In this week's On the News Segment: President Obama's latest "fiscal cliff" offer throws the middle class and senior citizens under the bus; The New York Times details Wal-Mart's bribery binge in Mexico; NBC's chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, has been found after he was kidnapped in Syria; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Not only does the gun lobby have no shame following the Sandy Hook massacre of twenty first graders with an assault rifle, but the gun lobby is now threatening violent revolution. Appearing on MSNBC on Monday, the executive director of Gun Owners of America, Larry Pratt, argued that the right to bear arms is necessary to make our democratic government cower in fear of gun owners. Pratt said, “We have guns fundamentally protected by the Second Amendment to control the government.” He went on to say that he thinks it “bothers lawmakers” that armed Americans can attack them with assault weapons, a position Gabby Giffords probably agrees with. This is the position the gun lobby is taking in response to the deafening calls around the nation for new gun safety laws, which would prohibit the sale of the very assault weapons and high capacity ammo clips that are routinely used in these deadly massacres. It’s a “pry my gun from my cold dead hands,” approach, which could have tragic consequences - stirring up secessionist crazies around the nation. Our nation is again dealing with a tragedy that happens all too often, yet the corporate gun lobby, focused more on profits than on safety, is helping set up more and more mass shootings in the future. We know how to respond to danger here in America. One shoe bomber, and we all take off our shoes at the airpirt. One threat of binary liquids and we can't carry liquids on airplanes. One underwear bomber, and we put in billions of dollars in porno x-ray scanners and grope granny. There are more than twenty mass shootings every year in America and over a hundred people are shot every day...but we can't do something about guns? It's time to start pushing hard for laws that say that unless you can prove you NEED a gun, you can't have one. And if you do have one, you have to prove proficiency and the gun - and you - must be licensed. To hell with the blood-soaked gun lobby and their toadies Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas.
In screwed news…did President Obama switch political parties over the weekend? President Obama’s latest “fiscal cliff” offer throws the middle class and senior citizens under the bus – with a huge tax increase on workers and a long-term cut to Social Security. The plan also gives a tax break to the rich. According to the latest proposal, the President is willing to raise the bar at which wealthy Americans will see their taxes go up, from $200,000 a year to $400,000 a year. In return – the President will allow the payroll tax cut for working American to expire, meaning working people's tax bills will go up a couple hundred to a couple thousand dollars a year. Also, the President is willing to cut benefits for Social Security and Medicare, and then agree to hundreds of billions in unspecified spending cuts, which Republicans want to target social welfare programs. This is not a balanced deal – and the American people, who, in poll after poll, have opposed cuts to insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security, shouldn't accept it. Even Senate Majority Harry Reid will likely not accept it, telling reporters, “I am not going to be part of having Social Security included as part of these talks relating to this deficit.” So far, this is not what Democrats, who gave the president the benefit of the doubt in his first-term, had in mind for a second Obama term. It’s time to get active – and push Obama in a progressive direction. Call the White House comment line at 202-456-1111.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Wal-Mart is developing a reputation as the most corrupt corporation in the world. The New York Times details Wal-Mart's bribery binge in Mexico, from when the retail giant opened more than a dozen new stores south of the border. The Times notes, “Wal-Mart de Mexico was an aggressive and creative corrupter, offering large payoffs to get what the law otherwise prohibited.” Some of the bribes included more than $340,000 to avoid having to comply with traffic and environmental permits; more than $760,000 to build a store in an environmentally sensitive flood basin; and more than $200,000 to a build a store near Aztec ruins. So now we know another reason why Wal-Mart workers in America get everyday low wages…because the company needs the cash to bribe foreign officials. Wal-Mart is not an American company – it’s a stateless transnational corporation that's raping America – and prowling the rest of the world for cheap labor.
The corporatists are buying our infrastructure. As CNN reports, corporate giants, like Bechtel, Goldman Sachs, and Merrill Lynch, are putting up big money to build roads and bridges across America – and then run them for profit instead of the common good. Since Reagan embarked on his “starve the beast” program to take America away from the voters and give it to the billionaires, our nation’s infrastructure has crumbled – so now corporations can rebuild it at a much higher cost to “we the taxpayers.” Just this year – 12 corporate-backed infrastructure projects have been proposed around the nation, with a value of around $20 billion. The corporatists are eating us alive.
And finally…NBC’s chief foreign correspondent, Richard Engel, has been found after he was kidnapped in Syria. Reports started leaking out yesterday that Engel had gone missing, but NBC blacked out the news, fearing that a lot of attention to his kidnapping might put his life in more danger. Only Gawker broke the embargo and reported on the story. According to Engel, he and his crew were abducted In Syria, held in an unknown location for five days, and subjected to psychological abuse. They were finally freed after the captors tried to move them and ended up driving into a Syrian checkpoint, where a firefight ensued. Some of Engel’s captors were killed, others fled, and eventually Engel and his crew crossed the border into Turkey and into safety. Stories like these remind us of the thankless work that journalists around the world do to bring the news into everyone’s home.
And that’s the way it is today – Tuesday, December 18, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.