Here's Thom for Thursday...
You need to know this. It may comes as a surprise to Wayne LaPierre, but the NRA is not a political party. Apparently no one's informed him of that, as he'll be delivering the gun-group's official response to the State of The Union tonight. Talking Points Memo is reporting that LaPierre will respond to the President's Tuesday night speech from the annual convention of the National Wild Turkey Federation. The news of LaPierre's speech was released in conjunction with an op-ed he published on The Daily Caller. The op-ed, which the Think Progress Blog called a "bizarre, paranoid screed," outlines some strange, unlikely reasons why LaPeirre thinks every American should own a gun. The fear-mongering gun advocate listed reasons ranging from violent Latino gangs - to the end of police protection - to the complete collapse of civilization. Apparently, Wayne LaPierre is very afraid, and he wants you to be to. In his column, he wrote, "Hurricanes. Tornadoes. Riots. Terrorists. Gangs. Lone criminals. These are the perils we are sure to face – not just maybe. It's not paranoia to buy a gun. It's survival." Thankfully, the NRA has lost the power it once knew, and voters are now less inclined to support a candidate because they're backed by the organization. In his address Tuesday night, Obama said gun violence victims deserve a vote. Wayne LaPierre and the NRA deserve to fade into obscurity, where they belong.
In screwed news... Leaders in the Republican party are speaking out against paying workers a living wage. Two days ago, President Obama called for increasing the federal minimum wage to $9 an hour, but at least two GOP top-leaders, Rep. Paul Ryan and Sen. Marco Rubio, have spoken out against Obama's proposal. According to Paul Ryan, the pay increase wouldn't actually help people. He said, "I think it's actually counterproductive in many ways. You end up costing jobs from people who are the bottom rung of the economic ladder." And Marco Rubio echoed those thoughts, saying, "The question is, is a minimum wage the best way to do it? And history has said the answer is absolutely not. In fact, the impact of minimum wage usually is that businesses hire less people." In fact, both of those statements couldn't be further from the truth. According to multiple studies by the Review of Economics and Statistics, there was "no detectable employment loss" in response to a wage increase. And another study by economists David Card and Alan Krueger, found that increasing the minimum wage actually strengthened job creation. As Obama said Tuesday night, in the wealthiest nation on Earth, it's unacceptable that anyone who works full-time should live in poverty. If Republicans want to keep the minimum wage below poverty levels, perhaps they should try living on it for a while.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The fight to keep toxic tar sands oil from being pumped through our nation just got some much-needed attention. After President Obama failed to mention the Keystone XL pipeline during his State of the Union address, a group of environmental activists gathered outside the White House to protest. During the protest, some of the activists tied themselves to the fence, while others refused to follow police orders to vacate the sidewalk. As a result, 48 activists were arrested, including environmental activist Bill McKibben, environmental attorney Robert F. Kennedy Jr., and actress-and-activist Daryl Hannah. As a crowd gathered to watch, Kennedy Jr. said, "Climate change is not just an economic issue, it is a moral issue. I do not believe that Keystone XL will happen. I believe that President Obama and Secretary Kerry will do the right thing. And we need to show our support." And environmentalists throughout our nation are hoping he's right. The recent appointment of Secretary of State John Kerry, who's been a leading voice on climate change during his 28 years in the Senate, provides some hope that the Keystone pipeline will be stopped. Let's keep up the fight to prevent Big Oil from pumping toxic tar sands through our communities. Go to TarsandsBlockade.org.
The Republican war on woman just went into overdrive in Arkansas. The State's legislature has passed one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bans. And the law could take effect regardless of whether or not the state's governor, Mike Beebe, vetoes the legislation. In Arkansas, a simple majority of legislators can override the governor's veto. So even if he's against the radical "fetal heartbeat" bill, women in the state would be banned from having an abortion after the first 12 weeks of pregnancy. The bill's sponsor, Republican State Senator Jason Rapert, is working to increase support for the bill, by removing the mandate for an invasive ultrasound probe, and taking criminal penalties for abortion doctors out of the legislation. Sen. Rapert hopes to gain enough support to avoid the threat of a veto, saying, "We feel like that we definitely now have a bill that has even broader support than it did a few weeks ago when it came out of the Senate." If Arkansas lawmakers really want to reduce the number of abortions, they'll increase access to birth control, and start providing kids with something besides abstinence-only sex-education.
And finally...Georgia Representative Paul Broun really, really wants you to forget about his record. As the Tea Party Republican prepares to run for Saxby Chambliss' Senate Seat, he's trying to convince voters he's a reach-accross-the-aisle-bipartisan kinda guy. This is the same Paul Broun who wanted to abolish the Departments of Energy and Education. He's also referred to evolution as "lies straight from the pit of Hell." And, as The Think Progress Blog points out, Paul Braun bragged to supporters about being the first Member of Congress to call Obama a "socialist who embraces Marxist-Leninist policies," and accused the President of upholding the Soviet Constitution. Doesn't that just scream bi-partisan?? I guess Rep. Broun's idea of bi-partisan is bringing together the far-Right, and the crazy-far-Right.
And that's the way it is today – Thursday, February 14th, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.