Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The recall election season is over in Wisconsin – as two Democrats successfully defended their state senate seats yesterday. Millions of dollars in outside corporate and billionaire cash wasn’t enough to sway voters to vote for Republicans who support Governor Scott Walker’s "screw the working people" agenda. So now Democrats will trudge along into next year – one seat shy of controlling the state Senate – with their eye on recalling Scott Walker next. Let’s hope democracy – and not oligarchy – win in the end in the Badger state.
If you think our Supreme Court is bad today – wait until you see what it could look like under a Rick Perry presidency. Turns out - the Texas Supreme Court – where 7 out of 9 justices were appointed by Governor Perry – sides with corporations over an individual in three out of every four cases it hears. The Texas high court has also overturned more than 70 jury verdicts. The next President of the United States will likely have the opportunity to appoint two new Supreme Court Justices during his or her term – meaning if Rick Perry wins – he could put his radical Texas stamp on the high court for generations – turning America into a permanent corporatocracy.
In the best of the rest of the news…
As recalls wind down in Wisconsin – one is heating up in Arizona. A judge ruled yesterday that a recall against Republican state Senator Russell Pearce could move forward. Pearce was the author of Arizona’s radical anti-immigration law – SB1070 – although he ripped most of the language for that law from the right-wing group the American Legislative Exchange Counsel or ALEC – which has corporate lawyers write custom-made legislation for Republican lawmakers to bring home and pass in their respective states. Citizens for a Better Arizona is spearheading the recall efforts against Pearce, citing his radical views toward immigration reform – his embrace of birtherism – and his rejection of the 14th Amendment. The election is set for November 8th – keep an eye on this one.
The Department of Defense is wasting our money. Two new reports out of the Pentagon highlight a massive mishandling of cash totaling nearly $3 billion. The Defense Department is reviewing over 5 million pieces of critical body armor for our soldiers that may not meet safety standards. The Army inspector general discovered the armor – which cost the US military over $2.5 billion – was improperly tested – and may not ACTUALLY protect soldiers on the battlefield. On top of that – in Afghanistan – the US military has lost over $360 million meant for combat and reconstruction efforts. According to the DoD report – most of the money was lost to the Taliban – those guys we’re fighting – through “profiteering, bribery, and extortion.” So – can someone please explain to me why defense cuts are off the table in deficit reduction?
Big tobacco is suing the FDA. Under new FDA regulations – by September of next year all cigarette packs must display graphic images showing the consequences of smoking. But now – the tobacco companies are pushing back – using the Mitt Romney argument that they’re people – and that these new regulations violate their First Amendment rights. Lorillard – the nation’s third largest cigarette maker – said the new regulations were, “an unconstitutional way of forcing tobacco manufacturers to disseminate the government's anti-smoking message.” The government SHOULD have an anti-smoking message. Smoking kills more than 1,200 people a day – is the only product legally sold in America that kills people when it’s used as directed, and costs taxpayers a fortune in healthcare and lost productivity.
California is considering a single-payer health care system for low-income residents. A new bill in the state Senate would offer basic health coverage to individuals who make between $14,000 and $21,000 a year – essentially – people who earn too much money to qualify for the state’s Medicaid program. While this program doesn’t go far enough – it’s at least a start in recognizing that healthcare is a basic human right in America – as it is everywhere else in the developed world. If our nation ever gets a single-payer healthcare system – it will begin with the states.
Bye-bye Libertarians. PayPal founder Peter Thiel has dropped more than a million dollars into a project to build Libertarian “utopias” in international waters – free from law-of-the-sea treaties. The organization – Sea Standing Institute – is behind the project that will construct these Libertarian communities on oil rig-like platforms in the middle of the ocean. The organization described the floating libertarian settlements as "a kind of floating petri dish for implementing policies that libertarians, stymied by indifference at the voting booths, have been unable to advance: no welfare, looser building codes, no minimum wage, and few restrictions on weapons." The first full-time settlements are set to begin in eight years. Let's see - no building codes, make them with cheap labor, floating in the ocean - Can anyone say BP oil spill?
Crazy Alert! Catch me if you can! Since May – Germany has been captivated by a runaway fugitive alluding authorities in the Bavarian countryside for month. The fugitive – a cow named Yvonne. Ever since escaping from the slaughterhouse in May – and then nearly causing a traffic accident by stampeding German police cars a few weeks later – Yvonne has been a marked animal – with police giving hunters the authority to shoot her. That’s prompted local animal rights activists to join the search for Yvonne to protect her. So far – neither side has had any luck finding her. Animal rights activists even bought a bull to try to seduce Yvonne out of the woods – but that plan didn’t work when they found out the bull was castrated. Now – an animal communication expert from Switzerland claims to have communicated with Yvonne through telepathy – and says Yvonne is “fine” but isn’t ready to come out of hiding yet. And a Facebook page devoted to Yvonne is offering up a $14,000 reward for her capture. As for nearly causing the traffic accident with German police – Yvonne still insists she was innocent – and that it was the one-armed cow that was really responsible.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, August 17th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.