Thom Hartmann here – on the news...
You need to know this. The real dangers of this government shutdown are becoming clear, but Republicans just want to keep up their political game. On Thursday, we found out that the Capital Police, who stopped a potentially-dangerous situation at the White House, will soon see their pay disappear. In Gulf Coast states, thousands of FEMA workers are furloughed, even as Tropical Storm Karen is expected to become a hurricane. And, domestic violence programs all around our nation say they will have to close their doors today if the government shutdown continues. Yet, House Republicans think this is just a game, and it's all about winning or losing the media narrative. After recent television appearances, Senators Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul were caught with open mics. They were overheard discussing the GOP talking points about the government shutdown, and which phrases were "poll tested" for the media. Senator Paul told McConnell, "we're gonna win this, I think." However, police officers losing their pay, and being unable to protect our president, is not winning. FEMA being unprepared for a possible deadly storm is not success. And, domestic violence victims having no place to turn certainly doesn't sound like victory. The only ones winning in this situation are the billionaires behind the Tea Party, who are getting a huge return on their political investments. Tea Party Senators like Rand Paul seem to think winning means refusing to back down from their long list of billionaire demands. Deregulation doesn't pay cops for their work. Building Keystone XL won't help FEMA workers prepare for the next hurricane. And, repealing Obamacare won't help domestic violence victims find a safe shelter. These are real people, facing real pain, so that the House Republicans can feel like they win with the media, and Americans are angry that this Tea Party game isn't over.
In screwed news... Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to abolish all campaign contribution limits. That's what Senator McConnell will argue before the Supreme Court next week, when the Justices hear oral arguments in McCutcheon v. F.E.C. That case is being hailed as the next Citizens United, because it challenges the total amount one individual can donate in an election cycle. McConnell wants our nation's highest court to strike down campaign contribution limits, saying that they are an unconstitutional ban on free speech. Citizens United opened the floodgates of corporate cash into our elections, and this case will only increase the amount of money in politcs. Already, many of our lawmakers are bought-and-paid-for by corporations and the top one percent, and they don't represent the will of average Americans. If the Supreme Court strikes down the minimal campaign finance laws that remain on the books, some lawmakers won't even need to pretend they care about the voters. Since Citizen United, we've seen more and more cash flood into elections, so that the super wealthy could purchase their own politician, apparently Mitch McConnell just wants a higher price.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Wendy Davis wants be the next governor of Texas. On Thursday, the democratic state senator made her announcement, to the delight of millions of Texas residents. Wendy Davis gained national attention for her 11-hour filibuster, which she waged to fight extreme abortion legislation in her state. Since her amazing speech, she has become a star of the democratic party, both in Texas and our entire nation. And, she's seen as the party's best chance to turn that red state blue. After almost two decades of Republican leadership in Texas, Wendy's filibuster renewed the hope of many Texans that their state could someday be back in the hands of the Democrats. In a press release about her gubernatorial run, Davis said, "We love Texas not only for how good it is, but for how great we know it can be. With the right kind of leadership, the great state of Texas will keep its sacred promise that where you start has nothing to do with how far you can go." That's a promise many Texans would like to see kept, and even extended to rest of our great nation.
American Catholics love Pope Francis. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, 89 percent of Catholics have a "favorable" or "very favorable" view of the new pope, and nearly 70 percent agree with his recent comments about "finding a new balance" in the Catholic Church. Even on issues like abortion and women in the church, the majority of American Catholics agree with the Pope's recent statements. Sixty percent of those surveyed believed that women should have leadership roles in the church, and 53 percent supported a woman's right to have an abortion. Just like Pope Francis, the large majority of Catholics in American seem to feel the church should adapt to modern times. And, that's exactly why Pope Francis has renewed support for the Catholic Church. The Pope said that the church must stop being so obsessed with social issues like gay marriage, abortion, and contraception, or risk collapsing "like a house of cards." It appears, at least in our nation, the majority of Catholics agree.
And finally... Smell-o-vision has finally arrived. Japanese inventors have developed a new attachment for your smartphone, which can make your phone smell like coffee, apples, and even beef tongue. And, they say the device, called Scentee, was designed to help poor college students save money or help dieters shed a few pounds. The developers believe that you will enjoy that salad a bit more, if you trick your mind with the smell of bar-b-que spareribs or cinnamon rolls while you're eating. So far, their Scentee device only produces food smells, and it's limited to the scents that they've developed. But, it won't be long before more smells are introduced. Sure, that picture of a flower you posted may be much lovelier with a little fragrance, but do we really need social media check-ins at the gym to include an odor?
And that's the way it is today – Friday, October 4, 2013. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.