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On the News With Thom Hartmann: The Revolving Door Claims Another Willing Public Official Turned Lobbyist, and More

Thursday, 06 December 2012 15:45 By Thom Hartmann, The Thom Hartmann Program | News Report
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In today's On the News segment: Hundreds of people gathered underneath Seattle's Space Needle to fire up joints to commemorate their state's new marijuana legalization law going into effect; Senator Max Baucus' health policy counsel Liz Fowler has accepted a job as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry; foreign casino magnate Sheldon Adelson is already plotting how he can buy the next election and protect himself from criminal prosecution; and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news...

You need to know this. Just after midnight last night, hundreds of people gathered underneath Seattle's Space Needle, and in unison, as the clock struck midnight, fired up joints to commemorate their state's new marijuana legalization law going into effect. In a blow to Nixon's failed Drug War, Washington became the first state in the nation to officially legalize marijuana – with Colorado set to follow suit on January 5th. Ironically, Washington's new law took effect just one day after the anniversary of prohibition of alcohol being repealed in America in 1933. Over the coming weeks and months, Washington state will craft a highly-regulated market for the new legalized drug with licensed growers and distributors, and a 25% tax that will bring in much needed revenue for the state. The police response to the new law was welcoming. The Seattle Police Department Spokesman issued a statement reading, ""The police department believes that, under state law, you may responsibly get baked, order some pizzas and enjoy a 'Lord of the Rings' marathon in the privacy of your own home, if you want to." Now the only question is how the federal government will respond since marijuana is still illegal under federal law. As of right now, the Department of Justice has yet to reveal how they plan to deal with marijuana legalization in Washington and Colorado besides the Seattle U.S. attorney's office saying, "The department's responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged." With our wars and the "fiscal cliff," despair has settled on a lot of progressives around the nation. But looking at Washington state today – it's clear that at least in some areas, the nation is indeed moving forward.

In screwed news...The revolving door claims another willing public official turned lobbyist. As Politico reported on Tuesday, the architect of Obamacare, Senator Max Baucus' health policy counsel Liz Fowler, has accepted a job as a lobbyist for the pharmaceutical industry. Not only did Fowler basically create Obamacare, but she was also put in charge by the White House of overseeing the law's implementation after it was passed. Before her gig on Capitol Hill and at the White House, Fowler was a lobbyist for health insurance giant Wellpoint. And despite a lot of good things in Obamacare like protection for Americans with pre-existing conditions, there's no doubt about it that the individual mandate, absent a public option, is a giant stimulus for the for-profit private health insurance industry. Obamacare was also a big giveaway to the big pharmaceutical industry, which defeated the importation of cheap drugs from Canada. Now for her services in protecting the pharmaceutical industry while crafting Obamacare, Liz Fowler is taking a nice cushy job with the pharmaceutical industry. This is how Washington works nowadays – quid pro quos for all policymakers if they want to make big bucks in the corporatocracy after they leave government. We need new laws to bolt tight Washington's revolving door.

In the best of the rest of the news...

The Republicans' top oligarch, foreign casino magnate Sheldon Adelson, is already plotting how he can buy the next election and protect himself from criminal prosecution. Adelson spent $150 million on Republicans in the 2012 election, more than anyone in any American election in history. But he's already promising to spend double that amount come the next election, and has already met with prospective 2016 Republican Presidential candidates like Governors Bobby Jindal, John Kasich, and Bob McDonnell. Now, Adelson is looking out for his own butt. The Washington Post reports the he's flying to Washington, DC to meet with Republican leaders in hopes of changing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Currently, President Obama's Department of Justice is investigating Adelson for violating the Act, as he's accused of bribing officials in China to get his casinos built. Which is, of course, why Adelson, who otherwise supports gay marriage and socialized medicine, spent so much money to defeat President Obama and thus get a new Justice Department that won't prosecute him. This is the life of the rich and powerful in America. When they get in trouble with the law, they just buy new politicians and get new laws to protect themselves. It used to be called bribery, but today, thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, now it's just business as usual.

The city of Detroit is asking President Obama for some help. This week, Detroit City Councilwoman JoAnn Watson called for a financial lifeline from the White House to assist her cash-strapped city. Watson argued that 75% of Wayne County voters supported the President in his re-election bid and that in return the President should help Detroit. It's estimated that Detroit may run out of money by the end of the year, but so far the White House has no plans to bail it out. There are several cities across America like Detroit that have been devastated by three decades of Reaganomics and so-called Free Trade deals that have wiped out local manufacturing. These cities received the deathblow in 2007 when Wall Street crashed our economy. And there's a history of the federal government bailing out broke cities – President Ford loaned New York City $2 billion in 1975 to avoid going broke. Rather than spending billions – maybe trillions – on nation building in Iraq and Afghanistan – it's time to do some nation building at home, starting with Detroit.

And finally...when it comes to Karl Rove, even Fox so-called News has some shame. According to New York magazine, Fox News chief Roger Ailes has ordered his network's producers and bookers to ignore Republican operatives Karl Rove and Dick Morris following their embarrassing public predictions that Romney would win the election. It's alleged that Ailes gave specific instructions to his pundits on Election Day saying, "Guys, if things don't go your way tonight, don't go out there looking like someone ran over your dog." Of course, that's exactly what Karl Rove did on Election Night – when he threw an on-air temper tantrum after the network called Ohio for President Obama. When you're Karl Rove, and you can't even get a gig on Fox so-called News anymore, you know you've really lost it.

And that's the way it is today – Thursday, December 06, 2012. I'm Thom Hartmann – on the news.

 
Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission of the author.

Thom Hartmann

Thom Hartmann is a New York Times bestselling Project Censored Award winning author and host of a nationally syndicated progressive radio talk show. You can learn more about Thom Hartmann at his website and find out what stations broadcast his radio program. He also now has a daily independent television program, The Big Picture,  syndicated by FreeSpeech TV, RT TV, and 2oo community TV stations.  You can also listen or watch Thom over the Internet.


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