On the News With Thom Hartmann: Republican Lawmakers Literally Up for Sale in Minnesota, and More

In today's On the News segment: Dick Cheney has a new book coming out, earthquake rattles Eric Cantor's Congressional district, Republican lawmakers are literally up for sale in Minnesota, new study shows that over half of the US population will be obese by the year 2030, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Draft dodger Dick Cheney has a new book coming out. The man with no pulse is trying to set the record straight about his time in the White House as Vice President – and according to excerpts from the book entitled, “My Time” – which is set to be released next week – Cheney confirms what we all suspected – that he really is that evil. Cheney goes after former Secretary of State Colin Powell for opposing the Iraq War – then rips into Condoleeza Rice – calling her “naïve” for trying to negotiate with the North Koreans. I guess Cheney would have preferred just bombing them. Cheney, who got five deferments from serving in Vietnam, even admits that back in 2007 – he urged President Bush to launch military strikes against a Syrian nuclear site. Luckily – no one else in the White House agreed with Cheney. Cheney then goes on to praise the use of torture – confirming that he is not only a war criminal – but also a proud war criminal. As for Cheney’s thoughts on Bush – he praised him as a “strong and resolute” leader. Go figure. I say as soon as the book hit shelves next Tuesday – it should immediately be entered into evidence in the war crimes trial against the Bush administration.

God hates Eric Cantor! And Eric Cantor hates his constituents. Earlier this year – after massive tornadoes devastated the city of Joplin, Missouri – Republican House Majority Leader Eric Cantor took the unbelievably heartless position of holding out aid to the ripped-apart city – arguing than any federal relief for victims of natural disasters should be offset by spending cuts elsewhere – like to children, the elderly or the poor. As in – yeah – we can help you rebuild your blown down house – but first – we have to cut funding to your city’s schools. Well – in one of the most overt cases of karma – an earthquake rattled Cantor’s congressional district on Tuesday – and now a severe hurricane that could cause damage on an historic scale is barreling right toward the district this weekend. Yet – Cantor is sticking to his guns saying that if the Governor of Virginia requests federal funds – Cantor will support the request but only if money is cut elsewhere. Surrounded by some quake damage in Culpepper, Virginia, Cantor said, “All of us know that the federal government is busy spending money it doesn’t have.” Either Cantor is getting some bad political advice – or he’s a sociopath – who just so happens to be the second most powerful Republican in the House of Representatives. I think it’s the latter.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Senator Bernie Sanders knows how to fix Social Security. Yesterday – the Independent Senator from Vermont announced new legislation to raise the cap on Social Security and make millionaires and billionaires pay their fair share into the program. Most Americans don't realize that people only pay Social Security taxes on the first $106,800 of their income – so anybody making more than that – the millionaires and billionaires – pay pretty much nothing. Just by lifting that cap so Bill Gates pays the same as you do – Social Security will be fully funded for the next 75 years. So far – Republicans and some Democrats have endorsed proposals to raise the retirement age – but ignored the cap. But poll after poll shows the American people opposed to raising the retirement age – and in support of raising the cap. Senator Bernie Sanders is listening to those people – and protecting Social Security from Wall Street’s grubby hands. It’s time the rest of Congress gets on board too.

Republican lawmakers are literally up for sale in Minnesota. The organization Common Cause uncovered an EBay-like website put together by the Minnesota Republican Committee with the state’s top Republicans lawmakers – including the state’s Republican Speaker of the House – up for sale to the highest bidder. Exactly what you get by bidding on these lawmakers is unclear – but the site offers people a chance to get, “up close and personal” with each Republican. Minnesota Republicans are starting to sound more like an escort service. The bidding starts at $250 and is reportedly targeted toward lobbyists. All the money collected goes into the coffers of the Minnesota Republican Party. Common Cause responded to the website by saying it “crosses the line” and, “It’s time we take the ‘for sale’ sign off our government, so that it works for working and middle class Minnesotans.” Looks like Republicans in Minnesota took the Paul Ryan approach to dealing with constituents – it's pay to play, or we cut off grandma's Medicare.

The United States is dealing with an obesity epidemic. According to a new study in the British Medical Journal the Lancet – over half of the US population will be obese by the year 2030 – that’s more than 160 million Americans. This uptick in obesity will likely lead to 7.8 million more cases of diabetes – 8.6 million more cases of heart disease and stroke – and about a half million more cases of cancer. All in all – rising obesity will cost Americans another $66 billion in healthcare a year. As research by Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett has proven – a nation’s obesity rate is largely determined by its wealth inequality. American is the most unequal nation in the developed world – and also the most obese. Taxing the rich and thus reducing wealth inequality – will go along way toward tackling our nation’s obesity problem too.

Meet Scott Brown’s sock-puppet. An aide to the Senator from Massachusetts was busted for creating a fake twitter account under the name of Brown’s democratic challenger, Alan Khazei – and then posting embarrassing – and offensive – tweets to make Khazei look bad. One of the tweets read, “I promise to devote all my time in office to making gay videos. Shame on Scott Brown for focusing on jobs!” Another tweet was in support of high taxes. After the “sock puppet” – which is a term to refer to an online identity used for deceptive purposes – was discovered – Brown’s aide defended the tactic by saying, “this was my way of lightening things up. As they say in politics, if you can’t stand the tweet, get out of the kitchen.” Let’s hope the heat REALLY gets turned up on Scott Brown when Elizabeth Warren jumps in the race to take his Senate seat.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, August 26th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.