Thom Hartmann on the News: Dec. 3. 2013

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Thom Hartmann on the News: Dec. 3. 2013

You need to know this.  The American Legislative Exchange Council has one heck of an agenda for 2014, and it all centers around one idea – profit over people.  ALEC will meet this week in Washington, DC, for its “States and Nation Policy Summit.”  The event is a closed-door conference headlined by Ted Cruz, Paul Ryan, and Ron Johnson, where ALEC will push their “model legislation” for 2014.  And, all of these “model bills” focus on putting corporate profits and power ahead of the American people.  For example, ALEC will push the so-called “Public Employee Choice Act” - which is just a clever name for legislation that is effectively a “right to work FOR LESS” bill for public employees.  When they're done attacking workers, ALEC will move on to students, and push for the continued destruction of our public schools.  The council is offering a number of different model education bills for next year, but they all focus on funneling money out of our public school system and into for-profit charter schools and online universities.  Of course, no ALEC conference would be complete without proposing huge cuts to our social safety net – like a Medicaid block grant program that would cut as much as 75 percent from low-income healthcare programs.  And, just to round out the entire pro-corporate, anti-American event – ALEC will offer up a few ways to weaken environmental protections so that corporations can drill and pollute and dump without restriction.  This is just a portion of the so-called “model legislation” that ALEC will offer this week, but it's more than enough to figure out who they really represent.  The American Legislative Exchange Council gives corporate lobbyists unfettered access to our elected leaders, so that lawmakers know just what their corporate masters want.  As long as politicians are bought and paid for, organizations like ALEC will continue to have dangerous influence over the legislation that effects us all.  It's time to remind our lawmakers who it is that they work for, and put an end to the corporate control of Congress once and for all.

In screwed news... Republicans want to rig the next presidential election, and they won't need to hack voting machines to do it.  After President Obama was reelected to a second term in office, many Republican lawmakers pushed for changes in the electoral college – but only in states that that they didn't already control.  Although those election-rigging plans were unsuccessful in 2012, Republicans are proposing them all over again in an attempt to steal the presidency.  If Republicans got their wish, electoral votes in blue states – like California – would be split up between candidates based on who won congressional districts, or what percentage of the vote went for each party.  But, they don't want to make any changes in states that typically vote Republican.  These election-rigging schemes would make it nearly impossible for Democrats to win the White House, even when they win the popular vote.  A long history of buy politicians, hacking voting machines, and disenfranchising voters proves that Republicans will go to any lengths to win elections.  And, it proves just how hard we have to fight to protect our important role in the democratic process.

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

Massachusetts isn't rich in fossil fuels, but they're going to great lengths to keep the fracking industry out of their state.  Last week, the Massachusetts State Legislature's Joint Committee on Environment and Natural Resources approved a 10-year ban on fracking in that state.  The measure would also prevent fracking waste-water from being treated, stored, or disposed of in Massachusetts.  The legislation is moving on to the Massachusetts' House Ways and Means Committee, and hopefully, it will then be approved by that state's House and Senate.  Although Massachusetts isn't known for natural gas production, supporters of the legislation say that it has a broader purpose.  One of the bill's cosponsors said it would “ensure that the health and prosperity of our communities is maintained,” and other supporters say it would protect Massachusetts' drinking water, climate, and tectonic stability.  Even though the state isn't littered with natural gas wells, Massachusetts is fighting to do what's right for their residents.  Now, we just need more states to follow their lead.

According to RadCast.org, radiation is entering our nation in the North Pacific, filtering down into the Southwest, and spreading out to other regions.  North Portland, Oregon is sitting at 31 counts per minute, but spikes there are up to 46. Tuscon, Arizona is reporting levels of 49 counts per minute, with spikes of 67, and Borger, Texas is hovering at 39, with spikes of 54 counts per minute.  In the Midwest, Colorado Springs jumped from yesterday's 54 counts per minute, all the way to 65 with spikes of 76.  Readings in Frederic, Wisconsin are listed at 49 counts per minute, with spikes of 69.  Near the East coast, Sharon, Georgia is up to 42 counts per minute, with spikes of 64.  And, Chicopee, Massachusetts is hovering at 42, with spikes of 60 counts per minute.  RadCast.org reminds us that their alert level is 100 counts per minute, and they expect these levels may edge slightly closer to that number throughout this week.

And finally... Banksy, the renowned street artist, has become known for his amazing political graffiti.  His work typically features detailed stenciled pieces that are blatantly anti-war, anti-capitalist, and anti-establishment.  So, people were quite surprised to see Banksy prints for sale at Walmart.com.  Banksy's publicist Jo Brooks said that the prints are “counterfeit reproductions” and they “are currently dealing with Walmart about them.”  And, a Walmart spokesperson said that the prints are being sold by third-party sellers, who do business through the retailer's online marketplace. Art expert Jake Dobkin said Banksy would “probably appreciate the irony of a monstrous corporation appropriating his anti-consumerist art and selling it at a markup without giving him any money – that's pretty punk rock.”  The best part, however, was the name of the work - “Destroy Capitalism” - you can't make this stuff up...