banned corporate spending in state elections – and ruled that it's 2010 Citizens United decision applies not just to federal elections – but state elections as well. Twenty-two states, plus the District of Columbia, and several lawmakers urged the high court to hear oral arguments in the case and re-litigate Citizens United now that the damage of the decision is clearly on display two years later. Right-wing Justice Anthony Kennedy ruled in 2010 that corporate spending in our elections, "do[es] not give rise to corruption or the appearance of corruption." But today, with billionaires like Sheldon Adelson and the Koch Brothers pledging to spend a half billion dollars to elect Mitt Romney – you'd have to be born yesterday to believe that the money comes with no strings attached. Thanks to the Roberts Court, American oligarchs aren't making campaign contributions – they're making investments and, day by day, getting big returns on those investments.
In more Supreme Court news...the Federal Government secured a victory against the state of Arizona and its controversial "papers, please" immigration law known as SB 1070. The High Court struck down 3-out-of-4 provisions of the law – including the parts that required immigrants to always carry their immigration papers on them and the part that gave authority to police officers to stop and arrest anyone who they merely suspected of being an undocumented immigrant. The court said that such state laws pre-empt the authority of the federal government to handle immigration. But, the court did, however, uphold part of the law that requires police to check he immigration status of anyone they've arrested for breaking a law that's already on the books, which could lead to future litigation and create a real headache for cops on the beat.
In the best of the rest of the news....
The Supreme Court will rule on the constitutionality of Obamacare on Thursday – and a survey of legal experts by Bloomberg News found that a majority believe that President Obama's health reform law SHOULD be upheld. However – most of those same experts polled said that the high court will probably strike down the law. That's because today's Supreme Court no longer makes decisions based on an objective interpretation of the Constitution. Instead – the Hard Right Five make decisions based on what benefits corporations and the Republican Party the most. Which explains why the Chamber of Commerce has won more cases than any other litigant before the Roberts court. We'll see if the court continues kissing corporate and Republican butts on Thursday.
It pays to be a Member of Congress during a financial crisis. The Washington Post reports today that 34 lawmakers – including Speaker of the House John Boehner – got inside information from high-ranking Bush Administration officials during the 2008 financial crisis – and immediately changed their investment portfolios. As the Post uncovered – lawmakers changed their investment portfolios 166 different times within two days after speaking with Secretary Treasury Hank Paulsen, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, and incoming Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner. Speaker Boehner reportedly moved as much as $100,000 out of a risky mutual fund following the briefing. The most shocking part of this is that none of it is illegal, even after Congress passed the watered-down STOCK Act earlier this year to prevent insider trading. Becoming a lawmaker used to be about representing your constituents and having a sense of duty; today it's about helping the rich, and getting rich yourself.
Republican Congressman Darryl Issa – the Chairman of the House Government and Oversight Committee – and the guy who pushed to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress last week, has now admitted there's no proof the White House was involved in a Fast and Furious cover-up. Appearing on Fox so-called News Sunday – Congressman Issa admitted his Committee has nothing – which contradicts what Speaker of the House John Boehner said last week when he suggested the White House misled Congress to hide its involvement in Fast and Furious. So, if Issa has no proof of anything – then why is he wasting taxpayer dollars trying to embarrass the White House, rather than working to create jobs for millions of out-of-work Americans? Issa is certainly doing his part in the broader Republican strategy to make President Obama a one-term President by crashing the economy – and tying his officials up in witch-hunt investigations.
Wikileaks founder Julian Assange is still holed up in the Ecuadorian Embassy – where he's been for nearly a week now seeking political asylum. But now Assange is suggesting he may be willing to go to Sweden to face questions over sexual abuse allegations – but only if he gets some guarantees. Speaking to the Sydney Morning Herald – Assange said he is prepared to go to Sweden, but only if he receives diplomatic guarantees that he will not be handed over to the United States to face charges of treason and espionage – crimes punishable by death. There are numerous reports that the United States is building a case against Assange – and will attempt to extradite Assange to the states once he arrives in Sweden. Keep an eye on this story as it develops – the United States may soon be claiming yet another political prisoner.
And finally...the idea there's a liberal bias in the media is now completely debunked. The group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting took a look at the Sunday morning talk shows over the last few months and found a heavy tilt in favor of white, conservative, men appearing as guests. Between February and June of 2012, one-on-one interviews on NBC, ABC, CBS, and Fox News were with a Republican 70% of the time, with a man 86% of the time, and with a white person 92% of the time. Given that most of the mainstream media today is owned by corporations headed up by white, Conservative men – then it shouldn't be surprising that that's the perspective you're most likely to see on the news today. Time to turn the channel and find independent news media – like Free Speech TV.
And that's the way it is today – Monday, June 25, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.