Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. You’ve been served. There are now reports that the Department of Justice is on the verge of issuing subpoenas against NewsCorp as part of their investigation into whether or not Rupert Murdoch’s media empire violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing British police officers. In addition to the DOJ investigation – there is an FBI investigation underway as well – looking into whether or not NewsCorp tried to hack into the phones of victims of 9/11. And pressure is mounting on Capitol Hill too – where several senators want to hold hearings to find out if the rampant illegal hacking in the UK – made it across the Atlantic into the US. If you listen closely you can hear the drip, drip, drip of a scandal. I have a feeling one of those drips will be Fox News.
Are we seeing the “shock doctrine” at work in the debt-limit debate? Author Naomi Klein wrote the book on the shock doctrine – a tactic used by Conservatives throughout history to manufacture or exploit a crisis in order to push through radical right-wing reforms that benefit the super rich and screw over the working class. She’s now weighing in on the current debt-limit debate saying this in a statement for the website RootsAction.org: “Using trumped up crisis to raid the public purse and attack the basic rights and benefits is a very old trick - but rarely is the shock doctrine tactic wielded as brazenly as in the pseudo debate about the debt ceiling. This is naked class war, waged by the ultra rich against everyone else, and it's well past time for Americans to draw the line.” She’s right – we have no debt crisis. Our debt-to-GDP ration is well below what it was after World War 2 – and both Democratic and Republican Presidents spent federal money to grow our economy out of debt. And as a recent Gallup poll noted – Americans don’t give a damn about the debt – they care about jobs! But Republicans are using a fake debt crisis to destroy the last remnants of FDR’s New Deal by dismantling social safety nets – downsizing the middle class – and handing over the commons to transnational corporations. As long as there is a so-called debt crisis – Republicans think they can get away with turning the United States into a banana republic.
In the best of the rest of the news…
In a new report - ThinkProgress examined the Republican position in the debt-limit negotiations of blocking any new tax hikes on their millionaires and billionaire campaign contributors – and instead pushing for price hikes on student loans. Currently – the 400 richest Americans own $1.37 trillion worth of wealth. At the same time – all the outstanding student loan debt in the country tops out at around $1 trillion. That means the 400 richest American could pay off every single student loan in the country – an STILL have $370 billion to divvy up amongst themselves – or about $925 million a person. Would it be too much to ask these billionaires to live off of a mere $925 million? Perhaps – but the very least we can do is make them pay their fair share and raise their taxes a few percentage points….after all – they’ll still be billionaires.
Just as British Prime Minister David Cameron is catching some heat over his connection with Rupert Murdoch and NewsCorp – so too is Ohio Governor John Kasich. Democrats in the state are jumping on the fact that Kasich earned more than $265,000 in 2008 hosting a show on Fox News – and that he received a $10,000 campaign contribution from Rupert Murdoch himself. In a letter to Governor Kasich – Ohio Democratic Party Chairman Chris Redfern writes, “Perhaps no public official in America has benefited more, both personally and politically, from News Corporation than you." Democrats are calling on Kasich to return his Fox News political contributions. I’m calling on Governor Kasich to step down as Governor – and get back to hosting a TV show where he can no longer screw over middle class families in Ohio.
The DEA is going to court. Last month – the DEA scuttled an effort to reclassify marijuana as a schedule 2 drug with medicinal value instead of a schedule 1 drug like heroin or other dangerous street narcotics. The DEA claimed, “Marijuana has a high potential for abuse…[and] has no accepted medical use in the United States.” But some advocacy groups weren’t happy with that decision. Now – the groups Americans for Safe Access and the Coalition for Rescheduling Marijuana are appealing the DEA decision in court. The Chief Counsel for American for Safe Access argued, “By ignoring the wealth of scientific evidence that clearly shows the therapeutic value of marijuana, the Obama Administration is playing politics at the expense of sick and dying Americans." Currently – the people have spoken in 16 states where medicinal marijuana is legal – and polls show that 8 out of 10 Americans support legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. It’s time for the federal government to kick out the for-profit prison lobbyists who are fighting tooth and nail against marijuana legalization – and get on board with a responsible drug policy.
Start the timer – “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” has only 60 days of life left. The Pentagon is expected to announce today that new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will certify repeal of DADT – paving the way for gays to serve openly in the United States military. Top military leaders have already confirmed that repeal of DADT will not affect the military’s readiness. According to a law passed last year – repeal will be effective 60 days after the Pentagon certifies it. A huge victory for civil rights is just around the corner – let’s hope it’s just the beginning.
Crazy Alert! Today is Rat Catchers Day! July 22nd is an internationally recognized holiday to commemorate one of the most famous rat catchers in history – the Pied Piper. According to legend – the German city of Hamelin hired the Pied Piper to rid the city of its rats by playing his pipe. But after he was successful – residents of Hamelin refused to pay up – so on a long past July 22nd - the Pied Piper stole all the children of Hamelin and disappeared never to be seen of again. At least the rats never returned either. So if you’re in the unfortunate situation of having to call a rat catcher today – be sure to wish him a happy Rat Catchers Day – and don’t forget to pay up – and keep a close eye on your kids.
And that’s the way it is today – Friday, July 22nd, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.