In today’s On the News segment: A U.S. District Court judge has set a date for the trial on North Carolina's new voting laws, and hasn't yet issued an injunction to block these laws until the case is decided; the House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to approve the Murray-Ryan budget deal; The state of Connecticut says you have a right to know what's in your food; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Last night, the House of Representatives voted 332 to 94 to approve the Murray-Ryan budget deal. One hundred and sixty nine Republican House members voted in favor of the plan, and only 62 voted against it, but the future of this legislation is not quite as certain in the U.S. Senate. Several Republican Senators are have announced their opposition to this deal; some saying they disagree with cuts to military pensions, and others who disagree with offsetting the next round of sequester cuts. Senators Bob Corker, Lindsey Graham, and Richard Shelby have announced they will not support this legislation, but their opposition appears to be nothing more than a reaction to pressure from conservative think tanks. These lawmakers aren't opposing this budget because they really care about military pensions – they simply want to appeal to hard-Right Tea Party groups like The Heritage Foundation and Americans For Prosperity. This is all about getting millions from the Koch brothers to use in the 2014 elections. Once again, we've somehow ended up debating how much austerity should be imposed on our nation, rather than how much we should be investing. In order to prevent another government shutdown, the Senate will need to reach 60 votes to invoke cloture and pass this legislation, but it's unclear at this point if it's going to happen. In addition to Republican opposition, some Progressive senators oppose this legislation for real reasons – like the fact that it doesn't extend long-term unemployment, or close any corporate tax loopholes. We will soon find out if there are enough Republicans worried a primary from the far-Right, or with eyes on the presidency in 2016, to cobble together enough votes to shut down the government – once again, for purely political reasons.
In screwed news... A U.S. District Court judge has set a date for the trial on North Carolina's new voting laws, and hasn't yet issued an injunction to block these laws until the case is decided. The problem with this is that the case won't be heard until July of 2015, long after the mid-term elections have been concluded. North Carolina's new voting laws have been called the worst in our nation, as they slashed voting hours, instituted voter ID, ended same-day registration, and more – all with a single piece of legislation. This is all the result of the Supreme Court's ruling on the pre- clearance requirement of the Voting Rights Act. Before that disastrous decision, states with a history of discrimination weren't able to enact laws that disenfranchised voters. Now, however, voters and advocacy groups have to file lawsuits to try and stop Republican lawmakers from stealing their right to vote. And a lot of these lawsuits won't even be heard – let alone decided – until after important elections have already happened. The best way to protect our right to vote is to demand that Congress brings back the full Voting Rights Act, and applies the pre-clearance requirement to every single state in our nation.
In the best of the rest of the news...
The state of Connecticut says you have a right to know what's in your food. On Wednesday, Governor Dannel Malloy signed our nation's first GMO labeling bill into law. This law won't really go into effect until four other states in the area enact similar reforms – but that may not be long considering GMO labeling legislation has already been considered and approved by surrounding state legislatures. Officials say that GMO legislation is written this way to protect local farmers, by ensuring that they don't have to adopt stricter labeling standards before those standards are required throughout the region. In addition, by enacting these measures regionally, states will make it much more difficult for GMO giants like Monsanto to challenge these laws in court. Governor Mallow said, “I am proud of leaders from each of the legislative caucuses can come together to make our state the first in the nation to require the labeling of [GMOs].” By passing this law, Connecticut took a great first step towards GMO labeling in the whole Northeast, and possibly a first step toward labeling standards nation wide.
According to RadCast.org, radiation levels are still fairly steady today, but there are dense waves of radiation throughout our nation. Near the East coast, Philadelphia is reporting levels of 43 counts per minute, with spikes of 72, and Fredericksburg, Virginia is sitting at 37, with peaks of 58 counts per minute. In the Midwest, Warrent, Michican is hovering at 44 counts per minute, with spikes of 68, and Colorado Springs is averaging 59, with highs of 82. In the Southwest, Chino Valley, Arizona is reporting counts of 53, and spikes of 87, and Chandler, Arizona is sitting at 44, with peaks of 70 counts per minute. In the Northwest, Portland, Oregon is reporting levels of 32 counts per minute, with spikes of 56, and Vancouver, Washington is at 35, with highs of 55 counts per minute. RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they watching levels around our nation to keep us informed.
And finally... Everyone is commenting on Megyn Kelly's insistence that both Santa Claus and Jesus were white guys. Even Jon Stewart of The Daily Show had to weigh in about the Fox so-called New host's “War on Christmas” rhetoric. On last night's show, Jon Stewart addressed Ms. Kelly by asking, “Who are you even talking to?” He explained that the original Saint Nicholas lived in what's now known as Turkey, which would make him dark-skinned. And, he pointed out that Jesus was not born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Stewart also took issue with Megyn Kelly's so-called logic, that “just because it makes you feel uncomfortable doesn't mean it has to change.” He said, “Who exactly is changing the facts to make themselves more comfortable here?” Apparently, facts have a liberal bias whether you're talking about welfare, healthcare, the economy, and yes – even Santa Claus.