Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. One day after rendering Ireland’s credit rating to junk status – Moody’s Investors Service turned its sights on the United States. In an announcement released yesterday – Moody’s said the United States is in danger of losing its “AAA” credit rating – and has put our nation under review for a credit downgrade. A credit downgrade for the United States could be the first step toward other nations dropping the dollar as their reserve currency – pushing our nation toward collapse – just like what happened to the British Empire after World War 2 when global confidence in the pound was lost. And with financial calamity around the corner – Republicans now have no argument whatsoever in stopping a debt-limit deal as a new poll by Gallup shows that 74% of REPUBLICANS agree that a good debt-limit deal includes both spending cuts and tax hikes – just like what President Obama has proposed. Yet – after more “testy” negotiations last night at the White House – Republicans still won’t play ball. And President Obama seems to be losing his patience with the Republican’s dangerous game – reportedly telling Congressional leaders on the Right – “I’ve reached my limit. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.” Not only will a default bring down the presidency – but it will also bring down the nation. And unfortunately, it appears Republicans are willing to accept that trade-off.
A nationwide hunger strike is persisting in 13 prisons across America as more than 1,700 prisoners are nearing starvation to protest inhumane conditions. The hunger strike is now in its 14th day – and family members are reporting that many prisoners are nearing death and refusing medical attention. As one prisoner argued, “No one wants to die, yet under this current system of what amounts to intense torture, what choice do we have?” A few weeks ago – the US Supreme Court ruled prisons in California were inhumane where prisoners had little access even to toilets. This is a result of the for-profit prison industry that has lobbied for years for stricter laws and longer sentences because every new American that’s locked up means more profits. Maybe if we threw some banksters in jail – to “gentrify” the prisons – then prisoners will be given the humane conditions they deserve – and we won’t see thousands die of starvation.
In the best of the rest of the news…
Faced with a sputtering economy – Ben Bernanke testified on Capitol Hill yesterday and admitted the Fed is considering taking action to boost the economy. The fed has already spent trillions pumping money into the economy and offering nearly-zero interest loans to America’s biggest corporations – corporations that are now sitting on $2 trillion worth of cash thanks to the Fed yet aren’t hiring one damn person. This trickle-down approach to economic recovery has produced no real results other than making already rich guys even richer. Unfortunately – there’s not much else the Fed CAN do to turn the economy around other than manipulate the supply of money. Until we change the structural problem of our economy – by repealing the Reagan tax cuts – and dumping so-called Free Trade – then our economy will continue to stagnate – and Ben Bernanke won’t have the tools to fix it.
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A group of House Democrats and civil rights advocates gathered at the Capitol yesterday to blast new voter ID laws that are springing up in Republican-controlled states around the country. These new laws require photo IDs in order to vote – thus disqualifying many students – poor people – and elderly people (people who tend to vote Democratic) who don’t drive and thus don’t have a valid driver’s license. Congressman Steve Cohen said the laws were, “an obvious Republican attempt to subvert our vote in 2012 and to hurt the President of the United States' chance of reelection, which is the entire goal of the Republican House.” Republicans have a history of suppressing vote – as Republican strategist Paul Weyrich once let slip – Republicans know that if voter turnout is low – their chances of winning are high.
Republicans won big in the 2010 midterms promising to turn the economy around and reign in Government. But what have they really been doing during that time? Launching an assault on women as part of their larger culture war in America. As the Guttmacher Institute is reporting – in just the first six months of this year – states have passed over 160 pieces of legislation to restrict women’s reproductive rights. In fact – 80 laws specifically restricting abortion have been passed – more than twice the previous record of annual abortion laws set back in 2005 – and we’re only halfway through this year. I guess campaigning on less government – means giving government more power to meddle in a woman’s womb. Will someone please explain to me how anti-abortion legislation creates jobs??
The heat is about to get turned up in Minnesota where the state government has been shut down for a record 13 days. About 300 bars and restaurants are at risk of running out of beer because a government shutdown is preventing them from acquiring the necessary license to replenish their beer stock. The Executive Director of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association said the government shutdown is “crippling” the alcohol retail industry. Republicans have been willing to furlough tens of thousand of government employees – cut off critical public services – and cost the state millions of dollars a day just to protect millionaires and billionaires from a tax hike – but are they willing to part with their beer?
Crazy Alert! The return of the flying spaghetti monster! The nation of Austria is now officially tolerant of the fringe religion – the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Three years ago – Niko Alm applied for a driver’s license and submitted a photo of himself wearing a pasta strainer on his head – typical headgear of worshippers of the Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster – people who call themselves “pastafarians”. Well after three years of review – and a mental examination to see if he’s fit to drive a car – Niko finally got approved and received his drives license – complete with the photo of him and his pasta strainer. It’s only a matter of time before Michele Bachmann and Herman Cain begin warning our nation of the impending threat of “Pastafarian Law.”
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, July 14th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.