On the News With Thom Hartmann: Euro Zone Unemployment Hits Record High, and More

In today's On the News segment: Ohio Gov. John Kasich rejected federal aid for his state's tornado victims, Iceland's prime minister faces negligence charges related to 2008 crash, peaceful protest against Virginia mandatory ultrasound law hampered by arrests, and more.

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. With one day to go until Super Tuesday when hundreds of delegates are up for grabs in 11 states around the nation – Mitt Romney is trying to buy some victories. The candidates and their SuperPACs have spent nearly $10 million on Super Tuesday – with the Romney campaign responsible for more than half of the spending. And it appears to be working. Romney is narrowing the gap between himself and Rick Santorum in crucial swing states like Ohio. Not only that – according to a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll – Romney is gaining favor among the Conservative base – with his support from Tea Partier and “very conservative” voters doubling since January. Plus – the establishment is jumping on board the Romney campaign heading into Super Tuesday with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, Senator Tom Coburn, and former Attorney General John Ashcroft endorsing Mitt over the weekend. With the primary season doing considerable damage to all the candidates – Republicans want it to end. Unfortunately for them – it might be too late as Mitt Romney has the highest negative ratings of any Republican nominee for President since Bob Dole in 1996 – and that didn’t turn out so well for the Grand ol’ Party.

Tornado victims in Ohio are screwed. The death toll from last week’s tornado outbreak in the Midwest has hit 39 – and now one Republican Governor is seeing the tragedy as an opportunity to play politics. Just like he turned down federal money for high-speed rail, Ohio Governor John Kasich rejected federal aid for his tornado-devastated state, despite the fact that the town of Moscow – just outside Cincinnati – was wiped off the map leaving countless Ohioans homeless. Kasich doesn’t want any help from the Obama Administration – because that might put people back to work and Obama would get credit for it. Meanwhile – Governors in Indiana and Kentucky are happily accepting federal aide to deal with tornado relief. As Ohio’s Democratic Party Chairman David Lane said about Kasich’s stand, “I question his judgment…It would appear at first blush that he’s probably playing politics.” Among all the developed nations in the world – only in America do politicians tell victims of natural disasters that they're on their own. But Kasich doesn't care – Ohio doesn't have a recall law like Wisconsin does.

In the best of the rest of the news…

On Saturday – the radio voice of the Republican Party – Rush Limbaugh – issued a non-apology to Georgetown law student Sandra Fluk who he called a “slut” and a “prostitute” last week. Limbaugh said his “choice of words was not the best” – yet he repeated his lie that Fluk was asking Americans to pay for birth control. Limbaugh’s senseless attack on Fluk has so far cost his radio show seven sponsors, which is probably the real reason why he issued his fake apology. As filmmaker Michael Moore pointed out – who’s the prostitute now? The real problem this story highlights, though, is the well-funded right-wing radio and TV machine that lets their “stars” be racist and misogynous over and over again with no consequences.

While urging people to tone down the rhetoric on war with Iran – President Obama addressed the Israeli lobby AIPAC this weekend – saying that he is prepared to use the military to prevent Iran from building a nuclear weapon. President Obama will be meeting with Prime Minister Netanyahu today to discuss strategy on Iran and define “red lines” that Iran may cross forcing a military response. Almost a decade ago – George W. Bush proved that war is the wrong answer when he invaded Iraq with disastrous results. But just last week – the President showed the power of diplomacy by negotiating with North Korea and convincing them to stop nuclear testing and uranium enrichment in exchange for food. Let’s hope the President recognizes the power of diplomacy over “shock and awe,” because our nation can’t sustain another major war effort.

The war against free speech arrived in Virginia over the weekend. More than 30 people were arrested for sitting quietly arm-in-arm outside the Virginia state Assembly house protesting legislation passed by the Assembly requiring women to have ultrasounds before getting an abortion. Police in riot gear were on hand to make the arrests and keep hundreds of other peaceful demonstrators at bay. State Delegate Dolores McQuinn witnessed the arrests and called them, “the latest example of government overreach that we’ve seen in recent weeks.” From the response to Occupy Wall Street – to the state of Georgia considering a ban on union picketing – to now this – since when did it become illegal to speak truth to power in America?

Austerity is bringing down Europe. The unemployment rate in the 17-nation Eurozone hit 10.7% – the highest level ever recorded since the Eurozone was created back in 1999. The surge in an unemployment is a result of austerity being imposed on places like Greece, Italy, Spain, and the U.K. that are leading to massive public sector layoffs – and cuts to social services that are taking money out of people’s pockets reducing their purchasing power and lowering overall demand in the economy. We're seeing the same thing in Red states where unemployment is rising the GDP is falling because Republican governors have turned down federal funds, cut taxes and spending, and generally put in place the same sort of austerity that Europe is withering under.

And finally…Iceland’s former Prime Minister went on trial today facing criminal charges for his role in 2008 financial crisis that brought the nation to its knees. Geir Haarde is charged with negligence for failing to prevent the bubble economy created by Icelandic banks that led to the whole financial sector collapsing and thousands of people losing their jobs and homes. It also ultimately led to Haarde getting kicked out of office. Maybe we should be taking notes over here – and put Bush and Greenspan on trial for their crimes against the economy. That trial can begin right after Bush's war crimes trial ends.

And that’s the way it is today – Monday, March 5th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.