On the News With Thom Hartmann: Attorney General Eric Holder Made His Second Startling Confession, and More

In today’s On the News segment: At 1am Senator Rand Paul yielded the floor back to Senator Dick Durbin, concluding his 13-hour real, live filibuster; New report from the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction says the US wasted about $10 billion during reconstruction and stabilization efforts; Holder admitted that some banks are simply too big to prosecute; and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. At 1am Senator Rand Paul yielded the floor back to Senator Dick Durbin, concluding his 13-hour real, live filibuster. Senator Paul started speaking before noon on Wednesday, blocking the confirmation of John Brennan to be CIA Director. The filibuster was a response to Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement, that the President is authorized under the Constitution to use drones against Americans within our borders. During the speech, leaders from both sides of the isle joined Paul’s opposition to the drone policy. Democratic Senators Ron Wyden and Dick Durbin came to the floor to support the filibuster, along with Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Mike Lee, and Jerry Moran. In total, Rand Paul spoke for over 12 hours demanding Holder issue a statement saying unmanned aircraft would not be used to kill US citizens in our nation. Attorney General Holder responded to Paul today, saying “It has come to my attention that you have now asked an additional question: “Does the President have the authority to use a weaponized drone to kill an American not engaged in combat on American soil?” The answer to that question is no.” I don’t agree with Rand Paul very often, but his concern over the potential violation of our Constitutional right of due process is justified. It’s not up to the President to play judge, jury, and executioner of anyone in our nation, let alone a US Citizen. In fact, we shouldn’t be using drones against anyone, in any nation. We’re supposed to be the Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave, but as long as the drone program is in place, we are neither.

In screwed news… Ten years after the start of the Iraq war, a new report from the Special Inspector-General for Iraq Reconstruction says the U.S. wasted about $10 billion during reconstruction and stabilization efforts, and squandered about $1.3 billion because of outright fraud and abuse. According to The Think Progress Blog, a bulk of the $10 billion was simply mismanaged, like money spent on a waste-water treatment facility, which will only service 9,000 homes and is eight years behind schedule. One point three billion was siphoned off in bribes, kickbacks, and the purchase of useless equipment. From the beginning of the war to the withdrawal date, the Department of Defense spent over $700 billion on the Iraq war, and the total cost to our nation could top a whopping $3 trillion according to some analyses. And worst of all, it’s impossible to put a price tag on the lives lost fighting the illegal war. News that billions were squandered just adds insult to injury. Our government is investigating and prosecuting those responsible for the fraud and abuse… while they’re at it, start prosecuting those who started the illegal war in the first place.

In the best of the rest of the news…

During his State of the Union, President Obama said we need to raise the minimum wage to $9 per hour, but Senator Tom Harkin and Representative George Miller think we should increase pay for low-wage workers even more. On Tuesday, the pair introduced the Fair Minimum Wage Act, which would raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 by 2015, and tie it to the inflation rate each year thereafter. Rep. Miller said, “Some [people] work two or three part time jobs. They play by the rules. They contribute. And yet? They live in poverty.” And he’s right. It’s unacceptable that people who work full-time in our nation still struggle to survive earning poverty wages. This bill could bring relief to millions of Americans, and it would be a great boost to our economy. Call Congress today, and tell them to support The Fair Minimum Wage Act now.

Attorney General Eric Holder made his second startling confession in days. Holder admitted that some banks are simply too big to prosecute, while testifying before the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday. In a response to a question from Sen. Chuck Grassley, Holder replied, “Some of these institutions become so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them.” Senator Elizabeth Warren, who sits on the Senate Banking Committee, railed against Holder’s statement, saying his “testimony that the biggest banks are too-big-to-jail shows once again that it is past time to end too-big-to-fail.” The size and power of these banks is exactly why their financial troubles took down our economy, and this is exactly why it’s time to break them up. It’s been five years since the financial crisis, and it’s about time to hold banksters accountable. Thankfully for us, Senator Elizabeth Warren is on the job.

One of President Obama’s loudest critics, Arizona Governor Jan Brewer, shocked politicians and pundits yesterday by becoming the newest high-profile Republican governor to support Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion. Brewer held a press conference Wednesday, where she called on her state’s GOP lawmakers to put politics aside, and do what’s right for poor people in her state. She said as many as 50,000 low-income state residents would lose health coverage without the expansion, and “the human cost of this tragedy can’t be calculated.” Arizona’s Republican lawmakers showed up at Brewer’s event wearing black in protest of her support to expand Medicaid. It’s great that Jan Brewer is standing up for the poor, and for once she’s on the right side of history. Let’s hope lawmakers in her state stop playing politics, and allow the federal government to provide healthcare assistance to those who need it most.

And finally… News of batman fighting crime in Britain must have made it’s way to Ukraine. Over the weekend, a group dressed as Darth Vader and the Imperial stormtroopers raided a local shop to find and destroy synthetic pot, which is illegal in that country. The brigade searched on and around the counter for the illegal smoking blend, and destroyed the substances they believed to be prohibited. The shopkeeper, who denied selling any synthetic pot in his store, called police, but the group was gone before they arrived. However, Darth Vader did find time to speak with journalists, saying, “Those guilty of poisoning the nation should be brought to strict account before the Empire.” Those selling illegal substances in Ukraine be warned, because in your nation, The Empire really does strike back.

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, March 7, 2013. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.