In today's On the News segment: Montana follows Vermont's lead on path to state-level single-payer system, Republican attacks on reproductive rights continue in a new request for 12 years of Planned Parenthood's financial disclosures, new evidence surfaces that the conflict in Afghanistan is worsening, and more.
Thom Hartmann here – on the news…
You need to know this. The stage is set for a Supreme Court showdown. The Department of Justice called on the Supreme Court yesterday to rule on
the constitutionality of President Obama’s signature health reform law – making it extremely likely the high court will hear the case sometime around the summer of next
year – right smack dab in the middle of the election season. The DOJ is calling on the court to reverse a decision made by a lower appeals court in Atlanta that struck down the
entire law earlier this
year. In a state
ment released yesterday – the DOJ made it clear that it was confident Obamacare would be upheld saying, “Throughout history, there have been similar challenges to other landmark legislation, such as the Social Security Act, the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act, and all of those challenges failed.” According to the Center for American Progress – if all 9 Supreme Court justices remain consistent in their previous rulings – then there are at least 7 votes on the high court in favor of the Affordable Care Act. Then again, they will rule during an election – and given that this is one of the most politicized Supreme Courts in our nation’s history – anything can happen – just look at Citizens United.
The racial wealth inequality in our nation is getting worse. For the first time in history – a minority group – Hispanics – have the most children living in poverty in America. Up until this year – there’s always been more white children living in poverty than black or Hispanic children – simply because there are so many more white children in this country. But according to a new report released by Pew – 6.1 million Hispanic children now live in poverty – compared to 5 million white children – and 4.4 million black children. That’s despite the fact that Hispanics make up only about 1/6 of the nation’s population. The reports notes that minorities have been hit the hardest by the Bush recession over the last 3 years. And while this racial inequality is troubling – what’s even more troubling is that ANY child is living in poverty in the United States – the wealthiest nation on the planet. Currently, one out of every five children in America – regardless of race – lives in poverty. This is a national crisis, and the R
epublicans want to make it worse.
In the best of
the rest of the news…
First it was Vermont – now it’s Montana. Governor Brian Schweitzer of Montana said he plans to ask the federal government to exempt his state from requirements in the Affordable Care Act – so that he can set up a universal, single-payer system like in Canada. Earlier this year – the state of Vermont started moving in the same direction too. Governor Schweitzer said he wants to create a system modeled after the Canadian province of Saskatchewan – where less is spent on healthcare – but there are better results and people live longer. Today – Canada has a nationwide single-payer system – but it started with one province – Saskatchewan – and spread across the rest of the nation. Let's hope we see the same thing sweep across America.
While the Republican base might applaud state-sanctioned executions – one former Supreme Court justice doesn’t. Retired Justice John Paul Stevens, echoing former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell years ago, said one of his major regrets from his time on the court – was his vote in 1976 to reinstate the death penalty. Stevens said, “Maybe one believes, and certainly a lot of people sincerely do, that it is an effective deterrent to crime and will in the long run will do more harm than good. I don’t happen to share that view. But…being hard on crime...always is politically popular, let’s put it that way.” Stevens' comments come a week after our nation executed Troy Davis in Georgia – a man that in all likelihood was innocent. Let’s not forget this tragedy of justice – let’s end state-sanctioned murder in America.
There’s now more evidence that the situation in Afghanistan is deteriorating. According to a new United Nations report – violence has increased in Afghanistan 39% since last year – with more and more armed clashes and homemade bomb attacks being carried out by Taliban insurgents. In just three months – June through August – of this year – 971 civilians were killed and another 1,400 hundred injured in the ongoing war. But it’s not just insurgents killing civilians – it’s our own airstrikes. As the UN report notes – in the month of July – 38 civilians were killed by US airstrikes. It’s been nearly a decade since this war started – and that’s a decade too long. Time to end the wars.
In case we all forgot – Republicans reminded us this week that their war on women is still ongoing. The Republican-led House Energy Committee sent a letter to Planned Parenthood requesting 12 years of financial disclosures to determine if the organization is misusing federal funds – in particular for abortion services. The ranking Democrat on the Committee – Rep. Henry Waxman – called the investigation into Planned Parenthood, “part of a Republican vendetta against an organization that provides family planning and other medical care to low-income women and men." I guess with the economy in full meltdown – with growing civil unrest about the high crimes on Wall Street – and with two endless wars – Republicans in Congress think taxpayers dollars are best used to go after Planned Parenthood – and women’s reproductive health and rights. It makes you wonder...what planet are these guys living on?
And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, September 29th, 2011. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is retiring rather than seek re-election in 2014, according to two senior Democratic strategists familiar with his plans.
