Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. It was a bizarre day in the UK yesterday. Media mogul Rupert Murdoch and his son James Murdoch appeared before the UK Parliament to answer questions about what they knew about the phone hacking scandal that’s sweeping Britain. Murdoch was asked if he was informed on the hacking scandal when it became known within NewsCorp – to which Murdoch responded, “No.” He was then asked if he’s called for a complete investigation yet in all NewsCorp media holdings to make sure similar illegal hacking isn’t widespread throughout the company – Murdoch again answered, “No.” And when asked if he felt responsible for the scandal as CEO – Murdoch said, “No.” So as the CEO of NewsCorp it appears that Murdoch was largely out of the loop and didn’t care to root out the problem moving forward. About the only difference between Rupert Murdoch and Sylvio Berlusconi - two men who built media empires so powerful that politicians had to come kiss their feet in order to get elected - is that Murdoch isn't interested in running for political office. How long will it be before Americans realize that the control of the British political system Murdoch seized is very similar to the power he has in America with his ownership of The Wall Street Journal, The New York Post, Fox News, and TV stations all around the country? The fact is that no Republican politician in America can rise to national office against the disapproval of Murdoch and his attack dogs like Sean Hannity. That's not democracy, that corporatocracy. No single man or company should be allowed to have that much media power.
Return of the Gang of Six. Yesterday – the Senate Gang of Six, entrusted with creating a bipartisan debt-limit solution in the Senate announced that it’s reached consensus on a framework to raise the debt-ceiling and trim the debt by nearly $4 trillion dollars with both spending cuts AND revenue raisers. Upon hearing the news, President Obama immediately faced White House reporters to throw his weight behind the Senate deal to cut Social Security and Medicare, and urged Republicans in the House to come to the table now that the he – and the Senate – are seeing eye-to-eye on slashing entitlement programs and not raising tax rates on billionaires by a penny. But Tea Party Republicans in the House were busy passing their own plan that has no chance of passing the Senate and no chance of being signed by the President – and no support among the American people. The so-called “Cut, Cap, and Balance” plan was passed last night – that slashes government spending down to 1966 levels and, instead of trimming, utterly destroys crucial insurance programs like Social Security and Medicare. The legislation was merely a bone to throw out to the crazed Tea Party base hell-bent on crashing the American economy. As the president pointed out – we are in the “11th hour” with an economic crisis less than 2 weeks away – and House Republicans are playing games. So who is the real leader of the Republican Party? John Boehner who wants to make a deal? Michele Bachmann who wants to crash the economy? Or President Obama, who wants to cut Social Security and Medicare and won't raise tax rates on rich people or corporations?
In the best of the rest of the news…
Besides dragging their feet on a debt-limit deal – House Republicans are trying to blow up consumer protections against banksters. Today – Republicans will vote on legislation to severely weaken the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau – or CFPB – that protects you and me from bankster abuses. The bill will strip power from the yet to be confirmed Chairman of the CFPB – instead replacing him or her with a 5-person panel. The legislation will also make it easier for bought-out Wall Street regulators to reverse decisions made by the CFPB. Republicans are setting the stage from another Wall Street crime of the century – lather, rinse, repeat.
One recall election down in Wisconsin – one victory for the Democrats. Green Bay state Senator Dave Hansen successfully beat back a recall effort from Republicans – hammering his challenger last night in a landslide electoral victory. That leaves 8 more recall elections to go – six against Republicans and two against Democrats. Let’s hope the momentum keeps up.
There’s news coming out of the hacker world. The Department of Justice arrested 16 people around the country yesterday in connection with the online hacking group “Anonymous”. The people are being charged for their role in the takedown of the PayPal website back in December of last year. Meanwhile – another prominent hacking group known as “LulzSecurity” is bragging it has obtained a trove of internal email’s from Rupert Murdoch ‘s NewsCorp. According to the group’s Twitter account – it plans to release those emails today. The cat and mouse game of hacking is heating up around the world.
The White House threw its weight behind repealing a same-sex marriage ban yesterday. Although President Obama has noted that he personally feels marriage is between a man and women – he is fighting to make sure the federal government isn’t standing in the way of same-sex marriage. And that means repealing the Defense of Marriage Act – or DOMA – a federal law that outlaws same-sex marriage around the country. Senator Dianne Feinstein introduced legislation to repeal DOMA and extend more than 1,000 protections and marriage benefits to same-sex couples. Of course – Speaker of the House John Boehner is using taxpayer money to pay off high-priced lawyers to keep defending DOMA to make sure civil rights aren’t granted to gays in America. Throughout modern history – the Republican approach to civil rights has always been the same. Civil rights?! We don’t need no stinkin’ civil rights!
House Majority leader Eric Cantor needs to make new dinner plans. With lawmakers stuck in Washington, DC trying to come up with a debt-limit deal that Eric Cantor has sabotaged – Cantor was forced to miss a dinner and fundraiser last Friday with the banksters. Cantor was supposed to be in the Hamptons last week to dine with Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein – but had to cancel those plans because of ongoing debt-limit negotiations. Unclear when the two will meet back up again so that Cantor can get the bankster agenda and bring it back to propose on Capitol Hill.
And that’s the way it is today – Wednesday, July 20th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.