Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. While the state of his job as Governor is in limbo – Scott Walker gave his state of the state address Wednesday night in Madison, Wisconsin. Let’s just say it didn’t go so well. Hundreds protested outside the Capitol building before the speech, and throughout the speech chants against Walker could be heard from the Capitol rotunda. Within the Chamber, five different protestors interrupted Walker’s speech calling him a “liar” – and had to be escorted out. Clearly – after gathering more than one million signatures last week for recall – Wisconsinites are fed up with their Governor who declared a war on working people last year. But Walker has millionaires and billionaires who want him to stay in office and are giving huge amounts of money to make sure that happens. In just 5 weeks – Walker has raised more than 4.5 million bucks – mostly from out-of-state donors like oil barons in Texas and banksters in New York City. Collecting the signatures in Wisconsin was the easy part, winning a recall election against a massive corporate spending machine – THAT will be the hard part.
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Indiana is screwed as it crept one step closer to becoming the 23rd state in the nation to pass a right-to-work FOR LESS law. The State House passed legislation that was passed by the Senate earlier in the week to bring right-to-work-for-less to the state – putting an end to closed union shops and pitting workers against workers across Indiana, thus killing off the union movement in that state. The bill now awaits Governor Mitch Daniels' signature who took a break from his war on unions this week to deliver the Republican response to the President’s State of the Union address. Indiana will become the first state in the nation’s manufacturing belt to pass a right-to-work-for-less law – which has been proven to lead to lower wages, less healthcare coverage, and more workplace accidents.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Two critical pieces of legislation will be introduced in Congress this week. Democrat Chris Van Hollen in the House plans to introduce an updated version of the DISCLOSE Act forcing corporate entities behind SuperPAC ads to disclose who they are. A version of this legislation passed the House in 2010 – but died in the Senate because of a Republican filibuster. Considering we’re on the verge of a billion-dollar election – this is much-needed legislation to bring at least a little bit of transparency to the sell-off of our democracy. Also – Democratic Senator Al Franken is teaming up with Tea Party Congressman Jeff Landry in the House to introduce legislation to strip out the controversial “indefinite detainee” provision in the Defense Authorization Act passed by Congress and recently signed by the President. Thankfully for the United States – upholding Constitutional freedoms is becoming a bipartisan issue. Call Congress and tell them to pass these two key pieces of legislation.
Adbusters – the organization that brought us the Occupy Wall Street movement – issued a new call for action this week. The G8 and NATO are scheduled to hold a summit in Chicago during the first week of May – and Adbusters is calling on 50,000 people from around the planet to set up tents and occupy the city in hopes of pulling off the, “biggest multinational occupation of a summit meeting the world has ever seen.” The occupation will bring with it a list of demands including a “Robin Hood Tax – essentially a tax on stock trades – a ban on high frequency ‘flash’ trading, a binding climate change accord, a three strikes and you’re out law for corporate criminals, and an all out initiative for a nuclear-free Middle East.” Adbusters is calling on demonstrators to “bring a tent.”
We like to think of ourselves as the top nation in the world when it comes to press freedom – but we’re not even close. The organization Reporters Without Borders released their annual Press Freedom Index this week – showing the United States has dropped 27 places and now ranks 47th in the world when it comes to press freedoms. We rank behind countries like Namibia, Niger, and Romania. According to the report – our press freedoms took a hit because of the “many arrests of journalists covering the Occupy Wall Street movement.” The Press is the only industry specifically mentioned in our Constitution – because our Founders knew that without a free and open press – our democracy can’t function.
The World Economic Forum in Davos gave a rare platform to women’s rights on Wednesday – when South Africa’s Desmond Tutu said it was time for women around the world to start their own “revolution.” Tutu addressed the world’s political and financial elite – most of whom are men – telling them, “Let us realign forces, let us ensure that women have a significant part in the decision-making process… What we need is a revolution led by women. I think women ought to be saying to us men: ‘You have made a mess, just get out and let us in’.” Tutu makes a fair point – especially in the United States, which ranks 71st in the world when it comes to female representation in government. Despite making up half the population of the country – women only make up 17% of our government. To put that in perspective – we rank 35 places below Iraq. Time to bring more women to Washington, DC.
And finally…President Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer had a heated conversation on a tarmac in Phoenix Wednesday. Brewer greeted the President when Air Force One landed at Phoenix-Mesa Gateway airport and invited him to meet with her. According to press reports, the President accepted the invite, but took issue with how Brewer described the last meeting the two had back in 2010 – a meeting that Brewer described as “very cordial” at the time, but later in her book wrote that the President was “condescending” to her. But that would just be the tip of the iceberg of things that the President could take issue with. Brewer has caused suffering for countless people in the state of Arizona with her destruction of the state’s Medicaid system, her unconstitutional “papers, please” law, and her re-write of school curricula.
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, January 26th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.