Thom Hartmann on the News: August 6, 2013
You need to know this. The Tea Party is turning on Republicans. Many hard-right conservative voters are threatening to sit out the 2014 midterm elections, because they say some Republican lawmakers aren't doing enough to obstruct healthcare and immigration. Even Tea Party favorites, like Senator Marco Rubio, are under attack for supporting the border security plan that Tea Partiers call “amnesty.” The changing sentiment also presents a huge threat to hard-right governors like Rick Scott of Florida, John Kasich of Ohio, and Rick Snyder of Michigan. Apparently, Tea Party members in those states think their governors haven't done enough to destroy government. This dynamic also presents a major problem for Republicans in future elections. They can continue to move further right to appease the Tea Party, but they risk alienating independent voters, and even members of their own party. Already, two recent polls show that the majority of self-described Republicans think their party is on the wrong track, and believe that the GOP is doing too little to compromise with President Obama. Obstructing even more legislation, if that's even possible, isn't likely to improve those poll numbers. According to Sarah Jones of Politicus USA, Republicans are now paying the price for their 2010 gamble. Backing extreme Tea Party candidates in that election did win them the House, and created a major road block for many of the president's proposals, but it allowed their party to be taken over by an uncontrollable minority. And, that minority has the power to split the Republican vote, and cost them future elections. It looks like 2014 could turn out to be a very interesting election year.
In screwed news... As temperatures rise in oceans around the globe, marine life is being forced into cooler waters. A new study conducted by scientists from 17 different institutions found that every year, marine species are breeding, feeding, and migrating closer to the North and South poles. The scientists studied species ranging from plankton all the way to large predators, and discovered “changes in marine life that were consistent with climate change across all the world's oceans and across all those different links in the food chain.” And, the problem isn't confined to our oceans. As fresh water fish are confined to lakes and rivers, many species, like salmon, are already experiencing huge die-offs because they can't escape warmer water. The threat of global climate change is no longer distant. Warming temperature are killing off species we rely on for food, and disrupting the entire food chain. Like the proverbial canary in the coal mine, the migration and destruction of global marine life is telling us that we must act fast to prevent our planet from getting even hotter.
In the best of the rest of the news...
Democrats in Congress are standing up to the Supreme Court. On Thursday, members of the House and Senate will introduce the Supreme Court Ethics Act of 2013. The measure would subject the justices to the same set of ethical standards that apply to every other federal judge in our nation. Representative Louise Slaughter in the House, and Democratic Senators Richard Blumenthal, Chris Murphy, and Sheldon Whitehouse, will introduce the bill in both chambers. Their legislation would force justices to recuse themselves from cases that present a conflict of interest, and explicitly prohibit certain activities. According to Huffington Post, the measure is a response to ethical controversy on the court last month, when it was reported that Ginni Thomas – wife of Justice Clarence Thomas – had close ties to the conservative messaging group Groundswell. Mrs. Thomas has previously worked with anti-Obamacare organizations as well. Yet, Justice Thomas did not recuse himself from the Obamacare decision, or from the Voting Rights Act ruling. In the past, the high court has resisted any attempt to subject justices to a code of conduct, and it's unlikely that the kings and queens of our nation will accept these new rules without a fight.
The Republican party has breathed new life into an old talking point. They're no longer warning us about “welfare queens in Cadillacs,” now they're saying that people are going to lie to get more healthcare subsidies than they deserve. Chris Jacobs, a health policy analyst at the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation, wrote, “as long as they will qualify for some subsidy, dishonest individuals have incentive to fudge their income.” But, acting IRS Commissioner Daniel Werfel said there's no financial incentive to try and game the system. In a recent congressional testimony, Commissioner Werfel said, “the individual can try to penetrate the system and gain money, but they're not going to get money. The money is going to sent to the insurer.” In addition, there are strong deterrents in place to convince people that scamming the system is a bad idea. This is simply a Republican tactic to suggest that poor people aren't really poor, and that many don't deserve the help that government provides. Americans didn't buy these “shame the poor” talking points when it came to welfare, and they won't fall for these lies about healthcare.
And finally… A Largo, Florida man is resting comfortably after a serious shark bite that nearly took his life. Erik Norrie was spearfishing in the Bahamas when the incident happened, and he's now at Tampa General Hospital awaiting skin graft surgery on his right leg. He says he survived the horrifying ordeal thanks to his father-in-law's brave rescue, and his strong faith in God. His wife said, “God has a very big purpose for Erik's life and I believe he wants to do a mighty work through Erik.” Mr. Norrie has previously survived getting struck by lightning, being punched by monkeys, and even a rattlesnake bite. If he plans on surviving long enough to do God's mighty work, Mr. Norrie may want to rethink his choice of hobbies.