Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives will do anything to avoid getting any actual work done. As if 37 votes to repeal Obamacare didn't waste enough taxpayer time and money, the House GOP has decided to vote on a 20-week abortion ban, despite the fact that the bill would never be approved by the Senate. The anti-abortion bill is sponsored by Arizona Republican, Congressman Trent Franks, and it is strongly endorsed by the National Right to Life Committee. If the bill stood any chance of passing in the upper chamber, it would roll back women's constitutionally protected right to an abortion until the point of viability – which is 24 weeks. Representative Franks' restriction is based on the scientifically-specious notion that a fetus can feel pain after 20 weeks. But, the vote is nothing but a dog-and-pony show. Republicans know that the bill would never survive a Senate vote, and it certainly wouldn't be signed into law by President Obama. Apparently, Republican lawmakers would rather play to their hard-right base, than pass any jobs bills, or work to undo the damage of the sequester. Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Congress are frustrated about wasting taxpayer time and money on another meaningless vote. The American people are tired of lawmakers who refuse to represent them, and they are tired of the ongoing attack on women's reproductive rights. Even Representative Mary Bono Mack – a Republican – said, "There were real issues to focus on that should have been the news of the day. It wasn't this."
In screwed news... In 2008, with the home mortgage market crumbling, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were teetering on the brink of collapse. The companies required over $187 billion dollars from tax payers to stay afloat. So, it's surprising to learn that shareholders are suing the government for $41 billion dollars they say they lost because of the bailout. Shareholders argue that Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were forced to delist shares, take on more subprime assets, and "accept tens of billions of dollars from the Treasury." Perhaps these shareholders don't remember that without government intervention, the mortgage giants likely would have collapsed, and their stock wouldn't be worth anything. And, they should be reminded that it was investors, not government officials, who got these two companies mixed up in the subprime mortgage scandal. American taxpayers propped up Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the brink of collapse, and this is not the kind of "thank you" we were expecting.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Democratic Representative Adam Schiff is working to put an end to perpetual war. The California Congressman is a senior member of the House Intelligence Committee, and he will soon introduce a bill to repeal the Authorization for Use of Military Force. Congressman Schiff released a statement, saying, "When Congress passed the AUMF shortly after 9/11, we did not intend to authorize a war without end." He argues that many of al-Qaeda's leaders are dead or in prison, and proposes allowing the AUMF to expire at the end of 2014. Congressman Schiff directly addressed President Obama's national security speech last month, during which Obama said he wanted to work with Congress on changing or repealing the AUMF. Representative Schiff said, "As the President observed recently, if we don't define the nature of the threat we face, it will define us."
Yesterday, a County District Judge in Nebraska ruled that opponents of the Keystone XL have a right to challenge the pipeline's construction in court. Three landowners filed suit last year, after a law passed during a special session of the Nebraska state legislature handed power of the pipeline over to the governor, and expedited the review of a construction route through environmentally sensitive areas. The state of Nebraska called on the court to dismiss that lawsuit, but Lancaster County District Judge Stephanie Stacy ruled that the landowners' case should be heard. Although this case only covers the pipeline route through Nebraska, anti-tar sands activists are cheering it as a step towards victory. No word yet on when these landowners will get their day in court. Stay tuned.
One week after Connecticut approved GMO labeling, lawmakers in the Maine House of Representatives voted 141 to 4 to let people know what's in their food. The legislation still faces approval in that state's Senate. Like Connecticut, the Maine proposal is contingent on other states adopting GMO labeling measures. According to the amended bill, GMO labeling would not be enforced until five states pass similar legislation, and the five must come from a group that includes Connecticut, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York. Considering that Connecticut has already passed GMO labeling legislation, and similar measures are already being considered in New York, Vermont, and Massachusetts, this law could become a reality before long. Lawmakers in Maine have listened to the people, and presented a near-unanimous front against GMO giants like Monsanto. Anti-GMO activists are hoping Maine's state senators approve this legislation, and that other states will give Americans the right to know what's in their food.
And finally... Hillary Clinton has joined the "Twitter-verse." The former First Lady, and former Secretary of State, sent out her first tweet this week to a pair of supporters who created social media accounts called "Texts from Hillary." Clinton wrote, "Thanks for the inspiration @Asmith83 & @Sllambe – I'll take it from here..." On her Twitter profile, Secretary Clinton described herself as, "wife, mom, lawyer, women & kids advocate, FLOAR, FLOTUS, US Senator, SecState, author, dog owner, hair icon, pantsuit aficionado, glass ceiling cracker, TBD..." Of course, many on the social media site speculated that "TBD" is a hint that we should expect a 2016 presidential run. Perhaps it may simply mean that Hillary Clinton has done amazing things so far in life, and she isn't about to stop making history any time soon.
And that's the way it is today – Wednesday, June 12, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.