Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. Most Republicans haven’t held any town hall meetings during this August recess – but they have been plotting how to destroy our environment and bust up unions when they come back to Washington, DC. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor sent a memo to his caucus – and Speaker of the House John Boehner sent a similar letter to the President – outlining a busy schedule of repealing environmental and labor regulations beginning next month. Starting the week of September 12th – Republicans will go after the National Labor Relations Board which is preventing Boeing from moving a factory from Washington State where workers are unionized to South Carolina where most workers are not unionized so they can have access to cheaper labor. Then in the following month – Republicans have pledged to tackle at least 10 environmental regulations that are cutting into the profits of big polluters. Republicans argue that repealing regulations that ensure the air we breath, water we drink, and food we eat is safe will create jobs – but it wont’ – it’ll just line the pockets of American oligarchs like the Koch brothers. As for what ACTUALLY creates jobs – government spending on infrastructure, extension of unemployment benefits, and stopping tax rewards to move jobs offshore – Republicans have no intention whatsoever to address these issues. Improving the economy comes second to improving the profitability of oil barons, outsourcers, and banksters.
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There’s more evidence of a widening wealth inequality gap in America thanks to 30-plus years of Reaganomics. According to The Atlantic magazine – two-thirds of all new income in America between 2002 and 2007 went to just the top 1% of Americans. That’s 2 out of every 3 dollars in America being sucked up by the richest of the rich. Not to mention – that the wealthiest 400 Americans – our nation’s most senior oligarchs, who own more wealth than the bottom 150 million Americans – have seen their incomes double over the last twelve years while their tax rates have been cut in half. Talk about a “for the rich, by the rich” economy. Wealth inequality in America is at levels not seen since the 1920’s – and we’re now a more unequal nation than the Ivory Coast, Pakistan, Ethiopia, and Kazakhstan according to data from the CIA Factbook. So when the entire American middle class disappears, then can we all accept that Reagan’s vision of America – and the direction that the current Republican Party has this nation headed – will lead us all toward ruin?
In the best of the rest of the news…
The Hurricane Irene crisis along the East coast is now over. Though the storm weakened considerably before skirting some of the most populated cities in America from Washington, DC to New York City, it still left quite a mark on millions of people. The rains of Irene – more than the winds – caused the most damage as heavy flooding swept through upstate New York and Vermont as Irene passed over. Estimates put total storm damage at about $13 billion, with 5 million losing power, and more than 20 people were killed over the weekend as a result of Irene. Though this nation has felt the brunt of much more powerful storms in the past, massive 1,000 mile wide super storms like Irene are rare. Unfortunately, as global “weirding” continues unabated – storms like Irene and the midwest mile-wide tornadoes are be the new normal. Oh – and don’t expect any federal relief soon, as both John Boehner and Eric Cantor again said that any disaster relief must be accompanied by budget cuts – like to schools and police departments.
Your Congressman may be watching you. Two Republican Congressmen – Dan Webster from Florida and Tim Griffin from Arkansas – have been caught creating what appear to be “watch lists” of constituents who’ve asked tough questions at previous town halls – and then distributing these lists to supporters to investigate and question these constituents’ intentions and affiliations. The list features the names and pictures of six Floridians – including some pictures pulled from Facebook and other sources. Staffers of Congressman Griffin were seen handing out these lists to attendees of a recent town hall event in what appears to be an effort to intimidate others from asking similar tough questions. As in – if you ask a question the Congressman doesn’t like – you’ll end up on one of these wanted posters, too. One person on the list is a cancer patient who asked Congressman Webster what might happen to people like her under the Republican budget proposal. Another person is a 66-year-old Vietnam veteran who upon hearing he was on the list said, “I think it’s pretty weird. Someone asks a legitimate question, and all of a sudden somebody’s got a dossier on you. It’s the type of thing they’d do in old Russia.” Looks like Republicans will go to great lengths – including smearing constituents – to make sure they don’t have to answer tough questions about their radical agenda.
Welcome to the United States – a nation completely under the control of the military security industrial complex. With the 9/11 ten-year anniversary just around the corner, and a federal budget awash in red ink – it’s now coming to light that our government spends $75 billion a year on spying on Americans. A lot of that money goes into buying security theater stuff like the Chertoff x-ray porno scanners that have a greater likelihood of giving us cancer than protecting us from a terrorist attack. Considering that in 2010 twice as many Americans died from both dog bites and lightning strikes than from terrorism – it’s seems a little strange that so much money is spent this way. Then again – to all the lobbyists and private contractors who make fortunes and build mansions in suburban Virginia off the terrorism and fear industry – $75 billion sounds JUST right.
How is the state of Arizona honoring the 48th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I have a dream” speech and the dedication of the MLK memorial in Washington, DC? By trying to dump the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne filed suit against the Obama Administration claiming parts of the historic civil rights law that stopped the practice of preventing African Americans from voting are unconstitutional. I guess now that minorities in Arizona are catching on to just how radical the right-wing agenda of Governor Jan Brewer and state senators like Russell Pierce is – the next Republican trick is to stop people of color from voting.
And that’s the way it is today – Monday, August 29th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.