On the News With Thom Hartmann: President Obama to Issue a Signing Statement on National Defense Authorization Act, and More

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Despite protests from the Left and Right, the President will not veto the highly controversial National Defense Authorization Act that includes indefinite detention provisions. However – Attorney General Eric Holder told the Wall Street Journal that the President intends to issue a signing statement when he approves the new law. Presidents often use signing statements to justify ignoring certain aspects of a law passed by Congress. In fact – George W. Bush issued 161 signing statements during his presidency – indicating that he would just ignore laws he didn’t like. Whether or not that’s an appropriate use of the powers of the White House is up for debate. But, when it comes to preserving our Constitution and remembering that – unlike our enemies – we don’t indefinitely detain people – a signing statement by the President is the next best thing…behind an outright veto.

When a poor guy robs a rich guy, he goes to prison. But when the mostly-white rich guys screw over poor minorities – no one goes to jail. Bailed out Bank of America will pay a $335 million “settlement” to the federal government – after it was found that a subsidiary of the bank – Countrywide Financial, “systemically discriminated against minority home-buyers at the peak of the U.S. Housing bubble.” The banksters charged Blacks and Latinos much higher interest rates on homes than they did to whites of similar financial backgrounds. The investigation found that minorities were far more often conned into subprime exploding home mortgages – the stuff responsible for the Housing bubble and crash, and the foreclosure crisis. So now Bank of America will dish out a couple hundred million dollars to make the crime go away – and not one executive will go to jail for robbing poor people. It’s good to be rich in America.

In the best of the rest of the news…

Karl Rove is the latest prominent Conservative to call on House Republicans to extend the Senate’s two-month payroll tax cut extension. Appearing on GOP TV – Rove said Boehner and the Tea Party should, “Vote the 2-month extension and get out of town – they’ve lost the optics on it.” You KNOW the Republican Party has lost its way when Karl Rove sounds like the reasonable guy in the room.

The Ron Paul libertarian zombies are dealing with their first scandal. The media is zeroing in on a slew of old Ron Paul newsletters sent in the 1980’s and 90’s that were soaked in racism and bigotry. Some of the claims made in the Ron Paul newsletters include: a conspiracy that blacks are trying to infect whites with HIV – detailed instruction on how to shoot and kill black teenagers – and arguments that “malicious gays” are infecting us with AIDS. Yesterday – Paul lost his cool and walked out of an interview with CNN when asked about the newsletters bearing his name. Paul claims he didn’t know what was in them – which could be true, but demonstrates a gross lack of responsibility. Either than – or he really did believe this stuff. Neither bodes well for a Paul presidency.

The U.S. auto industry is making a comeback. One million more American cars are expected to be sold this year than last – and once again more people are buying American cars than foreign cars in the United States. Also – car manufacturers plan to hire an additional 167,000 U.S. workers over the next few years. Back in 2009 – President Obama rescued the auto industry from bankruptcy despite Republicans protesting and arguing the car companies should fail and their millions of unionized workers get screwed out of their pensions. Now, a few years later, we know who was right.

You shouldn’t blame the 1% for not caring about the plight of the 99% – they just don’t know any better. New research out of the University of California at Berkeley suggests that wealthy people are far less empathetic than poor people. Based on three experiments on over 300 ethnically diverse young adults – lower-class individuals felt greater levels of compassion when watching emotionally charged videos – and were better able to pick up distress signals during mock interviews than were rich people. As Jennifer Stellar – the lead author of the study noted, “ It’s not that the upper-class are cold-hearted…They may just not be as adept at recognizing the cues and signals of suffering because they haven’t had to deal with as many obstacles in their lives.” Thanks to Reaganomics – the very wealthy have created a “Me society” in America. We need to bring back the “We society.”

Days after the Japanese Prime Minister insisted that the nuclear crisis at Fukushima was resolved – that government is now saying it may take up to 40 years to decommission the crumbling, radioactive nuclear plant. But the Nuclear Crisis Minister admitted yesterday that it could take much longer – noting that decommissioning three melted down reactors and spent fuel pools was an “unprecedented project.” Over the next three years – TEPCO plans to remove the fuel rods from their pools on top of each reactor – and then over the next 25 years will remove the melted fuel in the reactor cores – even though no one really knows at this point what condition the melted reactors are in. But even after Fukushima is adequately contained – the people of Japan – and the rest of the world – will feel the effects of this disaster for thousands of years – or however long it takes the radioactive material around the world to decay.

Crazy Alert! Bad Santa. Lower Manhattan is still reeling from an invasion of drunken Santas last week. As part of the annual SantaCon event – thousands of people dressed as Santa hit the bars in lower Manhattan with one goal in mind – to get as drunk as possible and spread the holiday cheer. Though “spreading the holiday cheer” may not be as pleasant as it sounds. According to one witness describing this year’s SantaCon, “There was public urination, public vomiting all over the place, open containers and no police.” No police huh? Now we know how Occupy Wall Street can get the NYPD to ignore them – just dress like Santa. Occupy Christmas!

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, December 22, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.