First elected in 1978, Baucus has been the top Democrat on the powerful committee since 2001. The likely Democratic candidate to succeed him would be former governor Brian Schweitzer, sources said.
First elected in 1978, Baucus has been the top Democrat on the powerful tax-writing committee for more than a dozen years. At times infuriating his Democratic colleagues, he worked with Republicans to co-write the Bush-era tax...
Paul Kane | Washington Post 23 Apr 2013 Hits:1633 Montana
Restaurant chains like McDonald’s want to keep their lucrative tax credit for hiring veterans. Altria, the tobacco giant, wants to cut the corporate tax rate. And Sapphire Energy, a small alternative energy company, is determined to protect a tax incentive it believes could turn algae into a popular motor fuel.
To make their case as Congress prepares to debate a rewrite of the nation’s tax code, this diverse set of businesses has at least one strategy in common: they have retained firms that employ lobbyists who are former aides to Max...
Eric Lipton | The New York Times 14 Apr 2013 Hits:617 Montana
Without comment, former Montana governor Brian Schweitzer has posted a poll on his Facebook page that suggests he would beat Sen. Max Baucus in a 2014 Democratic primary.
The survey, from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling, finds that Schweitzer would be a stronger candidate in both the Senate primary and a general election.
“This was a really odd thing to post,” one commenter says. “I’m all for Schweitzer, but for the social media team to post polling data showing the former governor leading primary polls against another Democrat is just strange.”
Rachel Wiener | Washington Post 20 Feb 2013 Hits:673 Montana
Democratic Sen. Jon Tester, left, Libertarian Dan Cox, center, and Republican Rep. Denny Rehberg participate in a senate debate at Flathead Valley Community College in Kalispell, Mont., on Oct. 14, 2012. With control of the Senate at stake, liberals hit the streets and bought ads for libertarian candidate Cox, who likely siphoned crucial votes away from Republican challenger Rehberg. (Flathead Beacon, Lido Vizzutti/AP Photo)
The 2012 U.S. Senate contest reveals why secret outside money became the biggest political trend of 2012.
In the waning days of...
Kim Barker | Pro Publica 28 Dec 2012 Hits:677 Montana
The Citizens United 5: Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia and Sam Alito
"Two wrongs don't make a right," as my old Texas momma used to instruct my brothers and me. But apparently, five of the justices on our Supreme Court didn't have mommas with such ethical sensibilities — or perhaps they're just ignoring their mommas' wisdom now in order to impose their extremist political agenda on you and me.
That agenda became startlingly clear in 2010, when the black-robed cabal of Clarence Thomas, Anthony...
Jim Hightower | 05 Jul 2012 Hits:790 Montana
A shotgun, an outhouse, and a birth certificate stamped “bullshit” all made appearances at Montana’s GOP convention over the weekend.
At Saturday’s convention in Missoula, Montana, a few convention-goers set up outside with an outhouse labeled “Obama’s Presidential Library.” But that wasn’t the most outrageous part. According to the Missoulian, the outhouse was also decorated in sexism, birtherism, and implicit threats:
The outhouse was painted to look as though it had been riddled by bullets.
Inside, a fake birth certificate for Barack Hussein Obama made reference to the disproven controversy over...
Annie-Rose Strasser | Think Progress 18 Jun 2012 Hits:782 Montana
HELENA — A federal judge Friday indicated he may strike down a long-standing Montana campaign law that bans political parties from spending money on or endorsing nonpartisan judicial candidates.
But U.S. District Judge Charles Lovell of Helena declined to suspend the law before Montana’s primary election next Tuesday, saying the issue needs a wider hearing before taking such action.
“I think this is a very serious issue and the plaintiffs have a sound and authoritative basis for their position,” Lovell said. “But I do agree...
Mike Dennison | Gazette State Bureau 04 Jun 2012 Hits:715 Montana
HELENA, Mont. — Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia are backing Montana in its fight to prevent the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision from being used to strike down state laws restricting corporate campaign spending.
The states led by New York are asking the high court to preserve Montana’s state-level regulations on corporate political expenditures, according to a copy of a brief written by New York’s attorney general’s office and obtained by The Associated Press. The brief will be publicly released...
Associated Press | The Washington Post 23 May 2012 Hits:1142 Montana
Dylan Brown Independent Record - Margarita McLarty holds up a sign at the Unite Against the War on Women rally in front of the Capitol building Saturday. About 200 people showed up at the event.
About 200 men, women and children from throughout Montana gathered in front of the Capitol building in Helena Saturday to voice their outrage at efforts around the county and within the state that they believe are anti-women measures.
“Legislation is being introduced in states that is a full-blown effort to strip...
