In today's On the News segment: Michigan Republicans overwhelmingly voted to rig the Electoral College, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The sequester deadline is March 1st, and there's only four days until Republican austerity measures start to kick in. President Obama released new reports Sunday, which detail how spending cuts will harm each state, and he continues to call on Congress to find a way to avoid the sequester. The Republicans were hard at work too. But, instead of working on a compromise to prevent austerity, they've just come up with a new way to make Obama the bad guy. Since the American people didn't buy the Republican's attempts to blame the President for the sequester, the GOP now wants Obama to decide just where, when, and how these cuts should take place. Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri floated this new idea in an interview over the weekend, saying “the compromise is to give the president authority that he should be willing to use as the leader of the country to target the cuts, rather than to take the cuts on every line item.” This is just their latest ploy to avoid any responsibility for the financial pain our nation is about to feel, and President Obama needs to say “No” to their latest scheme. If Congress doesn’t act to prevent these austerity measures, the American people will know who's really to blame. It's Republicans who refuse to compromise, and they'd rather subject our entire nation to devastating cuts, than stop the tax breaks for millionaires and billionaires. Call Congress now and tell them that if they don't act to prevent the sequester, soon they'll be joining the unemployment rolls with the one million Americans who lose their jobs because of Republican austerity.
In screwed news... This weekend, Republicans in Michigan overwhelmingly voted to rig the electoral college. At that state's GOP Convention, party members voted 1,370 to 132 to divvy up Michigan's 16 electoral votes by congressional district. If this plan was in place during the last election, Mitt Romney would have received nine of that state's electoral votes, despite President Obama being the candidate of choice for 500,000 more voters. And if the electoral college was rigged like this in every state during the last election, Mitt Romney would be our president today, even though Obama got more than 2 million more votes throughout our nation. Other GOP-controlled state legislatures have recently considered rigging the electoral college, including Pennsylvania, Florida, and Virginia, but most have abandoned their schemes after a public outcry. Even Michigan's Republican Governor Rick Snyder says the right way to deal with election reform is “in a bipartisan way.” Let's hope he stands by his statement, and refuses to allow legislators in that state to distort our democratic process. Even better, let's make it impossible for Republicans to steal the next election by moving to a national popular vote. We can make it happen. Go to NationalPopularVote.com.
In the best of the rest of the news...
President Obama is standing up for civil rights. Last Friday, the administration publicly urged the Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act, which denies important federal benefits to tens of thousands of same-sex couples who are legally married in their states. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli says that Section 3 of DOMA is unconstitutional, because it defines marriage under federal law as only between one man and one woman, thus denying equal rights to LGBT couples throughout our nation. DOMA will be argued before the Supreme Court next month, and the administration's position is that “because this discrimination cannot be justified as substantially furthering any important governmental interest, Section 3 is unconstitutional.” Many LGBT families, as well as their supporters, are hoping DOMA is struck down. It's time for the right-wing members of the Supreme Court to recognize families of all types, and stop this discrimination once and for all.
Warming temperatures around the globe have slashed labor capacity by 10 percent. That's the finding of a new report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. According to scientists at NOAA, Earth's increasingly hot, wet climate has significantly reduced the amount of work people can do during warmer months over the last six decades. And the report's lead author, John Dunne, says, “we project that heat stress-related labor capacity losses will double globally by 2050 with a warming climate.” His report found that work capacity is already down 90 percent during the most hot and humid periods, when the warmer air holds more moisture, and increases humidity in the atmosphere. Dunne says the only way to maintain labor capacity is to limit global warming to less than 5 degrees Fahrenheit over the next half century. If workers can't produce because of rising temperatures, that means big business won't be able to make a profit, so perhaps this report will finally get them to wake up to climate change.
And finally… Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of yoga?? That's one San Diego couple's interpretation of the First Amendment. They're suing the San Diego school district for allegedly violating their children's religious freedom.... with yoga classes. According to a press release issued by the National Center for Law and Policy, attorney Dean Broyles claims the Encinitas, CA yoga program sets a “dangerous precedent” and is “the clearest case of the state trampling on the religious freedom rights of citizens” that he has ever witnessed. Stephen and Jennifer Sedlock have the option of simply taking their kids out of the classes, which the school's superintendent describes as, “stretching, moving, breathing.” Instead, the parents filed a lawsuit to “suspend the yoga program indefinitely and restore traditional physical education.” Perhaps Mr. and Mrs. Sedlock could use some breathing exercises themselves. Yoga is a great way for kids to stay in shape, and trying to make exercise an attack on religious freedom certainly is quite a stretch.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, February 25, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.