Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. So much for the liberal media. Over the weekend, nearly two million people took part in world-wide protests against Monsanto and genetically modified food. Despite demonstrations in over 400 cities, in 52 countries, there was hardly a peep about the event in the corporate media. Apparently, a Koch-Brothers-funded Tea Party march of 300 people is news-worthy… but two million protesters aren’t enough to risk upsetting the corporate masters. This is why it’s so difficult to change our country. It’s bad enough that many of our lawmakers are bought and paid for with big business cash, but the corporate control of our news media is unacceptable. And, this is exactly why news reporting should not be a for-profit venture. When news networks are beholden to corporate sponsors, they focus on the stories they think will get the most viewers, and avoid reporting on anything that can paint their corporate masters in a negative light. News used to be news, and entertainment used to be entertainment. The new system of infotainment ignores stories like the March Against Monsanto, and focuses in on anything that includes sex, lies, and scandals. It was news coverage of anti-war protests that helped stop Vietnam. It was unbiased reports of discrimination that helped end segregation, and pushed our nation toward equality. The news media covered these stories because they weren’t gagged by defense industry advertisers, and they weren’t competing with entertainment outlets for ratings. If two million protesters aren’t enough to warrant attention, we will make it four million, or eight million, or ten. As March Against Monsanto organizer Tami Canal said, “We will continue until Monsanto complies with consumer demand. They are poisoning our children, poisoning our planet. If we don’t act, who’s going to?” Whether we’re against GMOs or war or austerity, we will stand together until our numbers cannot be ignored. And in the process of taking our country back, we will reclaim our news media as well.
In screwed news… Scoot over Arizona, because North Carolina wants to be the next state to say “papers please.” The Republican-led state is about to vote on the deceptively named RECLAIM NC Act, which would allow police officers to check the immigration status of anyone they think may be in the country illegally. This so-called “reasonable suspicion” guideline is similar to the one used by law enforcement officers in Arizona, where a court reprimanded Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s office for unconstitutionally targeting and detaining Hispanic drivers. The North Carolina bill would take discrimination to an even more extreme level, by subjecting all immigrants to finger printing, criminal background checks, and the potential to be detained in a federal facility without ever speaking with a lawyer. As seen in Arizona, this type of legislation leads to racial profiling of Hispanic residents, who get harassed by police because of the color of their skin. North Carolina voters must demand that this racist bill doesn’t become reality.
In the best of the rest of the news…
It looks like the IRS may have justification for scrutinizing some conservative so-called “social welfare” groups. According to The New York Times, the election activities of several 501(c)(4) groups provided “a legitimate basis for flagging them for closer review.” In the wake of the IRS scandal, the Times reviewed several of those groups, and found they organized political volunteers, distributed campaign pamphlets, and held political rallies leading up to the 2010 and 2012 elections. One group spent $8,000 dollars on radio ads backing a Congressional candidate in California, another sent regular emails about the Romney campaign, and another released a fund-raising video focused on “the defeat of President Barack Obama.” Donald B. Tobin, a former Justice Department Laywer, said, “While some of the I.R.S. questions may have been overbroad, you can look at some of these groups and understand why these questions were being asked.” These Tea Party organizations are not social welfare groups, and shouldn’t be subsidized by our tax dollars. They are political action committees that are using their non-profit status as a means to hide their donor lists. There’s an easy solution to all of this – enforce the regulation as it was written. If an organization wants to be tax-exempt, they must focus exclusively on real social welfare.
Only a few years ago, California was faced with huge budget gaps. Today, that state has a budget surplus of over $4 billion dollars. Thanks to tax increases and an improving housing market, California erased its deficit and has moved out of the red. And, the big debate now is on what to do with all the extra cash. Some California lawmakers are calling for the money to be stashed in a “rainy day fund,” and others are asking for important investments to repair the damage done by years of budget cuts and recession. The state has shown how quickly a large budget deficit can turn around when those at the top are asked to pay their fair share. And, investments in infrastructure, energy, and education could add jobs – and more tax dollars – to California’s economy. This could be the start of long-term growth if the surplus is allocated correctly. If only lawmakers throughout our nation followed California’s example, who knows how fast we could fix our national economy.
And finally… According to Bob Dole, the Republican National Committee should be “closed for repairs.” That was the advice from former Presidential candidate and former Senate Majority Leader during an appearance on Fox News Sunday. Senator Dole spoke about the on-going gridlock in the Senate, and said, “It seems almost unreal that we can’t get together on a budget or legislation. We weren’t perfect, by a long shot, but at least we got our work done.” However, no one on the Right seems to have the political know-how, or capital, to lead the party. Chris Wallace asked Senator Dole if he would have even fit in today’s Republican Party. “I doubt it,” Dole said, “Reagan wouldn’t have made it, certainly Nixon wouldn’t have made it, because he had ideas. We might have made it, but I doubt it.” Well said Senator, and we certainly agree about those needed repairs.
And that’s the way it is today.