On the News With Thom Hartmann: Keystone XL Shot Down Again, and More

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Rejected! Democrats in the Senate yesterday beat back an attempt by Republicans to have the Keystone XL pipeline automatically approved. Despite 11 Democrats crossing the aisle and voting with Republicans to approve Keystone – the amendment fell short of the 60-votes needed to pass. After the vote – environmentalist Bill McKibben issued a statement saying, “given that this [pipeline] was a ‘no brainer’ a year ago, it’s pretty remarkable that people power was able to keep working, even in the oil-soaked Senate.” It was grassroots activism – and more than 1,200 patriotic Americans willing to get arrested in front of the White House last year – that killed the Keystone pipeline and handed the oil barons a rare political defeat. And it will be grassroots activism that ultimately ousts big oil from their privileged position in our economy – and gets us on the right track to embracing 21st century energy sources like wind and solar power.

Our democracy is screwed. The largest corporate lobbying organization in the nation – the Chamber of Commerce – is ramping up its election spending – targeting two Democrats – including progressive Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown – with millions of dollars in negative ads. This is just a sign of things to come as the Chamber plans to spend $50 million this election year to defeat Democrats in at least a dozen Senate seats and more than 30 House seats. Despite Republicans giving the nation a case of voter’s remorse after just two years in power in the House – the oligarchs want to make sure their lapdogs survive the next vote. Consider the Chamber’s contributions as investments to keep taxpayer oil subsidies and tax cuts for banksters in place.

In the best of the rest of the news…

For the 24th month in a row – President Obama created private sector jobs. According to new jobs numbers from the labor department – the economy added 227,000 new jobs in February. The unemployment rate remained unchanged at 8.3%. This is the third straight month of 200,000-PLUS jobs being created. So what does an improving economy mean for Republicans trying to win the White House in 2012? Most likely, it'll be more and more debates about contraceptives, abortions, and President Obama’s birth certificate.

As Americans try to claw their way out of the Bush Great Recession – a key lifeline they’re using is food stamps. A new analysis by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that food assistance programs reduced the number of American households living in extreme poverty by half last year from 1.46 million to 800,000. On top of that – food stamps also cut the number of children living in extreme poverty in half too – from 2.8 million to 1.4 million. So when Republicans talk about cutting food stamps – they’re really talking about condemning more American children to extreme poverty.

Democrats are trying to save the Constitution. Two Members of Congress – Senator Mark Udall and Representative Adam Smith offered legislation on Thursday to repeal the indefinite detention provision that was recently signed into law by President Obama. That provision gives the President broad new powers to indefinitely detain people into military custody – including Americans – if they’re suspected of being terrorists. President George W. Bush asserted these powers back in 2001 after 9/11 – but they were finally codified into law with the most recent National Defense Authorization Act. The indefinite detention provision has sparked outrage not just from progressive but libertarians like Ron Paul as well. And just because President Obama said he wouldn’t not use these powers to detain American citizens – doesn’t mean a future President would. As Representative Smith said defending his legislation, “We have to make these changes. … Our Constitution has stood us in good stead…It's why the rest of the world looks to us as a role model.” Let’s not give into fear and sell away our civil liberties – let’s be the land of the free and the home of the brave.

If Republicans want to continue their war against unions – they’re doing so at their own political peril. As Republicans Governors around the nation like Scott Walker strip public sector workers of their rights to collectively bargain, a new Bloomberg News poll shows that two out of every three Americans believe that public workers should have collective bargaining rights. Not only that – a plurality of Republicans support collective bargaining too. That’s because as not just Americans – but as humans – we’re wired for democracy – and unions are a form of democracy in the workplace.

Newt Gingrich’s last stand will be in the South. With the Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama primaries scheduled for this month – the Gingrich campaign is going all in on a Southern strategy to stay in the race. Luckily for him – he already has the dog-whistle racism strategy working that helped him win South Carolina. 41% of Americans say that the Republican Primary has given them a “less favorable” view of the Republican Party – mainly because primaries force Republicans to tell the truth about their plutocratic agenda to profitize Medicare and Social Security – and give more tax breaks away to millionaires and billionaires. So the longer that Newt and Santorum stay in the race and continue the primary – the better for Progressives around the nation.

And finally . . . pay no attention to the pink slime. A former U.S. Department of Agriculture scientists has come forward revealing that about 70% of all ground beef sold in America contains what he calls “pink slime.” “Pink slime” is made up mostly of connective tissue – and used to be outlawed for human consumption and used only in dog foods. But ever since 1993 – when the former undersecretary of Agriculture Joann Smith redefined “pink slime” as meat – and then promptly took a job as a beef industry lobbyist – Americans have been unknowingly eating “pink slime” – or as the beef industry calls it, “lean, finely-textured beef.” It’s allegedly even being used in school lunches. Of course – in the future – when meat is grown en vitro in a laboratory – “pink slime” will be the least of our problems.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, March 9th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.