In this week's On the News Segment: The new National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will not include an amendment to protect American citizens from indefinite military detention; another shooting in Florida, and another debate over the state's controversial Stand Your Ground law; New Jersey could be the next state to legalize marijuana; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. Barack Obama might have been named TIME Magazine's Person of the Year, but he's also making a run at capitulator of the year. Fallout continues one day after the White House proposed turning the austerity knives on Social Security Insurance in their latest "fiscal cliff" proposal. To make matters worse, Democratic leaders in the House signed on to the President's proposal, while at the same time acknowledging there is "understandable resistance." Founder of the DailyKos, Markos Moulitsas, weighed on the latest White House offer saying, "Capitulation is never a strength. A deal will obviously require concessions by the president, but you make those to FINISH the deal, not in the middle of negotiations, and not until after you've branded the opposition with the concessions they're demanding." But once again, another negotiation on Capitol Hill has been completely on Republican grounds. Our lawmakers are debating just how many wealthy people will get a tax cut, and how hard seniors and the poor will get hit with cuts to insurance programs like Medicare and Social Security. Yet, no one is talking about progressive reforms, like a financial transaction tax on Wall Street, a single-payer health care system to reduce healthcare spending and the deficit, breaking up the big banks, raising the minimum wage, and making hedgefund managers and vulture capitalists like Mitt Romney pay their fair share in taxes. To see just how progressive institutions across America have been damaged by thirty years of Reaganomics and union-busting, one doesn't have to look much farther than the current ludicrous debate on Capitol Hill. The progressive counter-balance in America has been damaged, and now all we have is center-right Republicans debating far-right Republicans – and neither side seems to give a damn about the Middle Class. We have a lot of work left to do.
In screwed news...another victory for the security state. The new National Defense Authorization Act will NOT include an amendment to protect American citizens from indefinite military detention. Earlier this month, Senator Dianne Feinstein successfully passed an amendment to the authorization bill, softening the controversial indefinite detention provision signed into law last year by the President. While the amendment didn't go far enough to bring back rule of law, it was a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, while the House and Senate were settling their differences over the legislation – that amendment was inexplicably taken out. In response, Senator Feinstein said, "I was saddened and disappointed that we could not take a step forward, to ensure at the very least American citizens and legal residents could not be held in detention without charge or trial...To me that was a no-brainer." We can't depend on Republicans and Democrats in Congress to restore rule of law in our frightened post-9/11 mind frame. It's up to President Obama, the constitutional lawyer, to shake off the chains of former President Bush - ditch his unwinnable "War on terror", and restore sanity back to the United States.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The NRA has finally broken its silence after the Newtown massacre. In a statement released on Tuesday, the nation's largest gun lobby said, "We were shocked, saddened and heartbroken by the news of the horrific and senseless murders in Newtown...The NRA is prepared to offer meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again." What sort of contributions the NRA is willing to make is still unknown, though the organization said it plans to hold a major news conference on Friday. According to polls, the NRA takes a far more radical stand defending so-called gun rights than most of its members do, including defending the right of people on the FBI Terror Watch List to buy guns, defending the right to buy guns without a background check, and defending the right to buy high capacity ammo clips like the ones used in so many previous mass shootings. But the days of the all-powerful NRA may be numbered, now that shock and anger has swept the nation following the death of twenty first graders at Sandy Hook Elementary School. Today, the President tapped Joe Biden to lead the effort to enact new gun safety measures. We all must get involved in this effort to better protect our nation's kids from senseless gun violence.
Another shooting in Florida – and another debate over the state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" law. According to the Tampa Bay Times, two men waiting in line at Little Caesars Pizza got into an argument that soon turned into a shoving match. That's when one of them pulled out a revolver and fired two shots into the other man's stomach. The shooter told police he was acting in self-defense in accordance with the state's Stand Your Ground law. However, he was arrested and charged with aggravated battery with a deadly weapon. We'll see whether or not the Stand Your Ground defense holds up in court, but this case shows how dangerous these laws are when mixed with lax gun carry laws. Guns don't prevent violence; they make violent action more likely. And "Stand Your Ground" laws, which were written by corporate interests like Walmart and the NRA to protect themselves from lawsuits when their guns kill people, only further embolden gun owners to pull the trigger, rather than find a peaceful resolution.
And finally...could New Jersey be the next state to legalize marijuana? During an interview on Tuesday with HuffPo Live, Newark Mayor Corey Booker said that he endorses medical marijuana, but also, "wants to go beyond that." Booker slammed Richard Nixon's failed drug war and argued how reforms to current drug laws and enforcement could save cash-strapped cities and states millions of dollars. There's speculation that Booker may be preparing to run for Governor or Senator in New Jersey. We need more politicians talking common sense about drugs.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, December 19, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.