On the News With Thom Hartmann: Occupy the Courts, and More

Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. Occupy the Courts! Today – in over 100 cities across America – demonstrators are rallying in front of federal courthouses – and in front of the Supreme Court here in Washington, DC – to protest the two-year anniversary of the Citizens United decision. The grassroots organization Move To Amend is spearheading the day of action to raise awareness and encourage people to fight back against the radical ruling of the Supreme Court that declared corporations are people and money is speech – and put our democracy up for sale to the highest bidder. This week – Portland, Maine became the latest city in America to pass a resolution calling on Congress to amend the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and declare that corporations are not people. We saw the effects of Citizens United in the 2010 midterms when over $300 million in secret, corporate cashed was dumped into our elections – that’s more than 4 times more money than was spent in the last midterm in 2006 – and is why a wave of millionaire corporate shills saying they represent the Tea Party were elected to the House of Representatives. If we don’t do something about this – 2012 will be even worse. So get out there, get active, and occupy the courts! Go to MoveToAmend.orgfor more information.

Another day, another Republican debate. Last night – CNN hosted a debate in South Carolina – giving the Republican candidates one last chance to appeal to voters before Saturday’s primary. But the most contentious part of the debate did not involve any of the candidates attacking each other – but instead Newt Gingrich attacking the media. On the same night – ABC aired an interview with his ex-wife who alleged that Gingrich doesn’t have the character to be President and that he had wanted an open marriage. When asked about this – Gingrich unloaded on CNN debate moderator John King and the rest of the media – calling them “destructive and vicious.” He went on to flat out deny the allegation made by his ex-wife Marianne Gingrich. Meanwhile – Mitt Romney continues to struggle down the stretch in the Palmetto State. The front-runner was booed by the audience when he waffled again on whether or not he was going to release his tax returns. And Romney’s gaffes this week have left the door open for a possible surprise Gingrich victory in South Carolina. Stay tuned.

In the best of the rest of the news…

One day after the largest online protest in the history of the Internet – one of the largest file-sharing websites on the Internet – MegaUpload – was shutdown by the Justice Department – and seven people were charged with illegally sharing over $500 million in copyrighted material. The Justice Department and other governments are trying to recover over $175 million from the bank accounts of the people who owned the MegaUpLoad website, as well as a 2010 Maserati, at least one mansion in New Zealand, a 2008 Rolls Royce, and a number of Mercedes Benzes. This was industrial-strength piracy – involving theft and redistribution of massive amounts of copyrighted material, and the US and several other Governments, including New Zealand and China, brought it down. It proves that the laws on copyright are strong enough right now, and there's no need for ridiculous overkill like SOPA and PIPA. Harry Reid announced this morning, by the way, that the Senate will not be voting on PIPA – a victory for internet activism.

There’s more evidence today that President Obama’s auto-bailout was a success. Just three years removed from near-bankruptcy General Motors is poised to once again be the top car seller in the entire world – selling more than 9 million cars. Time to remember that Republicans – including Presidential front-runner Mitt Romney – wanted to just let U.S. auto companies go bankrupt. Good thing President Obama didn’t listen to them.

George W. Bush’s war crimes now have the attention of the United Nations. The Center for Constitutional Rights here in the United States and the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights in Germany filed a complaint this week with the U.N. – alleging that the government of the United States and Spain colluded together to block an international investigation into people within the Bush Administration who authorized torture. The complaint is based on information uncovered in 14 State Department cables that were leaked by Wikileaks – and the Center for Constitutional Rights says, “The WikiLeaks cables reveal that the United States will go to extreme measures to ensure that U.S. officials are not called before a court of law to answer the torture allegations against them.” Claims of torture will continue to dog the United States indefinitely – until those like Rumsfeld, Bush, and Cheney who committed these war crimes are held accountable and thrown in jail.

Last year was a tragic year for our soldiers – not just on the battlefield but here at home too. According to a new report by the Army – suicides among active duty soldiers hit a record high in 2011. Not only that – there was a near 30-percent increase in violent sex crimes reported last year as well. We are sending our young men and women off to die in the Middle East in remnant of George Bush's desire to be a “wartime president” – and requiring them to serve tour after tour with little regard to the mental toll it takes on them. This is a tragedy – and another strong reason to end our wars right now.

More good news for Elizabeth Warren’s Senate campaign in Massachusetts. The Wall Street reformer and tough advocate for the middle class raised more than a million bucks in just one day on Thursday – promising to take “the People’s seat” back from Wall Street. The huge haul by Warren came on the two-year anniversary of her opponent Scott Brown winning a special election to claim the late Ted Kennedy’s seat in the Senate. Two years later though – with the Tea Party gone and the 99% Movement in full-force – the mood is different in America – and people want someone to take on Wall Street rather than carry Wall Street’s water. There’s still an uphill battle for Warren, though – as Scott Brown still hold a 2-to-1 advantage in money raised, with big donations from the banksters. Let’s help Warren send a message to Wall Street and elect her to the US Senate.

And that’s the way it is today – Friday, January 20th, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.