Eve Byron | Helena Independent Record 29 Apr 2012 Hits:696 Montana
HELENA - Democratic state Rep. Franke Wilmer of Bozeman filed for the U.S. House seat Wednesday with a commitment to fight for giving people a fair chance to achieve the American dream.
Wilmer, 61, is a three-term legislator, a political science professor at Montana State University and one of seven candidates seeking the Democratic primary nomination for the open U.S. House seat.
"I think we've got a lot of work to do," she said. "I think we need someone in Congress who understands that we're all in this together. We have to...
Charles S. Johnson | Missoula State Bureau 31 Mar 2012 Hits:904 Montana
Norman Solomon, Franke Wilmer and Cecil Bothwell
For those devoted to watching the 2012 election, the presidential horse race eats up the vast bulk of attention (which is why I’m not one of those devoted to watching it), but throughout the year there are also party primaries for Congressional seats. Most Congressional contests are boring and largely inconsequential; the vast bulk features certain victory by unnotable incumbents or open-seat races between Party-approved, script-reading, poll-driven, cookie-cutter challengers. But there are a few new candidates for...
Glenn Greenwald | Salon.com 31 Mar 2012 Hits:1113 Montana
"Campaigns were conducted by simply the opening of a barrel, and sowing the state from one end to the other with corporation money—the largest barrel winning in the end. This extravagant campaigning prevented the election of any but the wealthy or those supported by special interests." --from the Terry (Montana) Tribune, February 1910.
There’s no end to the colorful stories of corporate corruption in Montana during the years preceding passage of our now-endangered Corrupt Practices Act, which banned direct corporate electioneering.
Montana has the dubious honor of...
Jeff Milchen | AlterNet 11 Mar 2012 Hits:818 Montana
The U.S. Supreme Court has blocked a Montana Supeme Court ruling upholding the constitutionality of that state's ban on independent expenditures by corporations in state and local political campaigns.
In a unanimous order issued late Friday afternoon (and posted here), the high court's justices stayed the Montana court's decision. The move clears the way for independent expenditures in Montana, at least until the U.S. Supreme Court takes final action in the case.
Critics of the Montana court's 7-2 decision issued Dec. 30 said it flew directly in...
Josh Gerstein | Politico 19 Feb 2012 Hits:1139 Montana
A late 2011 decision by Montana's state Supreme Court upholding its century-old ban on corporate campaign spending is heading to the U.S. Supreme Court, as activist Republican lawyers have filed papers asking the high court to stay--or freeze--that ban in the upcoming 2012 election season, arguing that the Montana Supreme Court cannot ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial Citizens United ruling.
The brief filed by James Bopp, who heads a political law firm that has targeted state and federal laws limiting campaign spending...
Steven Rosenfeld | Sourced from AlterNet 10 Feb 2012 Hits:775 Montana
I’m participating in the Occupy Wall Street movement as part of Occupy Helena because it was Wall Street and corporate millionaires and their greed that led to the financial meltdown of September 2008 that has left our nation with 24-25 million people still unemployed or underemployed, with millions of Americans losing not only their jobs but also their homes and savings.
While the Wall Street corporate 1% are experiencing record profits and bonuses, the number of people living in poverty and hunger in the United States is at levels not seen...
Frank Kromkowski | Occupy Helena 26 Jan 2012 Hits:584 Montana
Montanans celebrated our Supreme Court’s defiance of the US Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling at the Occupy Helena Rally on January 21 -- thanking the Montana Supreme Court for…
Montanans from around the state will converge outside of the state Capitol and Supreme Court building to celebrate the December 30, 2011 Montana Supreme Court Decision protecting Montana Elections …
Montana’s Supreme Court has issued a stunning rebuke to the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision in 2010 that infamously decreed corporations had constitutional rights to directly spend…
HELENA — The Montana Supreme Court restored the state's century-old ban on direct spending by corporations on political candidates or committees in a ruling Friday that interest groups…
UPDATE 12/26/2011: This is from a statement from Stewart Rhodes of Oathkeepers regarding Republican Denny Rehberg as a target of recall, who also voted for NDAA.
I’m participating in the Occupy Helena movement in support of Occupy Wall Street because I want a decent future for my six grandchildren and for all the beautiful and precious…
Today, more than a dozen activists from Occupy Bozeman held what they called a vigil outside Senator Max Baucus's Bozeman office at 220 W. Lamme St during the…
Last Sunday at noon I walked to Hill Park to attend one of the three weekly protests of Occupy Helena, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street. I carried my homemade…
“Montana governor Brian Schweitzer is planning to establish a state-wide universal health care system modeled after that of the state's Canadian neighbor, Saskatchewan.”
A little over a decade…
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