On the News With Thom Hartmann: Republicans Are Losing the Obamacare Debate, and More

In today's On the News segment: President Obama quietly won a huge foreign policy victory in North Korea yesterday, Homeland Security keeping a close eye on the Occupy Wall Street movement, a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows more Americans trust President Obama than Republicans to handle health reform, and more.


Thom Hartmann here – on the news…

You need to know this. President Obama quietly won a huge foreign policy victory in North Korea yesterday. Despite little attention in the mainstream media – one of George W. Bush’s three “Axis of Evil” nations, North Korea, announced it would suspend its uranium enrichment program in exchange for food aid from the United States. The new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un also agreed to suspend any future nuclear and missile tests. So without one U.S. soldier deployed, without one missile launched, without one airstrike, President Obama did something George W. Bush couldn't do in 8 years. It just goes to show that carrots, like food aid and building schools, are almost always more effective than sticks like tanks and jet fighters.

Americans are screwed at the pump – with estimates that gas might hit five dollars a gallon this summer. But here’s the truth: high gases prices have nothing to do with lack of available gas in America. That’s because for the first time in 62 years – the United States became a net exporter of oil products. In 2011, our nation sent 439,000 more barrels of oil a day overseas than we imported. That means we’re awash in oil and gasoline, it’s just in the hands of oil barons who are making more money shipping it overseas than selling it to U.S. customers. So, drilling in Alaska or in the Gulf won’t cut gas prices. Our status as a net exporter of oil also means we’re now the world’s dirt pit – where the dirty work like refining and processing crude is done, because oil barons don’t have to worry about the costs of pollution. We the taxpayers and consumers pay for all the externalities of oil production – from more asthma and cancers to the environmental damage. In the hands of banksters and oil barons, the United States of America is UN-developing and unraveling.

In the best of the rest of the news…

The Department of Homeland Security is keeping a close eye on the Occupy Wall Street Movement. Discovered within the Wikileaks Stratfor document leak is a 5-page report written by DHS about the Occupy Movement, it’s tactics, its demands, and its potential for violence. While most details in the report are mundane, there is one section encouraging law enforcement to take greater control of protestors to prevent increased violence – despite the fact that the movement has been remarkably peaceful and generally operated within its First Amendment rights. This sort of file inside the Department of Homeland Security shouldn’t really surprise anyone – but my question is, are there similar files about the Tea Party Movement and its members who waved around firearms just across the border from the White House?

It looks like Mitt Romney didn’t have much of a victory after all in his home state of Michigan on Tuesday night. After the final votes were counted – Rick Santorum actually won just as many delegates as Romney – 15 – despite the fact that Romney outspent Santorum 6-to-1. And as long as Romney and Santorum keep splitting delegates heading into the Republican Convention later this year – then neither will have enough to win the nomination. That means it will be up to Party leaders to pick the nominee in one of those nostalgic “smoke-filled rooms.” Something tells me the party leaders have Jeb Bush on speed dial.

There’s still no threat of voter fraud in America. South Carolina Attorney General Alan Wilson claimed that as many as 900 dead people may have voted in the recent election – a claim that was picked up by Fox News to justify the Republicans’ war on voting rights. Immediately, a statewide investigation into voter fraud was launched – and now we know that it doesn’t exist. Looking at the 2010 election – the State Election Commission found that of the 207 alleged dead people votes, 95% of those people were alive at the time of the vote – and the few dead people didn’t vote at all: it was just a clerical error. So once again, the myth of voter fraud is proved to be just that…a myth. We’ll see if Fox so-called News issues a correction, but don't hold your breath.

Republicans are losing the Obamacare debate. Despite basing their entire political strategy for the last three years on running against Obamacare – a new survey by the Kaiser Family Foundation shows more Americans trust President Obama than Republicans to handle health reform. Of those polled, 58% said they trust President Obama to make the right decision about health reform in the future – while his Republican rivals for President only received between 33 and 43% support. The survey also showed that most Americans agree with Democrats on preserving Medicare as it is and making contraceptives available to all women, regardless of where they work.

The death toll in Wednesday’s early-morning tornado outbreak in the Midwest and South has reached 12 – with an additional 150 people injured form Kansas to Kentucky. Mobile homes were ripped apart, roofs were torn off, and cars hurled through the air in states like Tennessee and Missouri where F-4 strength tornadoes were reported. There have already been more tornadoes than usual this year – signaling that another freak, deadly tornado season may be just around the corner, following last year’s tornado season that killed more than 550 Americans – the second deadliest year on record. Climate Change is literally killing us, but Republican lawmakers continue to take money from big oil to ignore the obvious.

And finally… According to a new report published in “Space Weather” – there’s a 12% chance that an enormous solar flare could strike Earth in the next ten years – virtually wiping out the Internet – and anything else that’s electronic on the planet. The last time such a flare hit Earth was 150 years ago – before we all depended on advanced technology. According to the National Research Council – a massive flare could cause $2 trillion of damage in just the first year alone – and take up to a decade to recover from. And you thought the movie and music lobbies were the biggest threat to Internet freedom??

And that’s the way it is today – Thursday, March 1st, 2012. I’m Thom Hartmann – on the news.